I remember a time when the middle infield positions were so weak in fantasy that it usually paid off big time to draft one of the few elite options. Pass on A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra or Robbie Alomar and you would be stuck with a guy who, from an offensive perspective, was barely worthy of a spot in their club’s everyday lineup, let alone a starting spot on your fantasy squad. Times have changed. While there is still a shortage of top-tier options, there are plenty of players who will make a positive contribution, guys who you can be perfectly happy with should you decide against grabbing a Troy Tulowitzki or a Robinson Cano.
So let’s continue our look at early ADP rankings from Mock Draft Central, moving on to the middle infielders.
RANKED TOO HIGHStarlin Castro (Shortstop Rank: 4 Overall Rank: 41)
Would I be glad to have Castro as my starting shortstop? Absolutely. Would I be willing to spend a third or fourth round pick on him? Not quite. A lot of Starlin’s appeal is tied to his stellar batting average, and while his Minor League track record suggests that he should continue to hit for a strong average, his .344 BABIP from last season suggests that banking on another .300 campaign could be a mistake. I expect an average more in the .280 range to go along with similar home run and stolen base totals as last year. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate, as his walk total of 35 is a bit on the low side. I’d much sooner grab Elvis Andrus (elite speed source) or Asdrubal Cabrera (much higher power upside), both of whom are currently ranked below Castro.
Stephen Drew (Shortstop Rank: 12 Overall Rank: 151)
I know it’s a little unfair to pick on a guy who missed half of last season due to injury, and for that I apologize. But let’s be honest, what exactly is the appeal here? Take away Drew’s career-best ’08 campaign and you have someone who will give you an OK but not great batting average and mid-level power. We’re still waiting for Drew to take that next step forward, and I just don’t see it happening. I wouldn’t at all feel comfortable drafting him as my starting SS in a 12-team mixed league. Give me Alexei Ramirez (ADP: 162) or Jhonny Peralta (ADP: 177) instead.
RANKED TOO LOW
Jhonny Peralta (Shortstop Rank: 14 Overall Rank: 177)
Speaking of Peralta, here’s a player who is extremely undervalued. Coming off two straight disappointing seasons, Jhonny got back to his 20-plus home run ways last year, posting a career-best .299 average in the process. Yeah, yeah, expecting Peralta, a career .268 hitter, to maintain such a high average is probably asking for too much. That said, another 20-homer, 80-plus RBI campaign is well within reach. It seems like Peralta has been around forever, but he’s still just 29. Don’t be surprised if he produces like a top-10 shortstop in 2012. One thing’s for sure, he deserves better than No. 14.
Jose Altuve (Second Base Rank: 20 Overall Rank: 404)
I don’t care how embarrassing the Astros’ lineup might be this year. If I could grab Altuve in the 27th round of a 15-team mixed league draft, it would make my day. 27th round! Prior to getting called up to the big leagues last July, Altuve was batting .389 in the Minors with 24 steals in 87 games. Jose’s exceptional contact skills makes a .300 average in his first full Major League season a distinct possibility. Add in 20-plus swipes and you’ve got yourself a fine cheap choice to plug in at the MI slot.