Position of Strength: Exploiting Yahoo's Position Eligibility Rules Up the Middle

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Hunt takes a look at some players whose value is dramatically affected by Yahoo's position eligibility rules, specifically at second base and shortstop.

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: Second Base and Shortstop

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 either second base or shortstop.

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules - Second Base

Kyle Seager (14 starts) - Seager was (and is expected to be) the everyday 3B for the Mariners, and is a very nice power/speed combination player. He hit 20 home runs and stole 13 bases last year in 155 games, and could see a slight uptick this year as the fences are moved in at Safeco Field. Seager had also held SS eligibility in Yahoo leagues last year, but will lose that after not playing a game there all season long.

Emilio Bonifacio (14 starts) - Bonifacio remains a very good speed threat, stealing 30 bases in just 64 games played last year. If he is the starter at 2B as is expected, he will gain the position for all formats by the end of April, and could win you the stolen base category by himself. He is also losing shortstop eligibility after not appearing at the position in 2012.

Michael Young (14 starts) - Young is expected to be the starting 3B for the Phillies, and could be a nice sleeper in deeper leagues this year. I don't think he is as bad as he played last year, and could be a nice source of batting average.

Everth Cabrera (5 starts) - Cabrera having 2B eligibility just makes him that much more interesting, as he led the NL with 44 steals last year in just 115 games played. He already has shortstop as well, so he's a very interesting target in drafts.

Josh Rutledge (7 starts) - Rutledge is expected to be the everyday 2B for the Rockies, so he will gain eligibility at the position there before too long in all formats. That said, he will have both 2B and SS eligibility for the 2013 season, and could be a 15 HR/15 SB type. Very nice sleeper.

Jurickson Profar (5 appearances) - The key here is that Profar made the most appearances at 2B and not SS, so he will only have 2B to start the year. It could all be moot if the Rangers don't bring him up to start the season, but it's worth watching.

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules - Shortstop

Martin Prado (10 appearances at 2B, 13 at SS) - Prado isn't expected to play 2B or SS during the season very often, but will have both 2B and SS eligibility in Yahoo leagues for the full season. He's a player I would potentially target, what with the shift to Arizona, and the fact that he will be eligible at 4 positions. His added flexibility can really help you with roster construction as your draft progresses.

Players Losing Eligibility - Second Base

Ruben Tejada - Tejada split time in 2011 between 2B and SS, but took over as the everyday shortstop after Jose Reyes signed with the Marlins. Without a single appearance at 2B last year, he will be SS only for the foreseeable future, and is more of an NL-only play really.

Mike Aviles - Aviles was traded twice this offseason, and ended up as the Indians' utility infielder. He could regain eligibility at 2B during the season, but will start with just SS on Opening Day after playing there exclusively for the Red Sox.

Juan Uribe - Uribe is still eligible at 3B, but he is expected to be a bat off the bench for the Dodgers, which kills off his value in nearly every league. He was only eligible in Yahoo leagues to begin with

Trevor Plouffe - Plouffe made 17 appearances at 2B in 2011, but only 4 last year. The Twins have given Plouffe the every day starting 3B job, so the big loss is the flexibility that came with him having both 2B and SS eligibility in Yahoo leagues, as well as SS in all other leagues.

Michael Cuddyer - Cuddyer's 2B eligibility in Yahoo leagues was supposed to be a very nice feature given his move to Colorado, but injuries derailed his value in 2012, and he did not appear at the position even once.

Allen Craig - In their efforts to get him playing time in 2011, Craig actually made 8 starts at 2B. However, he was limited to 1B and OF only in 2012, and we've probably seen the last of him at 2B.

Players Losing Eligibility - Shortstop

Yuniesky Betancourt - Betancourt appeared only at 2B really last year, and will likely only qualify there for the foreseeable future as he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.

Ryan Theriot - Theriot appeared exclusively at 2B last year, and is still unsigned as of this writing. Deep NL-only league play at best, especially without the shortstop eligibility.

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