Fantasy Baseball 2017: Debunking Position Scarcity

At the beginning of this fantasy baseball season, there was a lot of concern around position scarcity. Preparing for 2017, that will certainly not be the case.

When drafting your fantasy baseball team, there are certain positions that you need to target early if you want the top player. There are others that you can wait on and get good value. This is all because of position scarcity. As you prepare for the 2017 season, I don’t think you will need to worry about position scarcity anymore.

There are three positions that clearly stand out to me that fantasy owners think of when you mention position scarcity. Second base, shortstop and catcher. With the influx of young talent and the rise of the middle and lower-tiered players, there is no reason to reach for a player just because you need to fill that position.

For all three positions, I will be referencing the draft results of ESPN leagues. The numbers may look different on whatever site you play on, but I use ESPN because it is the most popular.

Let’s look at second base. Of the first 20 players drafted, two second basemen were drafted, Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon. The latter ended up being suspended for 80 games and wound up as a bust. Robinson Cano was drafted as the No. 33 player. Brian Dozier was the No. 49 player. You either ended up with Altuve, Gordon (for part of the season) or anyone else.  

According to the Player Rater, there are four second basemen in the top 20. Jean Segura is on the list, but the steals heavily favor him. Scrolling down, there are four more second basemen found in the top 50. Rougned Odor, Trea Turner and Starlin Castro are some of the players I see moving up in the rankings.

Moving on to shortstop, that position was in much worse shape. Only one player was drafted in the top 45 picks, Carlos Correa. Oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki was 46th player drafted. Between Francisco Lindor at No. 72 and Elvis Andrus at No. 122, no shortstop was drafted.

There are seven shortstop-eligible players in the top 30 on the Player Rater. There are a couple of players that will not qualify at the position next season, but that doesn’t take away from my point. Segura, who reached the 20 games played requirement, when from undrafted to a top-five player.

As far as catcher, it’s always been a one-man position. Buster Posey. Jonathan Lucroy was the only other player drafted before the No. 100 pick. Most of the other catchers drafted were picked in the 200s. The Player Rater shows that the rankings can change at any point.

Lucroy is listed as the top catcher with Wilson Ramos and Posey behind him. J.T. Realmuto is No. 4, mostly because of his .313 average and 11 steals and the never-aging Yadier Molina rounds out the top five. New York Yankees power hitter Gary Sanchez is now catcher eligible and fantasy owners would love to have his power in their catcher spot.

The point I’m trying to make, and I hope I did, is that you do not need to waste an early pick on a middle infielder or catcher. There is plenty of depth at all three positions that you can get great value for players late in the draft. I would worry about solidifying your outfield, corner infielders and top two starting pitchers before drafting these three positions.