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Position of Strength: Exploiting Yahoo's Position Eligibility Rules in the Outfield

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

Dave Reginek

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: Outfield

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 in the outfield.

Players Helped by Yahoo's Rules

Each of these players provide a bit of additional roster flexibility, as the additional outfield eligibility doesn't really affect their value.

Chris Parmelee (19 appearances) - Parmelee is expected at some point to be the long-term answer (at least longer term than Justin Morneau) for the Twins at 1B. He already qualifies there, but will start out the year as the starting right fielder. He's an interesting AL-only name, as he could provide some power (15-20 home runs) along with a decent batting average.

Adrian Gonzalez (18 starts) - This doesn't particularly have an impact on the value of Gonzalez other than to provide you with just a tiny bit more flexibility for this season. I can't see a scenario really where he gets even a single inning in the outfield this season, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Trevor Plouffe (17 appearances) - Plouffe will likely start out the season as the starter at 3B for the Twins, and already qualifies there. That said, he is a nice source of power in deeper leagues, but the value comes from him being at 3B as opposed to the outfield really.

Donovan Solano (10 appearances) - Just another bit of flexibility for Solano, who qualifies in Yahoo leagues at 2B and 3B as well. NL-only play, but he is currently the starter at 2B for the Marlins, and we love at bats and an empty batting average with that kind of flexibility.

Todd Frazier (6 starts) - Not much to see here, as Frazier is expected to be the everyday 3B for the Reds and will provide substantially more value at that position than in the outfield.

Adam Dunn (5 starts) - Dunn usually gets his starts in the outfield whenever interleague is going on and Paul Konerko plays the same day. Dunn qualifies at 1B as well, so the value here is a bit of a wash.

Players Losing Eligibility in the Outfield

Lance Berkman - Berkman made 126 starts in the outfield in 2011, but was limited to just 23 games at 1B in 2012. He'll be the everyday (or most days, depending on his health) designated hitter for the Rangers, so he could conceivably lose all position eligibility for the 2014 season.

Carlos Lee - El Caballo has become a first baseman only at this point, spending time between the Astros and Marlins at the position. He is still a free agent, and it doesn't appear likely that he will be signed any time soon.

Mitch Moreland - Moreland played first base exclusively in 2012, and is currently slotted in as the starter at the position for the Rangers. He could lose time to Lance Berkman and Mike Olt potentially, which leaves him as more of an AL-only play for me.

Brandon Belt - Belt is the presumptive starter at 1B for the Giants, only losing some time to Buster Posey at times. With the outfield already jammed pretty tightly in San Francisco, Belt won't be likely to regain that eligibility either.

Yonder Alonso - Alonso played some outfield in 2011 with the Reds, but played 1B exclusively with the Padres last year. Minimal effect on his value other than for flexibility purposes.

Ty Wigginton - Wigginton lost his eligibility in non-Yahoo leagues, as he made just 7 starts there last year for the Phillies. He'll likely be the utility guy for the Cardinals this year, so he could see enough time in the outfield to earn that eligibility again.

Howie Kendrick - You'll want to run Kendrick out as your 2B if you own him, rather than an outfielder if you can avoid it.