The Secret Value of Versatility

So, a quick note about my philosophy. I won’t draft a player early because he has multiple position eligibility. Maybe in deeper leagues I could consider it but I’d rather draft the better player over a guy who can cover two positions.

Bit of a strange statement considering the title of this article. I get that. So what am I going on about?

Well, whilst doing my rankings, I looked at why Buster Posey was so much higher than other catchers. Sure, he’s a pretty complete hitter. 20+ home-runs and a .300 average is nothing to be sniffed at for any position player. Throw in the number of at-bats he has compared to most other catchers and the runs and RBI soon start to add up too.

But there’s a hidden piece of value in Posey if you look hard enough.

You see, in pretty much any league you’ll play in, Posey will have first-base eligibility. But you’re not drafting him as a first baseman. No, no, no. He’s your catcher. A key component in your fantasy team.

So why does first base eligibility make a difference with Posey? Well, let me paint a picture.

You draft Paul Goldschmidt with your first pick and Posey with your fourth. First week of the season and Goldschmidt gets hit on the hand with a pitch, breaking bones and sending him to the DL for three months.

This could be any first baseman you draft in the opening three rounds, which will be most of your league.

Now are you going to find a decent contributor at first base off waivers, compared to everyone else’s first basemen in your league? No you are not. Repeat after me; “Ben Paulsen is not going to reduce the hurt you feel if Goldschmidt gets injured.”

However, is Posey a suitable comparison to most other first baseman the rest of your league already own? He’s pretty darn close.

But could you find a decent contributor at catcher off waivers, compared to the rest of your league? Sure.

In standard leagues, each team should only be drafting one catcher. Maybe the team getting Schwarber will get another and use the Cubs slugger as an outfielder when he earns that position eligibility.

So let’s consider the top 11 catchers who will be drafted in 10-team leagues. That leaves the likes of Realmuto, d’Arnaud, Mesoraco and Gomes possibly available. How much worse than the likes of Martin, Vogt and Norris will they be?

So I’m not advocating getting Posey in the second round or anything crazy. But if you reach late in the fourth round and no one’s bit the proverbial bullet, don’t be afraid to be the first to draft a catcher.

So following on from this, let’s take a look at another example. Let’s say, oh I don’t know…Logan Forsythe?

Another who in most leagues will be eligible at first and second base. It’s unlikely you’ll be using him as a first baseman or even a corner infielder.

I’ve got Forsythe as the 12th second baseman in my rankings so he’ll be a middle infielder at worst. Again, if your first baseman gets hurt early in the season, you’re not going to be able to find another who’ll compare against your rivals.

But will you find another decent middle infielder? Looking at the current rankings, these are the middle infielders probably going undrafted in 10-team leagues: Jean Segura, Alexei Ramirez, Marcus Semien, Devon Travis and even Cesar Hernandez.

Just think of this? How much worse are any of those five compared to the Elvis Andruses and Brett Lawries of the world? The consider how much worse are the C.J. Crons and Joe Mauers compared to even Freddie Freeman or Eric Hosmer. Yeah, there’s a much bigger gap.

So what does that boil down to? The level of replacement of course. So it’s a Fantasy version of WAR. I guess you can call it “FWAR”. Just make sure you say it in a seedy kinda way for emphasis.

Just some food for thought as you enter into drafting season.

I write about Fantasy Baseball at Catch me on Twitter too @Baseball_Jimbo

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8 years ago

Definitely agree about the value of versatility in fantasy, I’ll be very happy if anyone can ever figure out a way to quantify it!