First Basemen

Transaction Analysis: Tigers Sign Prince Fielder

The mystery team struck again this week, as the Tigers agreed to sign Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214MM contract in the wake of Victor Martinez's torn ACL. The move will obviously improve a team that won its division by 15 games last year, but just how much is an argument for another time. We're going to focus on the fantasy impact of the signing, which is far-reaching.

Park Effects

Miller Park is one of the game's most underrated hitter's parks, at least in the sense that it doesn't get talked about as much as Yankee Statium, The Ballpark In Arlington, Citizens Bank Park, or Coors Field. It has inflated home run production by 12.1% over the last three seasons according to ESPN's Park Factors, but we can be more precise than that. StatCorner provides park factor splits for left-handed and right-handed hitters for a variety of stats, and they say Miller Park has a home run park factor of 118 for lefties and just 103 for righties. That might be surprising since it's 356 and 374 to right and right-center fields but only 344 and 370 to left and left-center, but the orientation and physical shape of the ballpark creates a bit of jet stream out to right. If you watched the NLCS at all this past October, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Fielder's over-the-fence power received what is approximately an 18% boost thanks to his home park in recent years. Comerica Park is much less forgiving though; the homer park factor for lefties is just 88, so it suppresses long balls by lefties approximately 12%. Now we can't just add the 18% and 12% and say that Fielder's homer total will drop 30% because of the ballpark switch, it doesn't work like that. Prince isn't your average home run hitter, he has arguably the most power in all of baseball, so it's not like he's just barely clearing the wall on his way to 35+ homers each year. Petco Park and Tropicana Field didn't stop Adrian Gonzalez and Evan Longoria from hitting all those homers, and Comerica is unlikely to do the same to Fielder. Heck, just look at his new teammate Miguel Cabrera, who still continues to rank among the league leaders in long balls every year. Park effects don't always apply to great hitters.

According to Hit Tracker, Prince's homers had an average standard distance of 407.5 ft. last season, more than 13 ft. and 3.5% greater than the 393.7 ft. MLB average. Furthermore, just ten of his 38 homers qualified as "Just Enoughs," meaning they cleared the wall by less than ten vertical feet or landed less than one fence height beyond the wall. Given their definition, Just Enoughs are the most volatile type of homer from year-to-year, which is part of the reason why Casey McGehee went from 23 homers (and 15 Just Enoughs) in 2010 to just 13 homers (and five Just Enoughs) in 2011. Slightly more than one-quarter of Fielder's homers last year qualified as Just Enoughs, so he's out of the danger zone when it comes to signficant drop-off next season. Prince doesn't just sneak the ball over the fence, he's fond of the second deck and 400+ footers, which plays anywhere.

Now that doesn't mean Fielder won't see some decline in his power numbers next year, just that it might not be as drastic as one would assume at first glance. Age-related decline isn't a concern at 27 (28 in May), though he will have to adjust to a new league and presumably DH'ing at least part of the time. I think we all have Adam Dunn in the back of our minds, who went from being one of the game's most prolific power hitters to unrosterable last year, but that's a rather extreme example. Similar players like Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero made the same switch a few years ago and showed no ill effects. It's safe to project another 30+ homers out of Fielder next year, but the days of 40+ might be a thing of the past. Then again, he's only topped 40 twice in his six full years, the last time coming in 2009.

The Trickle Down Effect On Cabrera

Manager Jim Leyland was emphatic that Cabrera will be his third baseman when Fielder was officially introduced on Thursday, which is wonderful news for fantasy owners. I don't know of many people that expect the experiment to work given his size and already subpar defensive skills, but as far as fantasy owners are concerned, it's a goldmine. If Cabrera -- who's already the best fantasy option at the most productive position -- manages to play enough games at the hot corner to qualify for third base eligibility, he has a chance to become the most dominant fantasy weapon since Alex Rodriguez in his heyday. We're talking a super-elite hitter at a premium position, even though his offense might take a slight hit given the transition. But still, he's starting from such a high production baseline that we'll barely even notice.

