After toiling in the bowels of the middle-infield rankings, and analyzing the guys who can be great for your fantasy squad or free agents by late April, we will take a look at the cream of the middle-infield crop.
These are the guys who will be difference makers at their position. The guys that will give you a weekly advantage over your opponents if you are able to snatch them up on draft night. The best thing to do with guys like this: Let the other owners have them, and the weekly advantage.
Just because a player is ranked as the top SS or 2B in fantasy does not mean he should be drafted in the 1st round, or even 2nd. Why would you pass up on Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, or Miggy Cabrera for guys who will put up a portion of the numbers? Did the guy who drafted Robinson Cano as a top-5 pick back in the day ever win a league you were in?
In fantasy, production gets you points, not position. When a league is created that scores 2B or SS, then we can talk. Until then, you must pick the player who will produce the most statistics. The difference between the guys at the top of this list and the bottom is not as great as the difference between the truly ‘offensive’ players and the guys at the top of this list. Let others try to secure positions while you secure massive amounts of statistics and wait for the bargains to fall your way.
Now, let’s get on with it…
2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros – He is the best leadoff hitter in MLB. He can’t be drafted in the 1st or 2nd round because there will not be enough HR and RBI. It will be easier to find SB later in your draft than HR. For as good as he is ( career .305 BA and just 25-years-old), he has never scored more than 86 R because of the young, strikeout kings hitting behind him in the order. The steals and BA are enough to get him on the top of this list, but let someone else burn a top-20 pick on him.
SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros – He is the next Alex Rodriguez. It will cost you a 1st round pick to find out if it happens this season. He was spectacular in 99 games last season, hitting 22 long balls and swiping 14 bases. That alone is almost good enough to make him the top SS in fantasy. We have to be careful extrapolating numbers for young players as teams develop game plans for hitters. If you think he is going to do what Arod did in his first full-season (only lead the league in BA .358, R 141, 2B 54, and TB 379 to go along with 36 HR, 123 RBI, and a 1.045 OPS), then he should be the #1 pick overall. The chances are not great that he can do anything close to that, but he can still return high rewards. It’s just smarter to let someone else spend a top-5 pick on a player with 99 career games.
2B Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners – For the first time in Cano’s career he will come at a
bargain. The career .307 hitter had a terrible start to the season last year, but hit .331 with 15 HR after the All-Star Break. The .287 BA and 79 RBI will make owners shy away. Be the savvy owner who knows this consistently-outstanding hitter simply had the worst slump of his career to begin the 2015 season.
SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox – In his second big league season he hit .320 at 22-years-old. That alone is all he needs to get to #2 in the SS rankings; it’s more of a testament to the dearth of SS this season. The Sox should have him in a more desirable spot in the lineup this season, giving him a chance to improve on his 84 R and 81 RBI. It’s all about potential at SS this season.
2B Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals – This is a player who was being taken at the 1st/2nd round turn last season, and is the poster boy for not taking guys so high based on one season. He had an exceptional 2014 season, spreading his numbers all over the stat sheet, but injuries and a lack of power derailed his 2015 season.
SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians – Three SS in and still no vets. He hit .313 with 12 HR and 12 SB in 99 games last season. He was one of baseball’s top prospects since a young age and should post fine numbers in a full 162. Do not expect the HR to rise much, if at all, in a full 162.
2B Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers – The steady veteran has not scored fewer than 94 R in a non-injury season in his entire 10-year career, and is hitting atop a tremendous Tigers lineup once again. His 30/30 days are long gone, but the floor is very high.
SS Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers – The lack of MLB experience with the SS so far is staggering. We have another guy with a small sample size to go off. In 113 PA, he hit .337. He will be 22 in April, and it’s hard to believe those kind of numbers are for real based off of his .307 MiLB BA. He is probably going to strikeout too much, and with Mattingly out in LA, he might not be slated to hit 3rd any longer.
2B Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins – He has 64 and 58 SB in the last two seasons. He can carry your team in one category, but he might do more harm in RBI and HR. The career .293 hitter will have to duplicate his .333 BA from 2015 to return the kind of dividends he will cost owners on draft day. You are better off digging for steals later.
SS Jung-ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates – As a “rookie”, the Korean slashed .287/.355/.451 with 15 HR and 58 RBI. He started the season as a backup and came off the bench often throughout the season. With 3B all to himself, he will have a chance to get rolling this season, unlike when he was going in and out of the lineup in 2015. And with dual fantasy-eligibility at SS/3B, he would be #2 on this list if he wasn’t slated to begin the year on the DL.
2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians – He had a revival last season batting .303, but he only hit 9 HR and stole 12 bases. He has had good HR seasons and good SB seasons. Good BA seasons, and poor ones. You won’t go wrong having a guy who has put up numbers and is in an excellent lineup.
SS Jose Reyes, Colorado Rockies – The old man stole 24 bases last season between Toronto and Colorado, despite missing time with injury. He will leadoff for the Rockies and can still steal bases. That’s all you need to know. If he is able to stay healthy, he could be the best SS. Even if he doesn’t stay healthy, 100 games (half at home) of a Coors SS and 62 from some free agent is better than you will get at SS anywhere after this on the list.
Yeah…he will enjoy it there.
