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October 31, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Scary Shifts in First Base Positional Eligibility

by Ben Carsley


For fantasy owners, nothing is quite so scary as the prospect of a good player taking a huge hit to his value thanks to a loss of positional eligibility. It happens every year, but it’s always tough to see a productive catcher move off the position, a great shortstop transition to third base or a floundering middle infielder make a shift to the outfield.

We tend to think of first base, in particular, as a position meant for mashers and as a fantasy gold mine. This is true, of course, but it’s also true because first base is the “back up” position for so many good players. If your catcher is a key cog in your offense, you try to sneak him PA at first. If your third baseman or corner outfielder is aging, you might try to get him some rest on the right side of the infield.

When teams use first base in such a way it gives fantasy players plenty of options, but causes lots of offseason changes, too.

Below are six first basemen who just lost additional eligibility, or former first basemen who will no longer qualify at the position, using the standard 20-game threshold. As you start composing your offseason rankings—and, really, what else do you have to do now?—keep these changes in mind.

Billy Butler, UT, Royals (Lost Eligibility: 1B)
Flexibility and Country Breakfast have never quite gone hand-in-hand. However, Butler had managed to play first base in at least 20 games in four of his six seasons heading into 2013, giving fantasy owners the option to play him at their first base, corner infield or utility slots.

That option won’t be there in most leagues in 2013, as Butler played just seven games in the field this year, in part due to the emergence of Eric Hosmer and in part due to Butler’s poor defensive abilities. That, coupled with a down offensive year for the Royals’ slugger, led him to produce just 1.3 WARP, down from his career high mark of 3.1 in 2012.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: Wo... (10/30)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Mat... (10/29)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: AFL... (11/15)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: A... (10/31)

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