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Position of Strength: Exploiting Yahoo's Position Eligibility Rules at Catcher

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

Doug Pensinger

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 position: Catcher

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 catcher

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules

Jordan Pacheco (5 starts at C, also qualified at 1B, 3B)

Pacheco is the big name here, as he hit .309/.341/.421 with 5 home runs and 7 stolen bases in 132 games. He isn't expected to be a starter for the Rockies this season, but he could see significant time as the backup corner infielder, and could be very interesting for two-catcher leagues or NL-only.

Yan Gomes (9 games, 5 starts at C, also qualified at 1B (20), 3B (6 starts))

This one is an extremely large stretch, as Gomes is not currently projected to make the Opening Day roster for the Indians. But he also has played both the corner infield spots as well as catcher, and would realistically only need to unseat Lou Marson or Ryan Raburn to make the roster. He's only a viable option in very deep AL-only leagues.

Players Losing Eligibility

Josh Donaldson - Donaldson ended up as the starting 3B for the A's at the beginning of 2012, but came with the added bonus of catcher eligibility as that was his position. However, he made just 3 appearances at the position in 2012. Add in that Derek Norris and John Jaso will be splitting time at the position, and it seems unlikely that Donaldson will get that eligibility back.

Victor Martinez - It remains to be seen whether Martinez will retain his catcher eligibility for sure, but at least one host site has already determined that Martinez will not be eligible there, as noted by Paul Sporer. Yahoo could absolutely follow the same lead, which would clearly shift Martinez' value in a downward direction.