2B Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins – 20-plus HR and 100-plus R in back-to-back seasons is worth snatching up at second base. Just be cautious: his ratios can hurt you. If he can get back to the 21 SB he had in 2014 he will be a tremendous fantasy asset and a draft day bargain. If he can’t, he will be an anchor on your ratios all season.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays – He is old. He can’t stay healthy. And most importantly, he no longer plays in Coors Field. If the position wasn’t so terrible, he would be a lot lower.
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox – He hits for average. He gets on base. He has pop in the bat. He also can’t stay healthy and no longer steals bases. He would be #3 on this list if his health could be guaranteed
SS Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals – He will give you steady HR and RBI from a position that doesn’t offer much power. He also plays for St. Louis where everyone does well. Take the guy with 21 and 17 HR the past two seasons and ‘fuhgetaboutit’.
2B Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers – The 22-year-old is looking to improve on the 16 HR and 61 RBI from 2015. He hit 12 of the HR after the All-Star Break, which shows he might have began to figure out MLB pitching. After posting a .781 OPS, he will be hitting in a tremendous Texas lineup this season.
SS Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers – You can pen him in for 25-plus SB, 60-plus RBI, and 90-plus R. You take that all day with a SS. This perennially over-drafted commodity will likely see his draft day price actually turn a profit this season.
2B Kolton Wong, St. Louis Cardinals – After 11 HR and 15 SB in 2015, the owner who drafts Wong is hoping the youngster can improve to 20/20 territory. He hit .280 the 1st half and .238 the 2nd half. It’s hard to know what to expect, but Cardinals players just seem to produce. And this one has room for growth as evidenced by his mere 95 strikeouts (yes, 95 is low in this day and age).
SS Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants – 21 HR and 84 RBI off the waiver wire at SS…WOW! Crawford busted out last season and helped a lot of fantasy owners win their leagues. After busting out, he is destined to be over-drafted this season. Even if he duplicates last season, his ratios were nothing special and he only scored 65 R. He his .248 with a .305 OBP after the All-Star Break last season, and this more likely the type of player he is.
(Click the player for more in depth analysis.)
2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles – 30 HR potential at 2B, sign-me up!
SS Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs – Young prospect trying to cut down on strikeouts.
2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds – Reliable veteran will post power/speed numbers.
SS Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays – New opportunity for former top-prospect.
2B Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays – Excellent rookie season curt short; need to stay healthy.
SS Jean Segura, Arizona Diamondbacks – Leading off for a great offense will be a benefit.
2B Starlin Castro, New York Yankees – 25-year-old with 1000 careers hits says something.
SS Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics – Looking to follow breakout with consistency.
2B DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies – Steals bases and hits atop a Coors Field lineup.
SS JJ Hardy, Baltimore Orioles – Most 20 HR seasons among active SS not named Arod.
2B Neil Walker, New York Mets – Steady power from power depleted position.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets – Steady power form a power depleted position.
2B Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants – Looking to stay healthy and keep the BA high.
SS Jose Iglesisas, Detroit Tigers – Nice ratios, but needs to improve counting stats.
2B Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs – Overrated veteran will be drafted too high on name.
SS Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers – Needs to fight off Orlando Arcia to have SB impact.
2B Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals – Nats paid for two week power-binge in playoffs.
SS Alexei Ramirez, San Diego Padres – You never know what you will, but it will be something.
2B Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers – Steady vet, solid across the board.
SS Ketel Marte, Seattle Mariners – Young SS too highly touted.
2B Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays – Can a career 2015 be repeated in 2016?
SS Ian Desmond, Free Agent – If he signs as a starter, he will be a steal.
2B Wilmer Flores, New York Mets – Talented super-utility player just needs full-time job.
SS Erick Aybar, Atlanta Braves – Old faithful for those who fail to get a top SS.
2B Aaron Hill, Milwaukee Brewers – If he stays healthy, he hits dingers.
SS Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels– Take a gamble that he can get back to 17 HR.
2B Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates – Filled the stat sheet in 2014. Why not?
SS Eduardo Escobar, Minnesota Twins – Cheap power at the SS position.
2B Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks – Now or never for the former first-rounder.
SS Didi Gregorious, New York Yankees – Can he improve, take advantage of Yankee Stadium?
2B Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals – Cheap power with multi-position eligibility.
SS Tyler Saladino, Chicago White Sox – Cheap source of steals late in your draft.
2B Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies – Potential lead-off hitter, source of steals.
SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds – Proven power if you strikeout early on SS.
2B Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves – Youngster could improve, or not?
SS Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals – Will be over-drafted on name brand value.
2B Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs – Some of the rawest power in the game, but no job, for now.
SS Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins – Trying to put together a complete season.
2B Rob Refsnyder, New York Yankees – Top prospect just needs a chance.
SS Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates – Hopefully, you won’t have to go here.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday, February 21st, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show, so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will be breaking down the National League starting pitchers from a fantasy and MLB perspective.
Our guests this week are Joe Iannone and Calvin Martin, Jr. Joe has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for over 3 years now. You can catch his articles out every week on Sundays. Calvin is the commisssioner of Major League Fantasy Baseball 3 and solid contender in our leagues. Come join a lively debate.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly Show: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #2 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will be discussing the Outfield positions. Our Thursday show will cover the American League OFs from fantasy and MLB perspective. Our Sunday show will tackle the N.L. side of that topic.
Our guests this week are Bryan Luhrs and Hernan Batista. Bryan is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com and the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports. Hernan is a verteran owner in our baseball leagues, and he is an excellent researcher of statistics.