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Shuffle Up: Encarnacion and Joey Bats, hot and cold in the YYZ

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Blue Jay Way (US Presswire)

Today the Shuffle Up tour hits the corner infield. The assignment is to rank all of the 1B and 3B eligible players in Yahoo!, with a few disclaimers.

I've cut out all the catcher-eligible bats, because they'll rarely be used as corners. DLed players are not considered; it's been proven (at least to me) that those players have a largely-relative value, depending on your specs. If you want to build a comeback strategy around Kevin Youkilis, that's your folly, not mine.

What's happened to this point in the season is an audition, not a rank-mandate. I'm trying to list the players as I'd be likely to draft them for a fresh-starting league that drafts right now. Assume a 5x5 roto-scoring system, as always.

Your respectful feedback is openly invited in the comments, just make sure you bring your best line of reasoning. Respect the room, and respect yourself. One-sentence rants don't help anyone. Further the conversation, gamer.

I reserve the right to tweak this list as the day goes along, and I'll add additional comments as well. Dig in.

$34 Miguel Cabrera
$32 Joey Votto
$30 Prince Fielder
$29 Mark Teixeira
$28 Adrian Beltre
$28 Adrian Gonzalez
$26 David Wright
$25 Jose Bautista
$25 Albert Pujols
$24 Hanley Ramirez
$23 Paul Konerko
$23 Alex Rodriguez
$23 Edwin Encarnacion
$21 Michael Young
$20 David Freese

Here's the thing with Pujols: I refuse to accept that there's a zero percent chance his slow start turns out to be meaningless. The websites and pundits who stubbornly keep him landlocked at the top of their rankings are doing you a disservice. Players have off years, sometimes terrible years, for all kinds of reasons (not that we can always pinpoint them), and while I'm pricing Pujols with the idea that I expect him to come back, I'm certainly not considering that a lock. If you can minimize the risk with Albert and flip him for something safer — hell yes, I'll sign off on it . . . If you're in a league with me and you happen to own Bautista, drop me a line. I'll back up the ranking - I'll trade for him. Despite a line-drive rate that's higher than his career norm, he's carrying an anemic .172 BABIP. That simply can't continue. And it's not like he's swinging at anything and everything; his strikeout rate is the lowest it's been since joining the Jays and his contact rate has pushed upward. Conspiracy Theorists will have fun with possibilities here, but I'm not burying him yet . . . Encarnacion is obviously playing over his head, but it's not like he hasn't shown flashes before. He had a 26-homer season for the Reds way back in 2008. He was a plus base stealer last year (8-for-10), so the green light makes sense. And if you rank all the roto-eligible third basemen for the second half of 2011, Encarnacion (.291-43-11-36-7) comes in fourth. He turned 29 in January. I'd have no problem putting an aggressive bid on him right now, be it in a new league or in trade talks.

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Late Bloomer (USP)

$19 Brett Lawrie
$19 Michael Cuddyer
$17 Howie Kendrick
$17 Eric Hosmer
$17 Freddie Freeman
$17 Billy Butler
$17 Adam Dunn
$16 Bryan LaHair
$16 Adam LaRoche
$15 Aramis Ramirez
$15 Nick Swisher
$15 Chris Davis

I find myself believing in LaHair a little more than most, because I can't dismiss his Triple-A MVP season out of hand, no matter that he was 28 through the campaign. But he still needs to prove that he can handle left-handed pitching, and while any outlier batting-average is sure to come with an accompanying outlier BABIP, a .543 mark is utterly ridiculous. And let's not miss the fact that LaHair is striking out a third of the time, either. The outfield eligibility comes in handy, and he might find himself in that spot for real later this summer, depending on when Anthony Rizzo hits the second city . . . Hosmer has more pedigree buzz than Freeman, and the ability to steal more bases, but I've never seen a ton of difference between the players. I love the fact that Freeman is locked into Atlanta's No. 3 batting slot . . . Dunn is back to being the guy we thought: bad batting average, a ton of strikeouts and walks, 30 homers or more. There's a time and a place where that makes sense . . . A rally from Pujols would probably go a long way towards getting Kendrick started.

