Welcome to my inaugural post for the top 50 Middle Infielder rankings for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season. Throughout the year, I will be updating my rankings and calling out those movers and shakers. For those of you here looking to gather some insights, welcome. For those of you looking to steal my rankings and use them against me, I am not afraid!
Let’s take a quick look at the landscape up the middle of the diamond. Middle infield is deep this year, more specifically shortstop is stacked. This isn’t Jason Bartlett’s shortstop class of 10 years ago. The top four all have an argument for being first round picks. After that, there are all-stars abound with blemishes (Can Altuve hit without a buzzer? How often will Gleyber play against Baltimore? Will Tatis regress or grow?). Once we get past the top 20-25, there is a steep cliff that will leave you wishing you had invested earlier.
Now let’s get into a few key guys standing out from the pack in the rankings.
Ketel Marte – Marte as the 5th overall middle infielder, are you crazy? Well yes I am, but that has nothing to do with this ranking. Let’s’ do a blind comparison:
Player A: 96/38/90/5/.278
Player B: 89/29/86/11/.281
Player C: 97/32/92/10/.329
They are all close in their 2019 stat lines, but Gleyber Torres (A) and Javier Baez (B) are going nearly two rounds before Marte (C). At the same time, Marte showed substantial growth in 2019 with an increase in his Hard%, FB% and Barrel%. This is a 25+ HR, 10+ SB and .300 Avg floor in 2020 with multi-position eligibility.
Marcus Semien – There has always been potential, but last year Semien really broke out. Let’s list out the career best marks in roto: HR, R, RBI and Avg. So, the question is what do the underlying metrics look like? We have the highest Hard% of his career while showing much improved plate discipline. Up until last year, his best K% was 18.6% but he bested that by nearly five points (13.7%). All while improving his BB% (11.6%), dropping his chase% by four points and nearly doubling his barrels! I do expect some light regression, but for a 7th round ADP he is a buy all day.
Tommy Edman – All Tommy Edman has ever done is hit the baseball well and run fast. Across AAA/MLB last year he put up a 98/18/65/24/.304 line. Edman had a power surge last year that he had not displayed in prior seasons. I expect some regression in the power, but he consistently hits the ball hard and increased the rate at which he hit the ball in the air pointing to some true underlying improvements. The reason we buy guys like Edman is his ability to be a plus contributor in a scarce category or two (SB & Avg) while being respectable across the rest of his line. Edman’s only real question is playing time where I fully expect him to play everyday and all over the diamond.
Gleyber Torres – Torres was two different players last year. 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. Similar production without the price can be found much later with guys like Max Muncy or Mike Moustakas.
Manny Machado – Machado had been consistently on the field over the past five seasons averaging over 150 games which is an exceedingly valuable trait. Unfortunately, on August 8th Manny was hit by a pitch and only hit 16/6/16/.212/2 over his last 46 games of the season. Pair a lingering injury concern with a rising K% and the lowest contact rate since his rookie year, we have some red flags. Let somebody else chase the rebound.
Brandon Lowe – I have seen some love for Lowe as a sleeper coming into this spring, but I just don’t understand it. Lowe would have led the league with a 34.6 K% and had the 4th highest BABIP if he had enough at bats to qualify. While the power may be real, I am not signing up for the xBA of .244 and his regression risk. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lowe in the minors after a few months. I never want to bet against the Rays and their player development, but I am steering clear this time around.
3 To Watch!
These guys are outside the Top 50 but deserve a long look as we move into the spring.
Carter Kieboom – A disappointing 43 plate appearances during 2019 has many overlooking Kieboom going into the spring. If he can win the job, he will shoot up the list. He is a .280 hitter with 20-25 HR power at his peak, but it may take time for him to round into form.
Scooter Gennett – How about a line of 83/25/95/.303/4? Scooter averaged that line from 2017-2018, which is basically Jeff McNeil during 2019. How Gennett is still unemployed after a lost season due to a groin injury is confounding. Depending on where he lands, he is an intriguing bounce back candidate for basically nothing at draft.
Brendan Rodgers – There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Rodgers as injury and position concerns are enough to leave him on the waiver wire. However, this is a top 3 pick from the 2015 draft getting to play half his games in Coors. That is enough to keep him on radars going into the spring, but we all know that Rockies aren’t friendly to prospects. Let’s take a wait and see approach.
|4||Alex Bregman||3B, SS||HOU|
|5||Ketel Marte||2B, SS, OF||ARI|
|7||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS||SD|
|10||Gleyber Torres||2B, SS||NYY|
|13||Whit Merrifield||2B, OF||KC|
|16||Jonathan Villar||2B, SS||MIA|
|17||DJ LeMahieu||1B, 2B, 3B||NYY|
|20||Manny Machado||3B, SS||SD|
|21||Jeff McNeil||2B, 3B, OF||NYM|
|22||Max Muncy||1B, 2B, 3B||LAD|
|23||Cavan Biggio||2B, OF||TOR|
|24||Eduardo Escobar||2B, 3B||ARI|
|26||Mike Moustakas||2B, 3B||CIN|
|28||Tommy Edman||2B, 3B, OF||STL|
|36||Danny Santana||1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF||TEX|
|37||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||2B, OF||TOR|
|38||Nick Solak||2B, 3B||TEX|
|39||Ryan McMahon||1B, 2B, 3B||COL|
|40||Scott Kingery||2B, 3B, SS, OF||PHI|
|42||Garrett Hampson||2B, SS, OF||COL|
|44||Brandon Lowe||1B, 2B||TB|
|45||Michael Chavis||1B, 2B||BOS|
|46||Kevin Newman||2B, SS||PIT|
|48||Jon Berti||3B, SS, OF||MIA|
|50||Luis Arraez||2B, 3B, OF||MIN|