Not a prospect, but not a post-hype sleeper? We've found you a home.
As prospect writers, once a player gets 130 at-bats, 50 innings, or 45 pre-September active roster days, he more or less ceases to exist to us. Those numbers are completely arbitrary and capricious. They’re the standards for Rookie of the Year eligibility, and they sort of make sense for that award. For simplicity and ease, we use them too, and most of the time they work.
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PECOTA helps pick the best player in baseball for every age, from Julio Urias to Bartolo Colon and all the superstars in between.
I have a vivid memory from my little league days of sitting in the dugout after practice and listening intently as a teammate read Baseball America’s rankings of the best players in the country by age. The best player on our team, who later went on to play Division I ball, was annoyed by the notion of a 13-year-old somewhere else getting so much attention for what couldn’t possibly be (he figured) superior talent. The sixth-best player on our team, who later went on to write this article, found it fascinating that there was a 13-year-old so good at baseball that they were being written about in magazines.
The fantasy crew tries to peg the top 15 picks and predict breakouts from later picks.
We know from Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster that since 2004, there is a 36 percent success rate in the ADP projecting the top 15. The most in any one year is seven of 15; the least is four. With that in mind, I challenged the fantasy team to try to guess the top 15. In addition to their stab at the top 15, I had them give their answers on the following:
Bryan Price's club boasts a three-headed rotation monster, a triple-digit-throwing closer, two lefty sluggers, and the fastest player in the game.
The 2013 season ended in brutal fashion for the Reds, as they lost the National League Wild Card Game to a division rival. The offseason wasn’t much better, as they saw one of their best hitters and most consistent pitchers (even if he is flatly average) leave town. They were replaced by internal options who have good upside, but have yet to prove themselves over the course of a full season. They’ll need to hit the ground running, as anything short of a return to the playoffs will be a disappointment in the Queen City.
Our fantasy crew's favorite value picks at a spot where elite production is critical.
First base is a position that harbors many good fantasy players. These are some the aforementioned good players who we feel are comparatively more good than their peers.
Brandon Belt, Giants
Heading into 2013 there were legitimate concerns about Belt’s power and by extension his viability as an everyday major-league 1B. Belt answered those concerns with a strong season, complete with 60 extra-base hits, a solid walk percentage (9.1) and a pretty damn good 139 wRC+. Belt plays in extreme parks the majority of the season—AT&T and PETCO strongly favor pitchers, Coors and Chase Fields both favor hitters, and LA falls somewhere in the middle, depending on what time the game starts. He hit well on the road in 2013 and his production didn’t nosedive at home. Belt will be undervalued this year, and while he isn’t an elite-level 1B, he provides enough production to warrant being a starter in standard fantasy formats. —Mauricio Rubio
Paul Goldschmidt leads off this list of the best long-term assets at the position heading into 2014.
Because dynasty-league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where 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 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
First base is the place you need to get offense these days if you want to compete, and after a strong first ten or so names, the rest of the options can get a little more dicey than you’d like to see. It’s not a particularly strong pipeline for prospects, but that’s not terribly uncommon for the position—the pipeline is often just as wide for players who have defensive deficiencies than it has been for strict first base prospects in the last decade or so. That won’t be any different in 2015, when Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer join the fold.
Craig examines the strategies you should employ when filling this premium offensive position, and what it might look like down the road.
First base is always an interesting position, especially for those of us who are in dynasty leagues (or just into prospects) because it lacks the high-end prospects in the minors but manages to maintain a huge portion of value in fantasy. Because of the depth that the position picks up at the major-league level, thanks mainly to position changes, the strategy it sees can actually be similar to the one Bret mentioned in the State of the Position: Catchers writeup, in that many people will go into a draft planning on passing until the later rounds. With catchers, this can be because at some point, all that’s left are similarly (but poorly) skilled players, so it just doesn’t matter who you end up with. It’s different at first base in that, while there are elite talents at the top, the depth of the position provides some cushion for those who choose to draft/spend elsewhere early on.
That depth is the defining aspect to the position. While outfield may rival first base for its depth, it also has between 3-5 positions to fill, depending on the league, while first base only has the one (though CI is also filled by 1B-eligible players). The top of the depth chart at first base appears more muddled than ever, with Chris Davis the reigning king thanks to his power explosion in 2014. Still, Paul Goldschmidt might be the better investment thanks to a steadier track record and impressive versatility (he led all first baseman with 15 stolen bases). We’ve seen Eric Hosmer and Brandon Belt finally, hopefully, solidify themselves reliable first-base options with upside, adding talent to what has become a very robust middle tier.
The BP Prospect Team bring you advanced scouting reports for the 2013 playoffs.
Throughout the past two weeks, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect team have been writing detailed reports on key players to enhance your enjoyment of the MLB playoffs. Below is every published report in a single post.