The 10 Best Team Infields in MLB for 2024

The two best teams in baseball control the top spots on this list, but where do the Phillies rank now that Bryce Harper is playing in the infield?

Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his eighth inning two-run home run against the New York Mets with teammate Austin Riley at Citi Field.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 13: Matt Olson #28 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his eighth inning two-run home run against the New York Mets with teammate Austin Riley #27 at Citi Field on August 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Superstars line some of the best infields in Major League Baseball, including World Series MVP Corey Seager, Hall of Fame candidates Nolan Arenado and Jose Altuve, and a new infield stalwart in the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts.

Complete infield units must have a blend of defensive excellence up the middle and prodigious power at the corners. When the middle infielders can swing it and the corner guys can pick it, that takes these units to a whole different level. There may not be a truly complete infield in MLB, but we tried to sort through those that are closest to the perfect billing.

Honorable Mention: Cleveland Guardians

Projected Starters: Kyle Manzardo (1B), Andrés Giménez (2B), Brayan Rocchio (SS), José Ramírez (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.2

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José Ramírez and Andrés Giménez alone give the Cleveland Guardians a top-15 infield in baseball, but the team’s ascent into the top 10 will be entirely on the shoulders of rookies Kyle Manzardo and Brayan Rocchio.

After an incredible 2022, Manzardo tried to fight through injury and put up a (relatively) sub-par 2023 campaign in Triple-A. Rocchio has seemed big-league-ready for the better part of the last two seasons, but for some reason, the Guardians have been reluctant to hand him the reins at shortstop.

Giménez may have disappointed offensively last season after his whale of a 2022 campaign, but his WAR estimate being in the mid-4’s is largely due to him being a perennial Platinum Glove candidate at second base. If Manzardo and Rocchio hit the ground running in 2024, we may be talking about this Guardians infield being one of the best in baseball by the All-Star Break.

Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Reds

Projected Starters: Jeimer Candelario (1B), Matt McLain (2B), Elly De La Cruz (SS), Noelvi Marte (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 9.5

The three youngsters are the story here, but Jeimer Candelario is the secret sauce. Nick Krall spent $45 million on Candelario to ensure stability in the Cincinnati Reds’ infield, and his ZiPS projected 113 wRC+ seems indicative he will provide just that. The volatility, however, is what excites everyone. Will Matt McLain build on a magnificent 2023 season? Does Elly De La Cruz take the superstar leap so many are expecting? How will Noelvi Marte look in his first full taste of the big leagues?

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The other two infielders in the stable for Cincinnati, Jonathan India and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, may not have much defensive value, but they can both swing it as well as anyone in the Reds lineup when on. How those two split up the DH role remains to be seen, but this could be the breakout infield of 2024.

Honorable Mention: Chicago Cubs

Projected Starters: Michael Busch (1B), Nico Hoerner (2B), Dansby Swanson (SS), TBD (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.0 (with Christopher Morel at 3B)

There are so many moving pieces that manager Craig Counsell needs to sort through before his first Opening Day with the Chicago Cubs.

Now that Cody Bellinger is officially back on the North Side, does he hold down center field for one more season and force Pete Crow-Armstrong back to Iowa? Or, does PCA win the job in center and Bellinger plays first base, given the questions surrounding that spot? If that’s the case, does Michael Busch move back to third, or is he the DH option? What about Christopher Morel’s defensive home?

Here’s what is certain: Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner combine to make arguably the best middle infield in baseball defensively. Both Swanson and Hoerner are projected to accumulate over 4.0 fWAR, and understandably so. The corners need to be fleshed out, but this could be an elite group a month or two into the season.

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10. Boston Red Sox

Projected Starters: Triston Casas (1B), Vaughn Grissom (2B), Trevor Story (SS), Rafael Devers (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 10.8

Rafael Devers is as prolific of a power hitter as there is at the third base position, but his defensive abilities have not improved as much as the Boston Red Sox may have hoped they would over the last several years. With how good the offensive profile is, however, you’d be silly to call the hot corner in Boston anything but a massive strong spot.

