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Fantasy Baseball 2021 Corner Infield Shuffle Up: Vlad Guerrero Jr. puts it all together

·7 min read
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Shuffle Up season is here. How would we rank and sort players if a fantasy league were assembling from scratch right this second? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

A few disclaimers (this will be a review to the veterans out there).

Included on this list is everyone who qualifies at first base or third base in Yahoo. We have liberal qualification rules, so you’ll find plenty of names. I also included the designated hitters because they belong somewhere.

Have a blast, Nelson Cruz and Shohei Ohtani.

I did not include any corner-eligible players who also have catcher eligibility. They’re going to be used as catcher in most formats. You’ll have to wait for the Isiah Kiner-Falefa love letter.

I will not debate ranks on injured players. Whatever you think of Hayes or Bellinger or Votto after they come back, that’s cool. I tend to be careful with long-term injuries. Of course, baseball is most fun when the best players are healthy and doing their thing; I root for everybody. But these weekly staples are not meant to be injury arguments.

If you have different ranks and thoughts, that’s great! That’s why we have a game, and that’s the soul of what fantasy baseball is.

The numbers are more gut-feel than scientific, and there’s no formula here. You’re getting my instinct take on the market at this point in time. Next week, we’ll do the middles, and then after that, outfielders and pitchers. I’ll also duck in the catchers in one week, we’ll double up. Obviously, that position is far more shallow.

If I’m missing someone who qualifies but isn’t a catcher, let me know. I may tweak this list within the opening 24 hours of publishing. I welcome your feedback on Twitter: @scott_pianowski.

To the ranks.

The Big Tickets

$37 Freddie Freeman

$33 Vladimir Guerrero

$31 Manny Machado

$31 Jose Ramirez

$30 Jose Abreu

$28 Rafael Devers

$27 Nelson Cruz

All the kudos to Kid Guerrero, who improved his launch ankle and took off the needed weight. For all the yearly chuckling about “Best Shape of His Life” reports, being in better shape is a good thing for an athlete, especially someone who obviously was carrying extra pounds. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater . . . Cruz is the right-handed David Ortiz, someone who is going to be a monster until the day he retires . . . Devers gets an extra buck or two for the Boston lineup and the Fenway backdrop. Fenway has never fully received credit for being such a wonderful spot for lefty-hitters, especially if they use the whole ballpark. It’s not really a home-run haven, but it’s a perfect spot for hits, doubles, lineups cycling up and down.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$26 Alex Bregman

$26 Shohei Ohtani

$24 Kris Bryant

$21 Justin Turner

$20 Peter Alonso

$20 Paul Goldschmidt

$20 DJ LeMahieu

I gave Bryant every excuse in the book for about two years, then lost my nerve this year. You win, Bryant. I might even be low with this number. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs dangle Bryant in summer trade talks; although Chicago can be cosmetically in the NL Central race this summer, this does not strike me as a legitimate pennant threat. I think it’s time to blow up the roster and start over . . . Turner is one of those players who is always great when healthy, it’s just a matter of how many games you’re going to get. Also be mindful that his career platoon split actually is better against righties . . . If the LeMahieu manager in your league is getting antsy, time to kick the tires on a trade. Maybe DJL’s power was over his skis for a year or two, but he’s still a contact master and a full-park utilizer; he’ll be over .300 when the season is over. The Yankees offense also provides buoyancy, and LeMahieu covers three infield spots.

Every-Week Staples

$18 Nolan Arenado

$17 Jared Walsh

$16 Rhys Hoskins

$16 Matt Olson

$16 Yoan Moncada

$16 Matt Chapman

$15 Eduardo Escobar

The Albert Pujols endgame was sad and hard to watch, but at least Walsh’s every day spot is secure now. Walsh smashed Triple-A with his retooled approach and was a titan last year; everything in his secondary profile screams out legit. And while the Angels don’t have a complete lineup of impact hitters, the center cut of this lineup is outstanding, especially on the days where Ohtani plays. Man, I wish we could get Ohtani to focus on offense only; give him 150 games as a batter and he could make an MVP run.

