Shuffle Up: The joy of Mookie Betts and updated rest-of-season outfield values

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Every time you look up, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9552/" data-ylk="slk:Mookie Betts">Mookie Betts</a> is rounding third base. (Nic Antaya, The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Every time you look up, Mookie Betts is rounding third base. (Nic Antaya, The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As we work through July, 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 outfielders; everyone below has outfield 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.

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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. And I might tweak a price here or there, in the opening day of release.

The elite class

$44 Christian Yelich

$42 Mike Trout

$41 Mookie Betts

$39 Ronald Acuna

$39 Cody Bellinger

$33 Starling Marte

Mookie Betts cruised to the 2018 MVP, and had what will likely stand as his career year. This year, he’s having a season that’s gathering no national attention. And look at the pace he’s on: .284/.399/.480, 144 runs, 23 home runs, 73 RBIs, 18 steals on 20 attempts.

He plays plus defense, too.

This is why you took Betts with a lottery pick. All sorts of players have upside, but the floor for Betts is exceptionally high. He’s in a good age pocket. He works his tail off. Fenway Park is a runs-bonanza park. He’s good at pretty much everything.

I took Betts at No. 2 in the Friends & Family League, and while that might not go down as the optimum pick (I see you, Yelich), it’s a pick I’ve never regretted. The idea is to set a major foundational piece of your offense, and Betts does that. I sleep well at night.

Legitimate building blocks

$31 Charlie Blackmon

$31 Kris Bryant

$31 J.D. Martinez

$30 Whit Merrifield

$30 Aaron Judge

$29 Bryce Harper

$27 Juan Soto

Harper is never going to be a bad player, but he’s probably been overrated for several seasons now. In three of the past four seasons, he’s batted .255 or lower. The steals come and go. A .371 OBP is very good, but not elite. It’s stunning to see him carrying a .473 slugging percentage, since power is supposed to be his game. Oddly, he’s been a reverse-platoon split guy in Philly, losing 42 OPS points against righties. Some of these stats are tied to a smallish sample and there’s all sorts of noise in them, fine. But when’s the last time you drafted Harper — or paid up for him in trade — and felt fully satiated? Maybe he’s destined to be a good to very good player for a while, not somehow who deserves the common link to Trout and the other elite players.

We’re not here for the names. We just want the numbers.

The only thing holding Blackmon back from the first tier is a diminishing willingness to run. But he’s been a monster since his return from injury: .343/.378/.650, 35 runs, 10 homers, 28 RBIs in 33 games. Somehow, the Rockies are 12-21 during that run; lovely pitching staff, guys.

Bryant’s 2018 crash goes straight to the injury file; write it off, throw it away. Excused absence. His numbers from 2016, 2017 and 2019 are remarkably similar and consistent. A very safe place to park your money.

Set and forget pieces

$22 Yasiel Puig

$21 Ketel Marte

$22 George Springer

$20 Khris Davis

$20 Joey Gallo

$17 Shin-Soo Choo

$17 Eddie Rosario

$17 Rhys Hoskins

$16 Ramon Laureano

$16 Max Kepler

$16 Yordan Alvarez

$16 Tommy Pham

$16 Mallex Smith

$15 Lourdes Gurriel

$15 David Dahl

The Laureano surge snuck up on me. Sure, he still strikes out too much and sometimes gives up at-bats, but the defense marks his roster spot, and category juice always plays in our fake game. Baseball Savant doesn’t completely buy his current average and slugging, but he’s only playing slightly over his expected ratios. This is a hold.

The stolen base isn’t particularly valuable in the take-and-rake version of baseball we see today, but if Smith is going to be 26-for-30, okay, run whenever you want. He hasn’t been an offensive force since he returned, but he’s been good enough to mark his territory at the top of Seattle’s lineup (.269/.326/.425). And he’s not a zero in the power column, already at a career high of five homers.

I like them, but make me an offer

$13 Garrett Cooper

$13 Jorge Soler

$13 Nick Castellanos

$13 Austin Meadows

$13 Michael Brantley

$13 Andrew Benintendi

$12 Austin Riley

$12 Michael Conforto

$12 Hunter Renfroe

$11 Jeff McNeil

$11 Oscar Mercado

$11 Scott Kingery

$11 Kevin Kiermaier

$11 Domingo Santana

$11 Trey Mancini

$11 Franmil Reyes

$11 Lorenzo Cain

$10 Daniel Santana

$10 Nick Senzel

$10 Jarrod Dyson

$10 Hunter Pence

$10 Justin Upton

Dyson comes with some playing-time risk and he’s dinged up as well, but he’s one of the few players willing to run aggressively in 2019, and he’s not a zero in the power categories. As you look to manipulate your spot in the seasonal categories, this is the type of player who can prove surprisingly useful.

I was tempted to go even lower on Conforto. The pop is good but it’s not elite yet, and let’s face some facts —his career average is still stuck at .252. This is an age-26 season, when does the spike year come? Last year we could blame Citi Field, but he’s been fine there this year, 126 OPS points over his suitcase stats. What’s the missing item here?

Bankable enough that you’re not cutting them

$9 Ian Desmond

$9 Jason Heyward

$9 Nick Markakis

$9 Jackie Bradley

$9 Aaron Hicks

$9 Victor Robles

$9 Ryan Braun

$8 Niko Goodrum

$8 Kevin Pillar

$8 Eric Sogard

$8 Randal Grichuk

$7 Bryan Reynolds

$7 Brian Anderson

$7 Nomar Mazara

$7 Kyle Schwarber

$7 Alex Verdugo

$7 Alex Gordon

$7 Jake Bauers

$7 Joc Pederson

$7 Marwin Gonzalez

$6 AJ Pollock

$6 Kike Hernandez

$6 Cavan Biggio

$6 Kole Calhoun

$6 Josh Reddick

$6 Jesse Winker

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The rest of the crew

$5 Brett Gardner

$5 Mike Yastrzemski

$5 Eric Thames

$5 Avisail Garcia

$5 Matt Beaty

$5 Tyler Naquin

$5 Mark Canha

$5 Adam Eaton

$5 Tyler O'Neill

$4 Howie Kendrick

$4 Brandon Belt

$4 Adam Frazier

$4 Matt Adams

$4 David Fletcher

$4 Jason Kipnis

$4 Corey Dickerson

$4 Wil Myers

$3 Brock Holt

$3 Manuel Margot

$3 Alex Dickerson

$3 Leury Garcia

$3 Dominic Smith

$3 Brandon Dixon

$3 Teoscar Hernandez

$3 Raimel Tapia

$3 Delino DeShields

$3 Jose Peraza

$3 Derek Dietrich

$3 Ender Inciarte

$2 Harold Ramirez

$2 Harold Castro

$2 Dexter Fowler

$2 Jose Osuna

$2 Adam Jones

$2 Jose Martinez

$2 Dee Gordon

$1 Robbie Grossman

$1 Jordan Luplow

$1 Melky Cabrera

$1 Christin Stewart

$1 Luis Arraez

$1 J.D. Davis

$1 Billy Hamilton

$1 Clint Frazier

$1 Brian Goodwin

$1 Joey Wendle

$1 Bubba Starling

$1 Dwight Smith

$0 Anthony Santander

$0 Jacob Marisnick

$0 Myles Straw

$0 Greg Allen

$0 Austin Slater

$0 Johan Camargo

$0 Garrett Hampson

$0 Harrison Bader

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