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Fantasy Baseball middle infielder rest-of-season rankings tiers

We’re rolling along with the Shuffle Up series for fantasy baseball, the in-season version. What you see below is how I would arrange the middle infielders (second base, shortstop) if I were entering a new draft today. Use it to evaluate your team, consider pickups and drops, grade trade offers — it’s up to you.

My salaries are unscientific in nature, meant primarily to show how I rank the players and, more specifically, where the clusters of talent are. Your list will look different, of course. That’s why we have a game.

I did not price anyone on the injured list; I’m no doctor, and the level of injury optimism is highly variable from fantasy manager to fantasy manager.

Two weeks ago, we shuffled the catchers. Last week, it was the corner infielders. Other positions will follow in subsequent weeks. Let’s dig in.

The Big Tickets

$38 Marcus Semien

$38 Wander Franco

$37 Trea Turner

$37 Mookie Betts

$35 Bo Bichette

$35 Fernando Tatís Jr.

Semien was undeniably pressing at the front of his Texas career, but once he settled in, the roof came off. Consider what he’s done over the past calendar year: .278 average, 131 runs, 33 homers, 113 RBI, 29 steals. He’s the most underrated star in baseball, and it was a gift that he was drafted in the third round for most of the draft season.

Franco merely turned 22 in Spring Training; it’s scary to think he can get a lot better. Before the year he was identified as a future batting champion by so many pundits, but the power has improved and he’s even showing aggressive interest on the bases. He’d be an easy first-round pick if we redrafted today. . . Betts maintains elite plate discipline and a solid 130 OPS+ reflects that he’s still an elite offensive player. But the Dodgers offense no longer offers the same buoyancy, and Betts might be uninterested on the bases — he’s merely 1-for-2 through the opening quarter. Still a safe place to park your roto investment, but the upside isn’t quite the same.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$27 Corey Seager

$23 Thairo Estrada

$23 Bobby Witt Jr.

$21 Team Anderson

$21 Francisco Lindor

$20 José Altuve

$20 Nolan Gorman

$19 Nico Hoerner

$19 Jorge Mateo

$18 Xander Bogaerts

$18 Jonathan India

$17 Dansby Swanson

$17 Willy Adames

The Royals have dropped Witt to the No. 6 slot in the order, recognizing that a putrid .262 OBP doesn’t belong in the leadoff spot. But maybe it’s a short-sighted move — the Royals aren’t contending this year no matter what, and with Witt one of their highest-upside players, you might as well give him as many at-bats as possible as he tries to figure things out. Witt’s OPS+ is down to 80 — 20 percent below an average hitter — but the category juice (seven homers, 13 steals) keeps his fantasy value afloat. He still was an overzealous mistake in the first round, but it’s not a league-losing error. He’d probably go in the third round today, even with the holes in his game; it’s hard to let go of this type of pedigree, and his pop and speed won’t let his value collapse.

Gorman’s breakout isn’t that big of a surprise, given that he was a first-round pick who charted on the prospect ranking boards for four seasons. His first year in St. Louis was a mild disappointment, but he still conked 14 homers in 89 games. The Statcast data doesn’t completely validate his hot start, but he’s still carrying an expected average of .278 and an expected slugging of .571. He’s not going away. . . The Statcast page is not supportive of Estrada, saying he’s over his skis in average (55 points higher than expected) and slugging (82 points higher than expected). Nevertheless, if Estrada is around his career .266 average and maintains the category juice (and the No. 2 slot in the San Francisco order), he looks like a stable player worth believing in.

Talk Them Up, Talk Them Down

$16 Whit Merrifield

$15 Ozzie Albies

$15 Max Muncy

$15 Gleyber Torres

$15 Tommy Edman

$14 Jeremy Peña

$13 Ketel Marte

$13 Ezequiel Durán

$12 Geraldo Perdomo

$12 Paul DeJong

$11 Carlos Correa

$11 Christopher Morel

$11 Brandon Lowe

$11 Taylor Walls

$11 Luis Arráez

$10 Anthony Volpe

$10 Isaac Paredes

$10 Matt McLain

No one expects Correa to carry that .213/.302/.396 slash all year, but how much is really here? He hasn’t stolen a base since 2019, his career average of .276 is good but not elite, and he’s generally between 22-26 homers every year, helpful but not needle-moving. He’s also likely to need an IL stint every year. Correa landed six years and $200 million from the Twins, with vesting options that could push the deal to $270 million. Even while acknowledging his plus defense, is it fair to expect more? He’s in my overrated column.

Paredes would be a $14-16 player if he had a sure full-time job, but you know the Rays; they want a different lineup just about every day. Walls would push into the $15-17 range if he had a similar commitment. . . Although Duran will swing at anything and his walk rate is minuscule, the contact rate isn’t bad and his expected average is similar to his actual .308 mark. And the power is real; he always hit for pop in the minors. Any path into the Rangers lineup is welcome in 2023.

Some Plausible Upside

$10 Bryson Stott

$10 Ji-Hwan Bae

$10 CJ Abrams

$10 Adam Frazier

$8 Casey Schmitt

$8 Mauricio Dubón

$7 Jeff McNeil

$7 Amed Rosario

$7 Brandon Drury

$7 Orlando Arcia

$6 Andrés Giménez

$6 Ryan McMahon

$6 Gio Urshela

$5 DJ LeMahieu

$5 Javier Baez

$5 Miguel Vargas

$5 Ha-Seong Kim

$5 Owen Miller

You have my permission to cut Baez if you like, an average drain who no longer has the category juice that saved him in Chicago. . . Schmitt is going to play every day for the Giants, and although he won’t run much, he should hit for a plus average and knock the occasional homer. He wasn’t glittering with pedigree, but he was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. This isn’t completely out of nowhere.

Bargain Bin

$4 Jake Cronenworth

$4 Gunnar Henderson

$4 Brice Turang

$4 Rodolfo Castro

$4 Kyle Farmer

$3 Luis Rengifo

$3 JP Crawford

$3 Brendan Donovan

$3 Jon Berti

$3 Kiké Hernandez

$2 Zach Neto

$2 Josh Rojas

$2 Chris Taylor

$2 Ezequiel Tovar

$2 Kolten Wong

$2 Luis Garcia

$2 Nick Ahmed

$1 Zach McKinstry

$1 Enmanuel Valdez

$1 Michael Massey

$1 Willi Castro

$1 Brandon Crawford

$1 Isiah Kiner-Falefa

$1 Edmundo Sosa

$1 Kevin Newman

$1 Nick Madrigal

$1 Harold Castro

$1 Garrett Hampson

$1 Hanser Alberto

$1 Wilmer Flores

Players on the IL – Ineligible for Ranking

Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Elvis Andrus

Oneil Cruz

Jorge Polanco

Ramón Urías

Christian Arroyo

Nick Gordon

Oswald Peraza

Santiago Espinal

Yu Chang