Position of Strength: Exploiting Yahoo's Position Eligibility Rules at the Corners

Elsa

Jason Hunt takes a look at some players whose value is dramatically affected by Yahoo's position eligibility rules, specifically at the corner infield positions.

Across most fantasy baseball host sites, 20 games is the standard amount that a player must appear in at a position to qualify there for a season. However, one of the most popular sites out there, Yahoo, has different rules, and it pays to know what they are. From Yahoo's fantasy baseball help:

At the beginning of the Fantasy Baseball season, Yahoo! Sports placed all players into positions, based partially on information from official MLB rosters but focusing mainly on past performance. Some players appear in multiple position lists and are eligible to fill any of those positions.

A player will gain eligibility at a new position after five starts at that position, or 10 total appearances at that position.

Pitchers need to make three starts to become eligible as a starter, or five relief appearances to qualify as a reliever.

Please note the following regarding position eligibility:

  • A player's position eligibility will not be adjusted prior to the beginning of the season. Example: If a player who was a third baseman primarily during his career is playing first base exclusively during spring training, the third baseman will not become eligible at 1B until after he meets the criteria for regular-season games played there.
  • Players will not lose positional eligibility during the season, even if they do not appear at the position throughout the season.

So what does that really tell us? Instead of 20 games, 10 appearances or 5 starts is enough to establish positional eligibility. Obviously, Yahoo will show you on their site which players are eligible where when you view the list of players. However, that isn't expected to be available for another couple of weeks still. So let's look at each of the positions for players who could be helped substantially by these rules now, in the hope that you may be able to exploit some small advantage from this information. Today's positions: First and Third Base

All players mentioned are expected to qualify at the positions mentioned, and is qualified at multiple positions as a result of Yahoo's fantasy rules. In addition, all players mentioned did not play the most games last season at the corner infield positions.

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules - First Base

David Ortiz (7 starts) - While his value isn't significantly better by having first base eligibility, the flexibility that it provides by not having to plug him into your UT spot definitely helps.

Dustin Ackley (5 starts) - Really this is just a piece of nice positional flexibility, as you're almost always going to play Ackley at 2B rather than 1B.

Eric Chavez (10 appearances) - Chavez is already an NL-only play given that he is not expected to start very often with the acquisition of Martin Prado, but he could see significant time at either first or third should someone get hurt at first, second, third, or in the outfield.

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules - Third Base

Marco Scutaro (15 starts) - Scutaro will have 2B and SS eligibility in all leagues as it stands now, but will also give you 3B in Yahoo leagues. The positional flexibility that he provides at the back end of drafts is extremely helpful, as he should provide a high batting average and high runs scored totals, along with a bit of power and speed.

Mark Reynolds (15 starts) - Reynolds is an absolute butcher at the hot corner, but most fantasy owners could care less. He was abysmal for the first four months of the year before clubbing 15 home runs in August and September. He's never going to give even a decent batting average, but he remains a nice source of power provided he can stay in the lineup. He is expected to be the starting 1B for the Indians this year, but if he struggles too much could be replaced by a number of candidates.

Mark Trumbo (8 starts) - The Trumbo Third Base experiment was short and painful, but he did manage to make 8 starts there before they gave up on that idea. He will still retain 3B eligibility in Yahoo leagues, and improves his value quite a bit potentially.

Adeiny Hechavarria (18 appearances) - Hechavarria will actually qualify only at third in non-Yahoo leagues, as it was the position he played the most last year. However, he is expected to be the starting shortstop for the Marlins, which would make him interesting in NL-only leagues.

Players Losing Eligibility - First Base

Since first base tends to be the home of a large number of high offense players, losing the position generally doesn't change a player's value all that much.

Miguel Cabrera - We knew this would happen, and realistically this has absolutely no effect on his value. He is still a top 5 player at worst, and is my #3 player overall.

Mike Morse - Morse played the outfield exclusively in 2012, and with the logjam that exists in Seattle, it is entirely possible that Morse will not get this position back in 2013. The loss of the position is really only a slight decrease in value, as outfield is the better position to have.

Jesus Guzman - Guzman will still be eligible in Yahoo leagues (15 appearances), but will be outfield only for other formats. He's not expected to be a starter for the Padres this year, so he is really only a viable play in the deepest of deep leagues.

Lucas Duda - Duda appeared in 6 games at 1B, making just 4 starts. He still remains OF-eligible

Daniel Murphy - Murphy was a nice player to have in deep leagues last year as he was eligible at 1B, 2B and 3B. The loss of both his 1B and 3B eligibility is negligible given that he kept his 2B eligibility.

Howie Kendrick - Kendrick was only eligible at the position in Yahoo leagues (17 appearances), but won't be likely to top his total of 3 from last year any time soon.

Pablo Sandoval - Another Yahoo eligible only player, Sandoval made 6 starts there in 2011, but just 3 in 2012.

Players Losing Eligibility - Third Base

Jose Bautista - Here's the biggest name of the group. Bautista's value is only hurt somewhat by losing the 3B eligibility, but it can mean the difference between him being a potential 1st/2nd rounder (had he been healthy) to dropping him down a couple of rounds.

Chone Figgins - Just a mention really, as it appears that Figgins may not end up with any team this season. He appeared in 10 games at 3B last year, good for Yahoo leagues but losing the position for most other formats.

Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio qualified at 2B, 3B, SS, and the outfield for 2012, but did not appear at third even once last year. With the trade to the Blue Jays, he is expected to be the starting second baseman, but it would not surprise me if he did see time at other positions as well. The likelihood of that with Maicer Izturis on the roster could be low though.

Edwin Encarnacion - Encarnacion carried more than one fantasy owner to a championship, and still has the possibility to do so this season. But with just one appearance at third last year, he'll have to help teams in their 1B or CI spots only.

Jed Lowrie - Lowrie came into 2012 with both 3B and SS eligibility, and only played SS that year. The value here was more of a positional flexibility one than anything, especially given his injury history and the lineup around him.

Chris Davis - Davis spent more time in the outfield and even on the pitcher's mound last year than at 3B. With Mark Reynolds now in Cleveland, Davis is expected to be the every day first baseman for the Orioles.

Mike Olt - Something to watch if he starts the season with the big club, as he made more appearances and more starts at 1B rather than 3B. With just 2 starts at 3B, he won't qualify at the position in any leagues.

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