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The impact of increasing depth at second base

Jose Ramirez is one of six players to earn eligibility at second base in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues since the start of the 2017 season. Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

If you're browsing the going-forward rankings on Monday and thinking that second base seems like a deeper position than it had been previously, you're not mistaken.

Since the start of the 2017 regular season, six hitters have picked up in-season position eligibility at second base. That matches the number of hitters who have added in-season eligibility at all other positions combined.

What's more, all six of these second basemen currently place among the Player Rater's top 300 overall -- this builds a strong case for all of them being considered fantasy-relevant, even in ESPN's standard 10-team mixed format. The six:

Brandon Drury (290th overall on the Player Rater)
Danny Espinosa (153rd)
Brad Miller (264th)
Jose Ramirez (28th)
Yangervis Solarte (144th)
Jonathan Villar (57th)

A seventh, Jose Peraza, is one game at second base away from joining the list.

As you'll notice, all six players made my top 300 overall in Monday's update, resulting in 31 second-base-eligible players with legitimate cases for being owned in ESPN standard mixed leagues, up from 25 in the preseason. And as Drury, Ramirez and Solarte didn't previously possess eligibility at either middle-infield position, this has noticeably deepened the middle infield pool for fantasy owners.

Ramirez, incidentally, was a $10-priced player in ESPN 10-team mixed leagues for auctions and $12 in 12-team mixed leagues using my final preseason rankings. This greatly increases the chances that he's a stronger choice for your middle-infield position than the one you drafted; only 19 second-base- or shortstop-eligible players from the preseason had higher projected prices. Miller was $6/$8, Drury $1/$3 and Solarte $0/$1, so all three stake viable claims to being shifted there in your league. Villar, meanwhile, was $22/$24, and the addition of second base to his third base and shortstop dual eligibility presents quite the advantage, too, especially considering his stolen-base contributions.

This also draws back to my preseason comments regarding positional scarcity from the "Playbook." Using the player-valuation methods discussed in that column, second base added more than $36 in projected full-season value to its pool with the addition of those six players, making it roughly as rich in talent as first base.

Another consideration: Once Peraza picks up second-base eligibility, four of the nine players ESPN initially projected to steal at least 40 bases will qualify at that position. Nine of the 22 players projected for at least 25 steals are already middle-infield eligible, with Ramirez falling just outside of that group. Considering the increasing amount of depth up the middle, especially speedsters, it might be a wise move on the trade front to shift some of your steals there to free up the corner infield or outfield positions in order to chase higher power ceilings.

For those curious, here are the other six position players to add new eligibility since the start of the season: Yandy Diaz (3B), Derek Dietrich (3B), Yuli Gurriel (1B), Ryan Schimpf (3B), Ronald Torreyes (SS) and Danny Valencia (1B).