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“In Lou Of”- 2016 Corner Infielders Ranks (30-21) Part 1 of 3

It’s that slow, quiet time of the year in the sports world between the end of the Super Bowl and beginning of Spring Training Baseball. Players, owners, management, fantasy owners and DFS players alike are all hoping that this will be their magical year; the year they are crowned as champions.
With fantasy baseball drafts just around corner, it’s fitting that I’ll be discussing player rankings here today and over the next couple weeks. Let me be your one-stop shop to 1B and 3B rankings. In each article, I will break down 10 players at each of the positions, starting with the 30th-21st ranked players this week, 20th-11th next week and 10th-1st to wrap it up.

First Baseman:

30. Yonder Alonso- OAK

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There is a reason why Alonso was traded from the Padres to the Athletics this offseason. His lack of power does not go unnoticed and his run production is well below avg for a corner infielder. He only managed to hit a total of 12 HR and 58 RBI over the past 2 seasons combined and the move to another pitchers park in Oakland is not going to do him any favors. He is only on this list because he’s projected to be the starter in 2016, which means he will see consistent at bats. He likely won’t be drafted in your league and barring an unforeseen improvement in his power numbers, he should be left off your roster all together.

29. C.J. Cron- LAA

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Cron has yet to play a full season in MLB Yet in his limited at bats, he has shown the ability to hit for power and drive runners in. His style of hitting is very similar to ex-Angels farm hand, Mark Trumbo. Although he hasn’t hit for 30 home runs at the big league level like Trumbo did, I expect him to get close to it in 2016. He managed 16 HR and 51 RBI in only 348 at bats last year and with Pujols coming off foot surgery this offseason, Cron should see time at 1B and closer to 550 at bats. With the increase in opportunity, it’s certainly looks like Cron should hit a minimum of 25+ HR and 75+ RBI. Those are not exactly numbers that will stand out to you, especially from the 1B position, but remember that he’s near the bottom off this list with room to improve. It’s also worth mentioning that the DH spot in the Angels lineup is completely up for grabs and headed into spring training, Cron is the leading candidate for the role. Keep an eye on him, he’s worth a late flier and he may be a diamond in the rough.

28. Justin Bour- MIA

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Bour had his first taste of big league action back in 2014 and showed the Marlins more than enough to earn himself over 400 at bats in 2015. He finished the season with a mediocre .321 OBP and .262 AVG, however, he posted 23 HR and 73 RBI. With his first full MLB season under his belt, look for the young left handed hitter to improve upon his fantasy value. There is no question that his new manager Don Mattingly and his new hitting coach Barry bonds (both superstar left handed hitters during their MLB careers) will have an immediate impact on his performance. Bour is not to well known in most baseball circles and he will definitely be available late in your draft. Don’t be surprised if he’s sitting on your waiver wire when the season begins and if you aren’t able to draft one of the top 1B, he should provide plenty of value as a late round pick/waiver wire pick up.

27. Ryan Howard- PHI

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The one time perennial all-star and former NL MVP has really declined over the past few seasons. His age has most certainly caught up with him and the Phillies being in a rebuild mode hasn’t helped matters either. Heading into last season, I felt that Howard could still be effective coming off a season in 2014 in which he hit 23 HR and 93 RBI. I was sorely mistaken because although he managed 23 HR again in 2015, his RBI total dropped to 77 and he had 20 less hits than he did the year before. This season I personally would not have him on my roster and if you’re wondering why he isn’t lower on the list, keep in mind that even in the worst season of his career (2015), his power numbers were still better than the 3 players ranked below him. If I were to redo these rankings in June, it is quite possible that Howard would be behind Bour and Cron.

26. Joe Mauer- MIN

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Mauer just continues to fall in the rankings every year since he gave up catching and moved to 1B. Over the past couple seasons I have been a believer in him, feeling that the move to a less demanding position would help him get back to all-star status. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. His .265 BA, .338 OBP, 10 HR and 66 RBI last season are far from being productive so needless to say, I wouldn’t draft him. His brand name alone will likely land him on someone’s teams but mark my words, they will be trying to unload him onto you in no time.

