Dynasty Performance Report: Major League Middle Infielders 2.0

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


Joey Ortiz, 2B/3B, MIL


Ortiz’s situation reminds me a lot of what we saw from Willy Adames a few years ago. In case you need your memory jogged, coming through the minors Adames was seen as a glove-first prospect with a solid but unspectacular offensive profile. That being said, he produced at every level in the minors and put together some decent seasons with the Rays, though he was often hitting toward the bottom of the lineup, and for the majority of those seasons, he was seen as a bridge to Wander Franco. Eventually, he was flipped to Milwaukee in late May of 2021 and he fully broke out – triple-slashing .285/.366/.521 with 20 home runs in 413 plate appearances that season with the Brewers.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect analogy, but the similarities are there. As a prospect with Baltimore, Ortiz profiled as an elite fielder who could hit some and run some. And like Adames, despite not necessarily being touted as a bat-first player, Ortiz performed like one at every level of the minors. The problem was that the Orioles farm system has been the deepest in all of baseball for the past few seasons, leaving Ortiz to scratch and claw for a big-league opportunity. He made 15 appearances for the Birds in 2023 and didn’t do much with them. Baltimore flipped him to Milwaukee this offseason.

Ortiz has been a near-everyday player to kick off 2024 and the production speaks for itself. Through 37 games, the 25-year-old has triple-slashed .277/.384/.511 and hit four home runs. He’s posted a 14.3% walk rate while striking out just 17.9% of the time, and his 154 wRC+ ranks him right around the Top 15 among all hitters. He rarely swings at balls outside the zone (21.1% chase rate) and hardly ever swings and misses at pitches inside the zone (89.9% zone contact rate).

Ortiz can play all over the infield dirt, though he has primarily played third base to start the year. It’s likely he maintains second base eligibility moving forward, as he has seen some time there too, and he’s a Willy Adames injury away from spending time at shortstop. Speaking of Adames, he’s a free agent after this year, so if he signs elsewhere, there is a good chance that Ortiz will shift to shortstop in 2025.


Bryson Stott, 2B, PHI


Stott experienced a breakout in 2023, triple slashing .280/.329/.419 with 15 home runs and 31 steals in 151 games. While his OPS was around league average, that combination of pop and power was exciting to see. Unfortunately, his start to 2024 had some scratching their heads wondering if Stott’s 2023 was a mirage. Through April 27, Stott was hitting .210 with just three extra-base hits and three steals.

Since then? Stott has simply been one of the best hitters on the planet. In 64 plate appearances, the lefty bat has triple-slashed a simply silly .409/.563/.750 with three home runs and nine steals. During that span, he’s walked 25% of the time while striking out just 9.4%. The hot bat has moved Stott up to fifth in the lineup, which is one of the best in baseball.

Obviously, Stott isn’t going to perform at this level for the rest of the season, but after the slow start, it’s an encouraging bounce-back that gives dynasty managers confidence in the 26-year-old moving forward. Stott is not a household name in the dynasty community, but his value is certainly rising. His 600 plate appearance pace this season is 18 home runs and 44 stolen bases. This is a top-tier fantasy option that dynasty managers will be able to rely on for years to come.


Honorable Mention


Josh Rojas, SEA, 2B/3B/OF: We’ve seen flashes from Rojas before, but not quite like this. Through 35 games, the 30-year-old has put up an incredible .330/.395/.482 triple slash with three home runs and four steals. His performance has earned him a strong-side platoon role with the Mariners and he’s been batting leadoff most days against right-handed pitchers. Is he this good? Almost certainly not – that .395 BABIP is due for regression. But can he be a productive fantasy contributor for the rest of the season? Probably. The Mariners have been a disappointing offense as a whole, so it’s tough to envision them sitting one of the few bats who has been producing. Throw in the fact that the aforementioned Jorge Polanco is struggling mightily and it’s fully within the realm of possibilities for Rojas to hit 12-15 home runs and steal 20+ bases.


Elly De La Cruz, SS, CIN: I mean it feels a little silly to have Elly as a riser when he came into this season as a Top 15 dynasty asset, but now that we are heading toward the end of May it’s pretty obvious that Elly has an argument for being the top overall dynasty asset. Through 44 games he has nine home runs and 30 (!!) stolen bases, all while posting a 150 wRC+. There is a realistic chance that he swipes 100 bags this season, which has only happened six times since 1900. Given his age and position, it’s difficult to pick anyone over Elly in dynasty start-ups right now.


