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Fantasy Baseball Corner Infield Shuffle Up: Tiered rankings

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It’s 46 degrees in suburban Detroit today. Must be baseball season.

Now, the people — they want ranks.

Shuffle Up Series: Corner Infielders | Middle Infielders | Starting Pitchers | Outfielders | Catchers | Relievers

My first go-round with 2021 salaries are below. Today's assignment is the corner infield; the first basemen and third basemen. Don't ask me where Mookie Betts or Jacob deGrom are, they don't qualify.

I've taken the catchers out of this exercise — they'll have their own day in the sun. Players at the same salary are considered even. Assume a 5x5 scoring system, which is still the most prevalent scoring system.

The Big Tickets

$40 Jose Ramirez

$38 Freddie Freeman

$38 Cody Bellinger

$34 Manny Machado

$32 Alex Bregman

$31 Anthony Rendon

$31 Rafael Devers

$31 DJ LeMahieu

$30 Nolan Arenado

The lineup around Ramirez is downright depressing, but he’s still a five-category contributor, and young enough that we can still price his stolen bases expectantly . . . Bregman wears the scarlet letter, but he didn’t forget how to hit in a year. He could have been the MVP in 2019 — Mike Trout won the coin flip — and he’s still in the go-zone, entering his age-27 season . . . Understand what happens when players leave Colorado — they no longer get the free gifts at home, but they’re also no longer taxed by the Coors hangover when they play on the road — their timing isn’t all messed up. Matt Holliday was a Colorado-to-St. Louis success story, and of course LeMahieu has blossomed in New York. Arenado can’t be salaried at his thin-air peak, but he’s still too good to let past the third round.

St. Louis Cardinals infielder Nolan Arenado
How will Nolan Arenado do now that he no longer calls Coors Field home? (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Legitimate Building Blocks

$29 Jose Abreu

$25 Luke Voit

$25 Pete Alonso

$24 Yoan Moncada

$23 Eugenio Suarez

$23 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

$23 Paul Goldschmidt

$21 Cavan Biggio

$20 Matt Olson

$20 Matt Chapman

If you don’t like Voit to fully repeat last year, I can sign off. But his career slash is .274/.363/.527, and we’re 283 games into the dance. He’s another hit for the Whit Merrifield All Stars, non-pedigreed and overlooked prospects who just needed a chance. He can give back a lot of last year’s gains and still make you an ADP profit . . . The flip side to Voit is Kid Guerrero, whose draft salary has been akin to that of an established star the second he hit the majors. I get it — I like fun picks, too, and I saw how he tore up the minors — but I’m reluctant to price a player in an area that requires improvement for the tag to be fully validated . . .

[Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Twenty percent of the LABR draft picked Cavan Biggio as its Bust of the Year, so I’m quickly becoming Biggio Island with my belief. First off, he’s played the equivalent of a full season through two years, and it’s rung up .240-107-24-76-20. Those stats would play in any format. He’s 20-for-20 on the bases, which ensures he’ll continue to run, and hints at upside in that category. And given his outstanding batting eye — he has 112 walks and a juicy .368 OBP since coming up — I don’t see him as the batting-average risk that some others do. Scouts were unimpressed with Biggio before he arrived, but at what point does solid production — an OPS+ of 116 — erase what the preconceived notions were? . . . Moncada gets a COVID pass for his lost season. Everything we loved about him a year ago is still relevant today, and you’re getting a juicy discount, at least for a few more weeks.

