Our rankings kicked off with the corner infielders earlier this week. Today let’s take a run at the middle infielders.
1. Hanley Ramirez, SS, FLA—Han-Ram is the total fantasy package. He plays at a premium position, has power and speed, scores runs and hits for average. What more do you want? He’s the only player to consider for the number one overall pick next to Albert Pujols.
2. Chase Utley, 2B, PHI—Utley is the elite second baseman in fantasy baseball. He hits for power and average and can steal bases. He’s even a pretty good defender, but that’s not why you pick him in the first round of your draft. He’s worth the high draft pick, so bid confidently.
3. Jose Reyes, SS, NYM—We finish out the big three with another player from the N.L. East and like the others, Reyes has pop in his bat and speed in his legs. Unfortunately, that speed might not be as good as it was a year or two ago as Reyes missed considerable time in 2009 with a hamstring injury and those usually take a long time to heal completely. His days of 60+ steals are probably gone.
4. Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX—Kinsler had his coming out party in 2008 and continued to progress in 2009. Look for more of the same, posting something in the ballpark of .274/26/78/28.
5. Jimmy Rollins, SS, PHI—Another N.L. East middle infielder with power and speed, Rollins should make you proud with a .274/18/73/36 line, but will be gone in the middle of the second round if you don’t move quickly.
6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS—Pedroia is good at a lot of things, but not great at any one area. Look for a .309/14/67/17 line with 99 runs scored.
7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL—Tulo has to find a way to stay healthy. He’s only had one 600+ at-bat season in his career and is starting to become an injury risk. If he can stay healthy, he could be ready for a real break-through season. A .279/25/86/11 season is realistic even if he comes up short on 600 ABs again.
8. Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL—Brian Roberts is very good and very consistent. The Baltimore offense is improving and Roberts will benefit somewhat. A .284/11/61/35 is very likely and can be had late in the third round on average.
9. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN—Phillips seems to have peaked already, but a .273/21/89/25 season is good consolation if you miss out on Utley or Kinsler.
10. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY—Cano doesn’t seem to have lived up to the hype that New York built for him. He plays in the best offense in baseball and a mid-third round pick should land you .296/19/88.
11. Aaron Hill, 2B, TOR—Hill put things together in the famed “age 27” season. Look for more of the same this year with something around .283/25/84.
12. Miguel Tejada, SS, BAL—Tejada has changed teams, leagues and positions. He will also qualify at 3B this season and should provide a lot of value, especially for a guy likely to go in the eighth or ninth round of your draft.
13. Derek Jeter, SS, NYY—For all the love Yankee fans give him and all the hate showered on him by the anti-Yankee fans, this guy just keeps on plugging along. He’s 36 this season, but should still provide you with .303/12/60/19. Unfortunately, his reputation will also cost you a third round pick.
14. Ian Stewart, 2B/3B, COL—The dual-position eligibility and finally having the chance to start every day at the same position will give Stewart the chance to flourish. He’s long been heralded for his potential, but this won’t be the breakout season. He’ll still reward you with .255/26/90/9 for your ninth round pick.
15. Alcides Escobar, SS, MIL—Milwaukee’s rookie sensation should not disappoint in his first full MLB season. Escobar is going in the 18th round over at Mock Draft Central and will repay you with .287/5/50/44. A nice value!
The Next 15
16. Jose Lopez, 2B, SEA
17. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/SS, CLE
18. Yunel Escobar, SS, ATL
19. Alexei Ramirez, SS, CWS
20. Rafael Furcal, SS, LAD
21. Erick Aybar, SS, LAA
22. Dan Uggla, 2B, FLA
23. Jhonny Peralta, 3B/SS, CLE
24. Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
25. Martin Prado, 1B/2B/3B
26. Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA
27. Ryan Theriot, SS, CHC
28. Jason Bartlett, SS, TB
29. Stephen Drew, SS, ARZ
30. Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL