If you have spent the last few months stuck in a football coma, grinding for profits on the stock market, or doom scrolling for the latest news on the political front, you may be behind the curve as the 2021 fantasy baseball season approaches. There is certainly a lot to take in. We must all try to decipher which player breakouts from 2020 were real and which ones were less sustainable. We adjust the value of players based on recent trades and free-agent signings. Often lost amidst the latest player news and debates about how to value last season’s numbers in the proper context is an aspect of fantasy baseball that tends to go overlooked in fantasy baseball draft preparation. That is how to value and take advantage of players with multi-position eligibility.
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These players with multi-position eligibility are an important resource whose worth is usually not fully appreciated. This is especially true in leagues with daily transactions or ones that limit the number of roster moves that fantasy managers have at their disposal throughout the season. Our leagues typically have drafts that last 30 rounds. In a 12-team league, that equates to 360 total players picked. Of the top 360 players who are currently being drafted according to our ADP data, exactly 36 are eligible at more than one position. If that is not kismet, I do not know what is. I will list these 36 players below based on my current values for 2021 fantasy baseball redraft leagues.
Knowing Your Settings
The primary piece of advice I give to fantasy managers every year is to know your league’s rules. This is important concerning players who are potentially eligible at more than one position, particularly this season. In previous years, most leagues institute a baseline of 20 or 30 games played for a player to gain eligibility at a given position. Because of last year’s 60-game season, those thresholds are generally way down this year. But the actual number of games needed to qualify at a given position can still vary greatly. I have seen this number as low as four in some leagues and as high as 25 in others. This discrepancy could affect the eligibility of a decent chunk of the player pool. Marwin Gonzalez played at least eight games at four positions but played fewer than 25 games at each position.
Differences between starting lineups in different leagues can also play a factor in a player’s value. In a typical Fantrax 12-team Roto league, fantasy managers must start a total of 13 hitters during each scoring period. That includes one hitter at each of the eight positions on the field, as well as a corner infielder (CI), middle infielder (MI), two additional outfielders (OF), and a utility hitter (UT). NFBC leagues, on the other hand, are two-catcher leagues. Hence, the value of Daulton Varsho is significantly higher in the NFBC format. In essence, you are comparing him to the top 24 catchers, not the top 12. Varsho is the only player who is available to use as a catcher as well as another position. If Varsho can snag an everyday gig in Arizona’s outfield (no sure thing, of course), he would likely see more plate appearances than most catchers.
In order to find players with multi-position eligibility, you have to know how many games they’ve played at each position. Use the FantraxHQ Position Eligibility Tool to find out with a few clicks.
The Freedom of Flexibility
There is an adage in sports that says that availability is the most important ability. For fantasy purposes, I maintain that flexibility is just as vital to prolonged success. The ability to rely on multiple players to clog an open hole provides fantasy managers with additional options when the inevitable injury bug hits, or when players get a random day off. Instead of having to drop a player you would prefer to keep or spend some of that precious FAB, you will have the luxury of altering your starting lineup without sacrificing any assets. Cody Bellinger’s bat becomes even more valuable when you can play him at both first base and in the outfield.
Not only does a player like Bellinger provide flexibility in-season, but he enables you to avoid pigeonholing yourself at various points during the draft. Say you draft Freddie Freeman and Nolan Arenado as your top two hitters. They figure to provide solid front four category production. However, what happens if a player like Alec Bohm is still available in the 12th round after you have given him a ninth-round valuation? If you had snagged Bellinger instead of Freeman, you would not be left holding the bag. You could simply slot the Dodgers slugger into an outfield position, and grab the Phillies phenom for your 1B slot. I am not suggesting you forgo Freeman completely, especially if you believe he will best Bellinger by a fair amount. But if you think the two are neck and neck, I would prefer Bellinger in that scenario.