The good news for manager Alex Cora is that he really doesn’t have to worry about platooning any of his starting infielders heading into 2024. After acquiring Vaughn Grissom from Atlanta for Chris Sale this offseason, Boston has an everyday second baseman to pair up the middle with a fully healthy Trevor Story. Triston Casas is a breakout candidate after an incredibly strong finish to the 2023 campaign.

Overall, this is a well-rounded group that shouldn’t be a weak spot at any point this summer.

9. Tampa Bay Rays

Projected Starters: Yandy Díaz (1B), Brandon Lowe (2B), José Caballero (SS), Isaac Paredes (3B)

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Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 11.1

In typical Tampa Bay Rays fashion, 2023 marked a season that no one saw coming for three key contributors. One of those was Zach Eflin, throwing over 175 innings with a mid-3.00’s ERA, but the other two were in the infield.

Isaac Paredes surpassed any expectations that his previous seasons (or even his peripherals) had set for him, while first baseman Yandy Díaz bested his previous career-high in wRC+ by nearly 20 points and his career-best fWAR by an entire win. While both are “regression candidates” by the book, it’s impossible to truly identify if a regression is coming or not.

All the questions lie in the middle infield. Brandon Lowe fought through nagging injuries all of last season, and we have yet to see him replicate his power showcase from 2021.

Tampa did acquire José Caballero in a trade with Seattle and sign Amed Rosario to a one-year deal, but are those safe answers at short for a team striving to win its division? And, do top prospects Junior Caminero, Curtis Mead and Osleivis Basabe factor in? It’s a situation that would surely give anyone a headache.

8. St. Louis Cardinals

Projected Starters: Paul Goldschmidt (1B), Nolan Gorman (2B), Masyn Winn (SS), Nolan Arenado (3B)

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Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 10.8

While Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are coming off of relative down years in 2023, the duo is still one of the strongest corner infield tandems in the game and comprised of two guys who may be Cooperstown-bound when it’s all said and done. The St. Louis Cardinals’ middle infield, on the other hand, is on the other end of the spectrum.

Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan should combine for the overwhelming majority of the second base reps, with Tommy Edman slated to primarily handle center field duties. While there may be a drop off defensively from the Gold Glove-caliber Edman, Gorman and Donovan can hold their own while producing at a well-above-average clip offensively (Donovan has a 124 wRC+ over his first two seasons, while Gorman checks in at 113 across his first two years).

Masyn Winn seems primed to handle shortstop on an everyday basis in St. Louis, with newly-signed Brandon Crawford serving as the safety net. This blend of veteran leadership from Goldschmidt, Arenado and Crawford, coupled with the young tools of Winn, Donovan and Gorman is so easy to buy stock in.

7. New York Mets

Projected Starters: Pete Alonso (1B), Jeff McNeil (2B), Francisco Lindor (SS), Brett Baty (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 12.0

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The New York Mets infield situation is quite similar to that of the Guardians, but the “third and fourth” pieces of the puzzle in Queens could be twice as productive as the duo of Rocchio and Manzardo in Cleveland. What’s more, the floor for this group is so ridiculously high with Francisco Lindor coming off a 30/30, six-win season and Pete Alonso being a perennial threat to hit 50 home runs while running a strikeout rate under 20%.

A Jeff McNeil bounce-back would be welcomed by Mets fans, especially after the front office committed $50 million to him last offseason, but a year-two leap from Brett Baty should be No. 1 on everyone’s wish list. After he posted a 68 wRC+ in 108 games last season, 2024 could be Baty’s final chance to cement himself as a franchise cornerstone moving forward.

6. Houston Astros

Projected Starters: José Abreu (1B), Jose Altuve (2B), Jeremy Peña (SS), Alex Bregman (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 11.6

A pair of superstars man the infield at Minute Maid Park in Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but the 2023 seasons from their teammates Jeremy Peña and José Abreu were rather disappointing.

Peña cut his strikeout rate and nearly doubled his sub-4.0% walk rate in his sophomore season, but his lack of power (22 HR in his rookie season compared to just 10 last year) dropped his wRC+ below league average and dropped his fWAR from 3.4 to 2.8.

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Abreu, meanwhile, posted far and away the worst year of his phenomenal decade-long MLB career. After never seeing his wRC+ drop below 114 and his fWAR output dip under 1.6, his 86 wRC+ and -0.6 fWAR were blemishes on a positive Houston Astros season that saw them take home yet another AL West division title. If Peña and Abreu can regain form by even a smidge, this infield could be a force to be reckoned with.

