Zobrist, Mauer, Rodriguez: 2012 Multi-Positional Players

Continuing my post from Tuesday, we’re looking at multi-positional players who have added or dropped a position this season and how they forecast for 2012.

Ben Zobrist (2B, OF, losing 1B)

The extremely versatile Zobrist – he’s played everywhere besides pitcher and catcher – is going to lose his first base eligibility next season. He wasn’t an ideal fit for the position to begin with thanks to his moderate power numbers but could provide adequate production there if you wanted to load up on other areas first. He’s currently ranked as the 12th best first basemen, but sixth best second basemen, where most of his value lies. Although he’s not the prototypical fantasy first basemen his numbers actually profile better there relative to the outfield, which is the other position he qualifies at. A ~.270 average, ~15 home runs, ~90 RBI and ~20 stolen bases aren’t especially noticeable in the crowded outfield. Losing first base will hinder Zobrist’s fantasy value going forward, but he will still remain one of the top second basemen next season.

Joe Mauer (C, gained 1B)

How you feel about Mauer going into 2012 is totally dependant on your comfort level with his injury history. He’s missed significant time this season with a leg injury, and has had a variety of ailments over the years. If totally healthy he’s the best catcher in the game and it’s not particularly close. He’s hitting .287/.360/.368 right now, which is a far cry from his career line of .323/.403/.471. Mauer has only had two and half healthy months this season, hitting very well in July (.850 OPS) and not so well in August (.702 OPS). He’s seemingly gotten back on track in September with an .858 OPS through 40 plate appearances. Thanks to Justin Morneau’s ongoing battle with concussions Mauer has picked up first base eligibility. Unless he acquires a time machine and reverts back to his 2009 form when he hit 28 home runs he’s not an especially good play at first base, despite his high average and OBP. In every other season he’s been a ~10 home run hitter, and he plays in Target Field which is a good pitcher’s park that has taken away much of his power. If you play in a league that counts OBP Mauer will have value no matter where you slot him. In standard leagues the extra position is luxury that you’re probably better of not using.

Sean Rodriguez (2B, gaining SS and 3B, losing OF)

Rodriguez isn’t someone who is going to get much playing time in your standard leagues. He’s more suited for deeper mixed leagues and A.L. only formats. The Rays shortstop situation hasn’t been good all season. Reid Brignac and Elliott Johnson received most of the innings there to begin the season and failed miserably. Their collective awfulness gave way to Sean Rodriguez, raised a second basemen, getting his opportunity. It would be kind to say that Rodriguez is not a very good hitter against right handed pitching. In 639 career plate appearances against them he’s hitting .211/.271/.339. His OPS against them this season is just .549. On the other hand (pun fully intended) Rodriguez mashes southpaws, putting up a combined OPS of .841 against them in 289 plate appearances over the past two seasons. With Matt Joyce in right field and Zobrist at second baes Joe Maddon and the Rays are giving Rodriguez every opportunity to win the shortstop job for 2012. It’s unlikely the Rays will sign a veteran shortstop and the best minor league threat, Tim Beckham, just got a little taste of Triple-A this season. Rodriguez will also qualify at third base thanks to Evan Longoria missing a month with a quad injury. The team and Maddon love Rodriguez’s defense and will give him playing time somewhere in 2012. He’s now eligible at shortstop and third base, and even if he’s only used against left handed pitching he’s a good option in the right format.

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

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Zobrist’s 1B eligibility saved my team. The hottest part of his season corresponded with Carlos Pena’s coldest and Ike Davis’ season ending injury, and gave me just enoug time to work out a deal (with Zobrist included) for Adrian Gonzalez that corresponded with Utley’s fairly successful return from the DL. Oh yeah.