The Trickle Down Effect On Boesch

During the same introductory press conference, Leyland acknowledged that Brennan Boesch will bat second in front of Cabrera and Fielder, which improves his fantasy outlook a bit. The 26-year-old outfielder hit .283/.341/.458 with 16 homers in 115 games and 472 plate appearances before a thumb injury ended his season in late-August. That production alone made him valuable, but hitting in front of the two big bats should boost his runs scored total if nothing else. The effect of lineup protection is generally overstated, but in the case of elite hitters like Cabrera and Fielder, it can have a very real impact. I definitely have Boesch earmarked as a breakout candidate for 2012.

The Trickle Down Effect On Fister And Porcello

As wonderful as a third base eligible Cabrera would be, his defense at the hot corner figures to create some problems for a few members of Detroit's staff. The team will employ three below-average defenders on the infield in Fielder, Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta (Peralta's +9.9 UZR in 2011 was based on his ability to avoid errors, not necessarily make more plays) regardless of who they play at second base. Both Doug Fister (career 5.52 K/9 and 46.5% ground ball rate) and Rick Porcello (4.84 and 51.9%) are pitchers that rely on their defense, so don't be surprised if they wind up with a higher WHIP and ERA than projected. Fister was already doomed to be overvalued on draft day given his dominance after the trade (five of his ten starts with the Tigers came against the lowly Twins, Athletics, and fading Indians), so don't fall into the same trap. That's not to say he won't be a solid option, but don't count on him repeating his second half numbers over a full season, especially now with the defense behind him. Porcello wasn't much more than a fringe roster candidate in standard 12-team, 5x5 leagues to start with, so I wouldn't blame you if you took him off draft boards entirely now.

* * *

Given his mammoth power and the fact that he's still very much in the prime of his career, Fielder will again be a top fantasy producer in 2012 even though he's moving to an unfriendly ballpark. Cabrera stands to gain the most out of the deal since he'll pick up third base eligibility, though Boesch should receive a boost as well. Some members of the pitching staff won't like the infield defense behind them, so make sure you don't get stuck depending on them for quality innings next year.

2012 Position Rankings: First Base

This week's rankings take us to the most productive position on the field, first base. The average first baseman hit .271/.345/.451 with 24 homers, 91 RBI, 79 runs scored, and four stolen bases last year, so expected production is high. The position is not as deep with elite players as you may think though, with just five no-doubters in the primes of their careers followed by a bunch of guys with limited track records, injury problems, age concerns, significant flaws, or all of the above.

Just to be clear, I am not including Mike Napoli, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and Joe Mauer in these rankings even though they'll likely have first base eligiblity next year. All four guys are far more valuable behind the plate at the catcher position. This list is true first basemen only. The rankings are made with respect to traditional 12-team, 5x5 mixed leagues.

