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Fantasy Baseball 2023 Rankings Tiers: Middle Infield Shuffle Up

The Shuffle Up series rolls along, with middle infielders (second base, shortstop) moving through the car wash today. What follows are my suggested salaries if you play in a Fantasy Salary Cap Draft format.

[Tiered Rankings: C | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | OF | Starters | Relievers]

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

The big tickets

$44 Trea Turner

$41 Mookie Betts

$40 Bo Bichette

$37 Fernando Tatís Jr.

$36 Bobby Witt Jr.

$33 Francisco Lindor

I’d probably have Turner ranked No. 1 overall if he played a different position, but shortstop is so darn deep, I’d prefer to attack a different spot with the yellow jersey. He’s still about as safe as it comes, a five-category man who's changing teams but is still buoyed by a deep lineup and a friendly ballpark. ... Betts sneaks in second-base eligibility, which is why he’s listed here. He’s still the favorite to lead the National League in runs scored, same as it ever was.

You’re going to want some piece of the Toronto legacy kids, especially with the dimensions moving in (I suspect that will help offense more than a fence raising will blunt offense). Bichette is still young enough to want to steal bases, too. ... Witt Jr. is such a polarizing fantasy player, I’ll rerun what I said about him in the corner series. His Yahoo and NFBC ADP is full of Shiny New Toy helium, which probably locks me out. I am reluctant to bake in major improvement to a player's ADP. The bottom half of the Kansas City lineup is downright depressing.

Legitimate building blocks

$30 Marcus Semien

$28 Jazz Chisholm Jr.

$27 Ozzie Albies

$26 Corey Seager

$23 Dansby Swanson

$21 Tim Anderson

$20 Xander Bogaerts

$19 Wander Franco

$19 Andrés Giménez

$18 Oneil Cruz

$18 Willy Adames

Semien scuffled for about six weeks as he found his bearings in Texas; for the rest of the season, he returned first-round value. You’ll get him in the third round of some drafts, which looks like a steal. ... I’m a little worried Chisholm’s positional switch — he’ll be in center field this year — will affect his offensive game, but he’s capable of a monster season. He’s still learning how to play the game, but his 162-game averages are silly: 27 homers, 29 steals. His slash wasn’t anything great in 2021, but he had a .139 OPS+ last season. Jazz is still on the up escalator.

You’ve probably heard this once or 101 times, but Seager is the poster child for a left-handed hitter likely to benefit from the new shift restrictions. ... Adames has stepped up his power in Milwaukee, a nod toward a better hitting park and some improvements with his eyesight. He has been underrated his entire career . . . Franco needs only health to take a step forward, and his ADP is in a reasonable area after last year’s stop-and-start. Take advantage.

Talk them up, talk them down

$17 Gunnar Henderson

$16 Jeremy Peña

$15 Carlos Correa

$15 Gleyber Torres

$15 Amed Rosario

$14 Jorge Polanco

$14 Jonathan India

$14 Tommy Edman

$13 Max Muncy

$13 Brandon Lowe

$12 José Altuve

$11 Nico Hoerner

$11 Jeff McNeil

$11 Jake Cronenworth

$11 Thairo Estrada

$11 Vaughn Grissom

$11 Ketel Marte

$11 Whit Merrifield

$10 Jávier Baez

$10 Ryan McMahon

Last year I was concerned the Cardinals could take the leadoff spot away from Edman; that didn’t happen, and he was a fantasy asset. But the depth of the roster remains, and Edman’s profile doesn’t assure a long leash. I’ve ranked him with the batting-slot risk being real again. ... India was a fresh star two years ago, an injured slumping player last year. Give him a pass. He’s capable of filling all five columns, and the Cincinnati ballpark is the friendliest yard this side of Coors. ... Generally I try not to draft into injuries, they're going to find you anyway, so I doubt I'll be the proactive manager and go after Altuve now that he's busted his thumb.

McNeil will provide a plus average, but he might be a fantasy negative in the other four columns, especially if the Mets fold him into the second half of the lineup. He’s a floor play, very modest upside. ... Baez’s swing-and-miss game caught up to him last year, as the entire AL seemed to realize there was no reason to offer him a strike when he’ll swing at just about anything. He’s surely a destination comeback pick for some — the category juice is likely to return — but I’m petrified the holes in his swing are too public now.

Some plausible upside

$9 Jean Segura

$9 Ezequiel Tovar

$8 Luis Arraez

$8 Brandon Drury

$7 Brendan Rodgers

$7 CJ Abrams

$7 Kolten Wong

$7 Josh Rojas

$6 Bryson Stott

$5 DJ LeMahieu

$5 Luis Rengifo

$5 Jon Berti

$5 Kiké Hernández

$5 Elvis Andrus

$4 Joey Wendle

$4 Adalberto Mondesi

Wong will be part of a platoon, but if your format has proactive lineup-changing allowances, he’s one of the most affordable category-juice options in the later rounds. ... Drury found a career year late in his cycle, but the Angels paid him starter money, he qualifies at three infield spots, and every reasonable projection engine has him around 18-20 homers. As we said in the corner write-up, you'll make your money back.

Mondesi is capable of providing a $25 season or a $0 season; it comes down to health and playing time. If he played merely 120 games, I’d bet on him leading the majors in steals ... Hernández might need to play every day for Boston, and Fenway Park remains a soft landing. His useful 2021 return (.250-84-20-60) is still in the reasonable range of outcomes.

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Bargain bin

$3 Ha-Seong Kim

$3 Chris Taylor

$2 Luís Urias

$2 Christopher Morel

$2 Oswald Peraza

$2 Luis Garcia

$2 Brendan Donovan

$2 Nick Gordon

$1 Jorge Mateo

$1 Wilmer Flores

$1 Isaac Paredes

$1 Tony Kemp

$1 J.P. Crawford

$1 Jonathan Schoop

$1 Rodolfo Castro

$1 Nicky Lopez

$1 Elly De La Cruz

$0 *Trevor Story