Saturday, January 19, 2013

Early Fantasy Baseball Rankings - 1B

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In fantasy baseball, first base is a very important position to fill because so much of your team's power will come from that position. However, it's also a very deep position. In 2012, 9 of the top 50 hitters and 20 of the top 100 had 1B eligibility. Therefore, if your team has a corner infield position, try to draft two quality 1B (3B is a much shallower position).

The top 25 fantasy baseball first basemen for 2013 are presented here. To better understand the difference between the first base options, the players are divided into tiers. For example, while Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Edwin Encarnacion are ranked 2 through 4, the dropoff between Votto and Fielder is much less than between Fielder and Encarnacion.

Tier 1:
1. Albert Pujols, ANA - HRs and average declined each of the last 3 seasons, but still finished as the 6th best 1B with by far lowest HR/FB rate of his career, expect a bounce back season.
2. Joey Votto, CIN - Knee issues killed his value in 2012, leading to only 14 HR on the year. Almost assured to be among the BA leaders, but his lack on power (even when healthy) keeps him from being the top 1B.
3. Prince Fielder, DET - Sacrificed power for average in 2012, hitting only 30 HR but batting a career high .313 while striking out the fewest times in his career. He should hit closer to 40 bombs this year with a slightly below .300 average.

Tier 2:
4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR - He's always had power, but 2012's ISO was about 50 points higher than any season in his career. More likely to settle around 30 bombs, but with that Jays offense, expect tons of runs/RBI. He'll also chip in close to 10 steals.
5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD - Unlikely to ever have a season like 2011 again, should return to numbers from his Padres days, although with slightly less power. Guys that can hit .300 with 30 HRs are still pretty valuable.
6. Buster Posey, SF - Mauer with Power! Posey's the guy we had hoped Mauer would be after his 28 HR season in 2009. As much as I hate drafting catchers early, Posey is worth the risk.

Tier 3:
7. Allen Craig, STL - Whats not to like about Allen Craig? A career .300 hitter with good pop, the only knock on him in previous seasons has been playing time, and now with Berkman in TEX, expect him to reach 30 HRs for the first time in his career.
8. Billy Butler, KC - He took a step forward in 2012 with 29 HR, but had a very high 20% HR/FB rate (almost double his career average). Batting average should keep him a top 10 1B, but unlikely to hit more than 25 HR again this season.
9. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI - He finished as the 7th best 1B last year, cutting down on his strikeouts (from a ridiculous 30% K-rate) and batting .286 while stealing 18 bases. He's still never had a K-rate below 20% at any pro level, so that average should decline to the .270 range in 2013.
10. Mark Teixeira, NYY - I've been anti-Tex for a few years now, but he's actually a pretty good value pick this year. The average will hurt, but Tex is almost a lock for 30 HRs and 100 RBI.
11. Mark Trumbo, LAA - Similar player to Tex, slightly better average and more raw power, but likely wont reach Tex's runs and RBI despite the improvement in the Angels offense with the addition of Josh Hamilton.
12. Freddie Freeman, ATL - Freeman slightly disappointed last year (18th among 1B), but he's still only 23 and should take a step forward this year. The average should much closer resemble his great rookie season and his power should continue to develop.
13. Joe Mauer, MIN - I have a really hard time investing heavily in a catcher when there are so many good ones in a 10 team mixed league. I'd rather wait on a guy like Perez or Lucroy much later than spend a high pick on Mauer.

Tier 4:
14. Paul Konerko, CHW - Konerko is always undervalued, but even battling through a wrist issue, he managed to still hit .298 with 26 HRs. At his age, he will likely play only 150 games, but could post Adrian Gonzalez numbers with an ADP 5 rounds later.
15. Anthony Rizzo, CHC - Played very well in his 87 games last season, hitting 15 HRs and batting .285. While his insane minor league numbers will likely never translate to the major league level, Rizzo should be a .300/30 HR guy within a couple years. Great pick in keeper leagues.
16. Ike Davis, NYM - Davis has a lot of power, but the high strikeout rate will always lead to a subpar batting average. However, he had an insanely low BABIP last season of .246 (very below .318 before in his pro career) so a return to the .260 range should make him pretty valuable.
17. Eric Hosmer, KC - After a rookie season that had fantasy baseball players going gaga over him, Hosmer tanked in 2012, batting only .232 with 14 HRs, 65 runs and 60 RBI (albeit with 16 steals). His peripheral numbers screams a fluke, so I'm betting on him to rebound in 2013.
18. Carlos Santana, CLE - As a catcher he should be very valuable, but a 1B that hits .260 with 20 HRs is not that attractive. Don't draft him to be your 1B or Corner Infielder.
19. Ryan Howard, PHI - Howard hasn't hit less than 30 HRs in any full season since 2006, so while there are tons of warts (health, average, aging team) Howard's power should be on display again this season.

Tier 5:
20. Adam LaRoche, WSH - Not the healthiest career, but when LaRoche is healthy, he hits for good power. Now that Morse is in OAK, there will be lots of ABs for LaRoche to have another 25 HR season.
21. Corey Hart, MIL - Despite missing the start of 2012, Hart came on strong once he returned, finishing 11th among 1B. Hart is sidelined again after having surgery on his right knee and likely will be sidelined until May. If you can afford to stash him, Hart will be a valuable player 2nd half of 2013.
22. Chris Davis, BAL - Davis definitely has power, but his insane K-rate of over 30% and a crazy high HR/FB rate of 25% suggest major regression is in order this season.
23. Nick Swisher, CLE - Swisher was always an underrated option while playing for the Yankees with their friendly home ballpark and star studded lineup, but in CLE the HRs, runs and RBI should all decline.
24. Michael Cuddyer, COL - The power surge we had expected moving to Coors field just never materialized. Fully healthy after missing the last quarter of 2012, Cuddyer should be ownable, but will likely not become a top 20 1B without a big bump in power.
25. Adam Dunn, CWS - Adam Dunn has hit at least 38 HR in 8 of his last 9 seasons, but fewer players hurt you more in batting average (.159 and .204 past two seasons). Valuable in H2H leagues where you can punt on average, but tough to own in a Roto league without an average improvement.

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