Talk them up, talk them down

$18 Anthony Rizzo

$17 Kris Bryant

$17 Alec Bohm

$16 Max Muncy

$16 Jeff McNeil

$15 Rhys Hoskins

$14 Will Myers

$13 Josh Bell

$13 Dylan Moore

$13 Mike Moustakas

$12 Josh Donaldson

$12 Miguel Sano

$12 Jared Walsh

$12 Ke'Bryan Hayes

$12 Ryan Mountcastle

$12 Giovanny Urshela

$12 Tommy Edman

$12 Ian Happ

$11 C.J. Cron

$11 Dominic Smith

$11 Christian Walker

The hope is that the Albert Pujols victory lap won’t keep Walsh off the field. He should be anchored to Trout and Rendon in a top-heavy Angels lineup . . . Washington’s defense is bad enough to make you weep, but they made a good buy-low on Bell, whose 2020 shouldn’t be taken at face value. He was a .277/.367/.569 god with 37 home runs two years ago . . . McNeil’s pop disappeared last year, but his BB/K ratio was almost even (that’s always an outstanding sign), and he did conk 23 homers in 2019’s Funball year. He might be done as a baserunner (5-for-13 the last two years), but given how he’s solved the nuances of golf, I suspect he could get back to stealing if he wanted to . . . Moore brings category juice and positional grabs, but he was also a .206 hitter over a 113-game sample two years ago . . . Myers had an underreported bounce-back year, for whatever importance we put on 60 games. And he’s learned how to stay on the field, playing essentially a full year in 4-of-5 seasons. He might be done running at age 30, and the overall depth of San Diego concerns me; only the true stars here will be spared from benching risk. I feel like I’ve changed my mind on Myers 3-4 times in his career, and a $14 tag isn’t really a proactive number. I’ll see if the room gives him to me at my bid.

Plausible upside, but not without fleas

$10 Justin Turner

$10 Eduardo Escobar

$10 Eric Hosmer

$9 Joey Votto

$9 Nick Solak

$8 Austin Riley

$8 Kyle Seager

$8 Andres Gimenez

$7 J.D. Davis

$7 Jesus Aguilar

$7 Hunter Dozier

$7 Nate Lowe

$7 Yuli Gurriel

$6 Rowdy Tellez

$6 Carlos Santana

$6 Brian Anderson

$6 Jeimer Candelario

$6 Jean Segura

$6 Isiah Kiner-Falefa

$6 Austin Slater

$5 Joey Wendle

$5 Tommy La Stella

Turner is going to be a rope machine until he retires, it’s just a matter of how many games you’re getting. He’s far more useful in leagues where you can make regular transactions; if you need to lock in for a week at a time, I’m less likely to sign on . . . Davis would bump up $3-5 if I knew the NL would have a designated hitter; for the moment, I’m assuming the DH won’t come back (but no one really knows) . . . Seager’s walks and strikeouts moved in the right direction last year, and .241 isn’t a kill shot in today’s shape of roto. He’s still an affordable, playable corner in deeper mixed pools . . . Tampa Bay’s desire to put out 162 different lineups is a major pain in the neck, but Wendle’s versatility could make him a sneaky winner there. He’s capable of 10-13 homers, close to 20 steals, and a playable average . . . La Stella might not be a category juice guy, but he’s batted .289 the last two years, with 21 homers in 135 games. Here’s another case where the BB/K ratio screams at you — 47 passes, just 40 strikeouts. He is salaried for profit, especially if San Francisco is a hitter’s park again (check those archways). You can use him at first, second, and third.

Rest of the rack

$4 Brandon Belt

$4 Wilmer Flores

$4 Garrett Cooper

$4 Renato Nunez

$4 Colin Moran

$4 Bobby Dalbec

$4 Mark Canha

$4 Willi Castro

$4 Jon Berti

$4 Starlin Castro

$4 Jake Cronenworth

$3 Yandy Diaz

$3 Maikel Franco

$3 Marwin Gonzalez

$3 Ryan McMahon

$3 Joc Pederson

$3 Miguel Cabrera

$2 Ji-Man Choi

$2 Mike Brosseau

$2 Yoshitomo Tsutsugo

$2 Luis Urias

$2 Evan Longoria

$2 Michael Chavis

$2 Carter Kieboom

$2 Chad Pinder

$2 Andrew Vaughn

$2 Niko Goodrum

$2 Donovan Solano

$2 Luis Arraez

$1 Brad Miller

$1 Asdrubal Cabrera

$1 Matt Carpenter

$1 Jedd Gyorko

$1 Travis Shaw

$1 Miguel Andujar

$1 Jake Lamb

$1 Isaac Paredes

$1 David Bote

$1 Danny Santana

$1 Mitch Moreland

$1 Edwin Rios

$1 Johan Camargo

$1 Rio Ruiz

$1 Scott Kingery