We are all looking for value at the draft table. One of the easiest ways to determine the value of a player is to consider what position he plays. With the growing trend toward people drafting based on “position scarcity,” I thought it would be worth my time, and my time is extremely valuable so it must be important, to give a list of some of the bigger name players who qualify at more than one position on the diamond (to be listed below the player has to have appeared in at least 20 games at each position – the standard qualifier in almost all fantasy leagues). To be clear, I'm not saying you should draft Mike Aviles before J.J. Hardy simply because he qualifies at more than one spot. What I am saying though is if you are trying to decide between Mike Aviles and Jason Bartlett that maybe you should lean toward Aviles because he will be able to help you out in two spots (in Aviles case he'll also qualify at middle and corner infield, further increasing his usefulness).
One final point. Late in drafts, when you're looking to fill bench roles, multi-position guys are great. Think of it this way. Instead of having to waste two bench spots to grab a backup at shortstop and third base you can spend just one and grab a guy like Aviles. In this situation you've now got another roster spot to bolster some other position that you feel you have a weakness in. Multi-position eligibility is not some panacea for everything, but it is a nice way to add a bit more versatility to your lineup, and you should never be adverse to that.
Mike Aviles – 3B, SS
He could open the year as the Red Sox starter at shortstop. The last two years he's averaged 14 steals a season and he owns a career batting average of .288. There's a lot to like here if he gets 400 at-bats (see 2010: .304-8-32-63-14 in 424 at-bats).
Jose Bautista – 3B, OF
He's an elite power hitter who is going in the top-10 in all drafts because of his bat and the ability to play third base at what is perceived to be a weak position. For more on Bautista see this edition of Rounding the Bases.
Brandon Belt – 1B, OF
The Giants need this youngster to step forward in a lineup filled with blah. Two big road blocks. (1) Belt failed miserably last year hitting just .225 with a .718 OPS in 63 games. (2) The Giants have a full outfield of blah, and they also have Aubrey Huff who is a team leader and making more than $10 million to play the outfield and first base. It's hard to see how Belt will get 400 at-bats unless the Giants do a great job moving their players around.
Lance Berkman – 1B, OF
No idea where his 2011 effort came from. Prior to last season the last time he hit 30 homers with a .300 average was 2007. The key is staying on the field. If he does he'll reach the seats, knock in runs and not kill you in the batting average category, but don't pay for a full repeat of '11 numbers.
Emilio Bonifacio – 3B, SS, OF
One of the more versatile players in the fantasy game, Emilio has elite level stolen base skills (he swiped 40 bags last year). He should run a lot yet again, but I worry about his .296 average coming down. That .372 BABIP is a huge number an even with his speed it's not sustainable. Think more .269 – his career mark – than .296 for 2012.
Michael Cuddyer – 1B, OF
A nice ballplayer who will hit in a great home yard. Still, don't reach too early as I see some people doing. Let's not let the facts get in the way. For his career, that's over 4,000 at-bats, he's a .272 hitter with a .343 OBP and .451 SLG. Compare those numbers to the league average since he started playing in 2001: .267/.343/.443. Yikes. He's basically been league average. Also, he's had only three seasons with 20 homers so he's not a huge power bat. If only he'd appeared in three more games at second (he had 17 starts there last year) then we'd be cooking with gas.
Chris Davis/Mark Reynolds – 1B, 3B
The Orioles have two virtually identical hitters with this duo. If given 500 at-bats each could hit 30 homers and drive in 90 runs. Each might also hit .220. I find it exceedingly interesting that the team has two identical bats set to fill the middle of their order. The outcome could range from excellent (the scenario I described above), to solid, to awful. Reynolds is going to play everyday and produce, he's done so for years now (the last three years he is first at the third base position in homers, third in RBI and second in runs scored). The real question is how will Davis do? Per 500 at-bats in the big leagues Davis has hit 22 homers with 67 RBI, and his .252 batting average isn't horrible. With nothing left to prove in the minors – check out his amazing numbers at Triple-A (.337-54-207 with a 1.006 OPS in just 226 games) - Davis merely needs someone to trust him with the at-bats in the big leagues. Are the Orioles that club?