  1. Miguel Cabrera, DET - Still just 28, Cabrera hasn't hit lower than .320 in three years now and is a lock for 30 HR and 100 RBI. He's the best all-around hitter in baseball at the moment, and if the Tigers truly intend to use him at third base at least part of the time in 2012, he's a candidate to go first overall in drafts given inevitable hot corner eligibility.
  2. Joey Votto, CIN - The early season power slump was puzzling, but Votto finished strong and ended up with 24+ HR for the fourth straight season. If he can get back to stealing double-digit bases like he did in 2010, he'll have a strong case to be the best fantasy first baseman as a true five category contributor.
  3. Albert Pujols, LAA - New league, new team, new ballpark, but expect the same old Albert. Last year's bout with mortality is a career year for most players, with power (37 HR), average (.299), steals (nine), RBI (99), and runs scored (105). The Machine still does it all.
  4. Prince Fielder, DET - Comerica Park isn't nearly as hitter friendly as Miller Park, but Prince has the kind of power that plays anywhere. He'll give you everything but stolen bases, and if he hits behind Cabrera, he's got a chance for to put up an eye-popping RBI total.
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS - Gonzalez admitted to feeling fatigue in his surgically repaired shoulder last last season, which is probably why he hit just 12 HR in his final 404 plate appearances. He hit a ton of ground balls last year (46.7%), and if that goes back to his career norm (41.4%), expect his BABIP (.380) and batting average (.338) to come back to Earth a bit.
  6. Lance Berkman, STL - Berkman looked pretty close to done in 2010, but he revived his career in the outfield of all places. He'll step in for Pujols now, but it would be wise to expect second half Puma (.315/7/31) rather than first half Puma (.290/24/63) over a full season. Fortunately that's still an excellent player.
  7. Mark Teixeira, NYY - After seeing his batting average (.248) decline for the third straight year, Teixeira acknowledged that he changed his approach in an effort to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right field porch. His average will get back to being respectable with a shift back to his all-fields approach, and the HR and RBI totals will still be gaudy.
  8. Paul Konerko, CHW - Like Berkman, Konerko looked close to done once upon a time (2008 and 2009), but he rebounded to have the two best years of his career in 2010 and 2011. His teammates won't help much with the runs and RBI, but the power and batting average should still be top notch. He's not without risk at age 35 (36 in March).
  9. Eric Hosmer, KC - An aggressive ranking? Sure, but the 22-year-old did everything but draw walks last year. He'll threaten 30 HR with a full slate of plate appearances, and could make a run at 20 steals as well. Fewer ground balls (49.7% in 2011) will likely result in a lower batting average (.293), however.
  10. Mike Morse, WAS - Once thought to be a one-year wonder, Morse is now working on almost 900 plate appearances of high-end production, with power (31 HR last year), batting average (.303), and run production (95 RBI). A healthy Ryan Zimmerman and a resurgent Jayson Werth will do wonders for his RBI and runs scored totals.
  11. Billy Butler, KC - Butler hasn't delivered the kind of power we'd hoped for (20+ HR just once in his four seasons), but he hits for average (.290+ last three years) and drives in runs, something he should do more of with a full season of Hosmer batting ahead of him.
  12. Freddie Freeman, ATL - A solid all-around player that will contribute in every category but steals, my one concern is that Freeman hit lefties better in 2011 (.247/.304/.403) than he ever had before. It could be real improvement, but I want to see more at such a young age.
  13. Carlos Pena, TB - It's no secret what Pena is at this point; he's going to flirt with 30+ HR and threaten triple-digit RBI while draining your batting average. The move from Wrigley Field to Tropicana Field will hurt his production a bit.
  14. Ike Davis, NYM - Davis was having a breakout season (.302/7/25 in 36 games) before an ankle injury ended his season in May. His power was big enough to conquer CitiField even before they moved the walls in, so there's some serious breakout potential here if healthy.
  15. Michael Young, TEX - The highest BABIP of his life (.367) was propped up by an astonishingly low fly ball rate (26.5%) that sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of his career. If he starts putting more balls back in the air, his average will come down and so will his value given the lack of power. Young is considerably more valuable at second or third bases.
  16. Ryan Howard, PHI - Howard would obviously rank higher if he was going to be healthy all year, but that achilles problem will sideline him in April, if not longer. You'll get a ton of HR and RBI when he gets back on the field, but the batting average isn't anything to write home about.
  17. Mark Reynolds, BAL - Another all power and run production type with an ugly batting average, Reynolds is right in the prime of his career and could top 40 HR again if he plays first base all season and doesn't have to deal with the wear-and-tear of the hot corner.
  18. Mark Trumbo, LAA - Trumbo could be very useful if he gains third base and/or outfield eligibility, but he's another average killer with big power. Nothing in his track record suggests that he'll start drawing more walks for those of you in OBP leagues.
  19. Michael Cuddyer, COL - Going from Target Field to Coors Field is a dramatic change, and it could help get Cuddyer back in 25 HR territory. He'll hit for an okay average and contribute in most categories, but not an overwhelming amount. Like Young, he has considerably more value at second or third bases.
  20. Gaby Sanchez, FLA - A dynamite first half was sabotaged by a ridiculously slow finish, but Gaby's value will always be tied to his batting average and RBI output because he doesn't hit for much power. Having Jose Reyes atop the lineup will help, but the new ballpark in Miami is an x-factor.
  21. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI - Off-the-charts raw power, but I'm not expecting much in terms of batting average. Assuming he beats out Lyle Overbay for playing time, he'll still be at the platoon disadvantage most of the time as a right-handed bat.
  22. Mitch Moreland, TEX - Moreland was unrosterable in the second half, but he has some pop and is in the right ballpark and lineup to maximize his fantasy output. First base is the one spot where Texas could use a clear upgrade, so his job could be in jeopardy come the trade deadline.
  23. Carlos Lee, HOU - The power is clearly starting go and the lineup around him won't present many RBI and runs scored opportunities, so if anything I might be overrating Lee. It's a contract year though, and a midseason trade to a contender in need of a DH could up his value a bit.
  24. Adam Dunn, CHW - Dunn was so unfathomably bad last season that I can't help but think a rebound is coming. He's in a great hitters' park and isn't over-the-hill yet, so there's really no reason he shouldn't pop 30 HR this year. Then again, we said that last year at this time.
  25. Justin Morneau, MIN - It's all about health. If Morneau is healthy, he's still young enough (31 in May) that 30 HR are within reach, even in Target Field. That's a huge "if" though.

