There are just over three weeks left in the regular season. The real and fantasy trade deadlines have passed. Did the trade deadline give us much movement in the top 50 middle infielders for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season? At my extremely unofficial count, we saw 4 notable middle infielders move at the deadline. A quick breakdown of the impact to their production the rest of the season:
- Ty France
- There will be increased playing time for somebody who put up a .399/.477/.770 line in AAA during 2019. I know it was at El Paso in the PCL, but any chance to give this guy consistent playing time is worth it and it sounds like Seattle has been targeting France for some time.
- Tommy La Stella
- La Stella has been a solid contributor this year and was an all-star last year. He joins a team that is going to be playoff bound and has much more to be playing for as the season rounds out. Boasting a league leading strikeout rate, he has some deeper league appeal
- Franklin Barreto
- Barreto once was a key part of the Josh Donaldson trade, so things haven’t quite panned out for the once top prospect. While he has a change of scenario moving to Los Angeles, there is not much to see here.
- Jonathan Villar
- We will get to him a bit more in a minute but let me simply say I am not enamored by this change for Villar.
So what does the rest of the season hold? Well personally, I am hoping for more Matt Chapman at shortstop like we saw on August 29th when he started at short and gave us the hardest hit (115.9 mph) home run by a shortstop since 2015. I can dream…
Cavan Biggio – Should there be a rule about highlighting the same player in columns back to back? I didn’t check, so I assume there isn’t. Biggio’s 2019 was highlighted by his extreme passivity at the plate carrying a K% near 30% and BB% over 16%. While both have dropped in 2020, Biggio’s K% is just above 20% showing real improvement. While he is never going to lead the league in average, he is on a 27 hr/18 sb pace across 162 games. That will play.
Ian Happ – Speaking of highlighting players, let us talk about Ian Happ again! Happ has taken the playing time opportunity in Chicago and has not stopped hitting. Some of his key metrics against the rest of the league:
- Hard Hit Rate – 96th percentile
- Exit Velocity – 88th percentile
- xSLG – 88th percentile
- xBA – 82nd percentile
Batting average is always going to be a concern for Happ, but he seems to be making strides in that area giving him a solid profile just missing a little speed. Enjoy the ride now that he does not have Maddon holding him back, just don’t be surprised when he slows down a little as there will be some power regression on that 37% HR/FB%.
Brandon Lowe – As the season was looming earlier this year, I was fading Brandon Lowe hard, but he just keeps producing. Like Biggio and Happ, he is not going to be the type of guy you rely on for batting average help. However, he has dropped his K rate by 10 points while barreling the ball better than anybody in the league. I still think there will be ebbs and flows with his profile, but we can’t ignore him any longer.
Gleyber Torres – This is another guy who had real question marks coming into the season. Unlike Lowe, he has done little if anything to assuage those concerns. Here is a quick quote from that post: “When he was facing Baltimore he hit .394/.467/1.045, but merely .263/.318/.465 against the rest of the league. I know he hits in a great lineup and has room for development at his young age. However, he is essentially a three-category contributor with some extra Yankee glow.” Torres is sitting at .231/.341/.295 in 2020 doing his best Pedro Cerrano impersonation on breaking pitches which the league is feeding him 41% of the time.
Jonathan Villar – Villar heads north to Canada (or really Buffalo) and many are seeing this as a plus for his fantasy profile. Unfortunately playing time will be harder to come by when Bo Bichette returns, and he should not be a top of the lineup fixture like he was in Miami. Villar does provide speed, but he is doing nothing to help your team across the rest of our key categories.
Adalberto Mondesi – Not much to say here. If you bought in, you knew Mondesi was a high risk/high reward player. If he is not on base, then there is nothing he can do with his speed. Mondesi has not had a hit in more than a week and has found himself on the bench for the first time all season recently. Only one batter in the league has a wRC+ below 20 this year…and you guessed it that is Mondesi. There were warning signs coming into the year, the only question was if you listened.
3 To Watch!
Elvis Andrus – Why in the world did Andrus move up 2 spots in the rankings when he is hitting a lowly .186/.247/.279? For one, Andrus has been terribly unlucky this year with a .203 babip while hitting the ball arguably harder than he has in his entire career. Now, it is not all roses, but Andrus is not as bad as his numbers indicate. If somebody dropped him, give him a look as it would not be a surprise to see him pick it up over the last month of the season.
Dylan Moore – Dylan Moore has an extremely boring profile across the board. But that means he has a low cost of admission and he does provide solid contributions in each of the 5 categories that we care about. Moore is the kind of guy that can quietly put up a 15/15 year and help you win your league if he can keep it up. I am not fully buying him yet, but I continue to be pleasantly surprised with his growth.
Jose Garcia – Recently called up by the Reds, Garcia has a very intriguing profile with a balance of patience at the plate, efficient speed and developing power. Garcia spent 2019 at High-A Daytona which is in the notoriously pitcher friendly FSL. All he did was post a 131 wRC+ while stealing 15 bases across 104 games. For the reds to bring him up with no seasoning in AA/AAA, they must see something as well. I do not know that he is going to burst on the scene, but this is a guy the Reds invested $5 million in during the 2016 international signing period.
Enough talking, let us get into the rankings. With just under one month left in the season, here are the middle infield rankings for the rest of the year:
|1||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS||SD||1|
|5||Ketel Marte||2B, SS, OF||ARI|
|6||Whit Merrifield||1B, 2B, OF||KC||3|
|8||Alex Bregman||3B, SS||HOU||-2|
|10||Cavan Biggio||1B, 2B, OF||TOR||7|
|11||DJ LeMahieu||1B, 2B, 3B||NYY||1|
|13||Manny Machado||3B, SS||SD||7|
|17||Max Muncy||1B, 2B, 3B||LAD||2|
|23||Ian Happ||1B, 2B, 3B, OF||CHC||8|
|24||Brandon Lowe||1B, 2B, OF||TB||14|
|25||Nick Solak||2B, 3B, OF||TEX||4|
|26||Jeff McNeil||2B, 3B, OF||NYM||-5|
|27||Mike Moustakas||2B, 3B||CIN||-4|
|29||Gleyber Torres||2B, SS||NYY||-15|
|30||Tommy Edman||2B, 3B, OF||STL||2|
|33||Garrett Hampson||2B, SS, OF||COL||2|
|36||Eduardo Escobar||2B, 3B||ARI||-11|
|39||David Fletcher||2B, 3B, SS, OF||LAA||2|
|40||Howie Kendrick||1B, 2B, 3B||WSH||3|
|41||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||2B, OF||TOR||-5|
|42||Jake Cronenworth||1B, SS||SD||6|
|43||Jon Berti||3B, SS, OF||MIA||NR|
|45||Hanser Alberto||2B, 3B||BAL||NR|
|49||Brad Miller||2B, 3B, OF||STL||NR|