Fantasy Baseball Shuffle Up: Unstoppable Jose Ramirez leads updated infield values

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Memorial Day has come and gone. We’re past the one-quarter mark of the baseball season. Fantasy standings have some meat now.

Time for a Shuffle Up.

Today’s assignment was to Rake the Infield. Below I have assigned salary values to infield-eligible Yahoo hitters, giving you an idea of how I’d approach them if I were in a league that salary-cap drafted right now, starting from scratch.

What each player has done to this point is merely a prelude. The salaries reflect where I expect those stories to go. The dollar amounts are unscientific in nature, gut-feel calls and a reflection of how I see the talent clustering. Players at the same salary are considered even.

Anyone who is outfield-only did not make this list (Mookie Betts, remember, has 2B eligibility). I wiped out all the catchers; we’ll do them separately on another day.

The only special case I made for inclusion here was Shohei Ohtani, who is DH-only but screw it, I included him.

I reserve the right to tweak this list as the day goes along. And I know like any list, it will look somewhat dated and maybe even a little silly in short order. That’s how this fake baseball stuff works. Go back and look at any draft you did in March — there are messy picks and errors all over the place. That’s part of the fun, to be fair.

Assume a 5x5 scoring system, as usual. We are civilized people here.

The Big Tickets

$43 Jose Ramirez

$43 Trea Turner

$42 Mookie Betts

$38 Manny Machado

$38 Shohei Ohtani

$38 Bo Bichette

$37 Francisco Lindor

$36 Rafael Devers

$36 Vladimir Guerrero

$35 Freddie Freeman

$32 Xander Bogaerts

$31 Trevor Story

$30 Pete Alonso

Although the Guardians are merely 17th in runs, Ramirez remains an unstoppable force. Generally, I like my early picks to be tied to loaded lineups, for the undertow, the buoyancy — Turner and Betts wave hello. But maybe Ramirez is simply undeniable . . . Lindor is running aggressively again, and all of a sudden the Mets are a destination fantasy offense . . . Although the Red Sox are generally a red light team on the bases, that hasn’t stopped Story from swiping six bags. He’s always had the sprint speed to threaten 30-30 seasons, but he’s more the type of player who will run situationally. Despite his slow first month, Story is on pace for 30 homers, 122 RBIs.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$27 Paul Goldschmidt

$24 Jose Abreu

$23 Ozzie Albies

$22 Ty France

$21 C.J. Cron

$21 Tommy Edman

$21 Jazz Chisholm

$21 Austin Riley

$21 Matt Olson

$20 Dansby Swanson

$20 Nolan Arenado

$19 Jean Segura

$19 Wander Franco

$19 Whit Merrifield

$18 Alex Bregman

$18 Jose Altuve

$17 Bobby Witt Jr.

$17 Jared Walsh

$17 Corey Seager

Is Goldschmidt building a legitimate Hall of Fame case? He’s won multiple Gold Gloves, multiple Silver Slugger Awards. He’s never won an MVP, but he’s finished second twice, third another time, sixth last year. He currently leads the NL in hits, slugging, OPS. He’s 16-for-16 on steals from the beginning of 2020; one of the smartest players in the game. May we all age so gracefully ...

Paul Goldschmidt #46 of the St. Louis Cardinals has been a fantasy star
Paul Goldschmidt has been one of the better fantasy infielders through the first part of the season. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

I know we’re trained to distrust high batting averages, but France’s lofty .342 is mostly supposed by his Statcast page (expected average: .326), and his expected slugging is 13 points higher than his front-door number. A strikeout rate of 11.1 percent is ridiculous in today’s environment, and although his hard-hit metrics aren’t elite, they’re all above league average. France is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball . . . The underrated tag also applies to Segura, who keeps producing category juice along with a plus average . . . If you didn’t sweat the lineup slots in the spring, you likely drafted into a lot of Edman, Swanson, and Chisholm. Those players look safe now, slotted in the first or second spots of their respective lineups.

