Dynasty Performance Report: Major League Middle Infielders 1.0

Middle Infielders seeing their dynasty value rise.

The middle infield position always feels like a top heavy one. Routinely you see a handful of the top fantasy performers occupying a middle infield spot, especially shortstop, but then there is usually a significant drop off from there. Let’s dive in to see which MLB players are trending up or trending down to start the year.

Be sure to head over to the Pitcher List dynasty page to check out other helpful articles such as the dynasty performance report for outfielders!


Dynasty Risers


Anthony Volpe, SS, NYY


Some ice water was thrown on Volpe following his 2023 campaign, despite hitting 24 home runs and stealing 21 bases as a 21-year-old rookie. That’s mostly because he hit just .209. That’s a scary low number, and as a result his dynasty ranking took a little bit of a hit. We’re only three weeks into the season, but in retrospect this feels like one of those situations where if Volpe had spent most of the season in Triple-A and performed well his dynasty value would have remained at a higher level. In short, we as a dynasty community probably overreacted to a 21-year-old having some struggles at the sport’s highest level.

But now? Volpe is looking like a potential Top-30 overall asset. Through his first 15 games, the shortstop is triple slashing an absurd .382/.477/.564 with two home runs and five steals. Is he going to hit close to .400 all season long? Almost certainly not, but Volpe had a 20/20 season as someone who barely hit higher than .200. If he hits somewhere in the neighborhood of .270 for the year, we may see a 30/30 campaign, if not better.


CJ Abrams, SS, WSN


It looks like the second-half breakout we saw from Abrams last season was legitimate. Through 13 games, the Nationals shortstop is tearing the cover off the ball, triple slashing .296/.356/.648 with four home runs and three steals. Remember, despite the slow start a season ago, Abrams closed 2023 with a .245 batting average, 18 home runs, and 47 steals.

And because Abrams struggled as a rookie in 2022, it’s easy to forget that he’s still just in his age-23 season. With Abrams it was evident that the stolen bases were always going to be a big part of his game, but now that the power has developed into a significant part of his arsenal, this profile is trending toward one that could be considered a Top-10 dynasty asset by season’s end.


Jeremy Peña, SS, HOU


Heading into the 2023 season, Pena looked like a very solid dynasty league shortstop. He was coming off of a rookie campaign where he hit .253 and hit 22 home runs while stealing 11 bases in 136 games. That’s not necessarily a star, but for a 25-year-old heading into his second MLB season, it felt like those rookie numbers were the floor you’d be getting for the next few years.

Well, 2023 ended up being a struggle. The shortstop actually raised his batting average to .263 and stole 13 bases, but he only hit 10 home runs and didn’t hit one after July 3rd. The final .263/.324/.381 triple slash was fine, but again, it was step backward from what he was a year prior. Without the power that we saw in 2022, Pena began to slip down dynasty rankings.

Pena came into the 2024 season with a reported swing change and the results have been fruitful thus far. Through 17 games, he’s triple slashing .348/.386/.470 with two home runs and two steals. Pena is always going to be a bit of a streaky hitter due to his aggressive approach at the plate, but right now we are seeing results similar to what we saw in 2022 and Pena’s hot start is a bit under the radar due to Houston’s slow start.


Honorable Mention


José Caballero, SS, TBR: Caballero was mostly a fantasy afterthought in his rookie season with Seattle in 2023. He stole 26 bases, but he hit just .221 with four home runs in 104 games. The Rays acquired him this offseason, and he’s slotted into a near-everyday role as the team’s starting shortstop. Through 14 games he’s hit .286 with a home run and five steals.

Offseason reports were that the Rays wanted to have Caballero pull and lift the ball more, so time will tell if that power will materialize. The biggest difference for Caballero in the early going is that he’s been much more aggressive at the plate. His swing rate has jumped from 43% to 56%, and his zone swing rate leaped from 57.5% to 71.4%. As a result, he’s yet to draw a walk, but he’s collecting more base hits. Caballero is still a dice roll when it comes to fantasy, but he could end the year with a decent average, double digit home runs and a ton of steals.


