By R.J. Anderson //
The season might be wrapping up, but there are still a few players available in a good chunk of leagues that could help push you over the top. Let’s take a look at four players who could be used to form an entirely new infield. They are ranked by their availability in ESPN leagues in ascending order:
1. Jose Altuve
2. Yuniesky Betancourt
3. Mike Carp
4. David Freese
Altuve is the Astros diminutive second baseman. The story on him throughout the minors was that he can hit, and that remains the case after more than 100 major league plate appearances. There are some reasons for concern, as Altuve’s value is entirely batting average driven and it’s far too early to say whether he can maintain an average in the .330s. If not and his peripheral statistic remain the same, then his value dips quite a bit. Altuve is owned in just 5.3 percent of ESPN leagues.
As bad as Betancourt was in the first half (.237/.255/.342), he’s been very good since the All-Star break (.369/.385/.553). Betancourt has always shown traces of power, and while his on-base percentage is being buoyed by his average, it’s a matter of positional scarcity. Just riding the tail end of the heat wave can provide good value, particularly if you do not own Troy Tulowitzki or another top shortstop. Betancourt is available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Justin Smoak’s injuries have opened the door to Carp, who is owned in 52 percent of ESPN leagues. His seasonal line of .320/.379/.492 is strong, and he has been particularly effective over the last two weeks. Because Carp is a lefty, he will not be as affected by Safeco’s offensive constriction as his right-handed batting teammates. Carp isn’t likely to continue to hit like he is one of the league’s best first basemen, but if you can catch some lightning in the bottle from a utility slot, he could provide useful, as Rob covered earlier in the week.
Freese completes the infield and is owned in nearly 75 percent of leagues. He is hitting .319/.369/.458 on the season, and four of his seven home runs have come in the last four weeks. Freese’s power has picked up in the second half, and would be owned more widely if he hadn’t missed almost all of May and June.
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