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“In Lou Of”- 2016 MLB Corner Infielders Rankings (20-11)- Part 2 of 3:

Happy weekend everybody! Last week, I discussed the lower-level players at each of these positions. Guys who may or may not get drafted or even make an appearance on fantasy rosters. This week, we start to delve into players who can really impact your roster, some of which may even help you win championships if they can stay healthy and have bounce back seasons. While first base has always been a premium position in fantasy, the third base position has been coming on strong over the last few seasons and is only getting younger and better. It’s my hope that these rankings not only help you decide who to target, but also help you make the informative decision on when to target them. Enough of the introduction though, let’s get to these rankings. 
First Baseman:
20. Adam Lind- SEA
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I think Lind is one of the more underrated players at the 1B position. Although he has only reached the 30 HR plateau once in his career, he still has solid power. But more importantly, he hits for a high batting average and gets on base at a very high rate. His move from Milwaukee to Seattle won’t help his power numbers, but it will put him in a lineup surrounded by very good hitters in Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. I expect a stat line in 2016 of .287 BA, 16 HR, 83 RBI and a .362 OBP. If Lind were to put it all together, he could have plenty of value for your roster. He’s hit at least 20 HR five different times in his career and has hit over .275 six different times. The Mariners needed an upgrade over Logan Morrison at first base and they definitely have found one.
 
19. Mark Trumbo- BAL
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Trumbo hasn’t reached the 30 HR mark since 2013 with the Angels. However, I believe that in 2016 with Baltimore he will get back there. Camden Yards is a great hitters ball park and the Orioles have been notorious for helping big right handed power bats get their careers back on track. It happened with Mark Reynolds, it happened with Nelson Cruz and it will happen with Trumbo. He also has OF eligibility and will likely be playing there most of the time since the Orioles re-signed slugger Chris “Crush” Davis. Trumbo should hit at least 25 HR and drive in 75+ runs in the process. He’s never been much of an AVG hitter and doesn’t get on base frequently either. He’s a power hitter and you know exactly what you’re getting from him when you draft him.
18. Lucas Duda- NYM
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The past two seasons have been excellent for Duda and there is no reason why 2016 will be any different. He had 57 HR and 165 RBI in 2014-2015 combined and there is no reason why he can’t hit at least 25 HR and 80 RBI this season. His numbers increased last season when the Mets traded for Cespedes and lucky for Duda, Cespedes is back for 2016. People still underrate him because of how deep the 1B position is, but after a third straight solid season in 2016, Duda will no longer be underrated or forgotten about. He may not be the most talented, but Duda is definitely the more durable and reliable of the 1B in the big apple.
17. Mark Teixeira- NYY
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Speaking of 1B in the big apple, Teixeira was having one of his better seasons as a Yankee before getting injured and missing the last 40+ games of the year. His last three seasons have been ended by injuries and it is very difficult to rely on a player who is not only injury prone but also turning 36 years old in the first week of the season. Of course, if he’s able to stay on the field and play in 140 or more games (something he hasn’t done since 2011), there is no telling how much damage he can do at the plate. For arguments sake, lets say he does play 140 games, he could hit 30+ HR and 80+ RBI, making him very valuable to your fantasy squad. Until his injury last year, he was one of the great, late-round steals of 2015.
 
16. Carlos Santana- CLE
MLB: Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers
 He saw his HR total drop quite a bit last season (27 in 2014 down to 19), however he did match his career high in RBI which he also set in 2014. Santana has incredible plate discipline, walking an AL leading 113 times in 2014 and a very respectable 108 times in 2015. In 2016, I expect him to hit 25+ HR, 88 RBI, 70+ Runs, .272 BA and a .360 OBP. In 2015 he also swiped 11 bases, which is more than double than any of his previous seasons. I’m not saying that he can steal 11 again, it’s certainly worth noting though. The Indians as a team had lofty expectations last year that they came far from achieving. They are a very good, young, talented ball club and Santana will be looked upon to lead the offense, especially with Michael Brantley set to miss the first two months of the season.
 
