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Shuffle Up: Let's hear it for Jose Altuve

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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The real Jose Altuve (USAT)

In a MLB season riddled with injuries, it's odd to see the middle infield position relatively unscathed. Usually it's a high-attrition position.

This shuffle covers anyone active and eligible at second base and/or shortstop. We're looking for rest-of-season value, not merely judging what's happened thus far. Your respectful disagreement, as always, is most welcome.

Assume a 5x5 scoring format, as always. The prices are merely used as tools to compare. And remember the golden rule of all of this: players don't gain (or lose, heh) 15-20 percent of bonus value simply because you own them. Game on.

$30 Troy Tulowitzki
$25 Robinson Cano
$24 Hanley Ramirez
$24 Jose Altuve
$22 Brian Dozier
$21 Jason Kipnis
$19 Ian Kinsler

You name it, Altuve is doing it better this year. His walk rate has nudged forward, his strikeout rate has dropped notably (from 12.6 percent to 7.2 percent). He's been ridiculous on the bases, going 24-for-27 there (increase in volume and percentge). He's hitting more line drives. He's hiked up his batting average 35 points. His slugging percentage is up 65 points. What else do you need to see? He absolutely belongs in this tier. 

Over the last year, Dozier is third in offensive WAR at second base (trailing just Cano and Carpenter, if we consider him a full second baseman for the moment). Dozier is far and away the best pop source from second base over that juncture (30 homers), trailing down to Walker (22), Utley (16), Rendon (15), Hill (15), and Cano (14). This is one instance where you have to look past, if not ignore, the batting average. Category juice wins again. 

$18 Daniel Murphy
$18 Alexei Ramirez
$18 Dee Gordon
$17 Jose Reyes
$17 Starlin Castro
$16 Dustin Pedroia
$16 Ian Desmond
$16 Chase Utley
$15 Elvis Andrus
$15 Anthony Rendon
$15 Xander Bogaerts
$14 Erick Aybar
$14 Alcides Escobar
$14 Matt Carpenter

Reyes sits atop a loaded lineup, but his numbers haven't been that wonderful. The .269 batting average is his lowest since 2004. The .404 slugging is his worst in five years. And obviously he's played just one full season since the beginning of 2009 . . . I'd love to go higher on Gordon, but can we be certain he'll have the job all year? . . . Murphy is the classic "versatility without dominance guy," and those players are regularly underrated . . . Pedroia didn't show much pop last year (injuries played into it) and that's the case again this year. He's also doing nothing on the bases, and the lineup isn't the float it used to be. 

$13 Jimmy Rollins
$12 Howie Kendrick
$12 Ben Zobrist
$10 Everth Cabrera
$10 Aaron Hill
$9 Brandon Phillips
$9 Martin Prado
$9 Jean Segura
$9 Brett Lawrie
$8 Jhonny Peralta
$8 Asdrubal Cabrera

Put Rollins in the right lineup, and he could gain a buck or two. Detroit would be an interesting fit . . . Prado's so underrated on some clipboards, he's actually overrated. What's so special here? He's walking less and striking out a lot more (at 14 percent, from eight percent last year). Forget category juice: three homers, one bag. I don't want to hear some first half/second half mumbo jumbo; Prado actually has a slightly lower slash line in the second half for his career . . . Segura and San Diego's Cabrera are driving us nuts, but there's only so low you can go on someone who continues to run. Cabrera gets the edge because he's a surer bet to be hitting in a good slot (a critical thing for NL rabbits; you hate to see them buried in the bottom third). 

$7 J.J. Hardy
$7 Brandon Crawford
$7 Danny Santana
$7 Scooter Gennett
$6 Stephen Drew
$6 Andrelton Simmons
$6 Jed Lowrie
$6 Jonathan Villar
$5 Yangervis Solarte
$5 Chris Owings
$5 Omar Infante
$5 Tommy La Stella
$5 Eugenio Suarez
$4 Kolten Wong
$4 Rougned Odor
$4 Gordon Beckham
$4 Derek Jeter
$4 DJ LeMahieu
$4 Josh Harrison
$4 Danny Espinosa

Owings would be a lot higher if we knew the Snakes would stop jerking him around . . . Odor has a pretty average, but he never walks and isn't running much. More importantly, the Rangers keep batting him at the bottom of the order . . . LeMahieu's outstanding defense keeps him in the lineup, but there's not much offensive upside here, even in Coors . . . The Braves make a lot of strange decisions for a team that wins regularly, but I do expect La Stella's on-base skills to eventually push him to a better batting slot - and more interesting production for us (even when the batting average eventually falls). 

$3 Josh Rutledge
$3 Brian Roberts
$3 Justin Turner
$3 Alberto Callaspo
$2 Luis Valbuena
$2 Rickie Weeks
$2 Dustin Ackley
$2 Yunel Escobar
$2 Derek Dietrich
$2 Kelly Johnson
$2 Mike Aviles
$2 Eduardo Escobar
$2 Adeiny Hechavarria
$1 Grant Green
$1 Zack Cozart
$1 Ruben Tejada
$1 Didi Gregorius
$1 Eduardo Nunez
$0 Jonathan Schoop
$0 Jordy Mercer
$0 Brad Miller

Courtesy Injury Ranks - Not for Debate
$11 Neil Walker
$4 Jedd Gyorko
$4 Emilio Bonifacio

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