Talk them up, talk them down

$14 Trey Mancini

$14 Mark Canha

$14 Jesus Aguilar

$14 Nate Lowe

$14 Anthony Rizzo

$14 Eugenio Suarez

$14 Mike Moustakas

$13 Nick Solak

$13 Carlos Santana

$13 Eric Hosmer

$13 Yermin Mercedes

$13 Yuli Gurriel

$13 Wil Myers

$13 Tommy Edman

$13 Max Muncy

$12 Ryan McMahon

$12 C.J. Cron

$12 Alec Bohm

$12 Joey Wendle

$11 Jeimer Candelario

$11 Gio Urshela

$11 Austin Riley

$11 Dominic Smith

$11 Cavan Biggio

$11 Jake Cronenworth

$10 Kyle Seager

$10 Josh Donaldson

Suarez is a mess on defense and I think he’s carrying that stress to his offense . . . Edman’s 2019 and 2020 profiles did not jibe, but it looks like the breakout 2019 was closer to who he actually is . . . You know Wendle is a special player when the Rays find a spot for him 5-7 times a week. This team never met a new lineup card it didn’t want to write a sonnet over. I always like a few utility kings on my roster, so I can aim at using a “positionless” fantasy baseball lineup . . . Riley’s power has always played, but he’s also sharpened his focus at the plate and his zone judgment. Atlanta’s lineup depth is grossly unfair. They’re easily the most talented roster in the NL East . . . I would love it if Mercedes is really an $18-20 bat, but given the limited sample size, we need to stay grounded. That said, man, he mashed everywhere in the minors. So what if he doesn’t have a true position?

His position can be “hitter.”

Deserves a roster spot, anyway

$9 Brandon Belt

$9 J.D. Davis

$8 Colin Moran

$8 Evan Longoria

$8 Ty France

$8 Jeff McNeil

$8 Brian Anderson

$7 Brandon Lowe

$7 Josh Bell

$7 Ian Happ

$7 Keston Hiura

$6 Travis Shaw

$6 Christian Walker

$5 David Fletcher

$5 Miguel Sano

$5 Luis Arraez

$5 Asdrubal Cabrera

$5 Maikel Franco

Hiura’s already moving the wrong way on the defensive spectrum, and that strikeout rate makes you weep . . . A healthy Anderson can be useful on a somewhat boring offense, in that .265-15-65 sort of way. I get it, all the action in Miami is with that ridiculous pitching staff . . . McNeil should fix his average, assuming the Mets don’t get antsy with him. At times he might be a little too smart for his own good; the tendency is to tinker. But they don’t hand out .313/.380/.490 career slashes at the airport.

Bargain Bin

$4 Austin Slater

$4 Josh Harrison

$4 Donovan Solano

$4 Willi Castro

$3 Niko Goodrum

$3 Pavin Smith

$3 Dylan Moore

$3 Jonathan India

$3 Wilmer Flores

$3 Jean Segura

$3 Jonathon Berti

$3 Starlin Castro

$3 Andres Gimenez

$3 Garrett Cooper

$3 Jonathan Villar

$2 Luis Urias

$2 Ryan Zimmerman

$2 Alex Kirilloff

$2 Nico Hoerner

$2 Marwin Gonzalez

$2 Jonathan Schoop

$2 Tommy La Stella

$1 Hunter Dozier

$1 Matt Duffy

$1 Brad Miller

$1 Phillip Evans

$1 Charlie Culberson

$1 Ryan Mountcastle

$1 Matt Beaty

$1 Josh Fuentes

$1 Chris Owings

$1 Andrew Vaughn

$1 Joc Pederson

$1 Bobby Dalbec

$1 Miguel Cabrera

$0 Mitch Moreland

$0 Pablo Sandoval

$0 Christian Arroyo

$0 David Bote

$0 Seth Brown

$0 Rio Ruiz

Provisional Injury Ranks — Not for Debate

$28 *Cody Bellinger

$24 *Anthony Rendon

$20 *Luke Voit

$14 *Ke'Bryan Hayes

$10 *Joey Votto