You know that offense is down, right? I mean, it's hardly a secret. But the leaguewide on-base percentage has dropped by almost 10 percent since 2000, which is a precipitous drop. Slugging has dropped as well, and the leaguewide OPS in 2012 was almost 60 points lower than 2000. It's a good time to be a pitcher, frankly.
Now, whether this is because of drug testing, amphetamines ban, or simply the cyclical nature of statistics is immaterial. What is true is that there's a new, lower baseline for offensive production in 2013 than there was as recently as a half-decade ago.
Actually, that is one of the true things.
The other true thing is that guys are getting hurt. Like, everyone is getting hurt. You probably got hurt reading this. I could name a player here, and the shock waves across the country will sprain his ankle or something. In that case, I better pick wisely. I'm a Rangers fan, so... Jered Weaver! (Sorry, Angels fans.)
According to Fangraphs, there were more days (nearly 30,000) lost to the disabled list in 2012 than any season in baseball history, and it's been on a climb for three years running. That number is around 7,000 more than it was a decade ago. (Though only a few hundred higher than 2007, the second-highest total, which tells me something. I don't know what, but definitely something.)
For fantasy, this means that multi-positional eligibility is more valuable than ever. In a standard league, where you are starting 13 hitters and 9 pitchers, you have only three bench spots. Custom leagues don't change the bench slots much, unless you're in my old-work-friends league, with 12 hitters, 8 pitchers, and 8 bench slots, because we have for some reason decided any player better than Pete Rose Jr. must be on an active roster, damnit.
If you aren't in my old-work-friends league, then, there's a decent chance you'll be using your DL slot regularly. Here's the bugaboo, though - in general, you get only one DL slot. If you have Bryce Harper and Robinson Cano, and both get hurt, you aren't dropping one of them. And in the new, everybody-gets-hurt world, odds are at least present that you'll have two stars hurt at some point.
Guys with multi-position eligibility have always gotten a bump, because it's not like injuries are a new phenomenon, but the more guys are getting hurt, the more we have to bump them. If Zobrist were outfield-only, he'd probably be hard-pressed to be a top-100 player. If he were 2B- or SS-only, sure, top-70. As it is, he's going on average 53rd in ESPN leagues. I would argue even that is too low. I would be totally comfortable bumping him to the mid-40s at worst. Prado, at 93rd, could easily slide to the 70s. Bonifacio, who depending on your format currently qualifies at only one or two positions, will almost certainly earn eligibility at as many as four positions this year. He's barely getting drafted, yet I've targeted him in almost every draft I've entered.
Figure out where you'd want a guy as, say, your second baseman. For every extra position he can play, bump him a round. Thank me later.
Without these multi-spot guys, there will certainly be a point this season when you have an injury and no one on the roster to slide into the spot. In that scenario, you'll be free-agenting a guy from the dregs. "Oh, gee, I hope Ian Stewart can come through." "I got it all riding on Clint Barmes!" These are the first lines of the saddest stories ever written.
If you have Emilio Bonifacio on your bench, though, you have an eligible backup for more than half of your team. If you have Zobrist as second or Prado at third, then just about anyone can be a backup, and you can slide Zobrist or Prado around at will.
Players are getting hurt. All the freaking time. Another one just got hurt while you read this. (Sorry, Howie Kendrick. (Yes, kidding.)) Unless you want it all riding on Chris Getz, pretend you're Joe Maddon and grab guys you can shift around like crazy.
In fact, grab two. After all, what do you do if it turns out to be Bonifacio that gets hurt?
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