Fantasy Baseball 2023 Rankings Tiers: Examining the corner infield landscape

The Shuffle Up series rolls along, with corner infielders (first base, third base) getting the car wash today. What follows are my suggested salaries if you play in a Fantasy Salary Cap Draft format.

[Tiered Rankings: C | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | OF | Starters | Relievers]

My salaries are unscientific in nature and meant primarily to show how I rank the players and, more specifically, where the clusters of talent lie. Your list will look different, of course. That's why we have a game.

The big tickets

$44 Jose Ramirez

$42 Manny Machado

$41 Freddie Freeman

$40 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

$37 Austin Riley

$36 Bobby Witt Jr.

$35 Rafael Devers

$34 Pete Alonso

Ramirez is tied to an offense that was slightly below average in run production last year, but he's nonetheless a five-category contributor and still in a favorable age pocket (he turns 31 in September). You're getting floor and ceiling here. The only cause for concern is last year's surprising .514 slugging percentage, which was 106 points higher than what Statcast data suggests.

Freeman has always been an eyelash underrated because his two best stats are the most underrated offensive stats for 5x5 — runs scored and batting average. He has slashed .317/.410/.527 since the beginning of 2020 and led the league in runs scored three straight seasons.

There's no universal answer to "contract-year motivation" as a fantasy factor to consider, but some analysts I respect were hoping Machado would enter 2023 with the looming motivation of his next contract. Alas, the Padres locked up Machado for the next decade, so that angle is no longer on the table. The depth of the San Diego lineup is absurd, though, and Petco Park is no longer death valley for offense.

The Red Sox finally locked up one of their signature offensive players, but Devers is surrounded by the worst Boston supporting cast in a decade. Fenway Park is the ultimate soft landing, but lineup buoyancy matters, too.

Witt's Yahoo and NFBC ADP is full of Shiny New Toy helium, which probably locks me out. I am reluctant to bake in major improvement to a player's ADP. And half of the Kansas City lineup is downright depressing.

Jose Ramirez isn't tied to the greatest offense, but he offers five-category fantasy juice. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jose Ramirez isn't tied to the greatest offense, but he offers five-category fantasy juice. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Tier-two values

$32 Paul Goldschmidt

$30 Nolan Arenado

$27 Matt Olson

$27 Alex Bregman

$24 Jose Abreu

$23 Nathaniel Lowe

Goldschmidt probably has a Hall of Fame résumé built, especially after adding the 2022 MVP to the case. But his great-not-elite production line from 2021 is the way to bet, especially stepping into an age-35 season. And we also have to note that his .317 average last year was 56 points higher than what Statcast data suggests (he also had a higher-than-expected slugging); Goldy was the luckiest batting-average player in 2022.

Olson took a step back in his Atlanta acclimation year, but he's young enough to be on the up escalator, and the shift restrictions figure to boost his average. It's not a huge discount, but it's a buying opportunity just the same.

A healthy Bregman can be an MVP candidate, and he was back to his star level in the second half (.287/.379/.515, 12 homers in 67 games). I suppose he's sliding into his boring veteran days, which gives us likely room for profit. The Astros also made a shrewd addition with Abreu, who deserved a better production line last year. Although his slugging percentage dropped to .446, he battled .304 and had a .378 OBP; the run production dip was more a comment about his slumping and often-injured teammates. Abreu has missed just 18 games the past four years.

Talk them up, talk them down

$19 Vinnie Pasquantino

$18 Rhys Hoskins

$17 Gunnar Henderson

$17 Christian Walker

$17 C.J. Cron

$16 Ryan Mountcastle

$15 Anthony Rizzo

$15 Andrew Vaughn

$14 Ty France

$14 Josh Bell

$13 Max Muncy

$12 Ke'Bryan Hayes

$12 Eugenio Suarez

$11 Matt Chapman

$11 Rowdy Tellez

$11 Jose Miranda

$11 Jake Cronenworth

$11 Alec Bohm

$10 Ryan McMahon

$10 Josh Naylor

Cron is best utilized in leagues with daily or at least biweekly transaction moves so you can do the Coors Field shuffle. Cron rocked .303/.354/.601 at home and fell to .214/.279/.340 on the road. He had 22 homers in the thin air, seven elsewhere.

I'm giving France a partial injury pass for his second-half slump, though his OPS+ has been remarkably stable his entire career. He also gains a buck or two for position flexibility, covering two spots. ... Walker would be a $20 player if tied to a sexier team. But Arizona's offense has more juice than you might think; the D-backs were 14th in runs per game last year, and there's interesting young talent around Walker ... Rizzo's home/road splits weren't in the Cron area, but he was wise to stay in New York, where he conked 19 homers and had a .492 slugging last year. So many routine fly balls to right field wind up Yankee Stadium souvenirs.

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At least some plausible upside

$8 Luis Arraez

$8 Joey Meneses

$8 Brandon Drury

$7 Justin Turner

$7 Josh Rojas

$6 Wil Myers

$5 Anthony Rendon

$5 Triston Casas

$5 Seth Brown

$5 DJ LeMahieu

$5 Luis Rengifo

$5 Alex Kirilloff

$5 Jon Berti

$4 Josh Jung

$4 Yandy Diaz

$4 Trey Mancini

$4 Jordan Walker

$4 Yoan Moncada

$4 Eduardo Escobar

$4 Josh Donaldson

$4 Joey Wendle

Drury found a career year late in his cycle, but the Angels paid him starter money, he qualifies at three infield spots, and every reasonable projection engine has him around 18-20 homers. You'll make your money back. ... If Kirilloff finally has a healthy wrist, he could easily triple his ticket here. ... Myers is merely entering his age-32 season, Cincinnati is a lovely place to hit, and he has been a plus offensive player (OPS+ over 100) in seven of his past eight years. The buzz left a while ago, but he can be a nice support player in the second half of your draft.

I'd double the Wendle price if he weren't likely headed for a platoon in Miami. ... If Walker gets the nod to break camp in St. Louis, triple his price on the spot. ... Luis Arraez is coming off a batting title, but he offered just two categories of positive worth last year: the .316 average and the 88 runs. The rest of his line left you in catchup mode (eight homers, 49 RBIs, four steals). Not that he's without value, but last year is probably as good as it gets. He can be only a support player.

[2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]

Bargin bin

$3 Miguel Vargas

$3 Ha-Seong Kim

$3 Spencer Torkelson

$3 Jared Walsh

$3 Juan Yepez

$3 Brendan Donovan

$2 Luis Urias

$2 Christopher Morel

$2 Matt Mervis

$2 Brandon Belt

$2 Gio Urshela

$2 Carlos Santana

$2 Santiago Espinal

$1 Wilmer Flores

$1 Garrett Cooper

$1 Isaac Paredes

$1 Joey Votto

$1 Spencer Steer

$1 Jeimer Candelario

$1 J.D. Davis

$1 Rodolfo Castro

$1 Ramon Urias

$1 Luke Voit

$1 Patrick Wisdom

$1 Dominic Smith

$1 Eric Hosmer

$1 Gavin Sheets

$1 Jack Suwinski

$1 Harold Ramirez

$1 Brett Baty

$1 Yuli Gurriel

$1 Jesus Aguilar

$1 Evan Longoria