5. San Diego Padres

Projected Starters: Jake Cronenworth (1B), Xander Bogaerts (2B), Ha-Seong Kim (SS), Manny Machado (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.0

With news circulating in February that Xander Bogaerts would make the switch to second base full-time to accommodate the more sure-handed Ha-Seong Kim at shortstop, the San Diego Padres have optimized their infield alignment. Manny Machado is still a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman, while Jake Cronenworth is an above-average defensive second baseman playing first base.

Offensively, it’s hard to poke a hole in this assortment outside of Cronenworth. Machado and Bogaerts figure to be two of the premiere run producers in the NL West, while Kim is coming off of career-best marks in nearly every statistical category.

The 2023 season marked Cronenworth’s first year with a wRC+ below 100, making him a prime bounce-back candidate in his age-30 season.

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4. Philadelphia Phillies

Projected Starters: Bryce Harper (1B), Bryson Stott (2B), Trea Turner (SS), Alec Bohm (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.0

Bryce Harper is now playing first base. What more could you ask for? In his first 300 career innings at first, Harper was a net positive defender, accumulating 1 DRS. After taking an entire offseason to adjust to his new digs, one has to assume that a superstar talent like Harper will be a well-above-average defender going forward.

The Philadelphia Phillies’ middle infield is fascinating, with Bryson Stott being the superior defensive option at shortstop but forced over to second base by $300 million man Trea Turner. Stott has made second his cozy new home, however, grading out as one of the best defensive second basemen in the game last season.

Alec Bohm may not blossom into the All-Star caliber third baseman we once expected him to become, but he rounds out one of the best infields in the game.

3. Texas Rangers

Projected Starters: Nathaniel Lowe (1B), Marcus Semien (2B), Corey Seager (SS), Josh Jung (3B)

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Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.4

Major League Baseball saw an historically low number of six-win players in 2023, but the Texas Rangers’ middle infield tandem of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien accounted for two of the nine position players to accumulate 6.0 fWAR or better.

It’s far more complicated than simple player production, yet it already feels like the team’s $500 million investment into the duo is paying off.

The corner infield was the place that the Rangers needed internal options to step up, and sluggers Nathaniel Lowe and Josh Jung certainly did so last season. However, Jung continues to battle nagging injuries, which may force utility man Ezequiel Duran into action more often than expected.

2. Atlanta Braves

Projected Starters: Matt Olson (1B), Ozzie Albies (2B), Orlando Arcia (SS), Austin Riley (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.3

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Arguably the most complete infield in all of baseball, the Atlanta Braves only trail the Los Angeles Dodgers because of the one-of-a-kind 1-2 punch in Southern California. The Braves’ top tandem of Matt Olson and Austin Riley is as menacing of a slugger pairing as there is in the game, combining for 91 home runs and 236 RBIs last season.

Ozzie Albies is the best third piece there is, adding another 33 homers and 109 driven in last season to pair with his 124 wRC+ and 4.0 fWAR. Orlando Arcia rounds out the quartet. The All-Star starter from a year ago may have been the best option at the weakest spot, but still, the former top prospect played well enough to make Vaughn Grissom expendable this offseason.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Projected Starters: Freddie Freeman (1B), Mookie Betts (2B), Gavin Lux (SS), Max Muncy (3B)

Cumulative Proj. fWAR (ZiPS): 13.5

There are only three full-time position players in Major League Baseball who have accumulated at least 6.0 fWAR in each of the last two seasons. One of them is the Mets’ Francisco Lindor; the other two share the right side of the infield at Dodger Stadium.

We can whittle down the grouping even further: Freddie Freeman joins now-teammate Shohei Ohtani as the only players (pitchers or hitters) to amass 7.0 fWAR or more in both 2022 and 2023.

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With Freeman and Betts sharing the same infield, two members of the Just Baseball editorial staff could play short and third and L.A. would still end up inside the top three on this list. However, Max Muncy continues to be an OPS masher, and Gavin Lux is healthy and primed to take over the bulk of the shortstop reps for the “World Series or Bust” Dodgers.