25. Will Myers- SD

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Once a top OF prospect with the Royals and then the Rays, Myers has done nothing but disappoint since his stellar rookie season in Tampa. He was traded away last offseason to the Padres looking for a fresh start. However, injuries (not even 70 games played last year) coupled with the pitcher friendly park in SD resulted in a below average performance making Myers somewhat of a bust for SD and fantasy owners. With the recent trade of Yonder Alonso, Myers is expected to be the every day first baseman for the Padres. He’s shown what he is capable of, but unless you’re in a dynasty format I would steer clear of him until he proves that he can produce at a consistent basis. If you get 16 HR and 60 RBI from him consider yourself lucky.

24. Daniel Murphy- WSH

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The man they call “Murph” put on one of the greatest post season performances in recent memory for the 2015 Mets. Still, it wasn’t enough for the Mets to give him a long term deal and keep him in New York for years to come. Murphy became a Free Agent this winter and the Mets division rival Nationals, wasted no time in signing Murphy. Although he’s not a great defensive player, has the ability to play 1B, 2B and 3B, which makes him very useful to a Nationals team that dealt with injuries at those positions all throughout 2015. It also adds to his fantasy value because owners will be able to slot him in at multiple positions. Some may disagree with me, but I feel that Murphy will benefit greatly from getting out of Citi Field in NY and moving to a more hitter friendly ball park in Washington. Whatever position he plays on the field, Murphy should be a steady producer across the board. I expect a .286 AVG, .320 OBP, 22 HR and 83 RBI.

23. Mitch Moreland- TEX

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Moreland is coming off what is easily the best season of his career. He got a lot of playing time at first base due to the Rangers trying to protect Prince Fielder. Fielder primarily was the DH in the Rangers lineup and Moreland took complete advantage of his increased opportunity. He batted .278, had an OBP of .330 while smacking 23 HR and driving in 85 runs. Some readers may believe that those numbers were somewhat of a fluke but I’m here to tell you otherwise. The Rangers lineup is loaded with talent and they play in one of the more hitter friendly ball parks in all of MLB. I expect similar production for Moreland in 2016 and I will personally be targeting him in the final 1/3 of my drafts.

22. Ryan Zimmerman- WSH

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Zimmerman is the longest-tenured Nationals player and they saw his production dip in 2015. Many things went wrong for last years team and Zimmerman was no exception. He’s always been a very productive player (when healthy), but his decline last year may be the beginning of the end for him. He’s been in MLB for 11 seasons and it seems like he is never going to reach the super star status that most expected out of him. Expect a mediocre .272 BA, .328 OBP, 16 HR, 74 RBI in 2016, keeping in mind that if he misses extended time like he has in the past due to injury, those numbers will be even worse. He does have eligibility at 3B as well in many leagues which does add to his value. This is another player (like Mauer) who will be drafted based on his brand name rather than his actual fantasy value. Draft with caution.

21. Victor Martinez- DET

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Heading into 2015, Victor was near the top of almost every 1B ranking. After a porous 2015 season which saw him post the worst numbers of his career, it wouldn’t be right for him to be any higher on my list than he is right now. There’s no doubt that the Tigers are loaded offensively and that V-Mart should have plenty of run producing chances, however, he’s in his late 30’s and has been dealing with nagging injuries over the last year and a half. People forget that he is a former catcher and all that time behind the plate is likely what has contributed to his body breaking down. When fully healthy, he’s still one of the more feared hitters in the American League, just don’t expect him to stay healthy all year. This is the kind of player that can make or break you fantasy season. You may get him at great value, he may produce at an all-star level for you, but there’s always a chance that he declines even more than he did last year. Draft him at your own risk.

