by Simon Jones
A couple of weeks ago, I was involved in a discussion where we touched on the attraction of players who are eligible at more than one position. Now seemed like a good time to go into the subject in more depth.
Anyone who regularly reads this column will know my mantra of perceived value. The interesting part is that sometimes multi-position eligibility brings only perceived value and in other cases it brings hidden real value.
As always, your league setup makes the world of difference in how valuable particular players are. Seeing multiple positions against a player’s name will always look attractive, however the value really increases when you have transaction limits or when you have small benches on your roster. Squeezing a few more ABs in a H2H league can make all the difference. Similarly, being able to place a SP into a RP slot (or occasionally a RP into a SP slot) can allow a small but significant edge.
In deep leagues, multi-position eligibility can also allow you to cover for injuries and lack of form, when the free-agent pool offers very few viable alternatives
For some players, pretty much their entire value is tied up in their eligibility. For instance, Omar Infante doesn’t offer a great option at any one position, but he’s a guy that can be slotted in at 3 positions including a couple of shallow ones. If he just offered 2B eligibility, his value would be severely restricted. In previous years a similar guy would be Mark DeRosa, who always seemed to be rostered because of various infield eligibility.
In other cases, there is little or no value in multi-position eligibility. In the case of 1B/OF for example, if you don’t play in a deepish league that uses CI or with really restrictive transactions, the additional flexibility of someone like Aubrey Huff won’t be a big bonus compared to a pure outfielder. In this case the perception could be more than reality. Use it as selling point, but be mindful of its real worth.
One area to monitor closely is players acquiring new eligibility, especially if that eligibility is at a really shallow position. It’s imperative to understand your league’s rules on how many appearances are required to gain eligibility. I’ve played in leagues where anywhere between 5 and 20 appearances are necessary. Sometimes owners can be unaware of players about to gain that eligibility, so always be prepared to pounce.
Three guys who are of interest who have just gained or who may be about to gain additional eligibility:
Ryan Roberts – 3B
There was nothing in Roberts’ history to suggest a 2011 breakout, and OF only eligibility led him to go undrafted in pretty much every league. However a hot start coupled with an underwhelming performance by Melvin Mora has led him to gain regular starts at the hot corner. Third base is one of the shallowest positions and Roberts presents a good starting option there for the moment. He was actually available on the waiver wire in most leagues as recently as two weeks ago, but now he is almost 100% owned and presents significant trade value.
Michael Cuddyer – 2B
Since Nishioka went down, the Twins 2B situation has been a mess. I’m not sure Cuddyer makes a great real life 2B, but he has amassed 6 appearances there in the past couple of weeks. As a 1B/OF, he represents a so-so mid/low range option, but as a 2B his value would soar and he becomes a viable starting option in most formats.
Ryan Raburn – 2B
When Raburn acquired 2B eligibility last year, he suddenly made an appearance on many fantasy rosters. Unfortunately, in many setups, he didn’t retain that eligibility into 2011 and was a pure outfielder again. However, with the instability at 2B for the Tigers again this year, Raburn is inching closer to reacquiring that status. As with Cuddyer, if that happens his value increases significantly.
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