When in doubt…Go with flexibility.
Much like when choosing that special someone at a bar, for fantasy position players, when in doubt, go with flexibility. As the game of baseball evolves, teams are looking for players that are more athletic and capable of playing more than one standard position.
Multi-position eligible players are more valuable then your typical one position eligible players and when deciding whom to take on draft day, go with flexibility. That’s not to say that if you have to decide between Albert Pujols and Nick Swisher, that you
should take Swisher because he is eligible at OF and Prince Albert is not; however if deciding between Nick Swisher and Alfonso Soriano, the extra OF eligibility should sway you towards the former Yankee.
Now, every league has different standards for how many games a player must play at a certain position in order to become eligible at that position, so for your viewing pleasure I have included the position and number of games started.*
5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, 2012: 1B (151); OF: (18) - Most people are in two different camps regarding Mr. Gonzalez. Is he a bounce back candidate that batted .298 with 31HR and 101 RBI back in 2010 with San Diego or a bust that the spendthrift Dodgers should not have traded for who batted .299 with 18HR and 108 RBI with Boston and L.A. in 2012. His true power is probably somewhere in between; but Mr. Gonzlez is #5 on this list because he is eligible at two positions that are fairly top heavy. Mr. Gonzalez is being taken in the third round on average, and you may want to jump on this guy early given his positional mobility along with new lineup and surroundings.
4. Hanley Ramirez, LAD, 2012: SS (57); 3B (98) - Much like Adrian Gonzalez, some people are willing to throw in the towel on the once elite SS and others think he will regain the form that made him one of the best, if not the best SS in baseball. However, Hanley is on this list because he is not just a SS, but also has that 3B eligibility. If you draft the former 2006 Rookie of the Year and 2009 NL batting champ early on in the draft, I suggest you look to cover your bases with some other players on this list who may be available later on.
3. Nick Swisher, CLE, 2012: 1B (41); OF (109)
Newly acquired bopper, Swisher projects to be batting in the middle of a revamped and potent Indians lineup featuring speedsters Michael Brantley and free agent acquisition Michael Bourn at the top of the order, along with mainstays Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipniss. Not to mention Drew Stubbs who was acquired via the Shin Soo Choo deal, and Mark Reynolds. With all these players looking to get playing time, it would appear that Swisher will be the first baseman with Stubbs, Brantley and Bourn manning the OF and Reynolds as the full-time DH. However, Swisher still has the eligibility from a year ago. Because of the newly revamped Indians lineup, Swisher should have nice opportunities for RBIs at the very least, and he should not lose any value coming from New York, especially given the flexibility at OF and 1B.
2. Ben Zobrist, TB, 2012: 2B (58); SS (47); OF (71)
Joe Maddon is someone who loves taking players and putting them all around the field and that’s not just when David Ortiz and Mark Texieria are up at that plate. Maddon is one of the preeminent managers to take a player like Ben Zobrist and use him all over the diamond. Now, because Zobrist gained eligibility at SS last year, that would seem the most logical spot to play him; but that should give you more flexibility with taking other positional players or if Zoby drops in your draft, he may end up being that super stud you can plug in should an elite player get hurt.
1. Martin Prado, AZ, 2012: 1B (4); 2B (10); 3B (25); SS (13); OF (119)
There is a reason Mr. Prado is #1 on this list. I mean, just look at all that flexibility!!! Normally, you would take someone like Prado and say that SS seems to be the most logical choice to play him and you would probably be correct; however I say draft someone like Prado and that gives you the option to then draft the next best player regardless of the position and that gives you even more flexibility should the next player or even Prado himself, get hurt. Say you draft Prado in roughly the 10th Round - that gives you the flexibility to gamble and take Jose Reyes or even Hanley Ramirez early on and then you have a backup in case of injury or high quality starter at a weak position like 3B.
Honorable mentions: Danny Espinosa, Allen Craig, Marco Scutaro.
Lost eligibility: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion.
*Note: Games do not add up to 162 as a player need not play 9 innings at any position to become eligible at said position (i.e. Hanley Ramirez could play 5 innings at SS and 4 innings at 3B and that would be considered 1 game at SS and 1 game at 3B even though
it was only 1 game total and not two games)