Honorable Mention: Todd Helton, COL; Adam Lind, TOR; Justin Smoak, SEA; Yonder Alonso, SD; Mike Carp, SEA; Lucas Duda, NYM; Casey Kotchman & Derrek Lee, N/A

Other Positions: Catcher

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First Baseman Rankings

We posted a solid set of catcher rankings a few days ago; now it's time to rank the first basemen.  As always, my dollar values reflect a 12-team mixed league with 23-man active rosters (C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH).  Everything here is subject to change and open to suggestion.  Though they don't have 20 games played at first base from 2010, I've included Adam Lind, Freddie Freeman, Dan Johnson, and Juan Miranda.  Average draft round is in parentheses, courtesy of Mock Draft Central.

  1. Albert Pujols (1) - $41.46
  2. Miguel Cabrera (1) - $33.66
  3. Joey Votto (1) - $26.48
  4. Adrian Gonzalez (1) - $24.45
  5. Mark Teixeira (2) - $22.59
  6. Ryan Howard (2) - $21.97
  7. Prince Fielder (2) - $21.54
  8. Kevin Youkilis (3) - $20.22
  9. Adam Dunn (5) - $17.36
  10. Kendry Morales (5) - $16.02
  11. Paul Konerko (6) - $12.41
  12. Justin Morneau (5) - $12.21
  13. Billy Butler (8) - $9.76
  14. Derrek Lee (24) - $9.53
  15. Adam Lind (15) - $9.24
  16. Gaby Sanchez (20) - $8.85
  17. Carlos Lee (12) - $8.75
  18. Aubrey Huff (10) - $8.27
  19. Buster Posey (4) - $8.22 - if drafted strictly as a 1B
  20. Ike Davis (22) - $7.78
  21. Carlos Pena (19) - $7.66
  22. Michael Cuddyer (21) - $7.29
  23. Lance Berkman (28) - $6.88
  24. Freddie Freeman (31) - $6.29
  25. Adam LaRoche (17) - $5.06
  26. Dan Johnson (Not drafted) - $4.79
  27. Mitch Moreland (33) - $3.22
  28. James Loney (25) - $2.23
  29. Kila Ka'aihue (Not drafted) - $2.16
  30. Matt LaPorta (33) - $2.13
  31. Juan Miranda (Not drafted) - $1.08
  32. Justin Smoak (33) - $0.77

As always, drafting first overall comes with the huge advantage of building your team around Pujols.  Cabrera is a monster, yet Albert is worth 23% more.