Talk them up, talk them down

$16 Jorge Polanco

$16 Ketel Marte

$16 Marcus Semien

$15 Jeremy Peña

$15 Josh Bell

$14 Anthony Rizzo

$14 Rowdy Tellez

$14 Gleyber Torres

$14 Rhys Hoskins

$14 Carlos Correa

$13 Patrick Wisdom

$13 Jeff McNeil

$13 Willy Adames

$13 Javier Baez

$13 Eugenio Suarez

$12 Kyle Schwarber

$12 Chris Taylor

$12 Ryan McMahon

$11 Ke'Bryan Hayes

$11 Ryan Mountcastle

$11 Justin Turner

$11 Trey Mancini

$11 Nolan Gorman

$10 Andres Gimenez

$10 Jorge Mateo

$10 J.P. Crawford

Baez is one of the hardest calls on the sheet. He’s yet to steal a base and the Tigers are dead last in steals. Then again, you can’t steal first base — Detroit ranks 27th in average, 29th in OBP and dead last in runs —29 behind the Pirates . . . Bell’s comeback season included a snappy .299 average and .379 OBP, but only four homers, along with a puny .412 slugging. Maybe he should be batting first or second, in front of Juan Soto . . . Suarez leads the AL in strikeouts and he’s never going to be an OBP guy, but the .220 average doesn’t crush you in today’s game, and he does have nine homers and shortstop and third-base eligibility. He’s set up to be a profit from where he was drafted in March . . . Correa usually strikes me as a good player, not a generational one. He’s been inside the top 16 in the MVP vote just once, conveniently timed to his walk year from Houston. He’s never hit more than 26 homers. A .277 average is useful, not generational. He shut down the running game six years ago. Is this all we get for $35 million a year? . . . Although I’ve come down on the number, I refuse to accept that Semien simply forgot how to play baseball. At least he’s shown signs of life over the last week, and he’s still interested in running . . . Rizzo would instantly lose $3-5 if he left the Yankees (unless Colorado came calling, I guess). The short porch is bailing him out.

Some plausible upside

$9 Thairo Estrada

$9 Kyle Farmer

$9 Alec Bohm

$9 Jake Cronenworth

$9 Christopher Morel

$8 Jurickson Profar

$8 Eric Hosmer

$8 Christian Walker

$8 Kolten Wong

$8 DJ LeMahieu

$8 Kike Hernandez

$8 Matt Chapman

$8 Yoan Moncada

$7 Brandon Drury

$7 Luis Arraez

$7 Hunter Dozier

$7 Garrett Cooper

$7 Chad Pinder

$7 Lourdes Gurriel

$7 Josh Rojas

$7 Eduardo Escobar

$7 Jonathan Schoop

$6 Nelson Cruz

$6 Owen Miller

$6 Josh Naylor

$6 Connor Joe

$6 Brandon Crawford

$6 Jesus Aguilar

$6 Edwin Rios

$6 Juan Yepez

Moncada hasn’t looked right all year, and he’s also dealing with injuries. Although Michael Kopech has come around and Chris Sale’s last contract looks like an albatross, the Red Sox were justified when they emptied out the prospect chamber for Sale before the 2017 season. For every uber-prospect who crushes, so many others become average players, if that . . . Schoop carries an expected .256 average, well below that ugly .185 he’s tagged with. Buy low where you can; in some leagues, he might even be a free agent . . . Hernandez has a messy average but he’ll be around 20 home runs, and the Red Sox for some reason still like him leading off . . . Morel will probably be a $15 guy or a $3 guy when I revisit this list later in the summer. I’ve added him aggressively, where possible. He has some pop, good contact skills, a keen eye (critical for sticking at leadoff), and the willingness to run.

Bargain Bin

$5 Cesar Hernandez

$5 Gio Urshela

$5 Gavin Lux

$5 Frank Schwindel

$5 Andrew Vaughn

$5 Yuli Gurriel

$5 Joey Votto

$4 Wilmer Flores

$4 Pavin Smith

$4 Nico Hoerner

$4 Maikel Franco

$4 Brendan Rodgers

$4 Ji-Man Choi

$4 Nathaniel Lowe

$4 Ramon Urias

$4 Jeimer Candelario

$4 Brendan Donovan

$4 Evan Longoria

$3 Jace Peterson

$3 Seth Brown

$3 Darin Ruf

$3 Isiah Kiner-Falefa

$3 Adam Frazier

$3 Santiago Espinal

$3 Sheldon Neuse

$3 Michael Chavis

$3 Luis Urias

$3 Yandy Diaz

$3 Luis Guillorme

$3 Keston Hiura

$3 Amed Rosario

$3 Mike Moustakas

$2 Ha-seong Kim

$2 Jose Iglesias

$2 Rougned Odor

$2 Andrew Velazquez

$2 Harold Ramirez

$2 Elvis Andrus

$2 Franchy Cordero

$2 Tony Kemp

$2 Jed Lowrie

$2 Tyler Wade

$2 Colin Moran

$2 Jonathon Berti

$2 Nicky Lopez

$2 Luke Voit

$2 Bobby Dalbec

$2 Spencer Torkelson

$2 Miguel Cabrera

$2 Joey Wendle

$2 Brian Anderson

$1 Albert Pujols

$1 Andy Ibanez

$1 Nick Solak

BONUS: Courtesy ranks of injured players — not for debate.

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I generally have less injury optimism than the average fantasy player. You’re allowed to see these players as optimistically or as pessimistically as you want. Hey, baseball is better when Tim Anderson is healthy. I hope all these guys are back soon.

$33 Tim Anderson

$18 Brandon Lowe

$13 Anthony Rendon

$11 Max Muncy

$11 Brandon Belt

$11 Jonathan India

$10 Kris Bryant

$9 Josh Donaldson

$3 Jonathan Villar

Next week, we’ll do the outfielders or the starting pitchers — I haven’t decided yet.

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