’09 was an unpredictable season for middle infielders. Many stars burned their owners with disappointing seasons while mediocre players produced surprising returns. However, like a stock market, the trick to fantasy baseball is “buying low and selling high.” The concept is particularly appropriate here, as chances are talented middle infielders will be undervalued, replaced by outrageous bidding on mediocre players who people hope will have another great season.
With this concept in mind, the following four middle infielders could be undervalued: Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, Howie Kendrick, and Ian Kinsler. Rollins’ value declined last season as the former MVP hit only .250 with 31 steals. Rollins’ performance was spectacular, however, when compared to Jose Reyes, who did nothing. Nevertheless, purchasing either player at “Brandon Phillips” prices seems smart considering Rollins bounced back from similar struggles in ’03 and Reyes has 50+ steal potential along with moderate power.
Another sleeper is Howie Kendrick. On paper, his .293 batting average fell far below expectation. Nevertheless, the numbers don’t reflect how well Kendrick rebounded in the second half following his demotion. Finally, with Ian Kinsler’s combination of speed and power, he should be purchased for anything below $26 despite the disappointing batting average.
I would avoid middle infielders from Toronto and Tampa Bay (i.e., Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist, and Jason Bartlett). My opinion about each player is identical. There is no doubt they have value based on their 2009 performance. Nevertheless, someone in your league will overpay for them. Let them. Your team will be far better off either: (1) taking a flyer on any of the fallen players mentioned above, or (2) buying a solid middle infielder at a reasonable price (my favorite being Alberto Callaspo).
I would estimate the 2010 values of these players are: Reyes ($32…perfect health, $24…problems), Kinsler ($27), Rollins ($25), Aaron Hill ($20), Jason Bartlett ($17), Howie Kendrick ($17), Ben Zobrist ($15), Marco Scutaro ($13).