Corner Infield Shuffle Up: The Joy of Cody Bellinger

LOS ANGELES, CA - June 19: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the dugout after hitting a two run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the seventh inning of a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Cody Bellinger has that MVP tint in his age-23 season. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Time to revisit the Shuffle Up series; how would we price players if the season were starting fresh tonight? The assignment here is the corners, the players with first base or third base eligibility in Yahoo.

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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.

A few position-specific rules. I ignored anyone with catcher eligibility because you’d rarely use them at a corner. We’ll shuffle the catchers on a different day. And 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.

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 Difference Makers

$40 Cody Bellinger

$39 Nolan Arenado

$37 Freddie Freeman

$34 Anthony Rendon

$34 Alex Bregman

$33 Josh Bell

$31 Javier Baez

$30 Kris Bryant

$30 Whit Merrifield

Bellinger is a good example of how funky developement cirves can be. The guy had one home run —one piddly home run! —as a high school senior and wasn’t thought of a major prospect. But a swing change and some maturing led to a 30 homer season in A+ ball at age 19, and from there it’s been a steady ascent.

Bellinger has slipped a little in June, not that a .936 OPS will ever hurt you. He’s also a risky bet on the bases — eight steals, five caught stealings — to the point that it might not be worth exposing his body on that low-gain play. Also note his numbers are better at home, but the big improvement has come against lefties — he’s shown no platoon deficit this year, and has the highest wOBA of any lefty batter against left-handed pitching this year. Barring an injury, Bellinger be in the MVP mix at the end of the season.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$24 Rafael Devers

$24 Yoan Moncada

$24 Peter Alonso

$24 Manny Machado

$23 Anthony Rizzo

$22 Max Muncy

$22 Mike Moustakas

$21 Matt Chapman

$21 Paul Goldschmidt

$20 Justin Turner

$20 Jose Abreu

$19 Austin Riley

Alonso’s expected average is right in line with his actual one — isn’t it cute when that works out — and he’s barreling the ball an insane 20 percent of the time. Not even the Mets can screw this up. Alonso is also walking 9.4 percent of the time, an excellent rate for a young player with his power objective. If only a few more people were hitting around him.

The Puzzling Guys

$17 Jose Ramirez

$17 Rhys Hoskins

$16 Matt Carpenter

$15 Eduardo Escobar

$15 Eugenio Suarez

$15 Daniel Murphy

$15 Josh Donaldson

I’m glad I don’t own Ramirez this year, simply because of what it cost and what that would mean to my profit/loss ratio. But that doesn’t mean he’s not ownable now, as we get removed from those springtime prices. His batting average shouldn’t be good right now under any circumstances but it has been unlucky, and at least he’s running aggressively and still maintaining an excellent K/BB ratio. Maybe you could get him under value in a trade; something you might want to look at if you need some plausible upside to the second half of your season. He can’t be seen as a floor player right now, but there’s still the whiff of possibility.

Value’s Where You Find It

$14 Carlos Santana

$14 Carlos Santana

$14 Matt Olson

$14 Luke Voit

$14 Vladimir Guerrero

$13 DJ LeMahieu

$13 Trey Mancini

$13 Hunter Dozier

$13 Tommy La Stella

$12 C.J. Cron

$12 Daniel Vogelbach

$11 Edwin Encarnacion

$11 Nick Senzel

$11 Scott Kingery

The La Stella breakout continues to look legitimate under the hood. He’s bumped his hard-hit rate, his BB/K ratio is in elite territory (so is his contact rate), and he’s bumped up his launch angle and increased his barrel percentage. In short, this is a guy who’s now taking home-run cuts without sacrificing the stuff that makes him a good bet for batting average. He’s giving a lot of it back against lefties, but it’s a right-handed world and he’s .311/.364/.536 against them. Why worry? Keep making money.

Kingery is striking out a bunch and not walking much, and his batting average — per Baseball Savant data — should be 44 points lower than it is. Okay, fine. But a .282 xBA is still useful to us, and he’s also whacked nine homers in just 144 at-bats. He doesn’t look lost in center field, so we get three positions of eligibility for roto purposes (short, third, outfield). The post-hype sleeper trope works again.

Worthy of a Starting Spot

$10 Ian Desmond

$10 Garrett Cooper

$10 Jeff McNeil

$10 Joey Votto

$10 Michael Chavis

$9 Ryan Braun

$8 Howie Kendrick

$8 Brian Anderson

$8 Jurickson Profar

$8 Brandon Lowe

$7 Eric Hosmer

$7 Jay Bruce

$7 David Bote

The Padres would love to take a mulligan on the Hosmer contract, but he’s basically an albatross now. A shame, given the flexibility, and upside of the rest of the roster . . . I’d push Bote into the $9-10 range if I knew he’d play every day . . . Cooper has a $12-14 profile but the park and supporting cast kicks him down somewhat, not to mention the health history. Fun player, just not sure it can last all year. But you want to play fantasy sports with a microscope anyway, not a telescope; get production today and tomorrow, and we’ll worry about next month, next month.

Do What you need to do

$6 Derek Dietrich

$6 Colin Moran

$6 Giovanny Urshela

$6 Todd Frazier

$6 Daniel Santana

$6 Ji-Man Choi

$6 Miguel Cabrera

$6 Renato Nunez

$6 Ryan McMahon

$6 Hanser Alberto

$6 Miguel Sano

$6 Bobby Bradley

$5 David Fletcher

$5 Asdrubal Cabrera

$5 Wil Myers

$5 Niko Goodrum

$4 Brandon Dixon

$4 Yulieski Gurriel

$4 Albert Pujols

$4 Brandon Belt

$4 Matt Adams

$4 Eric Thames

$4 J.P. Crawford

$4 Dominic Smith

Nothing makes me sadder than having Miggy at $6, but there’s no power left and he can’t be seen as a sure bet to play the rest of the year . . . Dietrich is starting to show major pumpkin risk, and the Reds will have a more complicated roster when Scooter Gennett returns in the next week or two . . . Hold Santana for the category juice and the Arlington undertow, understanding he could be next-to worthless in a few weeks. The batting average isn’t supported, and the Rangers eventually will have too many good players for not enough starting slots . . . Pujols has never been as pull-happy as he is this season, and he’s also carrying the lowest line-drive rate of his career. Once again, Gravity Always Wins.

The Rest of the Queue

$3 Mark Canha

$3 Christian Walker

$3 Rowdy Tellez

$3 J.D. Davis

$3 Kyle Seager

$3 Matt Beaty

$3 Kike Hernandez

$2 Greg Garcia

$2 Ronald Guzman

$2 Jake Bauers

$2 Evan Longoria

$2 Eduardo Nunez

$2 Jose Osuna

$2 Chad Pinder

$2 Tim Beckham

$2 Robinson Cano

$2 Yonder Alonso

$1 Pablo Sandoval

$1 Gerardo Parra

$1 Cheslor Cuthbert

$1 Yolmer Sanchez

$1 Ildemaro Vargas

$1 Johan Camargo

$1 Hernan Perez

$1 Jose Martinez

$1 Jesus Aguilar

$1 Travis Shaw

$1 Maikel Franco

$0 Miguel Rojas

$0 Tyler Austin

$0 Kyle Farmer

$0 Logan Forsythe

$0 Tyler White

$0 Ronny Rodriguez

Folliow Scott Pianowski on Twitter

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