15. Brandon Belt- SFG
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2015 was easily the best season of Belts career. He set career highs in HR (18), RBI (68), BB (56). He also had his 2nd best numbers of his career with a .280 AVG , 9 SB, 73 runs, 33 doubles and a .356 OBP. It seems like Belt has been around forever, yet heading into 2016 he will only be 27 years old. I believe he has the ability to continue to improve and I expect 20+ HR this season to go with 75 RBI, 75 Runs a .278 Avg and a .359 OBP. It’s funny to me that he is 15th on this list because it wasn’t done intentionally. Belt won’t rank towards the top or bottom in any category, he will fish himself right in the middle of the pack among 1B.
14. Kendrys Morales- KC
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What a year Morales had for the World Champion Royals. There were questions surrounding his abilities heading into 2015. Largely due to the fact that In 2014, he signed in the middle of the season with the Twins and then they traded him to Mariners. Morales was given a chance with KC in 2015 and he answered all of those questions, performing better than anyone could have imagined. He hit .290, with 22 HR, 106 RBI, 81 Runs and a .362 OBP. I’m not saying that he cant duplicate those numbers in 2016, however I advise you not to get your hopes up. Look for him to hit 20+ HR, 80 RBI, .275 BA, 70 Runs and a .354 OBP.
 
13. David Ortiz- BOS
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“Big Papi Ortiz” is entering his final MLB season in 2016. He’s had a Hall Of Fame career and has been one of the best and most consistent hitters of this generation. Whether you’re a fan of the Red Sox or not, you definitely have the utmost respect for him and you better appreciate the fact that you got to witness his heroics. Over the past few seasons, experts, fans and the media continued to write him off for being to old, yet he managed over 30 HR and 100 RBI each of the last three seasons. He’s going to be 40 years old in 2016 and I really don’t expect him to slow down. Look for “Papi” to end his career in style. I expect a .270 AVG, .360 OBP, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 70 Runs.
 
12. Eric Hosmer- KC
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2015 was definitely a breakout season for Hosmer. The former 3rd overall pick finally lived up to all the hype, hitting .297, with 18 HR, 93 RBI, 98 Runs and a .363 OBP. I expect him to build off last seasons success and have a stellar 2016 campaign. The Royals still have the basic core of players in their lineup that helped them win the Central last year and Hosmer is definitely the leader of the group. Look for him to hit over .300, with 21 HR, 97 RBI, 95 Runs and a .369 OBP. You may question his ability to reach these totals, but keep in mind that last season he set career highs in HR, RBI, R, BB and OBP. He’s only 26 years old and has a ton of room to improve.
 
11. Prince Fielder- TEX
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There was some doubt about Prince heading into 2015 after he was forced to miss most of 2014 with a neck injury. The big man was able to silence those critics by putting up stellar numbers, albeit primarily as a DH. He seems to have settled in with Texas quite nicely after hitting .305 with 23 HR, 98 RBI, 78 Runs and a .378 OBP last season and now that he is back to being fully heathy, look for him to improve upon those numbers. When fully healthy, he’s still one of the most feared hitters in MLB and I highly recommend taking him on draft day. He will provide great value to any team, especially because I’m not the only person who has him ranked outside the top 10.
Third Baseman:
20. Pablo Sandoval- BOS
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The “Kung Fu Panda” had the worst season of his career in 2015 with the Red Sox. He showed up to spring training over weight, out of shape and was a huge bust for fantasy owners and the Sox. Sandoval had career lows in HR, RBI, R, BA, OBP and Hits last season, leaving fantasy owners with many doubts heading into 2016. Some may attribute his struggles to having to adjust to the American League after playing the first seven years of his career in the National League. Although he has never been a big producer during the regular season, I expect the Panda to improve upon his dismal 2015. Look for him to hit .270, with 17 HR, 76 RBI, 64 R and a .330 OBP.
 
