Shuffle Up: The joy of Michael Conforto

What we’re doing is ranking the players for expected 5×5 roto value the rest of the season. What’s happened to this point is merely an audition. Don’t worry about the prices in a vacuum; what really matters is how the commodities relate to one another on this list. Players at the same cost are considered even.

Today’s assignment: outfield. You won’t find anyone who’s solely an infielder on this list, and I’ll give catchers their own shuffle, too. Starting pitchers (the granddaddy of them all) will be shuffled next week.

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I reserve the right to tweak this list in the first 24 hours of debut. Your intelligent and respectful disagreement is most welcome, but be sure to defend your arguments. Win that debate, win that rank.

You’re supposed to have some disagreements, that’s why we have a game. And if you don’t care for my ranking process or results, that’s fine; go follow another baseball writer who speaks your language and says what you want to hear.

I’m still fiddling around with the ideal format for the presentation; if you don’t like what you see, no worries. I welcome suggestions, as well.

I ranked players on the disabled list, but I will not debate their prices. They’re worth whatever you want them to be. Generally, everyone seems to be more bullish on long-term injury guys than I am. I’m also not ranking anyone in the minors.

And please remember the golden rule of Shuffle Ups: no player gains (or loses) 15-20 percent of value simply because you roster him.

Enough preamble, game on. If I missed any non-catcher who qualifies, let em know. Again, today’s assignment is outfield.

$41 Mike Trout
$38 Mookie Betts
$36 Bryce Harper
$36 Charlie Blackmon
$33 Kris Bryant
$25 Nelson Cruz
$25 Eric Thames
$25 J.D. Martinez
$23 Michael Conforto
$23 Aaron Judge
$23 Giancarlo Stanton

The Mets are finally giving Conforto a shot to play against lefties, and although the sample is tiny, he’s slashed .316/.435/.789 against them and hit three home runs. I’ll never understand why some teams decide to shield their prospects from possible development, rather than give them the experience and see if they can improve, figure things out. (I realize it can be a mistake to assume rational coaching, especially from a team like the Mets, but I’m not concerned about Conforto’s playing time forward, even when Yoenis Cespedes comes back.)

Thames is pretty easy to trust this deep into the season because he’s controlling his at-bats so well; a juicy walk rate, a low chase rate, and even a modest strikeout rate for a power hitter.

$22 Billy Hamilton
$22 Miguel Sano
$22 Matt Kemp
$21 Ryan Braun
$20 *A.J. Pollock
$20 Wil Myers
$20 Andrew Benintendi
$20 Marcell Ozuna
$20 Trea Turner
$19 *Yoenis Cespedes
$19 Carlos Gonzalez

Cargo has been able to stay healthy for the last few years, so we can stop holding that against him. Let’s look at the monthly OPS splits, starting in April: .778, .886, .871, .924, .869, .839. And with the Rockies contending, Gonzalez probably won’t show up in trade discussions. I feel like it’s been said by 100 different writers, so maybe it’s not executable — but you should at least try to get Gonzalez at a discount. Heck, maybe he’s worth a full pay at the moment. There’s still a game-breaking upside here.

$19 Jose Bautista
$18 Corey Dickerson
$18 Cody Bellinger
$18 Mark Trumbo
$18 Justin Upton
$17 Adam Jones
$17 Aaron Altherr
$17 Ian Desmond
$17 Michael Brantley
$16 Adam Duvall
$16 George Springer

I think the Astros finally gave Springer the red light on the bases that he deserves, and he’s never going to be much of an average hitter. Thus, you’re looking at a three-category player. Okay, there’s some value to that, but some pundits thought this was a future MVP. Maybe this is as good as it gets.

$15 Matt Holliday
$15 Brett Gardner
$15 Keon Broxton
$15 Kevin Pillar
$15 Chris Owings
$15 Josh Bell
$14 Ender Inciarte
$14 Eduardo Nunez
$14 Jacoby Ellsbury
$14 Khris Davis
$14 *Christian Yelich
$14 Jose Ramirez
$13 Scott Schebler
$13 Avisail Garcia
$13 Hernan Perez
$13 Domingo Santana
$13 David Peralta
$13 Josh Reddick
$13 Jayson Werth
$13 Brandon Belt
$13 *Gregory Polanco
$12 Carlos Santana
$12 Yasmany Tomas
$12 Max Kepler
$11 Andrew McCutchen
$11 Kendrys Morales
$11 Marwin Gonzalez
$11 Brandon Drury
$11 Jay Bruce
$11 Lorenzo Cain
$11 Manuel Margot

Is Cain now just a one-category player? KC’s soul-crushing offense is a drain on Cain’s run production, and he hasn’t hit for any power this year. We appreciate the speed, and he’s still a plus defender, but there isn’t much else here. Do the Nats have a good trade piece for Cain? He’d be a reasonable replacement for Adam Eaton, though he’s not as dynamic as a healthy Eaton.

It’s sad to see McCutchen struggling like this; the mind is still there, the will is still there, but the athleticism is gone. He’s no longer a plus defender, and too much of his contact is soft, easily converted into outs. Maybe you can still cash in on his name brand to some extent, but it won’t be to me.

$10 Dexter Fowler
$10 Odubel Herrera
$9 Shin-Soo Choo
$9 Cameron Maybin
$8 Yasiel Puig
$7 Ian Happ
$7 *David Dahl
$7 *Starling Marte
$7 Aaron Hicks

If the Yankees committed to Hicks as a full-time player, he’d easily become a double-digit asset. More on that here.
$7 Kevin Kiermaier
$7 Jackie Bradley
$7 Nomar Mazara
$6 Leury Garcia
$6 Delino DeShields
$6 Michael Taylor
$6 Kole Calhoun
$6 Ben Zobrist
$5 *Carlos Gomez
$5 Jarrod Dyson
$5 Lonnie Chisenhall
$5 Matt Adams
$5 *Hunter Pence
$4 Kolten Wong
$4 Randal Grichuk
$4 Danny Valencia
$4 Jose Peraza
$4 Carlos Beltran
$4 Jason Heyward
$4 Joc Pederson
$4 *Mitch Haniger
$3 Nick Markakis
$3 Jorge Bonifacio
$3 Ben Gamel
$3 Byron Buxton

If Buxton can keep the walk rate over 10 percent and start to turn his elite speed into 30 or more bags a year, we might be onto something. He’s probably going to be a double-digit home run guy eventually. Think the good version of Carlos Gomez, if he pops, and the bad side of B.J. Upton if he doesn’t. Of course, Minnesota pitchers probably don’t care if Buxton bats .100, given how angelic his defense is.

$3 Hunter Renfroe
$3 Steven Souza
$3 Bradley Zimmer
$3 Jorge Soler
$3 Melky Cabrera
$3 Thomas Pham
$2 Whit Merrifield
$2 Gerardo Parra
$2 Trey Mancini
$2 Ryan Rua
$2 Curtis Granderson
$2 Seth Smith
$2 Rajai Davis
$2 Stephen Piscotty
$1 *Howie Kendrick
$1 Ezequiel Carrera
$1 Jacob Marisnick
$1 Brandon Moss
$1 Adam Frazier
$1 Robbie Grossman
$1 Eddie Rosario
$1 Colby Rasmus
$1 Mark Canha
$1 Enrique Hernandez
$1 Cory Spangenberg
$0 Matt Joyce
$0 Michael Saunders
$0 Chris Young
$0 Daniel Descalso
$0 Guillermo Heredia
$0 Steve Pearce
$0 John Jaso
$0 Andrew Romine
$0 Gregor Blanco
$0 Alex Gordon