CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Future Shock: Detroit ... (02/24)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Henderso... (02/24)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: LABR Dra... (03/05)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (02/27)

February 27, 2012

Fantasy Beat

The NL's Shallow First Base Pool

by Jason Collette

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

To say that the first base pool in NL-only leagues is thin these days would be a rather massive understatement.  Essentially, the league traded Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder and got only Michael Cuddyer and Adam Kennedy back, while also losing Ryan Howard for an undetermined part of the season due to his playoff-ending ankle injury. The offseason shuffling has made Joey Votto the best player at the position in the National League by a significant margin, on top of the honor of already being one of the three best fantasy options for National League players overall.

Frankly, the only thing saving the position in drafts this year is all of the multiple position qualifiers. Michael Morse, Lance Berkman, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Lee, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Garrett Jones, Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, Juan Rivera, and Adam Kennedy are all examples of players who qualify at first base and at least one other position. (The benefit of this is mitigated, however, by the fact that not all of them are actually going to be playing full-time, as things currently stand.) Also worth noting is that Yonder Alonso and Bryan LaHair, two players that are slated to be the first baseman for their respective clubs, do not qualify at the position on draft day.  You could also throw in Mat Gamel and Jim Thome, neither of whom will qualify at first on draft day but will be spending time there during the 2012 season.

Here is how the Player Forecast Manager shows the first base talent pool breaking down:

PLAYER

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Joey Votto

686

101

31

103

10

.303

Michael Morse

620

81

26

87

2

.280

Freddie Freeman

659

80

20

79

3

.270

Lance Berkman

577

78

22

71

6

.268

Michael Cuddyer

553

71

18

71

7

.278

Carlos Lee

584

72

20

75

4

.275

Daniel Murphy

593

73

11

70

7

.288

James Loney

651

77

12

70

7

.278

Gaby Sanchez

583

73

18

70

5

.269

Ike Davis

570

73

20

72

2

.269

Lucas Duda

594

75

19

74

1

.264

Adam LaRoche

562

68

21

70

1

.251

Garrett Jones

473

57

17

59

9

.255

Todd Helton

527

68

11

54

0

.281

Ryan Howard

423

56

23

62

1

.251

Paul Goldschmidt

430

55

21

60

2

.248

Brandon Belt

428

54

13

50

8

.255

Aubrey Huff

521

60

13

57

3

.257

Ty Wigginton

461

51

13

50

3

.244

Jesus Guzman

259

31

6

29

3

.269

Juan Rivera

289

32

8

32

2

.252

Anthony Rizzo

280

32

9

33

2

.243

Lyle Overbay

285

33

7

30

1

.243

Adam Kennedy

257

26

2

21

7

.244

In a 13-team NL-only league, at least 13 starting first baseman need to be taken, and let’s assume that an additional 10 teams fill their corner infield spot with someone that qualifies at first base. The table above represents 24 players, and only 14 of them project to get more than 500 plate appearances this season—and three of them are in the New York Mets lineup. By auction dollar format, Votto is the only player worth more than $20 and one of only two players at the position projected to hit more than 25 home runs this season. The PFM considers Freeman, in only his second season, to be the third best option at the position, while Cuddyer automatically jumps into the top five before taking his first swing in a Rockies uniform. Simply put, the first base spot in the NL is not the moneymaker we have become accustomed to.

In a redraft league, the decision is relatively easy; if you do not get Votto early, you can afford to wait for somebody later. Outside of Morse, nobody from this talent pool need be reached for, despite the positional scarcity issue, because nobody else stands out from the group that much. Morse is a four-category producer for the position, qualifies in the outfield, and has less risk than someone like Lee or Berkman (who share same profile but carry age risks with them). If I could sit back and grab someone like Ike Davis in a non-New York-based league or take another swing with James Loney, I would be happy with it.

In a keeper league, you have different goals. Freeman, Belt, Davis, and Rizzo remain attractive targets to acquire in this format. Freeman and Davis are at least guaranteed playing time out of the gate. Belt’s role is unsettled with the Giants, but his long-term potential is huge. Rizzo seems almost certain to open the season in Triple-A, since Dale Sveum has already said he is looking at Bryan LaHair to open the season at first base and hit in the clean-up role.

Another factor to consider when choosing your first baseman is to see what you already have on your roster. Over the weekend, someone asked me for advice on a trade they were contemplating in their 10-team, 5x5, NL-only keeper league. In the trade, he would acquire Lance Berkman, but he already had Sanchez, Goldschmidt, and Freeman on his roster. I liked the trade on its own, but for him to be able to roster four starting first baseman and thus corner the market on his leaguemates made me like the trade even more. He would be able to slot them at 1B, CI, OF, and UT and take away three of the 14 players at the position slated for 500 plate appearances, forcing the others to pick off the scrap heap at the draft. In my own league of the same format, I have Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Carlos Lee, and Bryan LaHair for a total of $60 and am considering keeping all four for the same reason I gave the inquiring owner, especially with the added benefit of having two players that can qualify at multiple positions and three hitters that are slated to hit in the middle of their respective lineups.

It is a new year at first base in the NL and one that has quite a bit of uncertainty for 2012. Past disappointments such as Loney and Sanchez are now going to be targets because of scarcity rather than want. The first expert draft in this format takes place this coming Sunday when the LABR draft convenes in Phoenix (our own Derek Carty will be taking part on the NL side, while I’ll be drafting Saturday night in the AL), so it will be interesting to see how the experts tackle this challenging talent pool and help set the tone for others as they finalize their own draft plans for March.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

14 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

jasemilw4

Yep, our 12 team NL-only keeper league is really feeling it this year. I've never seen a year like this at almost any position, much less 1B.

