Shuffle Up: Andrelton Simmons, all grown up

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Fielding wizard <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9201/" data-ylk="slk:Andrelton Simmons">Andrelton Simmons</a> deserves more attention for hit bat (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Fielding wizard Andrelton Simmons deserves more attention for hit bat (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

We roll along with the Shuffle Up series, in-season. Today’s assignment is the middle infielders.

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. Everyone listed here has middle infield eligibility in the Yahoo game at the current time. Players at the same cost are considered even.

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I courtesy-ranked the injured players at the bottom, but I’m not going to debate those guys. I generally expect less from injury comebacks than most. (When is Andrew Luck going to make that 2017 debut?) And the value of an injury player is especially variable from league to league, given injury rules and DL specs.

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.

$35 Manny Machado
$33 Francisco Lindor
$32 Jose Altuve
$30 Jose Ramirez
$29 Trea Turner
$29 Carlos Correa
$28 Ozzie Albies
$27 Anthony Rizzo
$25 Brian Dozier
$23 Dee Gordon
$24 Javier Baez
$22 Didi Gregorius
$22 Jean Segura
$22 Xander Bogaerts
$20 Andrelton Simmons

Simmons came into the majors with the reputation of a defensive god, quickly validated. So it was easy to discount him as a hitter, especially when he batted .248 and .244 in consecutive Atlanta seasons, with OBPs under .300. Great field, no hit, move along.

Alas, Simmons has reinvented himself in Anaheim. He’s now an aggressive and plus base stealer, swiping 32-of-40 since he joined the team. He has more walks than strikeouts this year, and that’s almost always indicative of a great hitter. The Angels would be wise to put him in a more important lineup slot, but Simmons is producing runs nicely in the No. 5 and No. 6 positions. Into an age-28 season, these are the peak years. Enjoy the ride. Simmons might be baseball’s most underrated star.

Dozier’s worst career month has always been April, which makes sense when you consider not just his home address, but the other parks in the AL Central loop. Minnesota’s also gotten caught into the postponement loop this year, and had three “home” games in Mexico. Dozier is who you thought he was all along . . . The Mariners got crushed for the Taijuan Walker trade when it was processed, but it’s turned into a big win. Ketel Marte has been overrated for most of his career, and I guess you can say that about Walker, too, mostly because of injuries. Mitch Haniger turned out to be one of those late bloomers, a guy who just needed a break and a chance. As for Segura, he’s an easy guy to root for, given the awful things he’s dealt with in his personal life. He offers category juice. And even if he’s not the most patient hitter, so what? He’s batted .309 since the beginning of the 2016 season.

$20 Trevor Story
$18 Jonathan Schoop
$17 Alex Bregman
$16 Tim Anderson
$14 Asdrubal Cabrera
$14 Robinson Cano
$13 Jed Lowrie
$13 Paul DeJong
$13 Cesar Hernandez
$13 Whit Merrifield
$13 Scooter Gennett

The Royals have dropped Merrifeld to the No. 6 slot of late, even as that .349 OBP begs for a better position. But they’re letting him run as much as he wants, he’s still knocking the occasional homer. Even if he doesn’t keep all of last year’s surprise value, he should maintain most of it. I’m not sweating pumpkin risk on him . . . Anderson’s batting-average risk has always been overplayed, because pitchers haven’t wrecked his average the last two years, no matter his free swinging. Now Anderson is walking more, still has the pop, can take a bag anytime he wants, and even moves up in the order against lefties. Don’t let the strikeouts throw you, he’s actually a safe play these days . . . Lowrie is one of those guys who’s such an obvious “sell high” I might kick the tires on his owners, see if they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Lowrie was a useful player last year. Usually the problem has been staying healthy. I’d have no problem slotting him as a middle-infield bat in a deeper mixed format . . . Gennett’s reinvention looks legitimate. He’s trimmed his strikeout rate, kept last year’s power surge, and upped his hard-hit rate while using more of the ballpark. There are all sorts of things wrong with the Reds, but Gennett is not one of them. And he also gets to bat behind OBP machine Joey Votto.

$12 Eduardo Escobar
$12 Gleyber Torres
$11 Yangervis Solarte
$11 Jedd Gyorko
$10 DJ LeMahieu
$10 Jose Peraza
$10 Starlin Castro
$10 Chris Taylor
$10 Zack Cozart
$10 Marwin Gonzalez
$9 Matt Carpenter
$9 Marcus Semien
$7 Eduardo Nunez
$7 Ian Happ
$7 Brandon Crawford
$6 Ian Kinsler
$6 Jason Kipnis
$5 Yolmer Sanchez
$5 Alen Hanson
$5 Nick Ahmed

Drop Peraza into single-digits in an OBP format; he’s been below .300 since the beginning of 2017 . . . If you came for the Carpenter diagnosis, click over here . . . I can’t go under 10 for Gonzalez given the positional flexibility, but here’s someone who does have pumpkin risk. Strikeouts are up, isolated power has collapsed. Another strange thing about this year’s Astros offense — it’s been mediocre at home (part of that is the park, but not all of it), but terrific on the road . . . If I knew Hanson would play all season (and yes, that bakes in some survivor bias), he’d be in the $7-9 range. A classic post-hype guy. It would be nice if Bruce Bochy settled on a lineup; he’s all over the place this year.

$4 Daniel Robertson
$4 Jose Pirela
$4 Daniel Descalso
$4 Ben Zobrist
$4 Brad Miller
$4 Orlando Arcia
$4 Rougned Odor
$4 Freddy Galvis
$4 Matt Duffy
$3 Wilmer Difo
$3 Scott Kingery
$3 Addison Russell
$3 Kike Hernandez
$3 Jonathan Villar
$3 Jurickson Profar

Villar is at three bucks, one for each run he’s scored this year. The 2016 explosion goes down as one of the all-time fluke seasons. He has an OPS+ of 72 since then, with a .246/.297/.362 slash. The Brewers, who fancy themselves contenders, need to do better.

$2 Howie Kendrick
$2 Miguel Rojas
$2 Chase Utley
$2 Adeiny Hechavarria
$2 Alcides Escobar
$2 Joseph Wendle
$2 Jordy Mercer
$2 Jose Iglesias
$2 Isiah Kiner-Falefa
$2 Chad Pinder
$2 Chris Owings
$1 Ryan Flaherty
$1 Derek Dietrich
$1 Hernan Perez
$1 Brock Holt
$1 Amed Rosario
$1 Dixon Machado
$1 Adam Frazier
$1 Wilmer Flores
$1 Johan Camargo
$1 Neil Walker
$1 Ketel Marte
$1 Kolten Wong

Injury Ranks – Not for Debate
$15 Yoan Moncada
$15 Daniel Murphy
$6 Dustin Pedroia
$6 Elvis Andrus
$5 Tim Beckham
$5 Dansby Swanson
$4 Josh Harrison
$2 Aledmys Diaz
$1 Joe Panik

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