Way back many years ago, when Roto ball had pretty strict rules, outfielder Kirby Puckett logged an inning at second base and the apocryphal story that followed was this quote from Puckett: "That should make the Fantasy owners happy."
The implication was with the appearance Puckett could be moved to the keystone/middle infielder spot, giving a team a lot more flexibility.
Zobrist's versatility: very valuable
And, though the rules around usage and position eligibility have largely evolved since those early primitive days in the late 1980s, the ability to juggle players into different, and more important, divergent spots has become no less a serious point of strategy.
I have gone for this tack already in LABR, in my FSTA Draft Champions League, and just last Saturday in my Scoresheet draft where I had frozen Jedd Gyorko, who looks like he will play second, but for draft purposes qualifies only at third. Compound that with the notion that Gyorko is not a lock to earn or hold a job as of yet, and it was clear I had to hedge my bets along with my H2H roster.
So, I went for a couple of multi-positional guys I really like this year as much as I like having those guys on my roster.
In that context, here are the players I like who qualify at second, and somewhere else -- sometimes more than one location depending upon your league rules -- this season and as a result give a lot of help as you assemble a roster during your draft or auction. BTW, this also comes in seriously handy during the season.
Jeff Keppinger (1B, 2B, 3B): Keppinger qualifies all around the infield and seems poised for a full on season as a starter, something he did well enough in Houston in 2010 with .286-6-59 numbers. I am guessing as a vet and now professional hitter, Keppinger will step up and build on his solid .325-9-40 at Tampa last year, and just notch into Mark DeRosa territory. That means .286-15-75 totals or better, generally for less than a double-digit price tag or as a later pick. BTW, Keppinger is hitting .417 this spring.
Kyle Seager (2B, 3B): Seager is, for sure, a line drive hitter who might get a bit of a boost from the moved in fences at Safeco Field. He can be streaky with the average and power, but with experience will come confidence and I think he can be very steady turning in another 20-homer season, even raising his average while largely playing third base. However, should Dustin Ackley continue to struggle at the dish, Seager could move to second while the M's make room for Alex Liddi. Seager logged 18 games at that slot last year.
Matt Carpenter (1B, OF): Carpenter has always had a stick as his .299-28-164 minor league totals suggest. Further, as a minor leaguer, Carpenter bagged 210 walks to 212 whiffs, a fine total. Last year with St. Louis, Carpenter spelled the oft-injured David Freese at third, and also the somewhat brittle Cardinals outfielders. He also played second five times, so depending upon your league rules, Carpenter could essentially qualify everywhere on the diamond but catching and pitching. This spring he is raking to the tune of .410 and is trying to put a claim on second base. Either way, he is likely to get 450-plus productive at-bats and in the bargain give your team some handy positional options as the season progresses, while probably costing around $7 or so.
Marco Scutaro (2B, SS): I saw Scutaro play as a younger guy in Oakland, and honestly I never saw his improved batting eye and numbers coming. But, clearly the second sacker has learned as witnessed by his .306-7-74 totals of last year, which included a terrific 40 walks to 49 strikeouts. Note that number suggests not only a discerning eye, but an ability to get his bat on the ball, and I suspect though Scutaro might not exceed last year's totals, he should still give pretty solid production. Note that last year Scutaro also played third 15 times, meaning he could qualify there as well in some leagues.
Ben Zobrist (2B, SS, OF): Probably the most obvious of the multi-positional players, Zobrist's value is pretty well established with a major league 162-game mean of .260-20-83 with 17 swipes. Zobrist will not be as inexpensive as anyone else on this list, but again, the ability just on draft day to move him all over your roster is potentially worth the $20 or so he might cost.
Martin Prado (3B, OF): Not as much pop as I wished, but Prado can certainly hit as his career .295-52-286 line suggests. Prado, who actually did time at all four infield spots and in the outfield with the Braves last year, will probably play the hot corner as a regular gig with Arizona this season. But, on draft day he should run around $15 to $17 under most circumstances and really help with your bidding flexibility. And, Prado will give you pretty good hitting numbers as part of the bargain.
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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.
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