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Infielders to Add at the Quarter Season Mark

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The free agent infielders you should be adding a quarter of the way through the 2018 fantasy season.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we are a quarter of the way through the season, it is time that we take a look at some potential additions that could help your fantasy team going forward. The players listed below may not be the best options compared to their fellow sportsmen in the notable section, but I do find them as the most interesting. (Note: Blandino, Flowers, and Arroyo don’t have clear paths to playing time, but I really like their skill sets. These are more players to watch rather than players to start).

Catcher

Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds (16% Owned)

Barnhart has been the most underrated player at his position not only in fantasy but in real life as well. Barnhart's Gold Glove worthy defense will help him accumulate a large amount of the starts behind home plate, but it is his offense that is often overlooked.

With an incredible soft contact rate, line drive rate, and ability to make consistent contact, Barnhart has the potential to post the highest batting average at his position. This makes him a great pick in AVG leagues, but his above average plate discipline also makes him a quality add in any OBP league as well. Although he may not put up extraordinary power numbers, his above average hard contact rate and hitter-friendly home park could lead to a home run total around 15 by season's end.

Although Barnhart may not be the sexiest pick at the position, his high floor and lack of depth at the position makes his 16% ownership all that more surprising.

Other Notables: Evan Gattis (56% Owned), James McCann (26% Owned), Tyler Flowers (3% Owned)

First Base

Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates (10% Owned)

Moran was an interesting fantasy option heading into 2018 after getting sent to the Pirates as part of the trade that saw Gerrit Cole get moved off to Houston. With a revamped swing that saw him post a .918 OPS at Triple-A in 2017, he was put at the back end of many top 100 prospect lists. This new swing has helped him see an increase in fly balls, but without affecting his ability to hit line drives.

With a 25.7% line drive rate and above average soft contact rate, Moran should post a reasonably high BABIP. This high BABIP added with his potentially low strikeout rate should help him post a batting average around the .280 mark.

If you told me that Moran would finish in the top 15 on the player rater among first basemen this season, I would not be surprised. This is why he is a must add in any 12-team league with a middle infield spot, and could possibly make him the best quality pickup on this list.

Other Notables: Matt Carpenter (63% Owned), Justin Bour (52% Owned), Jesus Aguilar (37% Owned)

Second Base

Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks (4% Owned)

Marte has gone completely under the radar this season due to a poor .226/.290/.310 slash line, but he has the potential to become a fantasy darling going further into the season.

With a 91.2% contact rate Marte leads the MLB in contact rate and is the only player to have a contact rate in the nineties so far this season. This ability to make consistent contact should help him post a relatively decent batting average, even if it is closer to the .290 BABIP he posted last season.

Now Marte does come with his fair share of worrisome stats. This season his 16.8% line drive rate is almost 4% lower than his career average, but I do expect that to trend more towards his career mean. The one thing that really worries me is his 23.6% soft contact rate. With his soft contact rate reaching a new career low, I am scared that his poor offensive output could have something to do with the new atmosphere at Chase Field. I do like players like Scott Kingery and Ian Kinsler more than Marte, but I think he could be an interesting option for anyone in need of severe help at the middle infield positions.

Other Notables: Ian Kinsler (41% Owned), Scott Kingery (26% Owned), Alex Blandino (1% Owned)

Third Base

Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies (57% Owned)

We may finally be seeing Franco have his breakout season. With a 14.3% line drive rate this season, Franco will post a relatively low BABIP. His low strikeout rate, however, should still help his batting average stay above the .260 mark.

When looking at Franco's batted ball profile this year, his 26.2% hard contact was quite concerning. When you head over to Baseball Savant and look at his Statcast data, however, you see a different story. This season he is hitting 38.1% of his batted balls with a velocity of at least 95 mph, so I expect that hard contact rate to improve going forward.

With a low amount of walks and strikeouts, Franco will have a lot of batted ball events. When you take those high amount of batted ball events and combine them with Franco's raw power, we could see him reach the 30-homer mark for the first time in 2018.

Other Notables: Matt Chapman (59% Owned), Miguel Andujar (41% Owned), Brian Anderson (17% Owned)

Shortstop

Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs (36% Owned)

I pointed out in the offseason that Russell's plate vision has slowly been improving year after year, and the trend seems to be continuing this season as he is posting career bests in swinging strike rate, contact rate, and O-Swing percentage. These adjustments at the plate could help him post a strikeout rate below the league average for the first time in his career, ultimately helping him post a career best in batting average.

Russell’s improved plate discipline is not the only promising skill he possesses, as he has yet to post a line drive rate below 20% the last three seasons and is hitting 23.9% of his batted balls as line drives this season. With his amount of line drives, an improved approach at the plate, and decent raw power, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Russell has a .260 batting average with 20+ home runs. With the shortstop position becoming relatively shallow outside the top 10, we should see Russell's ownership start to rise over the next couple of weeks. Don't miss your chance to stash this former All-Star and miss out on his potential breakout season.

Other Notables: Zack Cozart (57% Owned), Amed Rosario (8% Owned), Christian Arroyo (1% Owned)

Poll

Which infielder are you buying into the rest of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Tucker Barnhart, C, Cincinnati Reds (16% Owned)
    (21 votes)
  • 25%
    Colin Moran, 1B/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (10% Owned)
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    Ketel Marte, 2B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (4% Owned)
    (7 votes)
  • 35%
    Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (57% Owned)
    (56 votes)
  • 21%
    Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs (38% Owned)
    (33 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now