Kelly Johnson and Scott Sizemore: Deep League MI Options

The Alex Rodriguez news will send a lot of fantasy owners scrambling for a new 3B, but it has other implications on the Yankees infield that may present an opportunity for savvy fantasy owners.

Brad Johnson looked at what the A-Rod suspension means for the Yankees yesterday. Not long thereafter, New York added Scott Sizemore and Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yanks are unlikely to add another MLB IF, which means the in-house options Johnson considered – along with Sizemore – are basically the only options in the Bronx.

For fantasy owners, most of these internal options are less than ideal. Eduardo Nunez isn’t the most appealing option and Brendan Ryan offers very little unless you are in some kind of crazy advanced-metric defense league. Brian Roberts was once a fantasy mainstay, but he last played 100 games in 2009 and I (along with many others) will be staying far, far away from him.

But two of the names in New York intrigue me. Kelly Johnson was RotoGraphs’s 23rd ranked fantasy 2B, in 2013 good enough to be a starting MI in most 12-team mixed leagues. He also played in just 118 games.

Johnson hit 16 HR last year for the second straight season, after two straight years over 20, and now he is moving from a relatively neutral power park for lefties (left-handed HR park factor of 98 in Tampa) to one of the best left-handed power parks (113 in Yankee stadium, 3rd in baseball). The big question was where the Yankees would use Johnson, particularly if A-Rod were on the roster, but with no Alex and supposedly no more help coming, it seems likely that Johnson will get pretty close to a full-time opportunity, even if that time is split between 2B, 3B, and the corner OF slots.

ZiPS is projecting 18 HR, 10 SB, and a .232/.315/.405 line for Johnson in 503 PA. If he gets closer to 600 PA, he could get to 20 HR and you’ll take a 20/10 season from your MI, won’t you? Over at Mock Draft Central, they have KJ as the 18th second basemen and 308th player overall coming off the board (so in a standard 12 teamer, he is a 25th round pick – basically, he is a freebie). In ottoneu leagues, he’ll cost a bit more, but still well below the production you can reasonably expect.

Sizemore doesn’t inspire quite the same confidence that Johnson does, but there is absolutely reason to be intrigued. The former Tiger and A has managed only two games since 2011, but he ended 2011 stinging the ball, posting a .232/.343/.417 line with 7 homers in 249 PA. Over a full season, that would be 15-17 HR which, again, you will gladly take from a MI. And, like Johnson, he is shifting from a poor hitters park (he posted that second half line in Oakland) to a good one.

The question with Sizemore, like KJ, is one of opportunity, but he has a harder path to climb. On the one hand, a healthy, productive Sizemore, doing anything like he did in Oakland, is far and away a better choice than Brendan Ryan, Eduardo Nunez or, most likely, Brian Roberts. On the other, we are talking about a guy who has barely seen the field in two years and who never quite lived up to the hype when he did play.

In shallower leagues, Sizemore is a wait-and-see type at best. If he plays well enough to earn a job out of Spring Training, or if he tears up the minors, he could be worth adding if and when he gets promoted.

In deeper leagues, like ottoneu, I might even consider grabbing him for a $1 at the end of the auction, and sitting on his spring results. But more realistically, I am going to pass on him in the auction but watch him closely. As soon as he shows signs of production, even in the minors, I am picking him up.

The other difference with Sizemore is that he will not be 2B or MI eligible in most formats unless the Yankees play him there enough to earn it. In ottoneu, he could earn that eligibility playing in Triple- or Double-A. As a 3B, he likely doesn’t have the bat you want, and I am not signing him to play 3B unless he shows me that he is back and producing in the Yankee lineup.

But if he gets 2B eligibility – or seems to have a clear path to it – he is a deep sleeper that could turn you a tidy profit.

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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I have a difficult time trusting analysis that cites ADPs from Mock Draft Central in January.

Their ADP has BJ Upton going off the board at 25 overall.