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January 16, 2015

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

First Basemen

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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As our positional Scoresheet keeper coverage heads to first base, it's worth keeping in mind that this is a much more fluid ranking than you'll find in Roto. Not only are players such as Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Zimmerman soon to qualify, but a true first base protection list can include pretty much every player in baseball. We generally tend towards building up the middle where you can, which means that we assign lower value to this position as a whole than most.

As a refresher, our rankings reflect the rules of a traditional public league: 10 teams, 13 keepers, of which two may be crossovers from another league. Also, these rankings are being created for a hypothetical continuing league, so age matters.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Miguel Cabrera (Overall Ranking: 2)
2. Jose Abreu (63)

One player in, and we've already caused a controversy. Many people would have Abreu as their top keeper here, and we're usually the type of youth-loving Scoresheet players to agree with that sentiment. Here at the top of keeper lists, we tend to get slightly more conservative, and Abreu's shorter track record leaves us slightly gun shy. Most likely, you'll keep whichever player you have and feel fine doing so.

3. Edwin Encarnacion (6)
4. Carlos Santana (9)

In Scoresheet, he's a third baseman getting cross-listed at first, but playing him at third isn't as obvious a scenario as it is in Roto. At the 2.59 defensive rating he was listed at last year, it's worth biting the bullet, but it'll be hard not to imagine that sinking even further once the 2015 rankings are posted, which means that despite a lower error rate, you'll be looking to make up a serious amount of defense elsewhere.

5. Victor Martinez (10)
6. Eric Hosmer (11)

For those who think that Allard Baird has become the ghost in our machine, Hosmer's relative youth and record of health outweigh players below him on the list, even if they have stronger 2015 projections. Scoresheet's perpetual keeper rules and relatively low keeper floor make age a determining factor in a continuing league. We're not expecting a breakout by any means, so if you're looking for more variance, it's probably worth trading Hosmer for a down-list option with a higher ceiling.

7. Prince Fielder (13)

2014 was a dud, sure, but this may be the cheapest you'll get Prince for a while. A case could be made that he should go even higher, as he'll likely provide OBP even in a worst-case scenario. Risk-loving players should seek him out and bet against the trend lines.

8. Steve Pearce (14)
9. Chris Davis (15)
10. Albert Pujols (17)
11. David Ortiz (20)

David Ortiz will likely again be Scoresheet's lone DH. His positional inflexibility and age make him a relatively unappealing keeper, even in a typical David Ortiz season.

12. Mike Napoli (21)
13. Adam LaRoche (22)

When all is said and done, the keeper line may well be called the Adam LaRoche Memorial Line. A likely 14th-round pick in most leagues, he'll certainly be a player to keep in mind for draftniks who otherwise build up the middle.

14. Joe Mauer (24)

Listed here without any enthusiasm. Mauer was moved to first base mainly to protect him from further concussions. Of course, he was taking up the position vacated by Justin Morneau, so there's no guarantee. The talent has faded too, and while he may have just enough on base ability to help your team, he could easily be returned to round 14 without feeling too guilty.

Below the Keeper Line
While we aren't usually a group to look at second half splits, everything that has happened to Brandon Moss over the past six months is absolutely terrifying. Feel free to keep him if you disbelieve. Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak are both very interesting draft targets for players like us who usually skimp on this end of the defensive spectrum in their keepers. Kennys Vargas would be tough to dump just after reaching the big leagues, but we recommend making the hard decision. Jonathan Singleton was an unappealing prospect who has turned into an unappealing keeper.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Paul Goldschmidt (1)
2. Anthony Rizzo (4)
3. Freddie Freeman (5)
4. Joey Votto (7)
5. Adrian Gonzalez (8)

Challenge trades are tough to pull off in any fantasy format, but Joey Votto should be on a lot of mid-pack teams in 2015, and Adrian Gonzalez should be on a lot of top-tier teams. They're close in value otherwise, so make it happen.

6. Brandon Belt (12)

Injuries have crushed a promising player's keeper value. The Baby Giraffe is a better hitter than Hosmer, but his World Series opponent wins on points after health comes into play.

7. Justin Morneau (16)

It's almost impossible to imagine Morneau spending the full season in Colorado, so his keeper status is an exercise in determining when to pull the ripcord. This splits the difference and assumes he makes it to July, but a Morneau out of Coors is barely a keeper.

8. Matt Adams (18)
9. Lucas Duda (19)

The keepers in the National League are both more reliable and more depressing than those in the American League. Adams and Duda are solid mid-career keepers, but you'll be looking for better hitters soon. Adams has a slightly stronger platoon split, which works in his favor.

10. Adam Lind (23)

Lind is a fine player, but the 10th-best player at a position in a 10-team league should always be at risk of being cut.

Below the Keeper Line
Michael Morse had a good run last year, but he's on the short side of a platoon and not talented enough to be kept anyway. Draft him to be your team's DJ.

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