I mentioned a few days ago that once the second round ends, the top seven first basemen will be off the board.  Of the Big Seven, only Pujols, Cabrera, Votto, and Gonzalez offer elite batting average, and only Pujols and Votto can steal you ten bags.  If you like Votto for a repeat of his MVP season rather than a mild step back, don't be shy about taking him earlier than seventh and even second overall.

If you miss out on the Big Seven, Youkilis, Dunn, and Morales are solid consolation prizes.  Though he's coming off a broken leg, Morales in the fifth round has potential for profit.

My Morneau projection is for 475 ABs, given the uncertainty around his concussion issues.  If everything looks peachy in Spring Training and you like him for 575 ABs, he's in Tex-Howard-Fielder territory.

Fantasy leaguers seem so desperate to have Butler when he has his long-awaited power breakout that he always goes earlier than his numbers warrant.  He's not a good play in the eighth round with Derrek Lee, Lind, and Sanchez capable of similar overall value if not the .300 average.  Toss in Carlos Lee, Huff, and Davis, and you'll find a slew of first basemen projected for an average in the .270s, 22-24 homers, and around 90 ribbies.  If someone manages to knock in 100 or hit .290, they'll separate themselves.  Sanchez's history suggests he could quietly swipe ten bags for you, and he's getting no respect right now.  Huff is going too early for me; I'm not expecting .290 or 100 runs scored again.

Next you find first basemen with warts like a low batting average or playing time concerns.  Take a flyer on Freeman or Moreland late for your CI slot.  With 575 ABs either player could jump to the $8-9 range and not hurt you in batting average.  Freeman is a Rookie of the Year contender as he'll apparently be handed Atlanta's starting job.  Also keep an eye on the Giants' Brandon Belt.  He gets a fantasy boost as an average runner who could steal 10+ bags in a full season.  At the moment he's blocked at first base by Huff, and the Giants' outfielder corners are crowded as well.

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2010 Sleepers: First Basemen

Thanks to Baseball Monster, here are 2010's top mixed league first basemen.  I've also added the round in which they were drafted in March, using data from Mock Draft Central.

  1. Miguel Cabrera (1)
  2. Albert Pujols (1)
  3. Joey Votto (3)
  4. Paul Konerko (18)
  5. Mark Teixeira (1)
  6. Adrian Gonzalez (3)
  7. Aubrey Huff (28)
  8. Kevin Youkilis (3)
  9. Ryan Howard (1)
  10. Adam Dunn (5)
  11. Prince Fielder (1)
  12. Adam LaRoche (17)
  13. Justin Morneau (4)
  14. Gaby Sanchez (36)
  15. Billy Butler (8)
  16. James Loney (16)
  17. Carlos Pena (7)
  18. Derrek Lee (8)

Tons of disappointments in this group, but Votto, Konerko, Huff, LaRoche, and Sanchez returned good value.  Let's attempt to classify these five first basemen.

  • Votto: Off-field concerns, undervaluing of steals.  In March I labeled Votto a first-round value, and therefore wasn't shy about taking him in the middle of the second round.  I had him projected for eight steals, which added a couple of bucks to his value.  It's still hard to see why fantasy leaguers weren't jumping on him earlier after such a strong 2009 season within 544 plate appearances.  Perhaps they only saw the counting stats and were not aware that Votto missed most of June with an anxiety issue.  Simply projecting Votto's '09 stats over 600 PAs showed you he was in for a monster year.
  • Konerko: Boring player, unexpected resurgence in age 34 season.  Konerko's 2010 season is outside of the normal aging curve.  You might have drafted him as a .270-30-90 CI type, and even that is pretty good in the 18th round.  Instead he's probably going to come in with a .315 average and nearly 40 home runs, something few people could have guessed.
  • Huff: Had experienced success, but disappointed in previous season.  Switched to NL.  We knew Huff was capable of big things based on his '08 season, and he was moving to the easier league.
  • LaRoche: Boring player.  LaRoche is pretty much doing his thing - 25 homers, 85+ RBIs.  Moving to Chase Field made him slightly less boring, so hopefully you took a chance on him late. 
  • Sanchez: Playing time concerns, questionable power, undervaluing of steals.  Plenty of reasons not to draft Sanchez out of the gate.  He'd slugged only .475 in Triple A in 2009, so a poor man's Lyle Overbay wasn't terribly appealing to mixed leaguers.  Still, the idea that Sanchez could hit 20 homers and swipe about eight bags given regular playing time was quite reasonable.  Sanchez officially won the Marlins' first base job on March 29th, so that was the time to grab him off the waiver wire.

