You might want to let someone else draft or buy these players in your leagues this spring.
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Man, this has a chance burn me badly and make me look really stupid at the end of 2017. Paul Goldschmidt is still an awesome, amazing fantasy asset, so don't think I'm disparaging his skills or anything. It's just that he had some declines in a few areas last year that I want to shed light on.
In a year where power was up across baseball, possibly because of a juiced ball, Goldschmidt had a noticeable drop in power. His .192 ISO was exactly league average for a first baseman, and was down about 50 ISO points from where it was the prior 3 seasons, where it sat at .247. He slugged under .500 for the first time since 2012 and ranked 10th among qualified 1B in slugging, down from ranking 2nd from 2013-2015, when he slugged .556. His park and league adjusted OPS+ fell from an incredible 162 from 2013-15 to 134 in 2016, a drop of almost 30 percentage points.
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An overview of the fantasy options at this position in the junior circuit.
For some, $30 in fantasy earnings is the rarified air that makes a player elite. By this admittedly arbitrary standard, first base in the AL is not the place to shop if you are looking for an elite player. Miguel Cabrera ($30) was the only first baseman who reached this threshold in 2016. Edwin Encarnacion finished second at $26. Chris Davis exemplifies the challenge power hitters face in fantasy. His 38 home runs, 99 runs, and 84 RBI were worth $21, but his one steal and .221 batting average pushed him all the way back to $15. Cabrera and Jose Abreu were the only Top 10 AL first basemen to hit higher than .269 and provide more than one dollar of earnings from AVG, while no AL first baseman stole more than nine bases. It is difficult for three category players to earn more than $30, particularly if one of those categories isn’t stolen bases.
The expert market treaded conservatively at the position, with only one relative shot-in-the-dark based on prior performance. Table One lists the 10 most expensive AL first basemen in 2016, based on their average salaries in the CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars AL-only leagues. Position eligibility in Table One is based on each player’s status at the beginning of last season.
Which of these two big boppers is the better long-term fantasy bet?
A chasm deeper than the Mariana Trench has long existed between scouts and evaluators on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding A.J. Reed and Dan Vogelbach. Among the most polarizing power-hitting prospects in the game, there were those who regarded their raw hit tool, power, and superb selectivity at the dish as reasons to anoint them legit #dudes. On the other hand, there were those who still had their doubts. Whether it concerned their ability to hit left-handed pitching (completely fair) or their weight and conditioning (not really fair) is an entirely different matter.
A look at the menu of options at this position in the senior circuit.
The top end of the player pool at first base in the National League is deep, but things get dicey quickly after that. The quality drops off in a hurry before the player population abruptly ends. As my colleague Mike Gianella specifies in his Fantasy Tiered Rankings for First Basemen:
A deeper dive into the fantasy future at this position.
Predicting future first basemen of relevance can be a tricky endeavor, as the position tends to be a landing strip for failed defensive efforts elsewhere, and true-to-form first basemen face exceedingly high natural barriers to success. After we muddle through the veteran re-treads theoretically capable of making mixed-league runs and generating some modicum of 2017 value, we’ll moved on to some longer (and longer still) term discussion. There’s enough power among the veteran prospects who fell short of Bret’s Top 50 list to warrant some turned heads, with a couple of A-ball guys sitting under Shaw who I like for watch lists in even medium-depth leagues this year. Unfortunately, last year’s draft class was especially brutal for first-base talent, with all of two guys drafted as cold cornermen garnering so much as a $200,000 bonus. But then there are some intriguing names on down the 2017-and-beyond line, and organizational purview will of course add depth to this list as the season wears on and hope for more polished leather wears out.
Stacking up the players at this position for the long haul.
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about cold corner inhabitants for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.
A look at where the first-sackers have been selected in the first batch of drafts this year.
Welcome to first base week, where we’ll have everything you need to know about the position over the next five days. In this space, you can find the second edition of this year’s average ADP analysis series. As I explained in last week’s catcher edition, these ADP numbers come from the NFBC data, and the average round is assuming a 15-team league. Now, with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.
Why the multitude of first-base options can result in suboptimal decisions, and how to avoid falling into the trap.
Good Monday and, more importantly, good Martin Luther King Day to everyone.
Unrelatedly, we go from the catcher position, the least productive offensive position (likely a result of all the ways catchers can impact the game defensively), to first base, one of the most productive offensive positions, likely a result of the limits on the way a first baseman can impact the game defensively. Talk about pointing out contrast because I didn’t know how to get rolling on this article.
Anthony Rizzo drops down a peg, Chris Carter rises, and more changes in the revised ordering of the first sackers.
Welcome, to Baseball Prospectus’ first (or at least first time in a long time) in-season rankings update to our preseason positional tiers article. As we did during the preseason, players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by a “star” rating. In addition, unlike with the preseason “star” ratings, these lists can also be viewed as a straight ranking.
The Outcomes rank the first basemen for Scoresheet formats and discuss on the podcast.
If you’ve missed this reminder during the past few years, “first base week” means something different to Scoresheet players than to our fantasy brethren. In Scoresheet, qualifying for the position is something of the equivalent of a participation trophy. Are you an infielder of good or ill repute? Great news! You can stand around at first and be essentially average. Are you an outfielder? You can probably step in as well. Are you a first baseman? Great! Join in, your defensive contributions are noted and devalued accordingly. Are you David Ortiz? Oh, okay. Well, first, thanks for reading—we’re pretty surprised, too. Second, we’re sorry that you’re the only player in the game who is essentially incapable of playing the position. We hope you enjoy spending the season shaking hands with team presidents and enjoying gifts of souvenir cowboy boots and surfboards and whatever other nonsense as a consolation prize.