Examining which players at this position see their values rise or fall in OBP and points formats.
So this time last year we looked at shortstops and it was, well, not pretty. But good news! Even though the six-spotters haven’t gotten there yet, they’re getting awfully close to getting there. The massive influx of young talent gives hope where there has been really very little of it for a long, long time, but it’s important to pump the breaks a little bit. Three-star guys like Francisco Lindor and Addison Russell barely cracked the top-200 and -300, respectively, in overall value last year despite showing flashes of brilliance, and they along with the likes of Correa and Seager will have to navigate their first full seasons on the back of winter scouting report re-writes. Still, it’s nice to finally get to say some positive things about the position—even if that applies more broadly to points formats than OBP leagues, as we’ll see.
In case you missed any of the previous articles in this series, you can find those here:
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Taking a deeper dive to identify present and future contributors at the hot corner.
Welcome down to the depths below the positional top 50, where each week we scavenge for potential crumbs among the current professional ranks and look mercifully into the future for the next wave of fantasy talent at each position. This series is geared towards those of you in deeper dynasty formats, particularly those either with a mid-season minor league draft or with no eligibility restrictions on the player pool. Here are links to the previous articles in this series:
A look at the third basemen who see their values rise and fall in OBP and points leagues.
Third base is one of the more important positional groups, and as I noted in yesterday’s “Third Basemen to Target” piece it is also one of the more top-heavy. You need to get some power here, as the position collectively belted the second-most homers, drove in the second-most runs, and scored the second-most runs of the six groups last year. The hot corner also happens to be one of the cooler positions in terms of wild value swings between league formats. As we’ll see in the OBP section below, the position’s overall walk rate isn’t particularly noteworthy, and by that same token the effect of strikeouts on points formats is relatively benign as well. Before we begin, note that you can check out previous articles in this series here:
Going beyond the top 50 to identify under-the-radar keystone prospects.
Welcome down to the depths below the positional top 50, which for second basemen is so low it bends back like a limbo tree. As another popular destination on the positional spectrum for players who fail to stick higher up in the pecking order, second-base prospect lists tend to be on the shallower side. That certainly doesn’t mean true second-base talent can’t exist outside the top tiers, however, and while the cupboard closest to the big leagues is pretty bare, the 2016 domestic and international classes in particular both feature strong rosters of incoming talent at the position. In case you missed it this morning, here is Bret Sayre’s full Dynasty League Top 50 for the position, and here are the links to my looks at first base and catcher, covered previously.
Examining keystoners who see their values rise and fall in OBP and points formats.
Well, that was fast. A week after surveying the view from the mountaintop while discussing the wonder and might of the first basemen in your league, we trudge back down into the valley where we started in our look at catchers two weeks ago. Second baseman actually had something of a renaissance last year, running up an extra 27 collective points of slugging relative to 2014, while also getting on base at a marginally better clip and hitting a somewhat staggering 93 more homers. Still, those rates and totals were good for just fourth, fourth, and fifth, respectively, among the six positional groupings. Keystoners were more valuable contributors, in other words, but in most cases they still weren’t going to be mistaken for the straws stirring your lineup’s drink.
A look at prospects who just missed the top 50, along with some likely 2016 draftees to file away.
We unveiled this series last week as an opportunity for players in deep dynasty leagues, particularly those whose leagues have no eligibility restrictions. Our look at catchers currently outside the positional top 50 who have a shot at threatening those ranks next year is right here, and today we’re on to first basemen. In general this position has less in the way of interesting present big-leaguers, as the second-division and fringe starters already make Bret Sayre’s Dynasty League Top 50, and the step below is mostly guys who’ve maxed out as platoon options. Our 2015 and 2016 sections for the first basemen will also be on the incomplete and speculative side, as first-base prospects are much more frequently made than they are born—and the ones who are born have astronomical attrition rates. So the 2015 class probably includes a bunch of more interesting names that’ll ultimately transition to the position but haven’t yet, and the 2016 class mostly includes guys that won’t have much relevance at all. So goes the life of a deep-league speculator…
A look at the players at this position who see their values change in OBP or points formats.