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First Baseman Rankings

Our tentative first baseman rankings, for a 12-team mixed league using AVG, HR, RBI, R, and SB and 14 active hitters.  These are subject to change, and I'm open to arguments in the comments.  Current average draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Albert Pujols (1) - $32.49
  2. Miguel Cabrera (1) - $23.44
  3. Prince Fielder (1) - $22.23
  4. Ryan Howard (1) - $21.80
  5. Mark Teixeira (1) - $20.69
  6. Joey Votto (3) - $20.62
  7. Mark Reynolds (2) - $17.80
  8. Kevin Youkilis (3) - $14.58
  9. Adrian Gonzalez (3) - $14.46
  10. Pablo Sandoval (4) - $14.18
  11. Lance Berkman (6) - $13.26
  12. Justin Morneau (4) - $13.06
  13. Kendry Morales (5) - $12.05
  14. Adam Dunn (5) - $10.30
  15. Derrek Lee (8) - $10.04
  16. Carlos Pena (7) - $9.16
  17. Garrett Jones (13) - $8.86
  18. Billy Butler (8) - $8.83
  19. Adam LaRoche (21) - $8.23
  20. Michael Cuddyer (10) - $7.22
  21. Chris Davis (14) - $6.46
  22. James Loney (20) - $6.10
  23. Jorge Cantu (15) - $4.81
  24. Paul Konerko (20) - $4.21
  25. Garrett Atkins (25) - $3.20
  26. Nick Swisher (22) - $2.97
  27. Todd Helton (19) - $2.39
  28. Aubrey Huff (28) - $0.77

Cabrera, Fielder, Howard, Teixeira - I value all four similarly.  Cabrera wins right now because he's the only one projected to hit over .300.  With 575 ABs Votto could be right there with them, and he could be the one swiping more than five bags.  As a third-round pick he's a mild bargain.

Berkman in the sixth round is another potential value pick, as he could match several guys picked in the third.  With a poor batting average but 12 projected steals, Jones is someone to consider at CI.  But he deserves to be in the 13rd round range until he proves 2009 wasn't a fluke.  Butler is going pretty early, in the 8th round.  You probably won't regret the pick, yet taking him that early means paying for a level of performance he hasn't reached yet.  I was among many fantasy owners burned by Davis last year, and he's dropped eight rounds.  The 30 HR potential remains if you can stomach a questionable AVG, though Justin Smoak is knocking on the door.

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First Base Draft Trends

Assuming a 12-team league, let's take a look at the typical draft trends for first basemen using Mock Draft Central data.

The first round usually contains three first basemen: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Howard.  In my book, Cabrera and Howard are similar in value but Pujols is worth a good $8 more than them.  Pujols' average draft position is 2.39, and he'll never go later than fifth.  Cabrera is just 26 in April, and his second half was insane, so he stands a good chance of closing that $8 gap.

Three more big name 1Bs drop in the second round: Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman, and Justin Morneau.  Not that he'll be bad or anything, but I don't think Morneau is justified here.

The third round often sees Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Kevin Youkilis chosen.  Fielder strikes me as a mild bargain at 25.02, but Gonzalez and Youkilis are going dangerously early.

I like to try to get a $10+ player at every position, and I have 14 1Bs reaching that dollar value.  9 of the 14 will be off the board when the third round closes, creating the impression of scarcity if you don't have one yet.

