Sleeper Middle Infielders Who Are Quietly Raking. Will It Continue?
Hanser Alberto 2B/3B Alberto, the current leadoff man in Baltimore, possesses the rare ability to hit for power and average while keeping his strikeout rate under 10%. He already has 7 doubles on the year to go along with two home runs, while his average has hovered around .350. His OPS is currently .925, his wOBA (expected on base) is .396, and his wRC+ (weighted runs created) is 160 (league average is 100). Can he keep it up? Well, he loves jumping on pitches early in the count and rarely walks, both traits date back to last year, so that should remain consistent. The main difference for this season, has been the increase in quality contact. He’s not only barreling more balls in these first two weeks, but his hard hit rate has shot up over 16% when compared to last year. Never thought of as much of a power hitter, Alberto wasn’t really given a chance in Texas and now 27 years old, the 5’11”, 215 lb second baseman is finally showing what he’s capable of. With his 86% contact rate, Alberto is proving he can be the catalyst atop the lineup the Orioles so desperately need. I expect him to end the year with a .295 to .315 average, with plenty of runs scored, a few stolen bases, and a decent amount of home runs. As long as he’s healthy, keep him in your lineup. Jose Iglesias SS Iglesias has always been an adequate hitter, who excelled on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll get his hits, but won’t offer much else in terms of offensive production and this year hasn’t proven much different. While he is batting in the three hole for Baltimore and is a ridiculous 15 for 37 (.405 BA), he has no home runs, no steals and no walks. He has driven in 7 and has a league leading 7 doubles, but in standard leagues he’s more of a one trick pony who will likely only boost your BA slightly. Will he keep it going? The history says no, not batting over .300 since 2015. The Orioles have been hot however, and maybe a late resurgence as Iglesias enters into his 30’s is in order. Likely to be given everyday at bats, look for Iglesias to continue to put the ball in play and drive in a fair share of runs. He won’t score a ton of runs however, or hit more than a few homers, and he won’t steal bases either, leaving him best for the deepest of leagues. Donovan Solano 2B/SS My favorite player on this list, Solano has hit so well for the Giants, his teammates have nicknamed him Donnie Barrels’. After hitting .330 over half a season for the Giants last year, Solano started off this year as an injury replacement for Evan Longoria. Solano picked up right where he left off producing multi-hit games and leading the team in RBI. He’s done so well, that even after Longoria’s return, the Giants have continued to bat Solano in 3rd in the lineup. He currently owns an absurd, lead leading .462 BA with 14 RBI. He spent the last few years in the minor leagues where he hit over .300 and produced a great OBP. Will he keep it up? Well of course he won’t hit .450, but he does have a hard hit rate near 60% which is Aaron Judge territory. He won’t hit more than a handful of home runs, especially in that mammoth sized stadium, but Solano should continue to hit well above .300 and drive in plenty of runs. He qualifies at both 2B and SS and should be activated in all leagues. Miguel Rojas SS Before being put on the COVID shelf, Rojas was 7 for 10 with a double, triple, and a home run. A ground ball hitter who previously hit lefties very well, could be thrown right back into the top of the lineup mix upon his return. With enough speed to steal a few bags and enough pop to knock out a few home runs, Rojas who like many on this list doesn’t strike out much, should have some decent value in mixed leagues. He will likely fade a bit in the extra-base-hits department, but he should hit near .300, while offering average or above numbers across the board. As soon as he’s activated, it’s not a bad idea to scoop him up. David Fletcher 2B/3B/SS/OF I admit, I really didn’t see this one coming. I knew Fletcher was a good hitter, but 7 extra base hits over the first two weeks of the season really surprised me. 2 home runs to go along with 2 steals, 9 runs, 8 RBI, and more walks than K’s, has placed Fletcher among the best fantasy players to start the season. I thought playing time may have been an issue, but currently he leads the league in plate appearances. Injuries to his teammates helped his cause, but with the way he’s been hitting, he’ll almost assuredly continue to see regular at bats, even after everyone returns. Batting in front of Mike Trout, he sees some great pitches and should score plenty of runs. Add that to the high average and ability to steal a few bases and knock out a few homers, Fletcher should be a solid contributor across the board all season long. Dylan Moore 2B/3B/SS/OF Nearly left off the Mariners roster, no one was talking about drafting Dylan Moore before the season started. Playing mostly in the outfield, but qualifying at multiple positions including middle infield, Moore offers that rare sought after power/speed combination. He hit 9 HR’s to go along with 11 SB’s on 20 attempts in his rookie season last year. 20 stolen base attempts in only 247 AB’s is very aggressive for today’s game. Already with 3 SB’s this season (on 4 attempts) and 3 HR’s, if Moore can keep his average above .260 (currently .293, but hit .206 last year), he’ll be a healthy contributor for fantasy owners in all leagues. Will he keep it up? He’s striking out a third of the time and hasn’t walked once, so conventional wisdom would say no, however he did steal over 40 bags one year in the minors so the speed is for real. The Mariners really have no reason to pump the breaks on his running, so look for that to continue. If he hits 8 home runs to go along with 12 stolen bases, his average won’t matter much and should be started across the board, until he starts to cool down and possibly lose playing time down the road.