19. Trevor Plouffe- MIN
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Plouffe doesn’t hit for a high batting average or get on base frequently, but in 2015 he set career highs in HR (22), RBI (86), Runs (74) and Hits (140). The Twins are a team on the rise and Plouffe has been improving every season since 2012 when he became an every day player. In 2016, look for him to have 20 HR, 80+ RBI and 70+ R. Know that when you draft Plouffe, you will get solid run-producing numbers. However, he’s unlikely to hit over .250 or get on base at higher than a .315 clip. It’s worth noting that his plate discipline has improved the last 2 seasons though, so if that trend continues, his OBP could climb.
 
18. David Wright- NYM
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He’s still be a big name, yet Wrights best years are definitely behind him. It’s unlikely that he will reach double-digit HR in 2016 or drive in more than 60-70 runs. He only played in 38 games last year, the lowest total of his career; giving owners little hope that he can turn it around this season. The 33-year-old is a 7-time all-star who used to produce across the board, but at this point, you’ll be lucky to get 120 games out of him. I would avoid drafting him at all costs because he will go much earlier in your draft than he should be going. Teams that waste an early to mid-round pick on Wright will be sorely disappointed.
 
17. Matt Duffy- SFG
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Duffy’s first full season as a starter was a huge success. He has big shoes to fill as the Giants saw there long time 3B and playoff hero Pablo Sandoval leave via free agency. What a blessing in disguise that was, as Duffy was the runner up to Kris Bryant for NL rookie of the year. The 25 year old hit .295, with 12 HR, 77 RBI, 77 R, 169 H and a .334 OBP. Due to that fact that Duffy was not a top prospect and his sample size at the MLB level is still small, it’s tough to predict how he will perform in 2016. Personally, I expect him to put up very similar numbers to what he did in 2015, but as a corner infielder, I’d like to see his HR total increase to at least 15. I would look to target Duffy in draft day, keeping in mind that he should be available in the second half of your drafts and you won’t have to reach for him.
 
16. Justin Turner- LAD
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He is a completely different player than the one who suited up for the Mets from 2010 till 2013. Since joining the Dodgers back in 2014, Turner has completely re-vamped his career. In 2015, Turner set career highs in HR, RBI, R, H and put up the second best batting average and OBP of his career. His production fell off in the second half of the season, partially due to injury. But also because he was doing so well in the first half that there was no where to go but down. I expect him to have another solid campaign in 2016, matching his numbers from last year, with an increase in RBI and R. He’s proven the last two years that he is a solid and consistent contributor in the Dodgers lineup and I wouldn’t shy away from drafting him.
 
15. Jung Ho Kang- PIT
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His season was cut short due to an injury last year but all in all, 2015 was a very successful rookie season for the 28 year old 3B/SS out of South Korea. It took him a bit of time to adjust to the MLB. But once he became accustom to the American game, he proved to be quite the contributor to fantasy rosters and the Pirates lineup. There is no doubt that his value is much high as a SS, for now though, it seems like Jordy Mercer will man that position and Kang will play 3B. Look for him to build off his numbers from 2015 and continue to improve as the season progresses. I’m predicting a .285 BA, 70 Runs, 20 HR, 76 RBI, and a .350 OBP. It’s worth noting that he flashed 40 HR power in his final season in the KBO, making fantasy players wonder if he can come close to reaching that number in MLB.
14. Evan Longoria- TB
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Longo continues to fall in the rankings every year. It is due to a combination of him not being the player he once was, but also the emergence of other young talented players at the position. Even in a bad season, Longo will put up 20+ HR, 70 runs and 70 RBI. There is nothing wrong with those numbers, however they are a far cry from the days of 30 HR and 100 RBI. He has been one of the more durable players in all of baseball over the last three seasons, but with little support around him in the Rays lineup, he doesn’t see the same amount of “hittable pitches” that he once did. As long as pitchers are avoiding throwing him anything good to hit, his numbers will remain mediocre at a position that continues to produce new fresh faces year-in and year-out with just as much, if not more, talent than Longoria can display these days.
 
