Fantasy Baseball Keeper Strategy: Be Mindful of Players Losing Positional Eligibility

USA TODAY Sports

As teams make their final push toward league titles, other teams are already building for next year. A number of high profile players are likely to lose eligibility at certain postions, so make sure you know who they are to gain another advantage over your leaguemates.

While we are always excited to see players gain eligibility at a new position as fantasy owners, players that are expected to lose eligibility are often overlooked as owners start maneuvering their roster for optimal keepers. There are a number of players whose value will take a hit based on that fact, so let's look at a few of them. Note that there is the possibility that some of these players will reach the 20 game threshold before the end of the season

Players Where the Flexibility Was Nice

Each of these players are already considered in the top 10 at their main position, but were nice enough to give their owners the flexibility of playing them somewhere else when an opportunity presented itself.

First Base - Buster Posey, Joe Mauer

Both players will continue to qualify at catcher, and while it is likely that Posey will get to the needed 20 games (he's already at 16), Mauer has appeared in just 7 and seems more likely to get time at DH than first over the last couple month. Both remain top 5 options at catcher, with Posey still slotting in as the top catcher for 2014 for me.

Third Base - Hanley Ramirez

This was just so nice, as Hanley qualified at two of the shallower positions, and also qualified at MI and CI as well. He is still at worst the #2 shortstop for nearly all formats.

Shorstop - Ben Zobrist

Zobrist has appeared in 11 games so far at shortstop, so it's possible he gets there if Yunel Escobar misses time on the disabled list. He is still a top 10 second baseman, and still ranks highly on the outfield rankings as well, so this is more of a loss of flexibility than true value. It hurts since shortstop has been a weak position at the top of the rankings this season, as he might have ended up as a top 5 shortstop coming into the 2014 season

Outfield - Chris Davis

As you would imagine, this has literally no impact on his value for next year. He'll be first base eligible only, and still a top 10 player coming into the 2014 season.

Players Who Lose A Ton Of Value

Catcher - Mike Napoli

This one hurts a lot. Napoli was hoping to reestablish his value for when he hits the free agent market after the season, and while he has been hitting for power (15 home runs, 29 doubles), the .245 batting average is concerning. The fact that he can't be a catcher in your fantasy league next year pretty much pushes him way down in value, as a first baseman that provides solid power but kills you in a couple categories.

Third Base and Shortstop - Marco Scutaro

Scutaro has provided an excellent batting average for the third season in a row, but has just two home runs and one stolen base for the Giants this year. He'll finish this year as second base eligible only, and he was one of the few players who picked up more value from the flexibility.

Players Outside the Top Ten At Their Position Where the Value Was Nice To Have

Shortstop - Brian Dozier, Danny Espinosa

It's hard at this point to tell what becomes of Danny Espinosa, as he has been clearly supplanted at second base in the capital by Anthony Rendon and seems to have lost all ability to judge the strike zone (82 strikeouts in 218 at bats), including a 38% strikeout rate in August. He seems a likely trade candidate in the offseason. With Dozier, the value hit really comes from the fact that he has been hitting better lately, and could sneak into the conversation for the top 10 at second base in the offseason.

First and Second Base - Michael Young

I'm not a big fan of what Michael Young is at this point, but he does provide decent value in batting average with a little bit of power. However, he came into the year qualifying at first base (17 games this year) in all leagues and second base (0 games) in leagues with a 10-game threshold, which helped his value due to the additional roster flexibility. He seems like he could get to 20 games at first, but that's a deeper position than third base is, which doesn't really help him all that much.

Second Base - Kelly Johnson

Johnson has appeared so far in 13 games at second, and with how the Rays use their roster I would consider it possible he gets to 20 games still. He has also appeared at third base 13 times this year, but I don't think he gets to the 20 total there with Evan Longoria playing every day. Johnson has 16 home runs and 7 stolen bases this season, and losing the position (and keeping just outfield) would probably drop him into the 175-225 range among all players.

Outfield and Shortstop - Martin Prado

Prado was only eligible at shortstop in leagues where 10 or fewer games was the threshold, but he jumps out to me because I've been using him at shortstop in one of my leagues. With only one game played there, there's almost no way he gets there. He could retain his outfield eligibility potentially, as he's appeared in 15 games there so far. Him having third base eligibility is still more valuable, even without the stolen bases you were hoping for from him at the start of the season.

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.

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