We are now just over a week into the season and all bets are off in the middle infielder rankings for the rest of the 2020. In most years, we should be taking a longer view of these rankings and accounting for the ebb and flow of the season. In this uncertain environment we do not have time to wait to see if a guy is just having a slow start to the season. To win in what may be a ‘coin flip’ at the end of the season we must play the hot hands and cut bait on the sleepers that aren’t showing the promise we projected. Sure, there will be mistakes along the way, but the bigger mistake is being left behind.
A few things to focus on this week:
- If you are playing for the Phillies, Marlins, Blue Jays or Yankees you are dropping in the rankings. There are rumblings of playing 7 inning doubleheaders to catch up on the season and anybody on those teams will take a hit. If playing for the Marlins was not penalty enough…
- Who is off to a hot start or cold start? We can’t really base anything off of one-week, but as I mentioned in the intro I would much rather move on too early than wake up and realize the season is over because I didn’t want to bench or drop that high draft pick.
- Finally, we need to look at opportunities again. We have just hit the point where any call ups will have an extra year of time control. Nothing like the roar of the crowd (or silence of cardboard cut outs) to get somebody off to a hot start to their career.
Dansby Swanson – Dansby Swanson broke out last year in a big way. With shortstop (and middle infield) being so deep this year, he was getting sleeper love but is still owned in less than 70% of Yahoo leagues. I will be honest and admit I was not fully buying the breakout leading up to the season. On the other hand, he did increase his Barrel %, Launch Angle and Hart Hit % in 2019 and has not slowed down this year. I get it is early, but he is top 5% in the league in Barrels and xSLG. If he is available, grab him now and ask questions later.
Nick Solak – Solak is one of those classic underrated prospects because he does not have a position. Good news for us, is our game just cares if you can hit. For Nick, that is something he certainly can do and will be in the lineup because of it. The interesting thing about Solak is that he can also run and is top 5 in the league for sprint speed so far in 2020. It is early, but his profile keeps looking better and better for the price of admission.
Cesar Hernandez – Hernandez is anything but exciting. However, he is leading off in a solid lineup and should be in a good position to put up decent counting stats across this short season. This is the ideal guy to have on your bench ready to plug and play when things go awry this year. If you have not already been scouring the waiver wire for backups, you will be soon.
Gavin Lux – To be honest, we should not be surprised that the dodgers sent Lux down. They can claim it is because Kike Hernandez is hitting the ball well or that Lux showed up to camp out of shape. While that all may be true, this is all about the economics of baseball. The Dodgers know they can get by for a few weeks before putting the best product on the field and will have some good reason (injury, conditioning, etc.) to bring him up right after they gain another year of eligibility. Lux is down, but not out.
Jonathan Villar – Everything around Jonathan Villar is not looking good right now. The Marlins are not playing until Tuesday, August 4th at the earliest and I would even put that date in doubt. If Villar happens to be on the field that day, they will have a skeleton crew around the diamond as they try to piece together a ballclub. Personally, I told my agent the I would not even consider coming out of retirement to join that team. My agent agreed and quickly reminded me to pass the mac ‘n’ cheese (yes, we are classy during a pandemic). Moving on from the obvious, Villar is making weak contact when he is on the field. While SB will be hard to come by, they are even harder to find when you are sitting on the bench.
Garrett Hampson – Hampson has played a grand total of 2 games this season. And when he has played, he has looked good even robbing a home run in the outfield showing off his versatility. However, we can not forget that Hampson plays for the Rockies where young players and prospects will toil and flounder forever. Why can’t we have nice things?
3 To Watch!
David Fletcher – As I mentioned earlier, it is going to be important to have the next guy up on your bench ready to go throughout this season. Fletcher has eligibility all over the diamond and is hitting in a good lineup. While there are going to be questions about his playing time, if he remains at leadoff for the Angels, there will be worse places to invest.
Nico Hoerner – It looks like the Cubs are going to give Nico a chance to play this season. They are not playing service time games like the Dodgers (or another of other teams) and Hoerner is running with the opportunity. Let us see if he lives up to the hype.
Corey Seager – Seager is absolutely killing the ball so far in this short-season. He had a strong spring training and it has carried over to the first few games that count. Let us just go ahead and list the fun stats where he is at the top of the leaderboards: Barrel %, Exit Velocity, xBA, xSLG, Hard Hit %, K% and more. I am not fully willing to commit at this point, but if this keeps up for much longer, we will have to reconsider how we view Kyle’s brother.
|4||Ketel Marte||2B, SS, OF||ARI|
|5||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS||SD||1|
|6||Alex Bregman||3B, SS||HOU||-1|
|11||Whit Merrifield||2B, OF||KC||3|
|14||Gleyber Torres||2B, SS||NYY||-3|
|16||DJ LeMahieu||1B, 2B, 3B||NYY||1|
|18||Max Muncy||1B, 2B, 3B||LAD||3|
|19||Cavan Biggio||2B, OF||TOR||3|
|20||Manny Machado||3B, SS||SD||-1|
|21||Jeff McNeil||2B, 3B, OF||NYM||-1|
|23||Mike Moustakas||2B, 3B||CIN||4|
|25||Eduardo Escobar||2B, 3B||ARI||-1|
|27||Tommy Edman||2B, 3B, OF||STL||-1|
|32||Jonathan Villar||2B, SS||MIA||-16|
|33||Nick Solak||2B, 3B||TEX||9|
|35||Danny Santana||1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF||TEX|
|36||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||2B, OF||TOR|
|37||Ryan McMahon||1B, 2B, 3B||COL||2|
|40||Ian Happ||2B, 3B, OF||CHC||6|
|42||Brandon Lowe||1B, 2B||TB||1|
|46||Howie Kendrick||1B, 2B, 3B||WSH||NR|
|48||Scott Kingery||2B, 3B, SS, OF||PHI||-1|
|49||David Fletcher||2B, 3B, SS, OF||LAA||NR|
|50||Nick Madrigal||2B, SS||CWS||NR|