13. Mike Moustakas- KC
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He is currently one of my favorite ball players and I think he’s only getting better from here. In 2015, not only was he an all-star for the first time,  but he set career highs in every important offensive category and was one of the best waiver wire pick ups of the year. In 2016, he will be drafted in every single format and I’m feeling a monster season from the former 2nd overall pick. I’m sure I will hear tons of flack for these projections but here goes nothing. I’m predicting a .290 BA, 81 Runs, 28 HR, 93 RBI, .352 OBP, 165 H and another all-star selection. Although it feels like he has been around forever, he’s only 27 years old and is entering the prime of his career. Next year he may crack the top 10.
 
12. Alex Rodriguez- NYY
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I don’t think I’m the only person who was shocked by A-Rods success in 2015 after he was suspended for all of 2014 and missed most of 2013 due to injuries. Needless to say, he won back the hearts of Yankees fans and even earned the respect back from players and fans of other ball clubs. Some of you may feel that Alex is ranked too high on this list and although I’m a Yankees fan, his numbers last season speak for themselves. Although his .250 batting average was one of the lowest of his career, the 40 year old managed to smash 33 HR to go along with 86 RBI and 83 Runs. Now that he clearly has his timing back at the plate, there is no reason why A-Rod can’t duplicate those numbers again in 2016. Regardless of all the PED talk, he’s still one of the best and most consistent hitters of all-time and you’d be foolish to avoid him in your drafts. He will be looking to not only get to 700 career HR this season (he’d be the 4th player to ever do so), but he also has a solid chance of passing Yankee great Babe Ruth for 3rd on the all time HR list.
11. Miguel Sano- MIN
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He is easily one of the best young hitters in the game. At only 22 years of age, he is the best hitter on the Twins and I personally think he is a future MVP in the American League. In less than half a season in 2015 (80 games), he hit 18 HR to go with 52 RBI and 46 Runs. He’s always shown elite power in the minor leagues and clearly it translated well to the MLB level. In a full season, I expect 30+ HR, 90+ RBI and 80+ Runs. It’s also worth mentioning that the Twins will be trying him out in RF this year and he should gain OF eligibility early on in 2016. Mark my words, this guy will be one of the elite power hitters in MLB for years to come. He will be in the top 7-10 in the rankings next year and realistically could be in the top 10 this year if it weren’t for his small sample size as a big leaguer.
This concludes part 2 of this years corner infield rankings. Next week, I’ll be wrapping it up with the top 10 players at each position. I hope this has been an informative and educational read for you and if you have any questions or comments about the article feel free to email me at loulandersbaseball@hotmail.com or contact me via Facebook. Check out our live Thursday evening radio show, I host it alongside fellow writer Kyle Amore…There is more information about the radio shows below. Keep it real!
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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday February 21st, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will be breaking down the National League starting pitchers from a fantasy and MLB perspective.

Our guests this week are Joe Iannone and Calvin Martin, Jr. Joe has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com now for over 3 years. You can catch his articles out every week on Sundays. Calvin is the commisssioner of Major League Fantasy Baseball 3 and solid contender in our leagues. Come join a lively debate.

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

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!

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Joe Iannone

    February 20, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I like Moose a lot too. When he first came up he was all or nothing HR hitter who struggled to hit for avg. It looks like he took a step back on the big swing and learned to hit. Now, I bet the power comes back in spades. Good read Lou, You and I probably have Tex and A-Rod higher than anyone else. Good thing we are not drafting against each other.

    • loulanders

      February 20, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Thanks Joe!

      Love me some moose! Got him for a buck last year in my AL Only dynasty league.

      You think Tex is ranked to high? I think maybe I ranked Alex a little high but with his track record and him chasing down those records, can you blame me? Lol

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