Middle Infield Shuffle Up: Ketel Marte figures it out

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Scott Pianowski
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PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 02:  Tim Locastro #16, Ketel Marte #4 and Adam Jones #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate a 7-1 win against the New York Mets at Chase Field on June 02, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Ketel Marte (center) and friends, dancing in the desert (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

As we jump into June, it’s time to revisit the Shuffle Up series. How would we price players if the season were starting fresh tonight? This week’s assignment is the middle infielders; everyone below has second base or shortstop eligibility in the Yahoo game.

You’ll have to season the prices to taste. The numbers don’t matter in a vacuum; what matters is how the player prices relate to one another. Assume a 5×5 scoring system, as always. Players at the same cost are considered even.

I’m not going to price injured players; I don’t see the point in that. Some fantasy owners are injury optimists, some are injury realists. You can choose whatever path you want. I’m also skipping anyone in the minors; sorry, Hiura fans. (Cheer up, he should return shortly.)

Have some disagreements? Have some major disagreements? That’s good! That’s why we have a game. I welcome your respectful disagreement anytime: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

Remember the golden rule: No player takes on extra (or less) value simply because you roster him.

The sports cars

$41 Trevor Story

$38 Javier Baez

$38 Alex Bregman

$35 Francisco Lindor

$32 Trea Turner

$31 Adalberto Mondesi

$29 Whit Merrifield

$27 Manny Machado

$25 Yoan Moncada

$24 Tim Anderson

Story’s monster line looks a lot like last year’s monster line, other than he’s running more often (and at a slightly lower efficiency). Coors Field really hasn’t taken a bite of 2019 yet and still, Story is on pace for the quietest .293-151-41-116-30 season you ever did see. If you were redrafting today, I would have no problem if you wanted to take Story at any theoretical first-round slot. Maybe it’s the strikeouts or the presence of star teammate Nolan Arenado, but Story has been underrated for just about his entire professional career.

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Mondesi’s plate discipline is similar to last year’s — strikeouts are about the same, walks up a small amount. And his swing-rate stats are virtual duplicates of last year. Last year’s .276 average was only mildly fortunate by stat-cast rationale; this year, the hit profile says Mondesi should be hitting 34 points lower.

All these lukewarm comments aside, Mondesi remains an eager and efficient stolen-base source on a team that has a DGAF approach to running. And he’s on pace for 93 runs, 16 homers and 112 RBI — the Royals don’t have a deep lineup, but the top half of it is respectable. I’ve made peace with how Mondesi accrues his stats, and even if the average correction hits, his broad set of skills should keep him afloat for fantasy purposes.

The reliable sedans

$22 Xander Bogaerts

$22 Gleyber Torres

$21 Jorge Polanco

$21 Max Muncy

$20 Ketel Marte

$20 Mike Moustakas

$19 Eduardo Escobar

Marte’s breakout has support in the statcast data — his barrel rate has doubled, his hard-hit rate has spiked, and his slash is in the neighborhood of his expected slash. Walks are down a speck and strikeouts are mildly up, but that’s a willing trade when you’re looking to attack pitches. He’s likely to be a difference-maker all season. The three positions of eligibility is a nifty bonus.

With all the moving parts to Boston’s season, perhaps you haven’t noticed that Bogaerts is on pace for a career year. Walks and strikeouts are both up an eyelash, and Bogaerts has the best batted-ball profile of his life. He’s been strong against righties and passable on the road (.830 OPS); the numbers particularly spike at home, predictably, and against left-handed pitching. Bogaerts might never turn into the MVP contender that was once projected, but he’s set up for a healthy fantasy profit.

Not quite sure what you’re buying

$18 Jean Segura

$18 Matt Carpenter

$18 Jose Ramirez

$16 Elvis Andrus

$15 Paul DeJong

$15 Daniel Murphy

$14 Dansby Swanson

$14 Jonathan Villar

$14 Corey Seager

$14 Michael Chavis

$14 Tommy La Stella

$13 Derek Dietrich

$13 Brandon Lowe

$13 Fernando Tatis Jr.

