With the amount of injuries to second basemen and shortstops, fantasy owners are looking for replacements. Here are five middle infielders to help you along the way.
We are two months into the 2016 baseball season. Whether you play in a head-to-head or rotisserie league, now is a good time to make some must-needed changes in order to compete for the rest of the season. With the middle infielder injuries that have rattled the fantasy baseball world, owners are looking for a lot of replacements.
Here are five middle infielders that are worth picking up now and for the rest of the season.
This list of players features some hitters that have or will be returning from injury. One is returning from a suspension and the other two are emerging at the right time. Regardless of the situation, these five hitters will make an impact on your fantasy team. There is one thing these players have in common, all owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
While there are more important players still on the waiver wire, the chances of them being available in your league are very low. There may be some recency bias with some of these players, but like the saying goes, “got to strike while the iron is hot.”
The playing time of some of these players is not guaranteed. If there is an injured or struggling player on your team, I would take the risk with at least of one these hitters to win you a week or two. Whether it’s power, speed or contact, there is some value to be had.
Here are the five middle infielders I recommend you adding to your team.
Regardless of what you think of him on a personal level, Jose Reyes has had a fantasy impact for multiple years. His time with the Colorado Rockies last season was decent, at best. In 47 games, he hit two triples, three home runs, 19 RBI and a .259 average. He also stole eight bases and 12 attempts.
Now, there is a bigger problem looming in Colorado. The problem goes by the name Trevor Story. Maybe you heard of him… His success so far would make things difficult for Rockies management, but these seem to already have their minds made up.
He is eligible to come back on May 31, but will begin playing in extended Spring Training games on June 1. There are reports that Reyes won’t be getting his job back, and that management is listening for trade offers for the former all-star player.
Wherever Reyes goes, he will be someone worth adding. He showed he still has the speed, despite being 32 years old. Some teams that could be in the market for a shortstop are the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
Reyes is owned in just 6.6 percent of leagues, so when he does start playing, he’ll be readily available.
Devon Travis missed the first 47 games of the season with a shoulder injury. He came back on May 25 and looked like he didn’t miss a beat; playing in Triple-A does help. He has at least one his in every game he’s played with three runs and three RBI.
Travis is currently batting seventh in the Toronto Blue Jays lineup. If he continues to hit like this, he could climb up in the batting order.
With the injury to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Travis’ return couldn’t have come at a better time. The Blue Jays offense isn’t quite the powerhouse it was last season, so hopefully Travis can light a much-needed spark.
Travis played in just 62 games last season. In those games, though, he hit eight home runs, 35 RBI and .304. He had a 43:18 K:BB ratio. He already has four strikeouts this season, so that is something is look out for if you pick him up.
The pool of available second basemen is not the deepest, so if you need help at this position, Travis should be added. He is currently owned in 33.5 percent of leagues, up 10 percent from last week.
The former New York Yankees utility man, Eduardo Nunez is lighting it up for the Minnesota Twins. He played in 72 games in both 2014 and 2015 with the Twins. In each season, he hit four home runs with a combined 44 RBI and a .265 average. In this season, he either matched or surpassed some of his 2015 totals.
In 39 games, he has five home runs, 20 RBI and .333 average with eight steals and 28:5 K:BB ratio. Over the last three games, Nunez has nine hits (two homers), four runs and three RBI.
The Twins offense is one of the worst in the league, 24th in average, 19th in home runs and 28th in runs scored. Nunez is one of the few bright spots in this lineup.
The downside is that his walk and strikeout ratios are both at career worsts, 3.2 and 17.8 respectively. He is putting good contact on the ball, 29.2 hard hit rate, and is spreading the ball all across the field. Despite the negatives, Nunez is on his way to a career season,so I would add him while you still can.
Nunez is also eligible at third base, giving you more flexibility in your lineup. He is owned in 33.9 of leagues, up 10.2 percent over the last seven days.
Jose Ramirez is the most-added middle infielder on this list, being picked up in over 20 percent of leagues over the last week. There is a great reason for that. After an average 2015 season, Ramirez is doing everything right this season.
He isn’t much of a power hitter, three home runs, but has 19 RBI and a .309 average. He has 14 strikeouts and 13 walks. His plate discipline is something that dates back to last season. He had a 9.0 walk rate and a 11.0 strikeout rate last year. This year, he has a 8.5 walk rate and 9.2 strikeout rate.
Those numbers paired with his 23.3 O-Swing and 5.3 swinging strike rates are the cause for his .375 on-base percentage. If you play in an OBP league, his walk rate is something to be treasured.
Ramirez has four steals so far. He stole 10 bases in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015. I think he’ll be able to get to double-digit steals again this season. A two-skill player in Ramirez with speed and contact is a good fit as a middle infielder.
The Cleveland Indians offense is a little better than Minnesota’s, but not by much. There is no batter with double-digit home runs and only one with over 30 RBI, 34-year-old Mike Napoli.
Ramirez has second base shortstop, third base and outfield eligibility. Even more than Nunez, this flexibility is another, and possibly even more important, reason to pick him up.
Jhonny Peralta has not taken an at bat yet this season. Luckily for the Cardinals, they had a viable replacement in Aledmys Diaz. He has seven home runs, 25 RBI and a .319 average. But, will he be benched for the returning veteran?
Peralta’s career began in 2003, but he is still a top-10 shortstop. In 155 games last season, he hit 17 home runs and 71 RBI with a .275 average. He did exceed 100 strikeouts for the third time over his last four seasons.
Peralta began his rehab assignment on May 20. He will play both shortstop and third base while rehabbing. Over three games last weekend, he went 1-for-7 with a double. The Cardinals plan on reassessing his status after this upcoming weekend.
He could be coming off the DL very soon, however, consistent playing time may not be his. Peralta will find a role, it just may not be the everyday role his owners drafted him for, according to Rotowire.
The Cardinals could move Diaz over to second and take over for the struggling Kolten Wong and put Peralta at short. First baseman Matt Adams is considered day-to-day with a back issue, but has been used in a pinch-hitter role.
There are some pieces in the Cardinals lineup, and Peralta should be used more often than not. He is owned in just 12.8 percent of leagues.
These five middle infielders are all worth owning in one league or another. Whether it’s the recent success or possible production for the rest of the season, these players have a lot of upside. The one player I’m torn on is Reyes. If he could find his way out of Colorado to a team with a good offense, he will have a serviceable second half of 2016.
If none of these players satisfy your needs, Jonathan Schoop, Chase Utley and Steve Pearce are all still available. These three players are hitting for power this month and continue to crush throughout the season.
None of these players should be your starting second baseman or shortstop, but could slot nicely in your middle infield position. That may not be the case in deeper leagues, as you may have no other choice, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you had other options.
I hope you are able to add at least one of these middle infielders in route to a successful week and possible fantays championship. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to make a trade. You must have something an opposing owner needs.