Friday, 12 August 2011

Middle Ages: Young Rookie 'Heroes' to Consider for the Middle Infield Spots in Fantasy Baseball

There was a time when fantasy baseball success in your middle infield spots meant using veteran players. That rule certainly does not hold true in the 2011 season. Remember the days when an established player was an asset at second base or shortstop? It wasn’t long ago when having Derek Jeter, Chase Utley or Miguel Tejada meant fantasy success up the middle of your infield.

Coming into the 2010 season, the middle infield spots looked to be shallow at best. However, with a series of injuries to key players such as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Rickie Weeks and Brian Roberts, the shortstop and second base positions have gotten a lot thinner as the 2011 season has wore on. This has opened the door to a series of young players to make their mark in the major leagues. As it stands now, rather than turning to veterans you need to seriously consider some of these rookies for fantasy baseball success in the middle infield spots on your fantasy roster:

Dustin Ackley (SEA)
Chone Figgins was moved to third base to start the season but Ackley didn’t get the job at second base out of spring training. However, after Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy failed to capitalize on their opportunities, Ackley got the call on June 17th. He proceeded to hit a home run in his second game in a big league uniform and hasn’t looked back since, posting a .293 AVG with 5 HR and 23 RBI in his first 45 games in the bigs. Although he wasn’t expected to make the Mariners until 2012, Ackley is here and is here to stay.

Dee Gordon (LAD)
After bouncing between the Dodgers and Triple-A, Gordon found himself recalled after the Rafael Furcal trade opened the door for him at shortstop. Currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder contusion, Gordon should be a good source of stolen bases in September for your fantasy playoffs.

Jason Kipnis (CLE)
The idea was to leave Kipnis in Triple-A until 2012. After all, why rush a top prospect to the big leagues and waste a year of service time when the big club had no hope of contending, right? Funny thing, the Indians found themselves a contender in the AL Central and decided to bring Kipnis up. The trade of Orlando Cabrera opened up playing time and Kipnis took off. In 18 GP, he has hit 6 HR with 11 RBI and 2 SB to go with a slash line of .284/.351/.612. Red-hot in August, Kipnis is worth a shot for sure.

Jose Altuve (HOU)
If the Astros were looking for a boost to their line up, they certainly received one in the diminutive Altuve. Generously listed as 5’7”, and brought up from Double-A where he was tearing up the minors, the 21-year-old second baseman was probably rushed to the big leagues. Don’t let that stop you from riding a hot average of .346 while it lasts. He may prove to be over-matched at the major league level (especially when it comes to hitting for power) but he provides an intriguing option at a shallow position.

After a nice showing in Triple-A (in a good hitters league), the 24-year old shortstop was promoted and hit a home run off Detroit’s Max Scherzer in his 3rd big league game. A potentially potent hitter at a very weak position may not be enough to earn Giavotella the type of playing time to make him a valuable fantasy player. The reason? His lack of range defensively will, if nothing else,cost him playing time late in games as he is pulled for more the defensively skilled Chris Getz. Be cautiously optimistic.

Jemile Weeks (OAK)
If you need a nice boost in the speed department, Weeks may just be an option. Do not expect power from the Oakland second bagger and be aware that he has hit .250 against LHP this season (57 points lower than his mark against RHP). 

Some of these young players might just be the ‘heroes’ your fantasy baseball team needs up the middle. And who knows? Before long, they may end up being as well-known as their veteran counterparts.

* Dee Gordon photo by bridgetds on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
* Jemile Weeks photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Jemile Weeks") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. TribeGuy Batman12 August 2011 23:08

    Jason Kipnis is godlike.

  2. Dear TribeGuy Batman,

    Kipnis is hot right now, that's for sure!