A word about Anthony Rizzo and position eligibility


Because of a quirk in baseball rules, Anthony Rizzo is piling up 2B ‘appearances’. He’s up to 7 so far this year, and probably will hit 10 games ‘appeared’ at 2B sometime this season. These appearances are due to shifts and occur for one or two batters a game - not nearly evidence enough that Rizzo can actually man 2nd base.

Given the existing rules in the game, if Rizzo does get his official 10 games at 2B, he will be 2B-eligible. Much like Eric Thames, this situation raises the need to consider outs played per defensive position instead of games appeared when qualifying for positional eligibility. In the offseason, expect this to be visited in more depth.

I spoke to The Ringer about Anthony Rizzo's 2B eligibility

His twitter bio reads “Official Twitter of Anthony Rizzo–First Baseman/ Second Baseman #44–World Series Champion Chicago Cubs” so I feel like it’s pretty official.


If Rizzo gets 2B eligibility this season, he will per the existing rules have it next season. Please post here instead of back-channeling if you have questions or concerns.


I do know some people targeted him in trades just because of the 2B eligibility for next year. I find this all quite fascinating.


I just stumbled upon this post as I was going to make another one about Rizzo’s 2B eligibility. Thank you, Niv, for wanting to visiting this more in depth next season. I am perfectly fine with him getting eligibility this season because rules are rules, but I think it is a farce if he has it next season. If he was playing 2B for a game or even an inning, I would be down with it. However, facing a batter or two shouldn’t qualify for that. I am all for eliminating some of the sham eligibility for players that do not deserve it.


The rules as they exist state if a player gains eligibility, they will have it for next season too.

Next year it might make sense to evaluate outs played at a position instead of appearances. If that is feasible, then it will start taking place next season. It won’t affect any eligibility earned this season.


Hey is there an update on Rizzo’s 2B eligibility? I think some sites might have added it already. Just wondering what the status is. If he only needed three more appearances as of 6/8 he might have reached that already?


Per our data provider, he has appeared at 9 games at 2B. 10 games are required to get eligibility.


thanks for the prompt response! 1 more!!!


Hello @nivshah, how are you? I understand and fine with Rizzo having 2B eligibility for 2018. However, has there been any guidance on what to do about eligibility situations like this in-season for 2018 and 2019? Will there be some guidelines like a player has to play 10 innings at a position for it to count? I could be wrong, but I would imagine that most players that earn their eligibility play at a position for more than one batter. I hope something can be done. Thank you very much.


I know it may be unfeasible to pull off but it would be fantastic if you had to play someone at the position they actually play at that day, like the SP and RP rules. Sure you can play Rizzo at second, when he plays that position on a given day. Otherwise you start him at 1b which is where he will be 95% of the time. Just my two sense on the subject.


There aren’t plans to change how position eligibility is awarded before the 2018 season. I’m working with FanGraphs to get some data to address these kinds of quirks in the future, but I’m not overly concerned about strange position eligibility being a rampant problem that is desperate need of a solution.


Thanks for the prompt response, Niv. Let me ask a couple of things for clarification purposes though. If we have another season where the Cubs do something similar with Rizzo, will he retain 2B eligibility for 2019 (provided he hits ten games)? For example, if Votto, Freeman, and Goldschmidt have a similar situation where they play ten games at 2B in 2018, will that be a situation where a rule change would happen?

While I am not thrilled about the Rizzo situation, I can understand it because it is a one-off as of now. My concern is if the Rizzo situation is the beginning of a slippery slope.

Thanks again.


For the record, MLB rules make it impossible for Rizzo to get catcher eligibility, without actually being the catcher.


Rizzo got 2B eligibility because of a lot of over-the-top shifting (see: footnote), which seems to be on the downslope of its popularity. On top of that, he was named as the 2B on those plays because of a MLB rule that seems written without any notion of moving defensive players around on the diamond. So the following things would have to happen to consider this a slope at all, let alone a slippery one:

  1. Other managers would have to employ the very specific shift that the Cubs utilized for precisely 4.1 IP over 10 games last year, because either they wanted their 1B to have 2B eligibility for their fantasy leagues or (more likely) because they considered this specific shift to be a good defense in certain situations. Consider that basically no one else used the shift last year and the Cubs didn’t even use it that much. Rizzo got to 9 games at 2B in July, but only was put at 2B one more time the rest of the season. I’m willing to consider that Maddon did this just to mess with fantasy baseball (see again: footnote).

  2. In the face of this influx of 1Bs that have appearances at 2B because of a specific glove-related rule, MLB doesn’t take any steps to reclassify what it means to be a 1B on any given pitch.

I really don’t see either of these things happening, to be honest.

I still want to get more detailed defensive data, because I think a “batters faced at defensive position” might be an interesting way to go in the future. However, the only player that would be affected by this kind of change would probably be 2018 Anthony Rizzo.

I understand @CarneMasada’s point here:

But this really neutralizes utility players with multiple positions that they are truly competent at. I get the sentiment, though!

I also get the sentiment about Rizzo, but I don’t think we’re about to enter a post-position baseball world. I’m very excited for half the NL and Shohei Ohtani to make me look like a fool :slight_smile:

Footnote: I don’t love Joe Maddon and I think a lot of his in-game ‘strategy’ is LaRussa-esque in its overstated genius, but I’m also an Indians fan and still hurt about 2016 so.


Thanks for the clarification, Niv. I agree that it probably won’t happen any further than Rizzo, but I was just curious if there was a plan in the works if other teams did the same because it seems like there are a lot of people not pleased with Rizzo getting 2B from my interactions with other fantasy owners. Hopefully, the Rizzo silliness will end after 2018, even though I get why fantasy providers have him at 2B too.

Keep up the good work!