Being eligible at multiple positions always raises a player’s appeal. Being able to move a guy from first base or outfield, and second or short for instance are common and valuable. Martin Prado has taken the role of Chone Figgins of a half decade ago, being eligible across almost every position while also being an above average fantasy player to boot.
While Prado does not wow at any one specific roto category, he is rather consistent and added a whole new dimension to his game last year with his legs. The concept of consistency will be challenged by those that point out his injury-riddled 2011 campaign, but the season is a clear statistical outlier when you notice his batting averages of .320, .307, .307, and .301 in all other seasons with more than 200 plate appearances. He has also added four straight seasons of double digit home runs, despite hitting just 10 last season.
Prado has also straightened out his walk-to-strikeout ratio to a near even rate, which should allow him to get on base at high rates at the top of an offense that is expected to perform at a high level. In Prado, you are looking at a player that should be able to produce double digit home runs, double digit steals, a .300 average, a lot of runs, and a respectable amount of RBI for a top of the order hitter. Being able to contribute at least somewhat in all five categories while also being eligible at outfield, third base, shortstop, and second base (depending on the league, he played 10 games at each of the positions) makes Prado an extremely undervalued fantasy option. Three of those four positions are rather scarce, and he is good enough to be a player who won’t hurt your team’s production if you have to play him in the outfield either.
The one question will be whether speed remains a big part of his game. He set career highs in steals with 17 and triples with six, but has never been a player noted for his swift feet prior to last season. In fact, stealing bases was something he really struggled at before last year, as he posted as many seasons with more stolen bases than times caught as the inverse. But when following Prado throughout his career, it is clear that he is the type of player who focuses on getting better at certain aspects of the sport. Last year, becoming a better defender and taking advantage of extra bases were clearly his focuses. As a player who consistently learns and becomes a quality defender at new positions, it should not come of that much of a surprise that he would look to and succeed at improving at other aspects of his game. Maybe he steals a few fewer bases and gets caught a few more times, but I would be surprised with fewer than 10 stolen bases. That is not enough to make him a “speed demon,” but coupled with the rest of his game being respectable, he certainly will be able to add value to teams on a daily basis. Consistency and flexibility are two important aspects of the fantasy world, and you know what you will get with Martin Prado on an annual basis and you can essentially use him as the Braves do, wherever he is needed most.