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January 22, 2014

Fantasy Three-Year Projections

First Basemen

by Paul Sporer

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Everyone in fantasy sports loves the look-ahead. Even in the throes of a pennant race, you can fire up a conversation about next year’s first round and it will go on for an hour. With that in mind, the BP fantasy team will be taking a long view look at every position this offseason with three-year rankings (composite value at the position over the next three seasons). We continue our way around the diamond with first basemen today! First base is the storage locker for bad defenders who can hit, especially in the NL where there is no DH. The position is almost always adding staff, but their value at the position is mitigated until they’re done qualifying elsewhere.

For example, you would be insane to use a primary-catcher first-base-eligible asset anywhere but catcher. In no circumstance are they worth more playing first base, and if you carry two such assets and put one at first base, you’re not only robbing the value of this asset, but you’re also putting yourself behind in the counting categories of first base to teams who have full-time first basemen in their lineup. At any other position (though predominantly 3B and OF), they are never more valuable at first base. You could use them there in a pinch, but just like with the catcher, you’re sapping the value of the asset.

With that in mind, understand that guys currently qualifying elsewhere were dinged a bit of first base value in the 2014 portion of equation. This ranking assumes the first basemen are used as such. The numbers someone like Carlos Santana brings to catcher are excellent, but they’re buried in the first base hierarchy.

I don’t see a great shift atop the first base rankings in the next three years.

1. Paul Goldschmidt
2. Edwin Encarnacion
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Joey Votto

I see some more body degradation for Cabrera in the future costing him some volume, not skill, but enough to cost him a few spots.

5. Prince Fielder
6. Freddie Freeman
7. Adrian Gonzalez
8. Eric Hosmer

Fielder flourishes in Texas with the best stability profile in the game, having missed one game in five seasons. Gonzalez has an MVP-level season coming somewhere in the next three, while the other two will be steady and reliable. Hosmer’s steals close the gap on the power, but I’m not sure the power takes over anytime soon, if at all.

9. Chris Davis
10. Mark Trumbo
11. Albert Pujols
12. Jonathan Singleton
13. Wilin Rosario

Davis and Trumbo have enough power to overcome their deficiencies more often than not. By the way, those two names are a lot closer than you might think at first blush. They are basically separated by BABIP. Had Davis ended up with Trumbo’s BABIP, he’d have hit .245 last year. Like Gonzalez, I think Pujols has an MVP-level season in him in one of these next three years, but I think the other two for Pujols will be a cut below Gonzalez on the whole. Singleton likely won’t offer a ton this year, but the latter two of this trio could be great. By year three, Rosario and Santana won’t be catcher-eligible.

14. Allen Craig
15. Jose Abreu
16. Carlos Santana
17. Brandon Belt
18. Chris Carter
19. Logan Morrison
20. Anthony Rizzo
21. Brandon Moss
22. Mike Napoli
23. Matt Adams
24. Kendrys Morales

Craig’s talent isn’t in question, but his health most definitely is, especially as he pushes toward 30. Belt’s power is going to be stifled by that ballpark, putting him in the peak-James Loney range, which is fine but best deployed in a corner-infield slot. Carter is sold on the Adam Dunn trajectory, which has value, but 35-100 can only cover for the batting average to a certain point. Rizzo is my “bust” of the young first-base wave that is coming. Napoli has an injury-(severely)-shortened season within the trio, dinging his value.

25. Joe Mauer
26. Mark Teixeira
27. Justin Smoak
28. Nick Swisher
29. C.J. Cron
30. Dan Vogelbach

Mauer simply hasn’t shown the power for the position. And his health profile isn’t guaranteed to improve just because he is done catching. Pegging Cron and Vogelbach’s composite value for the three seasons is tough since it is hard to seeing them doing much at all in 2014.

  • Anyone miss the list that you’re expecting to be firmly in it?
  • Anyone you vehemently disagree with?
  • Anyone you have any general questions about?

Let me know in the comments!

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

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

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Re: Davis/Trumbo, isn't BABIP for a hitter (vs non-knuckler pitchers) a repeatable skill? Chris Davis by year starting in 08: 351/324/275/366/335/336, career .335. Trumbo in his three seasons is at 274/316/273, career .286. I wouldn't argue against Crush being due for some regression overall this year, but I also wouldn't expect these BABIP numbers to come close to convergence for any extended period.

