There is just under two weeks left in the regular season. In single-season leagues, there is no more waiting. It is perfectly acceptable to drop the struggling star while playing for the category wins. While this column all season has been focused on 2020, unless you are in the running at this point you are moving on to 2021. Even if you are in the running, you might have one foot out the door of 2020. I know most of the world does…
In keeping with the 3 Up, 3 Down and 3 to Watch theme, let us take a look at a few of my favorite names up the middle of the infield to watch going into 2021:
- Dansby Swanson – I will admit I was not a believer in Swanson going into this season and it seems there is still some doubt in the industry. Is anybody else questioning why he is only 85% owned in Yahoo leagues?
- Whit Merrifield – There was concern this year that Merrifield was not going to run enough to stay relevant. Not only has he been running, but he is on a 30/30 pace for an entire season. Merrifield has a high floor and will be consistently undervalued playing for the Royals.
- Ian Happ – I have covered Happ a few times recently in this space, so I will not repeat myself here. Happ is still just 26 years old and it is scary to think about what he can do if can make some strides in his plate discipline.
- Corey Seager – Seager was finally healthy (mostly) this year and showed he still has an extremely high ceiling. I expect his cost to remain low going into 2021, but there is only one player in the middle infield that had a harder hit % than Seager and that was the #1 guy on our list (Tatis).
Now, time to dive into the movers and shakers for the last rankings of the season:
Manny Machado – Manny always had the stigma that he could not hit outside of Camden yards. Well in 2020, Machado is hitting .364/.427/.788 at home with 11 longballs. Over his last 8 games, he has been on fire hitting .429 with 2 homers, 6 RBI and 6 runs. I have a feeling he will rise to the occasion down the stretch for Slam Diego.
Jeff McNeil – McNeil has long been a favorite of mine due to his solid counting stats and strong batting average that could carry a fantasy team to the title. Jeff came into September hitting .269 and has raised his average all the way to .331 while rattling off homers in 4 straight games earlier this month. While he is not likely to slug through the final games of the season, I like his floor a lot better than a number of guys on the list.
Ryan Mountcastle – In his first 26 games, Mountcastle has recorded 23 RBI and 5 HR while hitting in the middle of the Orioles lineup. While not the most intimidating top to bottom, the Orioles have been giving him an opportunity to rack up the counting stats. He is being buoyed by a .400+ Babip and a nearly 20% HR/FB rate, but he should be able to provide some solid value down the stretch even if slightly luck driven.
Max Muncy – Muncy has been ice-cold since the beginning of September hitting just .176 with a paltry one home run. He has even found himself on the bench to clear his head in recent days. I still expect him to be hitting in the middle of the formidable Dodgers lineup, but if I have a viable alternative, I would be looking elsewhere for the balance of the season.
Elvis Andrus – Just a few weeks back, I was moving Andrus up in the rankings. He had been a victim of terrible luck in 2020 and was just starting to show signs of life before landing on the IL with a back strain. His season is likely over and there will now start to be questions about what the future holds for Andrus going into this offseason.
Javier Baez – This season has been a true step back for Baez. Always a player living on the edge, he is striking out more and walking less than he has in past seasons. With a .232 xBA, he is a liability in the batting average category despite continuing to put up some solid counting figures. Baez is still a guy you want in your lineup, but temper expectations for the rest of the season.
Here is the final version of the middle infield rankings for the 2020 fantasy baseball season:
|1||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS||SD|
|5||Whit Merrifield||1B, 2B, OF||KC||1|
|6||Manny Machado||3B, SS||SD||7|
|7||Ketel Marte||2B, SS, OF||ARI||-2|
|10||Alex Bregman||3B, SS||HOU||-2|
|11||DJ LeMahieu||1B, 2B, 3B||NYY|
|12||Cavan Biggio||1B, 2B, OF||TOR||-2|
|18||Jeff McNeil||2B, 3B, OF||NYM||8|
|19||Ian Happ||1B, 2B, 3B, OF||CHC||4|
|20||Brandon Lowe||1B, 2B, OF||TB||4|
|24||Nick Solak||2B, 3B, OF||TEX||1|
|25||Tommy Edman||2B, 3B, OF||STL||5|
|27||Mike Moustakas||2B, 3B||CIN|
|29||Gleyber Torres||2B, SS||NYY|
|30||Max Muncy||1B, 2B, 3B||LAD||-13|
|32||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||2B, OF||TOR||9|
|35||Garrett Hampson||2B, SS, OF||COL||-2|
|37||David Fletcher||2B, 3B, SS, OF||LAA||2|
|38||Eduardo Escobar||2B, 3B||ARI||-2|
|40||Jake Cronenworth||1B, SS||SD||2|
|42||Howie Kendrick||1B, 2B, 3B||WSH||-2|
|43||Jon Berti||3B, SS, OF||MIA|
|45||Brad Miller||2B, 3B, OF||STL||4|
|48||Donovan Solano||2B, 3B, SS||SF||NR|
|49||Chris Taylor||2B, SS, OF||LAD||NR|