No doubt that all of us who have been playing fantasy baseball for at least a few years have heard of position scarcity. Over the last several seasons I think the popularity of this theory has become even greater. Prior to it getting a cool name, I think most players acknowledged the fact that there were few great shortstops to choose from, but I’m not sure how many people actually factored that into their draft strategy. Well, like many good ideas, once they get into the popular conscience they tend to be overblown and after time settle into a nice useful medium.
The basic premise behind position scarcity is that there are few elite players at some positions and therefore the elite players at those spots should have their value elevated somewhat to account for this fact. I agree with the logic whole-heartedly. Where I think we may have gone slightly astray is in determining the amount these values should be adjusted by versus those elite players at roles that have more depth. For example, when someone tries to convince me that Jose Reyes should be drafted ahead of Adrian Gonzalez because of position scarcity, I think we may have gone too far. While I would tend to classify them both as tier 2 players at their respective positions and admit that short stop is an extremely shallow spot, I don’t see the justification for the move when runs and average will be about a wash and Reyes only gets the edge in steals. Unless you have a dire need in steals, it seems to defy logic. Personally I believe the best available player in the draft will usually be the best player for your team. This won’t always be the case, but about 90% of the time this logic will serve you well.
Now for the 3 most scarce batter positions and their elite players (either tier 1 or 2):
3. Second Base
Chase Utley – While the injury risk is always present, he’s an all around player who should hit near the .300 level with 25+ HR’s, 100+ runs and RBI and 15+ steals.
Robinson Cano – About as solid of a lock as you get at second base with carbon copy stats to Utley except a few less steals. The more durable player of the two.
Dustin Pedroia – Should project similar to Utley with a couple fewer points in Average and fewer RBI.
Ian Kinsler – Projects to .280’s average, 20+ HR’s, 100 runs, 75+ RBI and 20+ steals.
Dan Uggla/Rickie Weeks – Similar average prospects in the .270’s, Uggla gets the edge in HR’s and RBI, Weeks in Runs and Steals
2. Third Base
Evan Longoria – The new face of the Rays projects to a .290 Average, 30+ HR’s, 100+ Runs, 110+ RBI and 10+ steals. All at only 25 years old.
David Wright – While the Mets flounder, their third baseman will get back to his all world play with a .295+ Average, 30+ HR’s, 95+ runs, 100+ RBI, and 15+ steals.
Ryan Zimmerman – Projects to the best average in the group with a .300+, 30+ HR’s, 100+ runs, 100+ RBI, and 5+ steals.
Alex Rodriguez – While not enjoying popcorn, ARod is still a heck of a third baseman. Looking for a .285+ Avg, 30+ HR’s, 85+ runs, 110+ RBI, and 5+ steals.
Kevin Youkilis – With the move back to third this year, Youk joins this elite group. In line for a .290+ Avg, 25+ HR’s, 95+ runs, 95+ RBI, and a couple steals.
Troy Tulowitzki – The most elite player at the most scarce position. Does this make him worth more than Pujols? I don’t think so. Expect some great play though with a .320+ Avg, 30+ HR’s, 100+ runs, 110+ RBI, and 10+ steals.
Hanley Ramirez – Not a bad consolation prize. Expect a .310+ Avg, 25+ HR’s, 100+ runs, 90+ RBI, and 30 steals.
Jose Reyes – Expecting a return to health in his contract year. Look for a .290+ Avg, 10+ HR’s, 100+ runs, 65+ RBI, and 50+ steals.