Shuffle Up: How good is Francisco Lindor?

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Scott Pianowski
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Francisco Lindor's minor-league profile didn't prepare us for instant stardom (AP)
Francisco Lindor's minor-league profile didn't prepare us for instant stardom (AP)

Rest-of-season value is what we’re after. What’s happened to this point is merely an audition.

Today, we rank all those eligible at middle infield (second base, shortstop).

Assume a 5×5 scoring system. Players in the minors, suspended, or on the DL do not get ranked. I’ll add commentary later, and reserve the right to make some changes. Win the discussion, win the rank. Players at the same cost are considered even.

If I’ve missed someone, let me know.

If you have disagreement, I’m all ears — so long as you have a reason. Remember not to add or dock value from the players just because you like them, dislike them, roster them, etc.

$31 Jose Altuve
$27 Francisco Lindor
$27 Manny Machado
$26 Ian Desmond
$26 Xander Bogaerts
$23 Carlos Correa
$23 Robinson Cano
$20 Corey Seager
$19 Trevor Story
$19 Jason Kipnis
$19 Ian Kinsler

It’s common to hear about a pitching prospect who might be bored in the minors, fiddling around with pitches, lacking some focus. The narrative doesn’t seem to apply to hitters as often, but perhaps Francisco Lindor is an exception.

Lindor’s buzzy prospect pedigree prior to 2015 was fueled by a sterling defensive reputation. Alas, he’s been a much better hitter than expected: .307/.356/.470 for Cleveland, compared to .279/.354/.384 in the minors. His efficiency as a base-stealer has improved as well. With all due respect to Cleveland’s pitching staff and Michael Brantley, Lindor will be the face of this franchise for the rest of the decade, and hopefully into the 2020s.

Lindor’s slash line doesn’t look much different in 2016, but there is subtle improvement in his sophomore season. Walk rate is up, strikeouts down. He’s running more often, nudged his line drive rate forward. His defensive efficiency, which was already elite, is also on the improve.

It’s a golden age for AL shortstops, with Machado, Lindor, Bogaerts and Correa all jostling for position. Machado is probably at shortstop to stay now, while Correa could eventually be moved off the spot.

$18 Rougned Odor
$18 Daniel Murphy
$18 Jean Segura
$18 Eduardo Nunez
$17 Brian Dozier
$17 Jonathan Villar
$15 Troy Tulowitzki
$15 Dustin Pedroia
$15 Ben Zobrist
$14 Marcus Semien
$14 Aledmys Diaz
$14 Logan Forsythe

Semien’s game is aggressiveness: aggressive in the field, at the dish, on the bases. It paid off in Tuesday’s win over Houston, as Semien stole a couple of bags, including one in the bottom of the tenth, and ultimately took two bases on Josh Reddick’s infield single, scoring the winning run. Semien’s batting average is stil a cross you have to bear, but he’s also on pace for 34 home runs and 16 bags. That’s a trade-off we’ll happily make . . . I’ve been in Murphy’s corner all year, but I wonder if the inevitable regression is sneaking in. He batted just .265 in June, and he has just one walk in July. And he’s nothing much on the bases, 2-for-5. It’s not like it’s an insult to couch him with the $17-$19 bats, but I can’t completely commit to a spot in the first two tiers.

$13 Jonathan Schoop
$13 Danny Espinosa
$13 Devon Travis
$12 DJ LeMahieu
$12 Tim Anderson
$11 Didi Gregorius
$11 Brandon Crawford
$11 Javier Baez
$10 Jurickson Profar
$10 Elvis Andrus
$9 Yangervis Solarte
$9 Wilmer Flores
$9 Brad Miller
$8 Jose Ramirez
$8 Anthony Rendon

Profar gets a nudge forward for his positional flexibility, though the gridlock in Texas has held him back of late. Here’s hoping the roster is more streamlined after the trade deadline, even if that means Profar is on a different roster . . . Baez is a plus fielder and has become a regular of late, though that might not stick when the Cubs get everyone healthy. He has obvious 20-20 ability (a great target for keeper leagues), and note the 8-for-9 clip on the basepaths . . . Crawford is one of the most underrated players in baseball, a quiet maestro in the field and an underrated hitter (and the rare lefty who does better against southpaws). Crawford’s slugging has dipped a little bit from his surprising 2015 breakout, but gains in batting average and OBP make it an overall net gain . . . With almost no fanfare, Gregorius is on pace for a .299-71-19-71-9 season. He could probably steal 15-20 bases if the Yankees gave him the green light; he’s only been caught once. Here’s another surprising southpaw who hangs in despite the platoon deficit — he’s slashing .370/.414/.469 against lefties.

$7 Asdrubal Cabrera
$7 Martin Prado
$7 Neil Walker
$6 Jose Reyes
$6 Addison Russell
$6 Brett Lawrie
$6 Brandon Phillips
$5 Howie Kendrick
$5 Scooter Gennett
$5 Starlin Castro
$5 Whit Merrifield
$5 Zack Cozart
$5 Jung Ho Kang
$5 Josh Harrison
$4 Marwin Gonzalez
$4 Eduardo Escobar
$4 Jordy Mercer
$3 Jose Iglesias
$3 Cesar Hernandez
$3 Stephen Drew
$3 Brock Holt
$3 Chase Utley
$3 Ketel Marte
$3 Jed Lowrie
$2 Johnny Giavotella
$2 Aaron Hill
$2 Andrelton Simmons
$2 Sean Rodriguez
$2 Freddy Galvis
$2 Nick Franklin
$2 J.J. Hardy
$2 Rob Refsnyder
$2 Derek Dietrich
$2 Alexei Ramirez
$1 Jace Peterson
$1 Alcides Escobar
$1 Adam Rosales
$1 Adeiny Hechavarria
$1 Jedd Gyorko
$1 Kolten Wong

Wong might need a change of scenery to get his career going again. The Cardinals were probably over-aggressive with their two Wong demotions, and they also were pretty quick to move him off second base. I still see ability here, but anyone’s confidence could get ripped up with this sort of handling . . . Escobar is lucky the Royals are still carrying him. He’s become a minor fielder this year, and if you’re not a plus defender, it’s damn hard to justify a .260/.286/.320 bat. He still occupies the No. 1 and No. 2 slots in the Royals lineup from time to time, which is Ned Yost being Ned Yost. You need to do better in a mixed league.