Zobrist offers not only position flexibility, but he also can fill up the stat sheet with regularity. Zobrist has pop, can drive in runs, steals bases and usually hits for a decent average. Zobrist does it all for manager Joe Maddon and his loyal fantasy owners alike.
Zobrist is fulfilling the expectations of his owners who desire his position flexibility. Zobrist, who will be a real-life free agent at the end of the 2013 season, is hitting .252 with three home runs, 27 RBIs and has swiped three bases on the year entering play on May 22.
While Zobrist is having a nice season, there is another player who offers just as much flexibility and is blowing expectations out of the water.
St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter is also having an outstanding year, his first as an everyday player at the major-league level, and has been every bit as flexible and valuable as Zobrist so far in 2013.
Like Zobrist, Carpenter offers premium position flexibility and carries eligibility not only at second base, but also at third, first and outfield in most Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball formats. While Carpenter's position flexibility is on par with what Zobrist can offer, his production has been in line, if not superior, to what Zobrist has done this season, too.
Both players have three home runs and exactly 21 walks on the season. Carpenter does have fewer RBIs (15) than the Rays third-place hitter (27), and the Cardinals super-utility infielder has yet to swipe a base.
But there are several other major categories where Carpenter is handily beating Zobrist.
As the Cardinals' new leadoff man, Carpenter has scored more runs (34) than Zobrist (23) and has hit more doubles (15) than Tampa's switch-hitting dynamo (11). Carpenter's OPS (.813) is also vastly superior to that of Zobrist's (.730).
Finally, Carpenter, with a .293 average, is hitting a full 41 points higher than Zobrist.
The numbers show that Carpenter is just as, if not more, valuable from a fantasy perspective than Zobrist, and his owners could have had him a lot cheaper.
According to fantasypros.com, Zobrist was selected on average at No. 64 in most Yahoo! leagues. Meanwhile, Carpenter was taken at No. 236.
For owners who missed on an opportunity to draft Carpenter late, unbelievably, he is still available in about 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Meanwhile, Zobrist is owned in 97 percent of leagues.
The St. Louis Cardinals took a risk by moving Carpenter to second base prior to the beginning of the season. It was unclear if he would be able to play the position defensively and whether he would be able to hit as an everyday player.
So far, manager Mike Matheny looks like a genius for making the move and fantasy baseball owners who had the foresight to draft Carpenter late got a player that is just as flexible and possibly more valuable than a player with the caliber of Ben Zobrist.
You can follow Rudd on Twitter @CoreyRudd.
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