Third Baseman:

30. Jonathan Villar- MIL

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Villar is a young ball player who just couldn’t seem to catch on as an everyday player with the Astros. When he debuted in 2013 he was primarily a SS, making his time in Houston short lived due to the emergence of Carlos Correa as the top SS prospect in MLB. The Astros moved Villar around the field, trying him at 3B and LF. That can be a very tough job for a young player and I believe it hampered his development. He now gets a fresh start with the Brewers in 2016 and will look to establish himself as an everyday player. He’s currently slotted in to be their every day SS since the trade of Jean Segura to Arizona, however, like I mentioned above, you can slot him in at 3B and LF as well which adds to his value.

29. Adonis Garcia- ATL

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This is a guy that not to many people are talking about. He was signed as an amateur Free Agent by the Yankees back in 2012 out of Cuba. He got his first taste of big league action last year with the Braves and was impressive in his limited action. In just under 200 plate appearances, the 29 year old rookie major leaguer hit .277 with 10 HR and 26 RBI. Heading into spring training the plan for the Braves is to have Garcia as their everyday 3B. Based on last years production alone, it is difficult to know what 2016 will bring for Adonis, but he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. He may have OF eligibility in certain leagues which is always a bonus. If he can hit 17-20 HR and drive in 65-70 Runs over a full season, he may find his way onto fantasy rosters when injury season hits.

28. Danny Valencia- OAK

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Valencia will be nothing more than a role player for your fantasy squad. He put up pretty solid numbers in his playing time with the Blue Jays, but the Oakland Colosseum is a much less hitter friendly place than the Rogers Centre. It’s also worth noting that the A’s are not nearly as prolific offensively as the 2015 Blue Jays were. Valencia will see most of his AB’s against LHP, he is a career .300 hitter against south paws which makes him valuable in daily leagues and as a bench player on your fantasy roster. He has multiple position eligibility and has shown the propensity to drive in runs when given the opportunity. He’s not worth taking in your draft but you’ll see him on rosters throughout the 2016 season.

27. Mark Reynolds- COL

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Even with all the strikeouts and a terrible batting average, Reynolds has always been a solid source of power in any lineup. If he’s given every day at bats, there is no reason why he can’t hit 25-30 HR for you. The move to Colorado will only help him and I suggest taking a flier on him because he does have 40 HR potential. It may sound crazy to say, but he’s just the kind of player that can pay huge dividends for you if the Rocky Mountain air has anything to say about it. The best years of his career came when he played in the NL West and he’ll get that chance again in 2016. Don’t be afraid to draft him, just know that if you do, it should be towards the end of your draft.

26. Jake Lamb- ARI

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The D-Backs are hoping Lamb can take another step forward this year like he did in 2015. By no-means was 2015 a break out season for the former 6th round pick out of the University of Washington. However, he showed enough to earn the starting 3B spot in 2016. The D-Backs have one of the best young lineups in all of MLB and I personally think they are going to be this years version of the 2014 KC Royals. They have an improved roster, making big trades and spending money on the Free Agent pitching Market. Although Lamb only hit 6 HR last year to go along with 34 RBI, he did so in only 390 plate appearances. This year look for him to hit 15+ home runs, drive in 65 runs and hit .270, while receiving upwards of 500 plate appearances.

25. Martin Prado- MIA

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Prado is one of the more underrated players on this list. It may be due to his lack of power, however, his position eligibility and his durability make him worthy of being on fantasy rosters. In 2015, (his first year with the Marlins), Prado hit .270 with 9 HR and 68 RBI. You have to think that with a healthy Stanton and Gordon and a strong season from Christian Yellich, Prado should see plenty of run producing opportunities. Look for him to get over 500 AB’s in 2016 and drive him 70+ runs. He can reach double digit home runs, hit .270 and get on base at around a .340 clip. He’s certainly no super star, but he’s more than worth a look in your drafts. Under new manager Don Mattingly and hitting Coach Barry Bonds, I expect a rise in all of the Marlins offensive numbers.