Ezequiel Tovar, SS, COL: Expectations for Tovar were fairly high in 2023, even for a 21-year-old rookie. He ended up having a fine season, hitting .253 with 15 home runs and 11 steals. But for a player that tore up the minors and plays half his games in Coors, fantasy managers had been dreaming on a higher ceiling. It’s early, but maybe we will see it this year (and learn from Abrams and Volpe not to overreact). Through 17 games, Tovar is hitting .297 with three home runs and two steals.



Dynasty Fallers


Zach Neto, SS, LAA


We learned from a lot of the risers above that we don’t want to overreact too much to young players struggling at the MLB level. So while Neto is listed as a faller here, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Neto is a sell in dynasty leagues – just that we are monitoring his performance and need to an uptick in production sometime soon.

The Angels have been aggressive the last few seasons when it comes to promoting their recent draft picks and Neto is no exception. The shortstop went 13th overall in the 2022 draft and made his MLB debut in April of 2023. Some of that was surely a result of Neto profiling as a “safe” bat, and some of that was also probably a result of the Angels attempting to put together as competitive of a team as possible while they rostered Shohei Ohtani. 

Either way, Neto’s rookie campaign was something of a mixed bag. Neto’s first half numbers were great, especially for a rookie – he hit .259 with six home runs and five steals in 53 games, good for a 112 wRC+. But the second half was a different story. Due to an injury, he appeared in just 29 games and hit .174. It’s very possible that the injury led to his struggles, so it’s reasonable to hand-wave some of his second half results.

Unfortunately, it’s been a slow start to 2024 for Neto, too. Through 15 games he’s hitting just .173, striking out 28% of the time, and has logged just three extra-base hits. It’s early, of course, but we need to see some signs of life soon.


Nico Hoerner, 2B, CHC


There is a decent chance that when it’s all said and done that Hoerner ends up having yet another productive season, but I am a little worried, moreso than others, with his slow start. As a quick recap, Hoerner had a nice season in 2022, hitting .281 while collecting 10 home runs and 20 steals. He improved upon that in 2023, hitting .282 with nine home runs and 43 steals. So heading into 2024 we had a strong idea with who Hoerner was – a high-average hitter that will flirt with double-digit home runs and grab a ton of steals.

Well through 15 games this year I am not quite sure who we are seeing. Hoerner is currently hitting .208 with zero steals and one extra-base hit (a double). He’s already been caught stealing twice, despite being caught just nine times in 71 attempts between 2022 and 2023. Oh, and his whole approach has seemed to change. Again, it’s early, so beware of the small sample size, but Hoerner just isn’t swinging the bat. His 41.1% swing rate is significantly lower than his career average (47.3%). It’s leading to a lot of walks (a laughable 16.1% walk rate), but Hoerner is not swinging at pitches in the zone either (career low 57.6%  zone swing rate).

Hoerner is not a power threat and was never going to be, so maybe you could talk me into this approach if he was hitting toward the top of the order like he did throughout 2023, but this year Hoerner is consistently batting seventh. This all combines for a fantasy profile that isn’t all that friendly, and I fear we’ve seen the peak of Nico Hoerner already.


Honorable Mention


Brendan Rodgers, 2B, COL: Rodgers’ dynasty stock wasn’t all that high to begin with coming into 2024, but anyone that wasn’t holding out for a post-post-post hype breakout from Rodgers is likely cutting bait early. The 27-year-old is triple slashing .211/.237/.316 through his first 16 games and has yet to log a home run or a stolen base. It’s difficult to imagine rostering him outside the deepest of formats at this point.


Colt Keith, 2B, DET: This is more of a ever-so-slight fall for Keith. He’s been bad out of the gate, there’s no hiding that, but it’s also unfair and bad process to punish a 22-year-old rookie based on his his first 16 games at the sport’s toughest level. The lefty stick is triple-slashing .193/.258/.211 with just one extra-base. He hasn’t lost playing time yet, and it’s not like he’s striking out a ton (19.4%).  Remember this is a guy that hit 27 home runs across Double-A and Triple-A a year ago, so he will likely put it together at some point. 


Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson & Mark Goldman / Icon Sportswire

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