Howie Kendrick – 2B, OF
One of my favorites, all Kendrick does is hit, and hit, and hit. Always a threat to post a .300 mark, Kendrick also appears ready to run off a few seasons where he pushes for the 15/15 club. Obviously you want him to fill your second base spot, but it's a nice little bonus to have him eligible in the outfield as a cover for when the eventual injury strikes.
Mitch Moreland – 1B, OF
Says his body should be healthy by the start of games, but the Rangers have brought in guys like Conor Jackson (who also qualifies at first and the outfield) and Brad Hawpe (coming back from surgery). Moreland has a nice line drive stroke and he does hit some rather vicious shots, but he's also not going to power enough balls into the seats to be a big time fantasy asset even if he somehow manages to get himself 500 at-bats.
Michael Morse – 1B, OF
First base may not be as deep as you think this year, an if you play in an NL-only league – wow is it thin. Morse may not hit .303 or sock 31 homers again, but he appears to be a stable force at the dish capable of approaching those numbers while being a strong run producer. Would like to see him walk more, and I'm a wee but nervous by his 21.2 percent HR/F ratio form last season.
Daniel Murphy – 1B, 2B, 3B
A potential .300 hitter for a long while, Murphy will be a somewhat empty producer since he lacks pop, but a .300 hitter who qualifies at three spots has a place on my team. See his Player Profile.
Martin Prado – 3B, OF
I love this guy an expect a big time rebound in 2012. See his Player Profile.
Ryan Raburn – 2B, OF
After hitting a pathetic .213 in his first 76 games last season, Raburn turned up the heat and batted .341 with a .967 OPS over his final 45 games. In the end he posted a third straight effort of less than 400 at-bats that still led to at at least 14 homers, 45 RBI and 44 runs scored. As an outfielder he is useless, but with second base eligibility he's worth a final round bid.
Ryan Roberts – 2B, 3B
An at-bat whore, Roberts production last season was completely driven but his ability to play nearly every day. In the end he finished one homer and two steals from one of the more improbable 20/20 seasons in recent memory. At the same time, his slash line was as boring as it gets .249/.341/.427, and he was caught stealing nine times. Given that he's no speed burner, and that he actually didn't do much to help the team score runs with his legs since he was caught a third of the time, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see his steal total cut in half in 201 and with it there goes his fantasy value.
Sean Rodriguez – 2B, 3B, SS
He has the power and speed to be a 15/15 threat, and given that he qualifies in three spots there should be a lot of interest late in Sean. Too bad he's hit just .229 in his career thanks to an awful .212 mark against right-handed pitching.
Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Why is it that I never have a special lady friend on V-Day? You'd think the ladies would want to have a guy like me around to fill their minds with compliments and to provide some companionship. But no. They seemingly prefer to sit home and eat ice cream while feeling sorry for themselves. How lame is that? Ladies, you can have a perfectly good time with this guy (as I flash the double thumbs toward my chest).
Michael Young – 1B, 3B
He's not going to repeat a career best .338 average or 106 RBI, but that doesn't mean that Young isn't one of the more stable commodities in the game. Unfortunately he isn't much of a power hitter, he's failed to record 13 long balls in three of the past five years, but that hasn't stopped him from knocking in at least 80 runners in seven of the past eight years. Use his 2008 effort as your floor (.284-12-82-102).
Ty Wigginton – 1B, 3B, OF
He always plays all over the field, and he almost always pops at least 15 homers (he's reached that total in five of the last six seasons despite only two of those seasons being ones in which he accrued more than 450 at-bats). He's been a sub .250 hitter his last 1,000 at-bats so there is downside, but he makes a strong addition in NL-only leagues.
Ben Zobrist – 2B, OF
Why he isn't generating more buzz is beyond me. It's like no on realizes that he was one steal, one run and nine RBIs from going 20-100-100-20 last year. That's an epic season for a second base eligible player. In two of the last three seasons he has hit 20 homers with 90 RBI, 90 Runs and 15 steals. He's money in the proverbial bank.
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