2017 Outlook: Gregorius has adapted brilliantly to the title of "Derek Jeter's replacement," in 2016 setting career highs in home runs (20), slugging percentage (.447) and contact rate (85.4 percent). In fact, he had never before hit as many as 10 homers in a single pro campaign. Gregorius improved substantially against left-handed pitchers, batting .324 with a 91.9 percent contact rate, which lent legitimacy to his overall breakthrough numbers. Though he had previously been better regarded for his defense, his skills improvements on the hitting side as well as his homer-friendly home ballpark make him middle-infield material in mixed leagues.
2017 Outlook: A great handler of the bat, Panik's struggles in 2016 were largely influenced by a concussion, from which he never completely recovered until the offseason. Now fully healthy, his batting average should rebound, perhaps by as many as 75 points, which would put him back on the mixed-league middle infield radar. Panik is also a much stronger value in points-based leagues than Rotisserie, as even in a down year by his standards, he was a top-160 overall player in 2016.
2017 Outlook: Hernandez has done an excellent job in recent years improving his plate discipline, transforming himself from a utilityman into a viable starting major-league second baseman (and fantasy middle infielder). His 10.6 percent walk rate last season was a career best, and while he struggled through a poor year on the base paths, he has rebound potential in terms of stolen bases after he and the Phillies spent the offseason addressing the problem. He might be capable of a .280 batting average, .360 on-base percentage and 20 steals.
2017 Outlook: A sneaky-good points league pick, Solarte's contact ability and keen eye at the plate makes him a smart option to scoop up, arguably as a clear mixed-league corner infielder. He possesses balanced righty/lefty splits and even sacrificed some contact in exchange for power last season, elevating his statistical floor and making him especially appealing should he land one of the top three spots in the Padres' lineup.
2017 Outlook: Escobar is an awkward fit for his role -- he's often used as the Royals' leadoff hitter and might again this year -- but it helps provide him a volume advantage that gets him on the middle-infielder radar in mixed leagues and a potential starting shortstop in AL-only formats. His speed has been in decline the past two years, however, and last season he regressed somewhat in terms of both his contact rate and plate discipline, things that hint he's on the wrong side of the aging curve. Escobar probably doesn't have much more to offer than he has recently, but for so long as he's starting he's worth a late-round look.
2017 Outlook: Marte just stopped walking last season, adopting a much more aggressive -- and undisciplined -- approach at the plate, adversely impacting both his batting-average and stolen-base contributions. Following his November trade to the Diamondbacks, he'll now have to earn his way back into the starting lineup, battling for at-bats at both second base and shortstop. Marte should be of use in NL-only leagues thanks to his speed, but he'd need to impress during spring training to be more than bench fodder in mixed formats.