$12 Ozzie Albies

$12 DJ LeMahieu

$11 Marcus Semien

$11 Cesar Hernandez

$10 David Fletcher

$10 Jonathan Schoop

You want a positive spin on Ramirez? Well, he’s running as much as he can, and he still might have name-brand value in your league. But his slump isn’t just a 2019 slump (he was awful in the second half of 2018) and the Cleveland lineup is full of dead spots. When I assembled my board for the Second Chance Draft about two weeks ago, Ramirez was one player I was nearly assured not to pick. There’s a sketchy floor here.

Albies made such a splash in his age-20 debut, what he’s doing now goes into the disappointment file. Heck, he’s being outplayed by his double-play teammate, Swanson (a post-hype story, under the radar). The stolen-base opportunities are less likely in the lower lineup spots (Albies has been sixth or lower about half the time), but he had a modest three steals in his 28 leadoff games. Development is never guaranteed to be linear, but I don’t blame Albies owners who are jaded. Like Ramirez, this is another player who slumped badly at the end of 2018, for whatever that means to you.

Fletcher was given the Behrens seal of approval earlier this week, and I’ll second the motion. Fletcher has more walks than strikeouts, which almost always means a notable player (if not a special one). Don’t be fooled by a robust BABIP; Fletcher’s expected batting average, per the batted-ball stats, is actually 16 points higher than his actual number. The only thing keeping Fletcher from a higher price tag is the modest category juice, but he’ll at least get into double digits on both homers and steals. A solid support guy.

Just one previous owner

$9 Howie Kendrick

$8 Rougned Odor

$7 Scott Kingery

$7 Lourdes Gurriel

$7 David Bote

$6 Tim Beckham

$6 Niko Goodrum

$5 Asdrubal Cabrera

$5 Orlando Arcia

$5 Amed Rosario

$5 Jurickson Profar

$5 Marwin Gonzalez

$5 Jeff McNeil

$5 Brian Dozier

Kingery’s BABIP is to the moon (.417) but he’s earned most of his .333 average; statcast spits out a strong .302 average and a .498 expected slugging. You’d like to see a few more walks and he’s still whiffing a quarter of the time, but Kingery looks like a breakout player, sparked by regular playing time. He’s shoving Maikel Franco off of third base, and the Andrew McCutchen injury might give Kingery increased outfield time.

Goodrum is going to tax your average, but the category juice is real and he covers five fantasy positions. And maybe the average won’t be a kill shot; he’s modestly improved his walks and strikeouts this year, in part because he’s chasing less often. After Nicholas Castellanos, he’s the only exciting guy in the Detroit lineup these days.

Better than the bus

$4 Nick Ahmed

$4 Kolten Wong

$4 Freddy Galvis

$4 Robinson Cano

$4 Jose Iglesias

$4 Yulieski Gurriel

$4 Ryan McMahon

$4 Brandon Crawford

$3 Leury Garcia

$3 Kike Hernandez

$3 Giovanny Urshela

$3 Willy Adames

$3 Hanser Alberto

$3 Adam Frazier

$3 Brendan Rodgers

$2 Danny Santana

$2 Logan Forsythe

$2 Eric Sogard

$2 Miguel Rojas

$2 Chad Pinder

$2 Ronny Rodriguez

$2 Chris Taylor

$2 Joe Panik

$2 Starlin Castro

$2 Wilmer Flores

$2 Jason Kipnis

$2 Addison Russell

$2 Cavan Biggio

$1 Jose Peraza

$1 Hernan Perez

$1 Brandon Drury

$1 Ian Kinsler

$1 Johan Camargo

Garcia has the worst BB/K ratio among qualified hitters, setting him up for a notable fall . . . Biggio is the least impressive of Toronto’s legacy collection, not that it’s a fair comp against Baby Vlad and Kid Bichette. Biggio might be patient to a fault at times, but he also doesn’t get himself out, chasing a minuscule 11 percent of the time since he landed in Toronto . . . Alberto has become Baltimore’s leadoff man against lefties, and the team has faced a surprising number of southpaws over the last two weeks. He’s slashing .412/.420/.559 in the platoon advantage, but a putrid .220/.247/.264 against everyone else. Given that we live in a right-handed world, this could pumpkin at any time.

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