Fantasy Baseball corner 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 corner infielders (first base, third base) 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.

Last week, we shuffled the catchers. Other positions will follow in subsequent weeks. Let's dig in.

The Big Tickets

$38 Freddie Freeman

$35 Paul Goldschmidt

$32 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

$32 José Ramírez

$32 Austin Riley

$31 Rafael Devers

$29 Pete Alonso

$29 Bobby Witt Jr.

Has anyone ever regretted rostering Freeman? Over the past eight seasons, he has never batted lower than .295, never had an OBP lower than .379 (where he’s at now), never slugged under .500. The fact that he’s quietly stealing bases (13 last year, six this year) is just a bonus; any smart player could steal double digits every year if he wants to, and Freeman is obviously a smart player. Remember those old debates in the early 2010s, where it was Freeman or Eric Hosmer, take your pick? Those chats were adorable ...

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go after Goldschmidt on the heels of an MVP season that wasn’t fully supported by the expected-stat metrics. So much for the new math. Goldy’s average and OBP are nearly identical to last year, and his slugging is off only slightly. It’s not his fault the Cardinals have a losing record. And you want to talk about smart baserunners — Goldschmidt is 25-for-25 on steals the past four years. He’s on his way to the Hall of Fame and aging gracefully in his age-35 season ...

Perhaps it was a folly to draft Witt in the first round, when you could have had Randy Arozarenahis projection doppelgänger — or the forever underrated Marcus Semien two rounds later. But Witt’s category juice is making up for that ugly average, and even as we note the OBP, we also accept it’s not one of the standard five categories. The batted-ball metrics are in Witt’s corner, suggesting a .256 average and a .484 slugging off what he has done so far, and he's the fastest player in the game today. Even if the springtime chasers were over their skis, it wasn’t by much.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$26 Nolan Arenado

$25 Matt Olson

$23 Manny Machado

$22 Alex Bregman

$19 Anthony Rizzo

$18 Yandy Díaz

$16 Max Muncy

$15 Matt Chapman

$14 Christian Walker

$14 Ryan Mountcastle

$14 Vinnie Pasquantino

Arenado jump-started his season with a three-homer weekend in Boston, then backed it up with another homer Monday. Unfortunately, his Savant page suggests that his ordinary slash of the moment is what he deserves, but Arenado is still just 32 and on a similar HOF track as Goldschmidt; this is a player to be patient on ... Bregman looks like a buy-low, maintaining elite plate discipline while somewhat unlucky on the batted balls, even if an expected average of .255 and an expected slugging of .429 aren't worthy of a parade. Bregman also homered Monday, and the Astros lineup gets the sorely missed José Altuve back soon ...

Diaz wasn’t an automatic starter when the season opened, but he started 31-of-33 games over the past five weeks, parked atop the Rays' lineup. Diaz has a BB/K ratio almost at 1 — anyone who can say that is a good hitter — and he has already passed last year’s home run total. This is what a breakout season looks like, and Tampa Bay has given him the leash he has earned.

Talk Them Up, Talk Them Down

$13 Nathaniel Lowe

$12 Josh Jung

$12 Ty France

$12 Luis Arráez

$12 Alec Bohm

$11 Patrick Wisdom

$11 Rowdy Tellez

$11 J.D. Davis

$11 Ezequiel Durán

$11 Christopher Morel

$11 Joey Meneses

$10 LaMonte Wade

$10 Eugenio Suárez

Wade would be into the teens if he had a full-time gig, but at least we know when he’ll play — anytime the Giants face a righty starter. Wade’s .943 OPS against righties makes him DFS catnip when the matchup lines up ... Morel flashed his power stroke in the minors, and it has carried over to Chicago. And note he has played five different positions since making the Cubs last year; the Nico Hoerner injury is why Morel is playing now, but Morel has several paths into this lineup. The only caveat through the opening week: no walks and 10 strikeouts over 26 plate appearances ... Duran might not keep that pretty average as he navigates 29 strikeouts against two walks, but he always had thump in the minors (.488 slugging), and Texas is surprisingly a destination offense thus far, behind only Tampa Bay in runs scored.

Some Plausible Upside

$9 DJ LeMahieu

$9 Nick Senzel

$9 Taylor Walls

$8 Harold Ramirez

$8 Andrew Vaughn

$7 Geraldo Perdomo

$7 Isaac Paredes

$7 Jake Cronenworth

$7 Alex Kirilloff

$7 Jose Abreu

$6 Justin Turner

$6 Miguel Vargas

$6 Spencer Steer

$5 Chris Taylor

$5 Brandon Drury

$5 Jake Burger

$5 Ryan McMahon

$5 Gio Urshela

$5 Joey Gallo

$5 Wil Myers

$5 Brett Baty

$5 Yoán Moncada

I initially had Walls in the higher tier, but we have to accept that playing time is tricky — he plays about 75% of the time, and that’s a drain in mixed leagues (the same narrative applies to Paredes). Plus, it’s the Rays — it’s not like there’s always a rhyme or reason Walls isn’t in the lineup (well, if there is, I’ve missed it; maybe Jason Collette knows). On the plus side, Walls offers three positions of eligibility and delicious category juice (seven homers, seven steals) ... A little more pop from Senzel would be nice, though a .276 average and .355 OBP not only merit his roster spot but also beg for a lineup promotion. Senzel turns 28 in late June; it’s still early enough in the career to dream of a post-hype breakout year ... Give Kirilloff a healthy season, leave him alone, and you’ll get 20-25 homers. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Bargain Bin

$4 Connor Joe

$4 Josh Rojas

$4 Jon Berti

$4 Ha-Seong Kim

$4 Brian Anderson

$4 Gunnar Henderson

$4 Casey Schmitt

$3 Josh Naylor

$3 Ke'Bryan Hayes

$3 Luke Raley

$3 Trey Mancini

$3 Brendan Donovan

$3 Brandon Belt

$3 Matt Mervis

$2 Carlos Santana

$2 Wilmer Flores

$2 Zach McKinstry

$2 Nick Pratto

$2 Rodolfo Castro

$2 Pavin Smith

$2 Triston Casas

$2 Spencer Torkelson

$2 Luis Rengifo

$2 Jose Miranda

$2 Jean Segura

$1 Dominic Smith

$1 Owen Miller

$1 Jace Peterson

$1 Jeimer Candelario

$1 Gavin Sheets

$1 Garrett Cooper

$1 Mike Moustakas

Players on the IL — Ineligible for Ranking

$0 Anthony Rendon

$0 C.J. Cron

$0 Ramón Urías

$0 Christian Arroyo

$0 Seth Brown

$0 Josh Donaldson