Middle Infield: Late Round Value

USA TODAY Sports

The second in a series of articles, on late round possibilities in deep drafts, will look at middle infielders who you may be able to draft late, and still get enough production from them to have value.

As you probably already know, an important part of your strategy for deep drafts is the ability to wait for certain players, until late in the draft, in order to give yourself the ability to draft production at other positions. Since you never know how a draft will unfold, it is important to have a few players, in a variety of positions, tucked away for safe keeping, until the late rounds. The ability to ignore position scarcity, and still get value, is a necessary quality, of a good draft. In 2013, arguably the most difficult area to wait on is the middle infield. Of the two positions that make up middle infield, second base is easily the more shallow, so I recommend, if you decide to choose, drafting a quality second baseman, and waiting on shortstop, and/or filling your middle infield slot with a shortstop.

The first player I will recommend is Zack Cozart of the Cincinnati Reds. In his first full season as the Red's starting shortstop, Zack batted .246, hit 15 home runs, and scored 72 runs. I think each of those numbers are repeatable in 2013, and I even think there will be a slight uptick in his in his batting average, given his 80% contact rate.

The second middle infielder I think can give value at the end of the draft is Andrelton Simmons, shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Andrelton took over for Tyler Pastornicky last year, and never looked back. He came up with the reputation of being more valuable with his glove than his bat, but quickly proved to have some value offensively, and thus, have the ability to help a fantasy owner. In 2013 I believe Mr. Simmons will bat .266, steal 14 bags, and contribute 6 home runs to boot. Once again, not the type of player you want as your starting shortstop, but, certainly the type of player who can provide value at the end of a draft.

Finally, we come to a middle infielder who may not be a middle infielder, at all, by the end of 2013; Mike Aviles. Cleveland picked up Mike in a bizarre series of transactions, and he is now back up at all the infield positions, except catcher. (But, just give him time....) I will tell you ahead of time that I like Mike Aviles. He has versatility and provides a little something in each category. Most importantly, for fantasy purposes, while he is only eligible at shortstop now, he backs up Lonnie Chisenhall at third, and, give Chisenhall's history, Mike may have that job by the end of April. If that occurs, look for Mike to bat .251, hit 9 home runs, steal 11 bags, score 58 runs, and drive in 61. Given Mike's back up status, currently, you should be able to wait for him until the late rounds, and possibly even the reserve round.

In order to be successful, you need to be able to ignore certain areas of the draft, to get players that provide more value, than you might otherwise get, drafting based on scarcity. The above three middle infielders may provide that type of value.

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