Now that the dirty work of slogging through the catchers is behind us, we can tear into some real fantasy red meat with a look at first basemen. As a reminder, we’ll be running an Adjuster article each week as a subsidiary to our positional rankings as a space to specifically highlight players who see their values rise or fall relative to our tiered rankings. For hitters we’ll focus on value adjustments in OBP and points formats, though suggestions for additional formats are always welcome in the comments, and if enough of a consensus forms to include additional formats we can adjust (Eh? Eh?) as we go. Even assuming you’re here because you play in an alternate format, I’d strongly suggest you check out J.P.’s tiered rankings for first basemen before you dive in, as my notes on valuation are all based off of those rankings as a starting point. And with that, let’s get to it.
Where catchers were a collective lump of dead tundra in February, first basemen are beachfront property in August, and the contrast is particularly sharp as it relates to OBP formats. The cold corner produced a cumulative OBP 11 points higher than any other positional grouping, and the 77-point gap between on-base percentage and batting average ranked first by 12. Walk rate was the obvious driving force here, as first basemen took free passes at a 9.7 percent clip, nearly two percentage points higher than the next-best outfielders. A full 18 qualifying hitters who logged at least 250 at-bats registered an OBP more than 80 points higher than their batting averages—for context, just nine backstops did, and once we hit the middle infield, those guys will be rarer still. First base is a critically important position to set a firm baseline in standard leagues, and it is all the more important in OBP formats. I’ll try to spend as little time as possible on the elite candidates here in favor of some more interesting names of relevance to OBP-leaguers.
If the top 50 aren't enough to satisfy your tastes, Wilson has you covered.
So here we are… it’s just you and me… no, really, it may just be you and me. If you play in a dynasty league deep enough that you’re looking out for catchers outside the top 50 for the position, kudos to you for your awesome life choices. It’s hard enough to cobble together a top 15 or 20 dynasty list for the backstops these days, and Bret already went well above and beyond this morning by ranking 50. But once you get beyond that you’re really trolling the mines. It gets lonely down here, so thanks for coming.
Each week we’ll be running this as a complementary piece to our positional dynasty rankings, with a nod towards those of you in the Jacques Cousteau-deep leagues of the world with no player-eligibility requirements and those in a perpetual state of searching for the next big thing.
Tweaking our backstop valuations to account for value differences in OBP and points formats.
As a longtime proponent of OBP leagues, I was proud to debut this column last year as a way to look at how our 5x5 rankings can migrate—sometimes spectacularly—one way or another depending on the kind of non-standard format you may happen to play in. You can take a look at the archives from last season to get a handle on things, but the basic gist is that we’ll be running an Adjuster article each week as a subsidiary to our positional rankings as a space to specifically highlight players who see their values rise or fall relative to our tiered rankings. For hitters we’ll focus on value adjustments in OBP and points formats, though suggestions for additional formats are always welcome in the comments, and if enough of a consensus forms to include additional formats we can adjust (Eh? Eh?) as we go. In case you missed ‘em yesterday, here are our tiered rankings for catchers as unveiled yesterday. And with that, let’s get to it.
It's never too early to see how drafts are shaping up for the coming fantasy season.
As you’re hopefully aware, over the next several weeks we here at Baseball Prospectus will be getting all down and dirty on just about every possible split, projection, and angle in our positional series. For the full syllabus I encourage you to take a gander here, and it’s worth noting that our own George Bissell will be penning a position-by-position look at ADP trends. To kick things off, I figured it might just be worthwhile to take a stroll through the preliminary ADP data that’s starting to trickle in for early-drafting NFBC leagues. A couple procedural notes, NFBC leagues play in a 15-team format, so the language below regarding rounds reflects that league depth. The data is also both relatively thin and updating in real time at that link, so by the time you read this the draft position number I reference may have migrated minimally.
Getting to it, it is abundantly clear at first glance that there is a startling changing of the guard underway in the second half of the first round. Once you’ve traversed the top five, the next four players exiting draft boards (Carlos Correa, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant) are all unable to rent cars. Combined with Trout and Harper at the top, this is a remarkably young top 10 that skews three full years younger than last year’s list (25.2 years old versus 28.2 in 2015). Only Josh Donaldson will play the season at age 30, so managers in the early going are betting on the young wave of elite talent to anchor their teams.