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MLB's Top 10 Fantasy Middle Infielders

David CattaiContributor IIIMarch 3, 2014

MLB's Top 10 Fantasy Middle Infielders

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    Will Robinson Cano be the top-rated middle infielder in 2014?
    Will Robinson Cano be the top-rated middle infielder in 2014?Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Just like Major League Baseball, fantasy baseball leagues can be won through the middle of the diamond. Players such as Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and many more have been catalysts for their teams success throughout their careers.

    With the start of the baseball season approaching and fantasy baseball drafts still being set up, it's a good time to take a look at the top 10 middle infielders that could make an impact for a team.

    Note: All stats are collected from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

Honorable Mentions

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    A healthy Chase Utley could be a sleeper in many fantasy leagues.
    A healthy Chase Utley could be a sleeper in many fantasy leagues.Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Unfortunately there is only room for 10 middle infielders on this list.

    Looking for depth or a starter up the middle? Make sure to take a look at these six middle infielders early on in your draft:

    Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU

    Matt Carpenter, 2B, STL

    Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX

    Chase Utley, 2B, PHI

    J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL

    Andelton Simmons, SS, ATL

10. Jean Segura, SS, MIL

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    Jean Segura will look to improve on a breakout 2013 season.
    Jean Segura will look to improve on a breakout 2013 season.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Jean Segura  busted onto the scene in 2013, making a name for himself in the "top shortstop" conversation.

    He is ranked No. 10 on this list for one simple reason—struggling mightily in the second half of the season. Segura hit .241 and had an on-base percentage of .268 in the second half of the 2013 season, which is below average.

    The promising Brewer will need to make an adjustment at the plate, trying to draw more walks if he can. If Segura can get on base, he will be one of the league's top run-scorers thanks to a decent middle of the order in Milwaukee this season.

9. Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE

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    Jason Kipnis looks to find consistent success in 2014.
    Jason Kipnis looks to find consistent success in 2014.Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Jason Kipnis became one of the American League's best second basemen in 2013. He did it all, hitting .284, walking 76 times and racking up quality run-scoring counting stats (86 runs and 84 RBI).

    The problem for Kipnis is that he has struggled in the second half of his fantasy seasons. Kipnis hit .301 with 13 home runs and 57 RBI in the first half of 2013. He followed up with a .261 batting average, four home runs and 27 RBI in the second half.

    This is why Kipnis ranks low on the top-10 list. The production is still there, but a top-tier middle infielder should put up near-identical splits during their seasons.

8. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN

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    Phillips is looking to be "Dat Dude" again in 2014.
    Phillips is looking to be "Dat Dude" again in 2014.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    The Cincinnati Reds have Brandon Phillips back at second base for their 2014 campaign. 

    The 32-year-old drove in 103 runs during the 2013 season. Despite having a bunch of RBI, Phillips struggled to be a consistent hitter at the plate.

    His .261 average was one of his lowest in his 12-year career. That is why he ranks lower on the list. Phillips can still produce, however, especially since he plays in the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.

    Don't forget that the Reds scored the third-most runs in the NL in 2013. If that production is similar, then Phillips will be a big part of it.

7. Ian Kinsler, 2B, DET

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    A change of scenery could provide a big season for Kinsler in Detroit.
    A change of scenery could provide a big season for Kinsler in Detroit.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Ian Kinsler owners may be a bit stressed knowing that the second baseman was traded away from the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to play in a pitcher's park at Comerica Park.

    The benefit of being traded, however, is being able to hit in front of Miguel Cabrera. If Kinsler can get on base, he will likely be driven in by the American League's best run producer.

    What would be home runs in Arlington will turn into doubles, possibly triples for Kinsler. The production will be there, but it will come in a different form. Be cautious to take Kinsler, but remember that some production numbers could change with Miguel Cabrera hitting near him in the lineup too.

6. Ian Desmond, SS, WAS

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    The Nationals' starting SS can provide fantasy production in multiple ways.
    The Nationals' starting SS can provide fantasy production in multiple ways.David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    From one Ian to another. Ian Desmond is emerging as a "do-it-all" shortstop.

    Desmond is coming off consecutive 20/20 seasons, which shows that he is consistent and can become an even better player. Desmond is slowly progressing as a productive hitter. He saw his average raise to .280 while continuing to drive in and score runs.

    Desmond is a smart choice up the middle, but he does not crack the top five.

5. Jose Reyes, SS, TOR

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    Jose Reyes is a complete switch-hitting SS with speed and great hands.
    Jose Reyes is a complete switch-hitting SS with speed and great hands.Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Speed kills. So does a .296 average, 15 stolen bases and 30 extra-base hits. That is exactly what Jose Reyes did for the Toronto Blue Jays last season.

    Reyes turns 31 in 2014, but will still be a top-tier player if he can stay healthy—especially in standard 5x5 rotisserie leagues. The Rogers Centre is the perfect ballpark for Reyes to put his skills to use. Look for him to have a 20/20 season in 2014.

4. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS

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    Boston's warrior looks to duplicate a productive 2013 season.
    Boston's warrior looks to duplicate a productive 2013 season.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Dustin Pedroia dealt with a thumb injury in the early part of the 2013 season, but he still managed to play 160 games and get to the plate more than 700 times.

    That's what you need on your team, especially up the middle. Accountability is an important part of drafting a fantasy team. Pedroia not only stays healthy, but he also produces. He will get on base, put up reasonable power numbers, drive in runs and also be smart on the basepaths.

    Playing in a true hitter's park makes Pedroia an automatic decision toward the top of the middle infielder list.

3. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL

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    Troy Tulowitzki can do it all on the diamond.
    Troy Tulowitzki can do it all on the diamond.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Troy Tulowitzki is good. OK, he's better than good. He's great.

    The superstar shortstop posted a slash line of .312/.391/.540 while hitting 25 homers for the Colorado Rockies last season despite being injured for about a month.

    When he is healthy, Tulo becomes an instant top-tier player in the MLB. Take him early in your draft. He won't disappoint.

2. Hanley Ramirez, SS, LAD

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    Hanley Ramirez looks forward to his second full season with the Dodgers.
    Hanley Ramirez looks forward to his second full season with the Dodgers.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Dueces! Hanley Ramirez comes in at No. 2 on this list.

    The argument between Tulo and Hanley is tough, because both players are good. Unfortunately, one has to be ranked higher than the other. Ramirez stands out because of the lineup that he his surrounded by. Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp make Ramirez a primary run producer and run scorer.

    He had a monster season in 2013, hitting .345, crushing 20 home runs and driving in 57 runs while only playing in 86 games. His OPS was also a whopping 1.040.

    Hanley is the highest-ranked shortstop on this list.

1. Robinson Cano, 2B, SEA

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    Robinson Cano comes in at No. 1 on the list.
    Robinson Cano comes in at No. 1 on the list.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The best middle infielder to draft in your upcoming draft in Robinson Cano.

    Cano plays almost every day, appearing in more than 159 games in seven of his nine years in the league. Being on the field helps Cano, but even if limited he is still one of the best all-around hitters in the game.

    Cano can get his numbers whenever he needs to. He can hit the long ball, he can drive a ball in the gap and he can also hit for average. The left-handed superstar signed a 10-year, $240-million contract with the Seattle Mariners this offseason, and Seattle's pitcher's park may drain a bit of appeal from his numbers, but he is still the best bet of the bunch.

    Cano should be the first middle infielder taken during the fantasy baseball season. If he isn't, make sure you scoop him up as soon as possible.

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