Jan 22, 2014 06:46 AM
rating: 5

It's surprising you put Singleton this high- while we all like the new bright shiny penny over the familiar, stained nickle, I think it's unlikely he'll have more value over the next three years than the ML-proven not-old players behind him (Craig, Belt, Moss...). I'm curious to know what in his profile warranted this high of a ranking for you.

Also: no Yuniesky Betancourt!?

Jan 22, 2014 06:50 AM
rating: 1

Hosmer was probably the biggest surprise on my fantasy team last year. He finished on a tear, and I believe was either eighth or seventh on ESPN's player rater at the end of the year. I'm in a twelve team 40 man roster keeper auction league. I'm thinking of trying to go after Hosmer just because he's a bit cheaper than some of the other guys and hopefully will peak in the next couple of years.

I'm a new subscriber, and I want to say this type of content is making the price of the site worth it! Keep up the good work.

Jan 22, 2014 07:11 AM
rating: 3

Loney has his issues, but given that he is being paid to start at 1b for the next several years, you would think he could at least sneak onto the back end of this list.

Jan 22, 2014 07:47 AM
rating: 2

Adam LaRoche? Not on the list at all?

Jan 22, 2014 08:17 AM
rating: 2

No kidding...a year removed from a top 10 MVP finish and now he's below Smoak and Vogelbach?

He projects to play every day in 2014 on a good team, and he's younger than Werth. Even hitting sixth he will help somebody's fantasy team, and not cost so much that if you drop him due to injury or a typical slow start he'll leave a gaping hole.


Jan 22, 2014 08:34 AM
rating: 2

Believe I'd take my chances on Justin Morneau's next three years in Colorado over Smoak's, Cron's, Vogelbach's --- and maybe Teixeira's.

Jan 22, 2014 09:17 AM
rating: 2

Don't get why there is no love for Rizzo in the fantasy baseball community. He doesn't strike out much for a power hitter, his walk rate is fairly good, and he shows good power (39 doubles 23 homers)for a guy who won't be 25 until August.
Seems like at least 10 of those doubles will turn into Home Runs. On top of all that, he ranked 2nd in the Fielding Bible Awards. Can someone explain to me why everyone seems to be down on him. I like him for 35 Hr. and 100+ RBI in 2014 (Wrigley Field too)!

Jan 22, 2014 12:33 PM
rating: 0

I couldn't agree more, Anthony. Rizzo had a terrible BABIP around .260 last year while his skills took another step forward. This was his first full season in the majors and he didn't turn 24 until August. I also can't ignore the weight of the Cub Faithful on his shoulders after receiving that big contract. I'm optimistic about next year and beyond as more talent starts arriving at Wrigley. I remember many writers being down on Hosmer prior to last season as well with what I recall to be worse circumstances like a hitch in his swing.

Jan 22, 2014 14:40 PM
rating: 0
Mike Schieve

Thank you both for talking me off the ledge. I saw Rizzo and bust in the same sentence and cried.

Jan 23, 2014 05:00 AM
rating: 0

Feels like Matt Adams should be higher.

Jan 22, 2014 14:58 PM
rating: 0

Yonder Alonso? Felt he should have made the list.

Jan 23, 2014 00:06 AM
rating: 0
Mike Werner

Matt Adams is somebody I'm not quite sold on yet. 23 is solid for a guy who's shown some LH deficiencies, that the Cards protected him from last year, K problems, and I don't know for sure that his power is 30+ HR. Time will tell! Overall, good list. Nobody would have the same exact thing, but I think it's pretty close to what it should be. Great job Paul!

Jan 27, 2014 18:49 PM
rating: 0

What about James Loney? A decent if not powerful hitter and a superb defender!

Feb 12, 2014 10:47 AM
rating: 0

Mauer get a bump in OPS Leagues?

Feb 16, 2014 05:51 AM
rating: 0

Are David Ortiz and Billy Butler ranked? I did not find a DH article and they are not listed under 1B.

Mar 31, 2014 19:51 PM
rating: 0
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