Oh how I miss the straight forwardness of fantasy football positions. If you lose a wide receiver to an injury you pick up another wide receiver. No fuss no muss, as they say. I wonder if it was always that easy. Can you imagine if NFL teams today were using their running backs the way the NY Giants used Frank Gifford back in the day. I could see it now – Adrian Peterson being used at QB, RB, WR and TE all in the same game? (he actually might put up better numbers than Christian Ponder). The Steelers tried to confuse opposing defenses and fantasy GMs alike in the 1990’s when they introduced Kordell “Slash” Stewart to the world. Stewart was a wide receiver…no wait, he was running-back…oh wait, he was a quarterback. Depending on what was allowed in a 1990’s fantasy football league, he was playing at different positions on some other GM’s team.
Fantasy baseball is a completely different animal with players qualifying at multiple positions and picking up new positions all the time. Different sites have players qualified at different positions with different criteria as to how they obtain eligibility. The positional flexibility can be maddening or it can be the key to success, especially if you have daily lineup changes as one of my leagues employs.
The best thing I did post-draft was pick up players who could qualify all over the field as injury protection. I drafted Todd Frazier (1B,3B,LF) to be my poor man’s Allen Craig (LF,RF,1B). I also picked up Matt Carpenter (1B,2B,3B,RF) and Jed Lowrie (2B,SS) to back up all over the infield. They were supposed to be spot starters and short-term injury fill-ins, but Frazier and Carpenter have spent a lot of time in my starting lineup. (Frazier not so much lately).
I was getting lucky avoiding the injury bug considering I have Evan Longoria as one of my cornerstones. I was finally stung when Ian Kinsler hit the DL and faced a decision as to who would be his replacement. I could go to the waiver wire and pick up his likely replacement in Jurickson Profar (the Rangers’ and MLB’s No. 1 prospect), fill the gap from within with the likes of Kyle Seager or Matt Carpenter, or go to the waiver wire and pick up a streaking player at a different position.
Profar was the most intriguing choice. He is a big time prospect who could perform his way into staying on with the big league club. If Profar handles second base well, he may even force Kinsler to shift to an outfield position or first base. I looked at his position eligibility in my Yahoo league and realized he will be stuck as a utility player at least for his first five starts with the Rangers. With Kinsler due back in two weeks and Ron Washington being non-committal to Profar playing every day, he became less of an option.
My in-house options were nice with Seager and Carpenter, but with the loss of Kinsler I was going to hurt in HR’s and SB’s with either player. Carpenter has been raking, but is not a threat to steal and has very limited HR potential. His batting average and OPS are comparable to Kinsler’s and he is a slight improvement in runs scored. Seager has been in a little bit of a slump, (batting .227 over the last two weeks) but still has a good chance to put up decent 2B numbers batting third for Seattle. However, neither will solve a power potential problem.
Last but not least is Brandon Belt. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: We would be talking about Mitch Moreland and his power statistics if Kinsler had been placed on the DL just a bit sooner. Moreland was scooped up just two days before Kinsler went on the DL and will be hitting 30 homers for another GM). Belt was finally going to play up to his lofty potential this season as he was hitting homeruns and driving in runs in bunches during spring training, but he began the season in a slump. I drafted him projecting that he would break out with 30 homers and steal bases in the double digits, but I quickly pulled the plug on his season when it looked as if Bruce Bochy was giving up on him. Bochy was batting him eighth in a National League lineup and sitting him against most lefthanders again.
I kept an eye on Belt after I dropped him just to make sure he wouldn’t break out for another GM. My current first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, is sporting a high batting average (.319) and driving in runs (29), but his power numbers look to be headed in the wrong direction (just four homeruns). Gonzalez has eligibility in RF and could be an upgrade out there for me while I wait on Corey Hart and Josh Reddick to heal. So I had to turn my attention to a streaking player with power potential at first base. Belt had turned it on over the last month with a .301 batting average with six homeruns, 17 RBI, and a .961 OPS. I could no longer ignore his resurgence and neither could Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy moved Belt back up to sixth in the order and I slid Belt into my lineup last Monday night. Belt came through with a 4 for 5 night with a homerun and four runs scored. Not a bad start for Belt and definitely worth a few pats on the back for this old eagle eye.
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