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Position Battle Update: American League

Our Depth Chart Discussions are just about wrapped up here at RG, but plenty could have changed since the start of March. So I’ve doubled back to some of the more intriguing position battles for fantasy purposes, and we’ll hit on some of the others in the near future, too. Today, we look at the American League.

Toronto Blue Jays – 2B
The Battle: Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis
Depth Chart Discussion
Update: Izturis is a far more balanced option and is steady at the keystone, while Bonifacio is perhaps better suited for the role of super-sub, filling in a few times a week. Izturis has hit just .225 with a .595 OPS over 40 at bats this spring, while the Bone-Face Killah has hit .326 with a .933 OPS in similar playing time. Bonifacio, perhaps most importantly, is also a perfect 7-for-7 on the base paths.
Blake’s Take: Izturis can play three infield positions capably, while Bonifacio may not have the arm to move around comfortably. I’d give Izturis the nod, myself, and then have Bonifacio play second and Izturis move around to provide off days. Bonifacio is the better own for fantasy thanks entirely to the wheels, but both may have to play if Brett Lawrie (ribs) isn’t 100 percent by opening day. And according to manager John Gibbons, both may play anyway.
ZiPS Likes: ZiPS has Izturis down for a .310 wOBA and Bonifacio for a .284, neither of which is inspiring.

Oakland Athletics – 2B, SS, 3B
The Battle: Jed Lowrie, Jemile Weeks, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Adam Rosales, Scott Sizemore, Josh Donaldson, Eric Sogard
Depth Chart Discussion
Update: Oh boy, is this ever a mess. What looked to possibly be just a one-position battle has turned into a free-for-all, with presumed keystone starter Lowrie now possibly starting at third. Nakajima seems a lock for shortstop given his two-year $6.5M contract. And then second base…well, it remains a mystery. Sogard has been downright excellent, Weeks and Rosales have been good in short playing time, and Lowrie is a lock for playing time around the infield, while Nakajima and Donaldson have struggled mightily at the dish.
Blake’s Take: I’m pretty much staying away from everyone but Lowrie unless it’s an AL-only league, but forced to peg starters I’d venture a guess at Weeks-Nakajima-Lowrie, but with plenty of opportunity for Sogard and Donaldson to carve out a role.
ZiPS Likes: Lowries at a .321 wOBA is the only non-sinkhole of the bunch, with Sizemore and Nakajima hitting a .300 wOBA projection exactly.

Kansas City Royals – 2B
The Battle: Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz
Depth Chart Discussion
Update: This again? Yup. These two are once again waging war for the two-bag, with Getz providing the veteran grit and Johnny Gee being a more capable hitter. Both can steal a few bags, too, but Getz has the edge in that regard. This spring, Gio is hitting a tidy .294 but hasn’t drawn a walk or stolen a base, while Getz has hit .359 with three steals and some strong discipline. The battle, unfortunately, is expected to go the distance.
Blake’s Take: If I’m the Royals, I give the younger Giavotella the shot to see if he can become a solid regular. For fantasy, though, neither has much value beyond your bench, but I’d give Getz the edge for the stolen base potential.
ZiPS Likes: ZiPS pegs Gio for a .301 wOBA and Getz for a .279 mark, but ZiPS can’t measure hustle.

Minnesota Twins – CF
The Battle: Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni
Depth Chart Discussion
Update: With Revere and Span out, the center field job opened right up. Hicks has far more pedigree, Mastroianni a bit more experience, and Benson looms. Mastroianni has serious wheels and would provide some nice category juice, though Hicks is pretty fleet-of-foot as well. In Hicks’ favor is the fact that the Twins aren’t concerned about his arb clock. This spring, Benson has hit himself out of the mix. Mastroianni, meanwhile, is 10-for-25 with six stolen bases, and Hicks has hit .306 with four homers in substantially more playing time.
Blake’s Take: Hicks has gotta have the job, right? Pedigree, youth, upside – they all favor Hicks, as does spring performance. He’s a really nice stash for his 10-25 potential.
ZiPS Likes: Zips sees Mastroianni being a terrible fit with a .277 wOBA, while their more bullish on Benson (.285) and Hicks (.298).

Texas Rangers – CF
The Battle: Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin
Depth Chart Discussion
Update: Martin is a prospect-projector’s nightmare with how much he’s bounced around levels, but he’s also a potentially thrilling player to watch given his all-out style. Gentry is the safer play, a steadier option who also happens to hit lefties well. The players have both been productive this spring, with Gentry flashing some unexpected pop and being a perfect 5-for-5 on the bases. Martin has raked at a .913 OPS clip but has been thrown out twice in four tries.
Blake’s Take: It sure sounds like a time share, which is the last thing a fantasy owner wants to hear. Martin has speed but may also have a red light given how much he’s thrown out, and also has some pop but it has been wildly inconsistent. Gentry is somewhat less exciting, but he’s my add if forced to choose one for 2013 only.
ZiPS Likes: Martin, all day, with a .321 wOBA, with Gentry clocking in at .298.