The next group of 1Bs doesn't get moving until Chris Davis in the 6th round.  Davis may be a victim of too much hype, but he remains capable of 30 HR and 100 RBI without the cost of a third-round pick.  Carlos Pena will go right after Davis.  Both players carry some risk of a detrimenal batting average.

In the 7th round we see two "safe" picks in Derrek Lee and Garrett Atkins, plus the intriguing Joey Votto.  Might as well go with Votto for the upside and the possibility of 10 steals.

Still don't have a first baseman?  You're probably going to have to settle for less-than-ideal production unless you hit on a sleeper.  You'll see Aubrey Huff, James Loney and Carlos Delgado move in the 8-9th rounds.  These three, Loney especially, do not thrill me.

The dog days of the draft produce these picks: Jorge Cantu (13th), Paul Konerko (15th), Hank Blalock (16th),  Nick Swisher (16th), Jason Giambi (17th), Conor Jackson (18th) Pablo Sandoval (19th), Carlos Guillen (20th) and Casey Kotchman (20th).  Sandoval is solid here if he qualifies at catcher in your league (11 games played).  Out of this bunch, I'll take Jackson.  He's 27 in May and had a couple of 5 HR months last year; you never know.

In the last round of the draft, you may see Adam LaRoche, Casey Blake, and Mike Jacobs taken.  LaRoche is a very affordable 25 HR bat, and he's entering his contract year.  Jacobs is similar minus the contract year.

Undrafted: Todd Helton, Lyle Overbay, Billy Butler, and Ryan Garko.  Butler is your breakout candidate here.  Also keep an eye on Gaby Sanchez, Chris Duncan, and Matt LaPorta.

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First Base Rankings

Using 20 games for eligibility, here are our tentative rankings for first basemen.  These are based on a standard 12 team 5x5 mixed league (categories: AVG, HR, RBI, R, SB).  Adam Dunn (17 games played) and Pablo Sandoval (17 games) did not make the cut.  Dunn would be worth $11.92, Sandoval not quite draftable at this position.  Draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Albert Pujols - $32.23 (1)
  2. Ryan Howard - $25.27 (1)
  3. Miguel Cabrera - $24.79 (1)
  4. Mark Teixeira - $19.94 (2)
  5. Lance Berkman - $19.90 (2)
  6. Prince Fielder - $18.34 (3)
  7. Chris Davis - $16.49 (6)
  8. Joey Votto - $14.51 (7)
  9. Justin Morneau - $14.39 (2)
  10. Adrian Gonzalez - $11.98 (3)
  11. Kevin Youkilis - $11.41 (4)
  12. Derrek Lee - $10.66 (7)
  13. Garrett Atkins - $10.25 (7)
  14. Carlos Delgado - $9.46 (9)
  15. Carlos Pena - $9.17 (6)
  16. Aubrey Huff - $7.02 (8)
  17. Carlos Guillen - $5.65 (21)
  18. Paul Konerko - $5.63 (16)
  19. Conor Jackson - $5.36 (18)
  20. Mike Jacobs - $4.97 (21)
  21. Adam LaRoche - $4.18 (23)
  22. James Loney - $2.92 (9)
  23. Jorge Cantu - $2.01 (13)
  24. Casey Kotchman - $1.66 (22)
  25. Jason Giambi - $1.58 (17)
  26. Hank Blalock - $1.40 (18)
  27. Billy Butler - $1.33 (27)
  28. Nick Swisher - $0.67 (17)

Aside from Pujols, you will probably not see me take a 1B early.  As you know, I consider Davis and Votto pretty good bargains (yes, the hype is mounting).  Lee are Atkins are Plan B if I don't get Davis or Votto.  Jackson and Butler have upside for your CI slot.  Huff and LaRoche are in contract years.

Morneau, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Pena, and Huff don't do much for me where they are being drafted.  And I really don't get what people see in Loney so early; I have him at .293-13-82-67-6 in 547 ABs.  In general, though, I can see why people are reaching for 1Bs.

