It's been a question in the fantasy baseball world for years. How much extra value should be added to players who are multi-position eligible? While I believe the answer is always evolving and changing as the player pool morphs each year, there are certainly some players who should be moved up your draft boards in 2017 due to their versatility.
The type of eligibility also matters when determining how far up your draft list to bump a player. For example, a shortstop/second base (SS/2B) eligible player is not nearly as valuable as a shortstop/outfield (SS/OF) eligible player. This post will focus on the 10 best players who enter the 2017 fantasy baseball season with multi-position eligibility. We'll cover 11 through 20 in a subsequent post. In the future we will also look at players who should easily gain five games played at a new position in 2017 and could be sneaky future multi-position eligible adds at the draft (think Danny Valencia who should see plenty of time at first base for the Mariners this season, along with his third base and outfield eligibility currently.)
For the purpose of this article standard 20-games played last season will be used to determine eligibility.
- Trea Turner (ADP: 13): The expectation level for Turner is reaching historic highs. Turner will enter the season with second base and outfield eligibility. With the addition of Adam Eaton, Turner will also return to shortstop,which should give him tremendous versatility early in the season. Currently being selected in the 1st round of a 15-team mixed league, Turner's value is pretty well maxed out and already accounts for his position eligibility.
- Manny Machado (ADP: 8): Another first round talent with multi-position eligibility. This time the stud hitting Machado and his third base / shortstop eligibility. By now everyone is aware of the fact that Machado didn't run last season. According to his 8th selection overall ADP, it's not causing too much concern for earlier drafters. Machado could reach 200 runs+RBI, to go along with 30-35 home runs, a .285+ BA and who knows, maybe even five or so stolen bases.
- Kris Bryant (ADP: 4): Up the ADP chart we continue to climb. Kris Bryant is being selected on average 4th overall in early 2017 fantasy baseball drafts. There's good reason to select the young slugger this early as well. Like Machado, Bryant has a real chance to produce over 200 runs+RBI, the power potential is great and there could still be another gear for Bryant to tap into. The profile screams elite power and with slightly above average speed, there's a true five category contributor here with both third base and outfield eligibility.
- Daniel Murphy (ADP: 33): Finally a non-first round player to discuss. Murphy will carry second base and first base eligibility into 2017 drafts. Being one of the better contact hitters in baseball, Murphy has been on a trend upwards in the power metrics as well. A .347 BA might be hard to repeat, but the skills for a .300+ BA are clearly here, along with the potential for another 20-25 home runs. A Trea Turner / Daniel Murphy combo to start your draft would be pretty special.
- Jonathan Villar (ADP: 20): What to do with Villar. That's been a question I've been attempting to answer for weeks now and probably deserves it's own post. I believe in the basic profile, but not the $40 player we saw last year. While the 62 stolen bases last season were all kinds of impressive, it's the 19 home runs that have me believing Villar will struggle to return par-value in 2017. With a sub 25% fly ball rate and a HR/FB rate of 20% (double his 2015 figure), coupled finally with just average power metrics, I see a 10-12 home run guy. I'll take 10-12 home runs over the 2 or 3 a Billy Hamilton will give you, however, Hamilton is going nearly two rounds later and should outperform Villar in steals also. The shortstop / third base eligibility is nice, but a mid second round pick seems like too much to pay for the versatility.
- Willson Contreras (ADP: 99): Boy do I like Contreras heading into the 2017 season and beyond. With catcher and outfield eligibility, Contreras presents owners with interesting draft day options. For those in single catcher leagues, Contreras could be selected as your starting catcher in round six of a 15-team mixed draft. The beauty is, say one of Welington Castillo or Matt Wieters falls beyond their 180th overall ADP, you could also select the discount play at catcher and move Contreras to the outfield during the draft. You now have a great insurance plan at catcher if injury or poor performance strikes, while also opening your team to the outfield free agent pool if you need to replace production in-season.
- Matt Carpenter (ADP: 74): I'm just going to say it now: Matt Carpenter is a "jump" player for me. I'm currently putting together my draft list for a 50-round draft and hold league. I allow myself a couple of "jump" picks, meaning I select the player a full round or even two before their ADP says I should. This is particularly important with early ADP, as the numbers are still fluctuating quite a bit. For example, Carpenter's 74th overall ADP, has a high of 40 and a low of 99. I've inked in Carpenter with my 44th overall pick. Carpenter's first, second & third base eligibility is great anywhere, but particularly strong in a draft and hold league, where no trades or free agent adds are allowed. There's also the fact that I see upside still within Carpenter. A .290+ BA along with 30 home runs wouldn't shock me with his underlying bat-to-ball and power metrics. The guy is a stud.
- Jean Segura (ADP: 49): Segura hit 20 home runs last season - let that sink in. A return to 20 was going to be tough, even in Arizona. With the move to Seattle, many are expecting his power to collapse. Having watched the Mariners hit a ton of home runs last year, I'm not feeling a complete power outage in Segura's future. I'll admit, anything at or above 15 home runs in 2017 would shock me however. Segura's value will be counting stat dependent and with Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager all hitting behind him, the runs should be plentiful. With second base & shortstop eligibility, Segura adds a little flexibility up the middle, with slight batting average production and 25-30 stolen base potential.
- Eduardo Nunez (ADP: 123): Early ADP shows the majority of drafters are somewhat skeptical on Nunez heading into the 2017 fantasy baseball season. Nunez will enter the season with shortstop & third base eligibility. Like Segura, I see the power numbers regressing for Nunez this season. Unlike Segura who will be hitting atop the Mariner's potent lineup, it appears Nunez will be hitting 6th or 7th for the Giants at least to begin the season. A 10/30 (HR/SB) season is the probability play here. With added versatility on the left side of the infield, an 8th or 9th round pick feels appropriate for this skill set.
- Jose Ramirez (ADP: 99): Ramirez enters the season with third base and outfield eligibility. If the eligibility was the same as Nunez above, I'd say these two should be drafted one after the other, as the projected production looks quite similar. If you're looking to add versatility during the middle portion of your draft, it could simply come down to team needs when selecting between Nunez or Ramirez.
As mentioned above, we'll cover the second half of the multi-position eligible players in a subsequent post. For now, consider the number of elite players who have multi-position eligibility early in drafts. When deciding between the elite first and second round players, the added versatility could be your tie breaker.
ADP Data Courtesy of The NFBC