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The Versatile Michael Cuddyer

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a sucker for flexibility. I love players with multi-position eligibility, so needless to say I’m always on the look-out for guys that might change positions. Catchers that move out from behind the plate are the classic example, and who can forget fantasy owners drooling at the possibility of Albert Pujols picking up 2B eligibility after this game in 2008? Alas, it was not meant to be.

With their third basemen putting up just a .271 wOBA this season, the Twins have started Michael Cuddyer at the hot corner fives times in the last week or so (six counting today). That’s good enough for him to pick up 3B eligibility in most leagues. He even started a game at 2B last month, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get that lucky. When the season began, he was eligible at 1B/OF, two spots with enough depth and generally low priority.

Cuddyer was mid-to-late round revelation last season, clubbing a career high 32 homers, driving in 94 runs, and scoring 93 more. He hasn’t been able to replicate that level of performance this year unsurprisingly, with just seven homers and 33 RBI in the team’s first 73 games. (R) ZiPS calls for a nice little second half: .271/.341/.462 with ten homers and 41 RBI, though it’s not really a standout performance from an outfielder or (especially) a first baseman. At third though, that’s a solid option.

Looking at the (R) ZiPS projections, I count 44 outfielders projected to hit double digit homers through the end of the season, 25 first baseman, and just 13 third baseman. Cuddyer makes 14. The third base position is surprisingly mediocre beyond the top level guys, so adding another player to that mix for the rest of the season is a boost. If you’re dealing with injury or ineffectiveness (Aramis Ramirez, Chone Figgins come to mind), or just plain old need some depth, Cuddyer’s a solid get now. If you already own him (77% owned in Yahoo! leagues), his value just went up.