Full Story |  Comments (27) | Categories: First Basemen

First Baseman Ranking Comparison

My first baseman rankings back in March, including round drafted:

Rnk Name $ VAL Round
1 Albert Pujols $30.64 1
2 Ryan Howard $24.85 1
3 Prince Fielder $21.91 1
4 Mark Teixeira $19.25 2
5 Lance Berkman $17.02 3
6 Derrek Lee $15.61 4
7 Justin Morneau $13.02 4
8 Carlos Guillen $12.14 5
9 Carlos Pena $11.41 5
10 Adrian Gonzalez $11.25 7
11 Todd Helton $10.19 11
12 Paul Konerko $8.98 8
13 Victor Martinez $8.84 3
14 Nick Swisher $7.76 7
15 Alex Gordon $6.00 12
16 James Loney $5.36 11
17 Carlos Delgado $5.29 12
18 Adam LaRoche $4.04 19
19 Kevin Youkilis $3.79 15
20 Conor Jackson $2.76 26
21 Ryan Garko $2.61 15
22 Mike Jacobs $0.30 27
23 Aubrey Huff $0.19 28

Actual rankings for 2008:

Rnk Name Round
1 Albert Pujols 1
2 Lance Berkman 3
3 Mark Teixeira 2
4 Aubrey Huff 28
5 Kevin Youkilis 15
6 Miguel Cabrera 1
7 Justin Morneau 4
8 Ryan Howard 1
9 Adrian Gonzalez 7
10 Carlos Delgado 12
11 Derrek Lee 4
12 Prince Fielder 1
13 Jorge Cantu N/A
14 Conor Jackson 26
15 Garrett Atkins 5
16 Jose Lopez N/A
17 Joey Votto 24
18 James Loney 11
19 Adam Dunn 4
20 Jason Giambi 23
21 Carlos Pena 5
22 Casey Blake 24
23 Mike Jacobs 27
24 Adam LaRoche 19
25 Carlos Guillen 5

It's quite possible first base was make or break for your fantasy season this year. 

Busts: Lee, Guillen, Pena, Helton, Konerko, Swisher.  These picks did not work out as hoped.  Lee, Guillen, and Konerko may just be naturally declining.  Helton was hurt.  As for Swisher...maybe he needed an adjustment period after the trade?  He's had two decent months out of six; last year he only had one bad month.  Fielder's been disappointing, but it's mainly because he was drafted too early originally.  By the way I would suggest not drafting Huff or Delgado in the fifth or sixth round.

Surprises: Huff, Youkilis, Delgado, Cantu, Jackson, Votto.  If you were "stuck" with one of these guys at first, you were pleasantly surprised.  Aside from maybe Jackson and Votto, I'm not sure how these breakouts/career years could've been predicted.  I guess the lesson again is that if you have a guy you know is decent and he starts raking, just pick him up and ask questions later.  Huff, Youk, Delgado, Cantu...all four have had past fantasy success, just not much in '07.

Full Story |  Comments (7) | Categories: First Basemen

2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: First Basemen

Sleepers, undervalued, profitable players, call 'em what you will.  In general, some guys who may not be getting enough respect in your mixed league.

  • With this position, it seems the undervalued players are likely to be youngsters.  Certain younger types would have to break out beyond normal projections to achieve a big profit.  Guys like James Loney, Ryan Garko, Joey Votto, Casey Kotchman, Billy Butler, Chris Duncan, and Conor Jackson fit this mold.  A lot of these project to be worth just a couple of bucks in a mixed league, but .290-25-100 wouldn't really shock you for any of them.
  • From the veteran set, it's slim pickens.  Adam LaRoche, Nick Johnson, maybe Aubrey HuffTravis Hafner could be a touch undervalued coming off a down year; he played 11 games at first in '07.
  • The position doesn't appear to be stacked with good sleepers, but we are all just prognosticating at this point.

Full Story |  Comments (7) | Categories: First Basemen

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