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Jed Lowrie, handsome man (USP)

$14 Lucas Duda
$14 Emilio Bonifacio
$14 Mike Aviles
$13 Mike Moustakas
$13 Pedro Alvarez
$12 Martin Prado
$12 Kendrys Morales
$11 Luke Scott
$11 Jed Lowrie
$11 Carlos Lee
$10 Ike Davis
$9 Carlos Pena
$9 Mark Trumbo
$9 Todd Helton

I'd love to put Lowrie in the Bonifacio-Lowrie class, but his injury history won't allow it. I've always liked his offensive potential, though, and he should be a terrific fit for Houston's ballpark. How many games do you expect from him over the final 20 weeks? . . . I took plenty of shots at Alvarez in earlier weeks, no doubt on that. He's made me eat those words with his monster rally of late, and I have no problem jumping on the bandwagon as a result (I grabbed him in the Friends & Family league, and several other leagues, after his two-homer day on 4/25). I don't look at any old rankings when I begin this exercise. When the facts change or the expectations change, the price changes . . . Trumbo's power is forever intriguing, but his fielding woes give Mike Scioscia an excuse to keep him out of the lineup . . . Helton is probably going to be a frozen-rope machine until the day he retires, but heads up: the Rockies give him a fair amount of days off. Oh, that finagling Jim Tracy.

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Wiggy, Wiggier, Wiggiest (USP)

$8 Chipper Jones
$8 Ty Wigginton
$8 Brandon Belt
$7 Chase Headley
$6 Kyle Seager
$5 Chris Johnson
$4 Daniel Murphy
$4 Adam Lind
$4 Garrett Jones
$4 Alex Liddi
$4 Mark Reynolds
$4 Mike Carp
$3 Paul Goldschmidt
$3 Gaby Sanchez
$3 Yonder Alonso
$3 Jack Hannahan
$3 Sean Rodriguez
$2 Justin Morneau
$2 Ryan Roberts
$2 Robert Andino
$2 Will Middlebrooks
$2 Justin Smoak
$2 Scott Rolen

I wanted to rank Wigginton higher, a lot higher. He's an old friend (well, an old roto friend) and the inspiration behind these glorious awards. But he's not guaranteed a full-time job after Ryan Howard comes back, and that has to be priced into the rank. Then again, the Phillies are a pretty old ballclub (Wiggy included), so maybe someone else will be hurt by then . . . I've been out on Morneau all spring, even during that two-week period in the spring where he crushed. His body has failed him in countless ways over the past few years, he's already got the bad wrist this season, and he's in a terrible park for left-handed power. Even if he were dropped in the Friends & Family league, I wouldn't bother picking him up . . . I didn't completely collapse the Goldschmidt price, but it sure doesn't seem like he's one of Kirk Gibson's favorites. When Chris Young is healthy again, you wonder if Jason Kubel might shift to first base to keep surging Gerardo Parra (and his glove) in the lineup . . . Until Smoak can figure out a way to recognize and hit sliders (or lay off them), he's going to be a monumental disappointment . . . I'd probably jump Andino to the $4-5 range if I were certain Brian Roberts won't play in 2012.

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Mark Reynolds, making actual contact (USP)

$1 Mitch Moreland
$1 Chone Figgins
$1 Matt Carpenter
$1 Danny Valencia
$1 James Loney
$1 Placido Polanco
$1 Eduardo Nunez
$1 Shelley Duncan
$1 Laynce Nix
$1 Brent Morel
$1 Wilson Betemit
$1 Eric Chavez
$1 Brent Lillibridge
$0 Juan Rivera
$0 Maicer Izturis
$0 Casey Kotchman
$0 Juan Francisco
$0 Kila Ka'aihue
$0 Brandon Inge

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