Fantasy Baseball position eligibility update: Anthony Rizzo getting close to second base, Eric Thames at first highlight latest changes
Chris Towers takes a look around the league at which players have earned new positions recently and who might be on the verge of one.
This wasn't the biggest week in terms of players gaining additional position eligibility, but there were some very important developments nonetheless. Nobody's Fantasy value is really changing yet, but there are some trends developing further down this list that could have serious ramifications down the line if they come to fruition.
The most noteworthy of them is, obviously, Anthony Rizzo. He has made two appearances at second base for the Cubs -- kind of. When the Cubs defend sacrifice bunts, they have the second baseman move over to first, with Rizzo ditching his first baseman's mitt for one play to field the bunt.
This, somehow, counts as an appearance at second base. He has done it this in the past two games, leaving him just three appearances from second-base eligibility. I'm not a fan of the ruling, personally, because I think it leaves unanswered questions about other shifts -- some teams bring their third baseman to the first-base side of the infield on shifts, for instance -- but I don't make or interpret the MLB rulebook, so this is where we are.
This is something that would obviously have huge ramifications for the Fantasy landscape, with Rizzo potentially pushing Jose Altuve for the top spot at second base. There's a chance he won't get three more official appearances, but we have to entertain the very real possibility that he does. This would be a huge boon for those of you who are Rizzo owners, and it bears watching.
Gained eligibility this week
- Thames is the biggest name here, but adding 1B eligibility doesn't change his outlook much. He is now eligible at two of the three deepest positions, and you're probably more likely to use him as an OF than 1B given how many spots you need to fill. With the way he's hitting, all that matters is getting him in the lineup, any way you can.
- Adams is playing outfield, for some reason. The Cardinals want to keep his bat in the lineup, but not badly enough that it really matters. He is 10th on the team in plate appearances. This might matter if he was hitting, but he's not, so it makes him pretty easy to ignore.
- Ditto for Profar, who could end up eligible at as many as five positions, as he was last season, but who just hasn't shown enough to be worth waiting for.
- You might worry about Steve Pearce finding a place to play, if only anyone else on the team could hit. He's been arguably the Blue Jays' worst hitter, but he has some company in that regard.
1 game away from eligibility
- Turner will get his shortstop eligibility as soon as he's healthy to play, so everything remains in a holding pattern with him. He's been increasing his workouts, and could come off the DL this week.
- Healy has been a pretty big disappointment so far, posting a .595 OPS, and won't be worth playing at either corner position until he turns things around.
2 games away from eligibility
- Santana's eligibility seems almost certain to happen at some point because the Indians have opted to put him in right field in National League ballparks to keep Edwin Encarnacion's bat in the lineup. The problem is, they aren't at an NL park until late May, when they travel to Cincinnati for a two-game series, so you shouldn't expect it to happen until then.
- Morales is off to a rough start in Toronto, but his track record is strong enough that you shouldn't be worried about him. However, it's a lot harder to justify sticking a mid-.700's OPS bat in your lineup when he is DH-only, so getting two more games at 1B would certainly help. He's played there in three of the team's last five games, so it should come soon.
- Perez has been a bit of a victim of Milwaukee's constant lineup churn, though he hasn't done much to help himself in this regard. Getting shortstop eligibility would certainly help his cause for Fantasy, but it won't matter much until the bat gets going. The lack of stolen bases is especially limiting his value.
- Trey Mancini has appeared in 12 major-league games and has slugged seven home runs in them. His minor-league track record hardly suggests this kind of skill set, but the Orioles can hardly justify keeping him out of the lineup as long as he keeps hitting this way. They've tried him at two different outfield positions, in addition to one start at first-base Sunday. If he keeps hitting this way, Mancini is going to force the Orioles to make a decision before long.
3 games away from eligibility
- And here's where the big names are, starting with Rizzo. He hasn't really played second base, of course, but thanks to some quirky rulebook interpretations, he's 40 percent of the way to second-base eligibility. This would be a massive change in the Fantasy landscape, as he would immediately become the No. 2 second baseman. Given how much deeper first base is than second, that lineup flexibility could be a major selling point. Keep an eye on the Cubs' continued bunt defense, because he's just three more switches away, and only needs one play per game to get there.
- Bregman is a natural shortstop, and might end up being a better option than the less rangy Carlos Correa there in the long run. Bregman has made his two appearances at short with Correa dealing with a hand injury, and would become a more valuable option at SS than 3B, where he is more of a fringe guy.
- As with Mancini, Motter could be forcing the Mariners' hand here before long. First base is the most obvious position of need for the Mariners, but he has also spent time in the outfield before, and he could get some time there if the Mariners decide they aren't getting enough from the bats of Leonys Martin and Jarrod Dyson, despite their strengths as defensive players.
- Sano is no more valuable at 1B, but with the way he's hitting to open the year, you're going to want as many options as possible to keep him in your lineup.
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