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October 18, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

The 2014 First Round: A Look Ahead, Part Three

by Paul Sporer


During the summer I did a two-part series (Part I, Part II) taking my first look at the 2014 first round. It’s time to once again take a look at the top 15 and see where we stand with the regular season in the rearview mirror. We also have a pair of industry mock drafts to look at to see how some of the best fantasy baseballers around are mapping out their top picks.

NO CHANGE AT THE TOP
Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout remain the top two pick in some form, though my first iteration, both mock drafts, and now this assessment of the top 15 has it with Cabrera first and Trout second. The gap might be larger if Cabrera hadn’t essentially missed September. He played 21 games and only missed 14 the entire season, but he was clearly playing at something well below 100 percent throughout the month. He has just one homer, seven RBI, eight runs scored, and a .278 batting average. That said, he still took the top spot on ESPN’s Player Rater and remains my top choice.

RESHUFFLING THE REST OF THE TOP FIVE
The remainder of the top five is different from the first run. Back in July, I had Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, and Bryce Harper here. All three remain in the top 15 (spoiler alert?), but none in their original spot or in the top five at all. Andrew McCutchen is biggest upward mover jumping from eighth to take the third spot. He dropped 10 homers, 10 runs scored, 10 points of batting average, and 12 RBI from his excellent 2012, but added seven stolen bases and the net effect was dropping just two spots in ESPN’s Player Rater to sixth. His top similar batter through age 26 on Baseball-Reference is Carlos Beltran which bodes remarkably well for his future should he stay on that trajectory.

Paul Goldschmidt jumped up a couple of spots from sixth to fourth. His season conjured images of another amazing first baseman who has recently been dumped from the first round since moving out west. Since 2000, Albert Pujols is the only other batter to meet all of the thresholds we saw from Goldy this year: 36 HRs, 125 RBI, 100 R, 15 SB, and .300 AVG.

Pujols’ qualifier—his 2009 season—was even better at 47-135-124-16-.327, so Goldschmidt still has something to strive for, but it’s nice company to keep. When you extend the timeframe to 1990, four late-90s seasons from two players join the mix: Andres Galarraga in 1996-1997 and Jeff Bagwell in 1997 and 1999, but then you have to go back to 1959 for another first baseman to meet the thresholds. Frank Robinson’s age-23 season with the Cincinnati Reds was remarkably similar to Goldschmidt’s: 36-125-106-18-.311.

Technically Chris Davis could be considered the biggest upward mover as he went from an honorable mention on the first run to fifth now, but I was limiting that distinction to guys who appear on both top 15 lists. Davis finished with and MLB-leading 53 home runs and 138 RBI. Averaging his 2012 and 2013 seasons yields a .278 hitter with 43 home runs, 112 RBIs, 89 runs scored, and three steals thrown in just for fun.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/17)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Loo... (10/17)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Rev... (10/21)
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Premium Article Minor League Update: A... (10/18)

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