I think it was my colleague Scott White who raised the question a couple months ago, in the middle of football season: Where should Victor Martinez be eligible for 2013 in Fantasy?
It sparked a good amount of debate, at a time when all anyone cared about was whether or not Andy Dalton was a Top 12 quarterback. Ask one person in our group and they'd say catcher, ask another, and they'd adamantly defend the idea that Martinez should be DH-only. Theories were debated, meetings were held, tenuous office friendships were forever damaged. At the end of it all, the staff came to a conclusion: Victor Martinez would be eligible at DH, and only DH, heading into 2013.
My job here is to tell you how we landed on this decision, why we landed on this decision and what steps your commissioner can take to override the decision, if your league so chooses.
Victor Martinez missed all of 2012 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in April. There were brief reports in June that Martinez might return later in the season, but the Tigers squashed all of those hopes in mid-August, making it clear Martinez wouldn't be back until 2013.
So we were left with no stats or games played for 2012. And Martinez was already in a transition from catcher to designated hitter, a trend started in 2011 when he was with the Red Sox.
The statistics at the center of this debate were the number of games in which Martinez appeared at each position in 2011. Namely ...
Designated hitter: 112 games
Catcher: 26 games
First base: six games
Most leagues set the cutoff at 20 games played the previous season for a player to have eligibility there the next year. There was no question that Martinez had catcher eligibility for 2012. The problem was what to do with him for 2013.
The Decision and Debate
There were two schools of thought here at CBSSports.com as to why Martinez should be DH-only, versus just one as to why he should retain catcher eligibility. The "catcher" group simply argued that since Martinez didn't play any games in 2012, his eligibility should carry over to 2013, as if 2012 never existed. The "DH" side worked two angles:
1. Martinez should be DH-only because he is expected to only serve as a designated hitter for 2013. This is an argument that was scrapped because speculating on primary positions leads down a slippery slope and has dangerous precedent.
2. Martinez should be DH-only because his catcher eligibility was good only for 2012, not 2013. In other words, it's not our fault he was unable to play in 2012. His 2013 eligibility should then be based on the position at which he appeared most frequently in the last season he played. Which would be designated hitter.
The "most frequently appeared" argument took on the "carryover" side. Our Fantasy staff met, we argued both sides, we had long conversations at our desks about this one eligibility issue ... and eventually decided Martinez would be DH-only for 2013.
Besides being able to set a precedent for players who missed entire seasons in the future (defaulting to the most games played for the last year played), it didn't make sense (or seem fair) that a player who hadn't primarily been a catcher since 2010 could end up as a top five catcher in 2013 -- three seasons after he was, essentially, last a catcher.
Martinez can still gain catcher eligibility if he appears at the position five times in 2013. And an appearance can be anything from starting a game at catcher to suiting up in the bottom of the ninth in a blowout to catch for a half-inning.
Now might also be a good time to note that CBSSports.com has won the Fantasy Sports Trade Association's award for Best Commissioner Service nine times in the last 11 years. So, rest assured, we did not arrive at this decision lightly.
I have Victor Martinez in a keeper league for $2. I bought him hoping he would return in September 2012, but also was fine with stashing him on my DL for a year and keeping him as a catcher for 2013, not even thinking about the eligibility issues (I know, commenters, I'm terrible and how could CBS hire a person who didn't realize Martinez wouldn't be a catcher in 2013). I'd be pretty upset if I went through all that strategizing last year just to have my site tell me I can only keep him as a DH.
But there is a way to fix this. Your commissioner just has to do a little extra work.
How to make V-Mart a catcher
The commissioner has to go to the "Commish Tools" tab on the league site, which will take him to a page full of powerful Fantasy options. Go to "League" under "Commish Management Tools" and click on "Set Team Lineup."
In the "Edit" box, click on the "C" in the orange/red box. This will allow the commissioner to move any offensive player to any offensive position.
Now I'm making Martinez a catcher:
Click on "set lineup" and never say we don't do anything for you.
And there you have it. Victor Martinez is a catcher once again!
Just know that if you move Martinez back to utility/DH, your commissioner will have to repeat this process to get him back into the catcher spot.
We realize that this Victor Martinez-as-DH-only decision isn't going to be popular with everyone -- likely, the owners who had their eyes on Martinez as a sleeper catcher will emit the loudest groans -- but it was a conclusion that we came to after a somewhat arduous set of arguments, meetings and discussions; we didn't just shrug, scribble "yes" or "no" on a slip of paper, and put our votes in a hat to be counted.
Our goal, first and foremost, is to provide the best product and experience for our Fantasy owners. While the default game will have Martinez as a DH, we hope that the ability to override our decision -- while it stings, deep inside -- is a fair enough compromise to keep everyone happy. Because if you aren't having fun playing Fantasy Baseball, then we aren't doing our job.
Or you're in 10th place.
As always, if you still have questions, concerns, or need more direction on how to override our well thought-out decision, you can always contact our help desk or reach our writers on Twitter.