Players who are eligible at first base and third, or shortstop and second base, will provide a bit of added flexibility. Fantasy managers can insert these players into three different slots excluding the UT slot. Bohm can be used at 1B, 3B, or MI, for example. Managers can make similar adjustments with players like Whit Merrifield (2B, MI, OF). But the real heroes are those who play across the infield. DJ LeMahieu and Max Muncy can fill in at 1B, 2B, 3B, CI, and MI. Cavan Biggio and Jeff McNeil can play at 2B, 3B, CI, MI, and OF. Tommy Edman opens the 2021 season as this year’s patron saint of flexibility, taking the crown from David Fletcher. Edman is eligible at 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, and OF. You can essentially start Edman in 11 of your 13 starting hitter slots.
You certainly do not need me to tell you how much has changed in the past 12 months. But it is still a bit jarring to see how different this list looks from last year’s. That is particularly true towards the very top of the list. Seven players with multi-position eligibility were being drafted within the first five rounds of 12-team leagues a season ago. Five of the seven no longer carry such a designation heading into 2021. Only Bellinger and Merrifield remain from a year ago. Alex Bregman, Gleyber Torres, Ketel Marte, Kris Bryant, and Manny Machado are gone from the 2020 iteration of this list. LeMahieu is the sole player who has risen to top-60 draft status this year. Biggio and Brandon Lowe are not far behind as sixth-round selections, but the upper tier of players available at more than one position is precipitously thinner than in 2020.
In addition to the 36 players with multi-position eligibility listed below, several players are currently eligible at just one position but should gain added eligibility relatively early on in 2021. This list includes players like Marcus Semien and Ha-seong Kim. Both primarily manned shortstop last season, but are effectively blocked from the position by some guys named Bichette and Tatis, respectively. I do not know too much about these young whippersnappers, but I remember their dads were pretty good ballplayers back in my day. Semien will play second base for the Toronto Blue Jays, while Kim is like to play a utility role for the San Diego Padres. Semien should continue to move up draft boards in the coming weeks due to being in a prolific lineup and his impending dual eligibility. He will also benefit from moving from fantasy’s most loaded offensive position to arguably its weakest.
Top 36 Players With Multi-Position Eligibility for 2021
PLAYER TEAM POSITIONS ADP
Cody Bellinger LAD 1B, OF 14.77
DJ LeMahieu NYY 1B, 2B, 3B 36.14
Whit Merrifield KC 2B, OF 48.42
Cavan Biggio TOR 2B, 3B, OF 63.28
Brandon Lowe TB 2B, OF 68.44
Max Muncy LAD 1B, 2B, 3B 101.58
Jeff McNeil NYM 2B, 3B, OF 124.33
Dominic Smith NYM 1B, OF 105.98
Alec Bohm PHI 1B, 3B 116.69
Mike Moustakas CIN 1B, 2B 132.72
Tommy Edman STL 2B, 3B, SS, OF 178.63
Dylan Moore SEA 2B, OF 186.92
Ryan Mountcastle BAL 1B, OF 172.03
Jake Cronenworth SD 1B, 2B, SS 150.27
Nick Solak TEX 2B, OF 198.88
Trey Mancini BAL 1B, OF 212.27
J.D. Davis NYM 3B, OF 201.75
Andres Gimenez CLE 2B, 3B, SS 274.3
Jonathan Villar FA 2B, SS 236.84
Jean Segura PHI 2B, 3B 242.35
David Fletcher LAA 2B, 3B, SS 256.69
Jurickson Profar SD 2B, OF 259.67
Chris Taylor LAD 2B, SS, OF 241.29
Hunter Dozier KC 1B, OF 246.78
Jeimer Candelario DET 1B, 3B 265.67
Ryan McMahon COL 1B, 2B, 3B 267.28
Willi Castro DET 3B, SS 319.08
Garrett Hampson COL 2B, OF 250.91
Jon Berti MIA 2B, OF 288.35
Daulton Varsho ARI C, OF 269.77
Joey Wendle TB 2B, 3B, SS 310.23
Mauricio Dubon SF 2B, SS, OF 330.73
Tommy La Stella SF 1B, 2B 257.44
Wilmer Flores SF 1B, 2B 274.76
Isiah Kiner-Falefa TEX 3B, SS 324.44
Scott Kingery PHI 2B, OF 343.86
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2021 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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