24. Yunel Escobar- LAA

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Escobar is coming off one of, if not the best offensive seasons of his career. His .314 BA and .375 OBP rank towards the top among 3B in 2015, however his HR (9) and RBI (56) ranked below average, which is why he’s so low on this list. He now joins the Angels for the 2016 season, his 5th team in 5 years, and could slot in very nicely in their batting order either right in front of or right behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. I don’t expect his HR total to increase but it is quite plausible that his RBI total can increase, especially if he can maintain his high BA and OBP. He still has eligibility at SS in many leagues as well as 2B, which is beneficial because if he can produce last years numbers in either of your MI spots, you’ve found yourself a quality player at great value.

23. Yangervis Solarte- SD

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His biggest asset is that he can play 3B, 2B and 1B. In his first full year as a Padre in 2015, Solarte was actually one of their more consistent contributors offensively. He hit .270, with 14 HR, 63 RBI, 63 R and a .320 OBP. He is matchup proof thanks to his ability to switch hit and play all over the field. Like Yunel Escobar, his stats play better as a MI, but anyone who does draft him should be optimistic considering the improvements he made from his rookie season in 2014. I expect him to build off his strong 2015 season and he should contribute to your squad. Look for him to hit around .270 again, with 13-16 HR, 60-70 R, 60-70 RBI and an OBP around .325. He won’t light up the stat sheet but he will provide some solid balance and depth.

22. Nick Castellanos- DET

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After a very disappointing first half in 2015, Castellanos really came on in the 2nd half and salvaged his sophomore campaign. The former 1st rounder finished the season with 15 HR and 73 RBI. He hits in a lineup that is loaded with talent and should see plenty of run producing opportunities. If he can get off to a solid start in 2016, I expect a break-out season for the 23 year old. He may only hit for a .260 Avg but expect 20+ home runs, 80+ RBI and over 150 hits. By seasons end, he may be in the top 15 at the position and may be a key cog in the bottom half of the Tigers lineup. I don’t think that people realize he debuted at only 21 years of age and they forget that it can sometimes take young players time to develop at the MLB level. With 2 full seasons under his belt, Castellanos now knows how to adjust to the way he’s being pitched and I believe he will one day be an
all-star caliber player.

21. Chase Headley- NYY

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Headley’s first full season with the Yankees was pretty disappointing. He was very inconsistent and lacked the power that the Yankees are looking for from their CI positions. As a switch hitter, he will see everyday at bats though in a lineup that scores a ton of runs and plays 81 home games in a hitter friendly ball park. In 2016, look for Headley to hit .264, with 14 HR, 73 RBI, 78 R and a .342 OBP. He has shown the ability to hit 30 HR, and that was in a much less hitter friendly environment in San Diego. Of course if he can regain that power production he will be much higher on this list and his RBI and R totals will be inflated as well. I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t let his big name status influence where you draft him.

Next week tune into to find out who I have ranked 20-11 at the CI spots. I’m interested to find out if you agree or disagree with these rankings so far. Till next time, I’m Lou Landers! Baseball season is just around the corner!

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Our guests this week are Joe Iannone and Kyle Amore. Joe has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for 3 years, and is a tenured fantasy baseball owner. Kyle is a former college ball player, played in Italy, and is the co-host of Thursday night show with Lou Landers.

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly Radio Show: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday February 18th from 8-10pm EST for the 2016 debut of our Thursday night shows. This show airs live every Thursday night throughout the season from 8-10pm EST. We will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Our first show of the year will be breaking down starting pitchers from an MLB and fantasy perspective.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista and Joe Ciccone. Joe is a writer with MLFS as well as our Chief Editor. His articles release every Wednesday morning. Hernan is a fantasy baseball owner in MLFB1, and MLFB2. Come join a lively discussion!

 

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