Because of his ability to play several positions, Jed Lowrie will be a valuable fantasy commodity this season.
We continue with the 2009 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit with yet another of the Top 10 Lists Owners Always Wanted But Were Afraid to Ask For.
Utility players are kind of like that girl down the street you asked to prom the year your girlfriend dumped you a few weeks before the big day. She wasn’t very pretty and you didn’t want to keep her around after the prom, but she was good enough to get you to the dance so you didn’t look like too big of a loser. Well, these guys can help keep you from being a big loser too. If one of your studs goes down for a couple weeks look to these guys to stop the hurt.
1. Jed Lowrie, SS/3B, Boston: It looks like Lowrie could be come a super sub to start the year for the Sox. For some reason Boston is giving Julio Lugo back his old shortstop job despite the fact he hasn’t done anything for a couple years. With Mike Lowell possibly missing some time to start the year, Lowrie could see some time at third early on and might spell Dustin Pedroia at second at times. Lowrie has a good bat and still developing power. He’s worth a late round pick if you’re unsettled at SS.
2. Wilson Betemit, 1B/3B, Chicago White Sox: Betemit is eligible at 1B, 3B and (in some leagues) SS and we all know versatility can mean value even in fantasy baseball. He never reached the stardom that was predicted for him as a young SS in the Atlanta system, but there have been flashes of potential here and there. If Josh Fields fails to impress, Betemit could see a lot of time at third base. He’s never been given a true shot to produce, so it’s still debatable what he can offer.
3. Brandon Wood, 3B/SS, Los Angeles Angels: Don’t look now, but Wood is tearing it up in Spring Training and may force the team’s hand. As of this writing, Wood has only struck out once – I repeat, once. Absolutely amazing for guy who never saw a ball he didn’t want to swing at. Power is Wood’s game and he’s got a ton of it. The trouble is, up until this point he’s looked like Rob Deer at the plate (you younger players go Google him and you’ll see what I mean). While there’s no clear spot for Wood to play, he might give the Angels no choice but to find a place for him. He’s got shortstop eligibility so if he gets consistent playing time to start the year, grab him and hang on for the ride.
4. Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Oakland A’s: Nomar hasn’t really been worth much in years, but he added SS back to his eligibility in 2008, which immediately makes him more attractive. Ever notice how SS eligibility is like looking at women after about 12 beers? They just look hotter after all those beers. Well, this is what Nomar has become — a player who looks fine through “shortstop goggles.” Although he only qualifies at short for now, he’ll probably take over at third when Eric Chavez invariably gets injured and can play 1B in a pinch as well.
5. Eric Hinske, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Quietly, Hinske had a nice year for the AL Champion Rays, smacking 20 homers in limited time. Now with Pittsburgh, Hinske will again battle for playing time, but could see action at 1B, outfield and third if Andy LaRoche continues to show nothing. Hinske will never be a fantasy stud, but there’s no reason to think that he can’t repeat last year’s numbers.
6. Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Rockies: Stewart made the most of his opportunity last season, smacking 10 homers in 266 at bats. With Todd Helton and his contract wasting space at first base, Stewart will have to fight for playing time at third (where Garrett Atkins resides – Atkins would move to first without Helton blocking the way), and second base (where his defense is shaky). Stewart might even get a look in the outfield. He is very intriguing and has as much upside as anyone on this list.
7. Mark Teahen, OF, Kansas City Royals: They’ve tried him everywhere else so this year the Royals have decided to give him a shot at second base. So far this spring, the results haven’t been pretty. Still, if the Royals do decide to give Teahen an occasional start at second he could have some value. He’s shown only modest power so far in his career (lifetime .421 slugging) and doesn’t look like he’ll ever touch .300. But with outfield and (is some leagues) first and third base eligibility, Teahen might do well as a fill in.
8. Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels: I’ve watched Aybar for years now hoping that he would get the opportunity to show the Angels what he can do. Well, last year he got his shot and the results were truly uninspiring. Aybar can handle the bat well, but just doesn’t have power. He can probably bat around .280 and hit double digits in steals, but he’s never going to drive in more than a handful of runners. With Howie Kendrick’s first injury of the year right around the corner, Maicer Izturis can move over to second base, allowing Aybar to man short. There’s a chance Aybar will qualify at second base as well.
9. Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: If only Wigginton still had second base eligibility, we might have a winner here. Unfortunately, he’s only got third and outfield so the upside is limited. Still, this is a guy who has hit 20 homers with at least a .277 BA for three straight years. He’s worth a look especially if he can get regular playing time.
10. Ryan Freel, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Freel used to make his living playing all over the diamond as a super sub. Last season, a hamstring injury ruined his campaign. Now in Baltimore, it remains to be seen as to what the O’s do with him. He’s expected to see time all over the outfield and at second base. He has also seen some time in spring training at short and third so maybe the Os envision him in that super sub role – or maybe they just need someone to fill in while Cesar Izturis is at the WBC. While he only qualifies at OF right now, if Freel meets the minimum requirements in the infield he could be a cheap source of steals.