Dynasty Fallers


Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, SDP


It’s always tough to figure out how to react to a veteran with a proven track record stumbling out of the gate. We are now about a quarter of the way through the season, and it’s been tough sledding for Bogaerts. Through 44 games the former shortstop turned third baseman is triple slashing .213/.263/.315 with four home runs and two steals. All three of those numbers in his triple slash would be career lows, as would his .101 ISO and 71 wRC+.

It does appear that there is some bad luck going on here, so Bogaerts could turn things around with time. His .252 BABIP is well below his norm – coming into 2024, Bogaerts had sported a .317 BABIP or higher in every season since he was 22 years old. His expected metrics back up the idea that he’s running into some bad luck – his expected batting average sits at .263 and his expected slugging at .383. So it’s fair to expect that his numbers will eventually tick up, but how much?

It’s tough to say – Bogaerts’ average EV is also at a career-low 86.3 MPH. His 20.5% strikeout rate, while above league average, is also a career-worst, and his 6.3% walk rate is his lowest since 2015. Maybe some of these metrics trend in the right direction as Bogaerts starts finding some base hits, but his fantasy upside feels capped. His 19 steals last year seem like a major outlier for someone who didn’t steal a ton in recent years and is now in his early-30s and outside of 2019, he never showed a ton of home run upside. Bogaerts’ flyball and pull rates are way up – so maybe he’s trying to find power we haven’t seen before.

Heading into 2024 Bogaerts seemed like one of the higher-floor middle infield options, but now that that floor seems to be considerably lower than we may have thought a few months ago, he’s a much less appealing dynasty asset, especially for someone likely to lose shortstop eligibility.


Jorge Polanco, 2B, SEA


There are a lot of similarities to Bogaerts here with Polanco, though, despite multiple solid seasons, Polanco was obviously never in the Bogaerts tier of dynasty asset. But still from 2016 thru 2023, Polanco triple slashed .269/.334/.445, good for a wRC+. The 2021 seemed like a full-on breakout from Polanco – he closed the year hitting .269 with 33 home runs and 11 steals.

But now the soon-to-be 31-year-old is still trying to find his footing in 2024. Through 41 games, the second baseman is hitting just .192. He has hit five home runs, but his OPS is hovering around .600. His strikeout rate has climbed to a career-high 31.5%, and while he is walking 12.5% of the time, his zone contact percentage sits at 76.1%, which is significantly lower than the 84.5% mark he posted a year ago.

Polanco doesn’t chase pitches out of the zone, so he should continue to draw a fair share of walks, but if he’s not making contact on pitches in the zone it’s difficult to envision his results improving dramatically. To make matters worse, his average EV also dipped to 86.9 MPH. So while Bogaerts’ expected stats pointed to the potential of better days, Polanco’s xBA sits at .197 – right around his actual mark.

Throw in the fact that Polanco has also missed a little bit of time with a hamstring injury and it’s tough to find anything encouraging in this profile moving forward.



Honorable Mention


Gleyber Torres, 2B, NYY: I gave serious consideration to highlighting Torres like Bogaerts and Polanco but the fact that’s he’s still just 27 years old gives me some confidence that he’s more likely than those two to turn it around sometime soon. Make no mistake though – Torres has been bad. Through 44 games he has just two home runs and is hitting .216. He’s striking out at a career-worst rate and it feels highly unlikely that he would climb back to the leadoff spot in the Yankees lineup even if he turns things around. It’s a disappointing campaign for a player coming off of a career-best year, but he has been slightly better over the course of the last few weeks. 


Javier Baez, SS, DET: This is similar to Elly being an honorable mention in the risers. Baez’s stock was seemingly at an all-time low coming into 2024 but its somehow plummeted even further. Through 37 games, the shortstop has a .422 OPS with one home run and six steals. Detroit has him under contract through the 2027 season, so he’s not going anywhere unless he somehow opts out at the end of this year.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photo by Larry Radloff & Cliff Welch/ Icon Sportswire

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