BP should do an NL-only 1B prospect article just to talk about tomorrow's NL First Basemen.

Feb 27, 2012 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Excellent article idea -- soliciting KG's input now on which guys to include.

Feb 27, 2012 10:45 AM
 
ddufourlogger

I have Votto as a keeper in a 10-team, NL-Only at $38. That's high, but I'm keeping him. 1) He's got every chance to actually earn that, 2) the draft will be so shallow that he would bring that at auction if I cut him, 3) I also have LaHair, Daniel Murphy and Gaby Sanchez, at a total of $60 for all four guys. So, if I can win a decent 3B I might entertain a trade from strength.... otherwise I will go with the 1B, CI, OF and UT option (or even 2B for Murphy).

Feb 27, 2012 10:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

$38,considering keeper inflation, definitely works. If I can move one of my guys for a 3B before the draft, I would do it but I like the idea of sitting out bidding on the drek that is left.

Feb 27, 2012 10:46 AM
 
Robotey

No question, keep Votto. This year's NL forecast calls for a deluge of quality pitching and a dearth of offense, and any team that can horde the latter will definitely be dealing from a position of strength come Memorial Day.

Feb 27, 2012 13:20 PM
rating: 1
 
onegameref

Carlos Pena skipped town too. Would LaHair or Alonso project about middle of the pack?

Feb 27, 2012 16:35 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

I'd put Alonso behind LaRoche on the list above. LaHair behind him.

Feb 27, 2012 18:45 PM
 
frampton
(870)

It is important, of course, not to fall into the trap of overpaying the marginal first basemen if you don't get one of the good ones. Instead, swallow hard and take a dollar Giambi, or a dollar Overbay, instead of going to $20 on Alonso. (Unless you value him at that anyway, given the overall inflation in your league.) Then go after the Cadillac middle infielders; make sure you have (say) Phillips and Tulo to balance having Overbay at 1B. Then check out the KG article and get as a backup plan a minor-leaguer who has a chance to come up during the year and replace Overbay.

Feb 27, 2012 18:34 PM
rating: 2
 
Robotey

great point. stock on pitching and then deal for Votto.

Feb 28, 2012 07:06 AM
rating: 0
 
Schaffpa71

I have Votto in a keeper league (10-team NL only 5x5) in the last year of his long-term contract at $20, so I'm loving that. My problem is what to do with Todd Helton.

For my last keeper I can have Helton at $6 or Ted Lilly at $8. It's 13 keepers total, and I already have 6 other pitchers I'm keeping.

A lot of other guys already have first basemen they are keeping so Helton isn't drawing much trade interest. But if I throw him back, I don't want to have to spend a lot on that position.

Oh and the best 1B likely available will be Howard, Loney, C. Lee, Cuddyer and LaRoche.

Feb 28, 2012 07:46 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

I have Helton at $8 in the same format as you and I am keeping him. Unless the back blows up again, he'll earn what you and I would be keeping him at. The other guys you listed, outside of LaRoche, should all go for at least double what you have Helton at.

Feb 28, 2012 07:49 AM
 
Schaffpa71

Yeah I should probably hold my nose and keep Helton, just not liking it. Also consider that none of the young guys with upside will be available.
But with those other 1B out there, you don't think I could get Helton back for the same price, or maybe a buck or two more? Maybe most guys will have the Why Overpay? mindset when it comes to that position.

Feb 28, 2012 07:58 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

The cost is low enough to tolerate it. $8 was my max for keeping Helton. His risks are not skills related because he'll still hit for average while some of the others have skill issues.

Feb 28, 2012 08:04 AM
 
xavier

Frick, at this rate, even guys who might sniff 1B eligibility are worth something and maybe deserve to be mentioned...Sands comes to mind for me, but there should be others?

Mar 06, 2012 11:35 AM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Future Shock: Detroit ... (02/24)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Henderso... (02/24)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: LABR Dra... (03/05)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (02/27)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Adam Lind
Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast: National League Play...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Shadow Auctioneering
Premium Article League Preview Series
Every Team's Moneyball: Philadelphia Phillie...
Every Team's Moneyball: Toronto Blue Jays: I...
Pebble Hunting: The Case For Shaming the Cub...

MORE FROM FEBRUARY 27, 2012
Premium Article Overthinking It: The Most Improved Positions...
Premium Article Future Shock: Harper, Trout, and Moore: Free...
The BP Broadside: Zimmerman, Rendon, and the...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Nats Extend Zimm
Collateral Damage: Spring Training Injury Ro...
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Fantasy Tier Rankin...
The BP First Take: Monday, February 27

MORE BY JASON COLLETTE
2012-03-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Closer Matrix
2012-03-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Case for B.J. Upton
2012-03-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: LABR Draft Fallout
2012-02-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The NL's Shallow First Base Po...
2012-02-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Henderson Alvarez: Fantasy Sle...
2012-02-20 - Premium Article Prospectus Preview: AL East 2012 Preseason P...
2012-02-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Expert Mocks vs. ADP
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2012-03-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Closer Matrix
2012-03-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Case for B.J. Upton
2012-03-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: LABR Draft Fallout
2012-02-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The NL's Shallow First Base Po...
2012-02-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Henderson Alvarez: Fantasy Sle...
2012-02-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Expert Mocks vs. ADP
2012-02-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Nick Hundley, Potential Sleepe...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2013-02-06 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Corner Infielders for 2/6...
2012-03-21 - Fantasy Article Preseason Value Picks: Second, Short, and Ca...
2012-03-13 - Fantasy Article Preseason Value Picks: First, Third, and DH ...
2012-02-28 - Fantasy Article Preseason Value Picks: First, Third, and DH ...