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March 19, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Picking Fifth


Mauricio Rubio

The top four picks in redraft leagues are relatively clear-cut, but whom should you target if your selection is just outside that tier?

Depending on what you value, there’s a distinct separation in 12-team 5x5 draft formats when it comes to the fifth pick. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt,and Andrew McCutchen all deserve to go in the no. 1-4 spots, and I don’t think there can be much debate on that. The big question facing owners picking fifth is a value-based one. I was handed the no. 5 pick in a home league, so let’s take a look at some of the names that I thought about taking there. (Note: I’m concentrating solely on 12-team leagues, so your mileage may vary).

Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw is a popular choice here judging by the ADPs across a few different sites. The reasons are obvious: Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball right now; he’s a good bet to help across four categories again this year; and there’s a decent amount of uncertainty with the position players who would also be the fifth-overall pick.

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March 7, 2014 9:26 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Projecting the Top 15


Paul Sporer and BP Fantasy Staff

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:

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February 10, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Experts Mock Draft


Paul Sporer

Our first snake-style mock of the spring, with 15 teams and 23 rounds.

On Thursday evening, we hosted our first mock draft with a 15-person group of industry folks going 23 rounds deep to fill out a standard roster of C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, CI, MI, 5 OF, DH, and 9 P of any kind. Couch Managers hosted the event. I randomized the draft order just before game time and here’s how it came out:

Brent Hershey [Baseball HQ]

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January 23, 2014 6:00 am

Dynasty League Positional Rankings: Top 50 First Basemen


Bret Sayre

Paul Goldschmidt leads off this list of the best long-term assets at the position heading into 2014.

The Primer:
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.

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January 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: First Basemen


Paul Sporer

A fantasy-based look at how this position stacks up through 2016.

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.

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January 21, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Tier Rankings: First Basemen


Mike Gianella

Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis lead the way, but there are plenty of power bats in the middle and lower tiers.

This series began last week with a look at the catchers. Today, our positional tier rankings series continues with a look at first base.

Players at each position are divided into five tiers, represented by a numerical star rating. Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be early-round selections, and they are projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. The positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of last year’s values but rather try to offer some insights into what we expect will happen in 2014.

We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from last year’s PFM using a 12-team, standard 5x5 scoring format, with 23-man rosters and the following positions: C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9). The minimum bid for players is $1, and, as we did last year, we allocate $180 of a $260 budget to hitters. Players needed to play in 20 games at a position to qualify there. The PFM is customizable, so if your league uses a different format, you can adjust it to match your league settings and see how it impacts players’ dollar values.

Players with multi-position eligibility are listed at the position where it is most likely they would start in a standard fantasy league. Buster Posey and Carlos Santana both have eligibility at catcher and first base but are not included in this part of the series for this reason. While there are unique situations where a fantasy owner might start Posey or Santana at first, these situations are the exception and not the rule.

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January 21, 2014 6:00 am

State of the Position: First Basemen


Craig Goldstein

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.

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January 21, 2014 6:00 am

Graphical Fantasy Rankings: First Basemen


Mauricio Rubio

A visual representation of the rankings in the tiered first-base list with a breakdown of the statistical contributions each player is projected to make.

For a primer on the graphical rankings, click here.

First base was an extremely fun position to break down this year. The top offensive producers will come from the cold corner. Miguel Cabrera will move there from third, Joe Mauer and perhaps Buster Posey will enter into transitional phases in their careers at first, and there’s still a host of highly talented incumbents that crowd the rankings quite a bit. Again, these are made to mirror Mike Gianella’s tiered system and aren’t necessarily in a hard order. With that in mind, let’s address some questions about the graphs.

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November 15, 2013 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: AFL First Pitch Forums Draft


Paul Sporer

A look back at the first 10 rounds of a very early 2014 draft.

I took my annual trek to Arizona two weeks ago for both the Arizona Fall League and the Baseball HQ First Pitch Forums. It’s my favorite trip of the year and this might’ve been my best time yet. I drove from Austin with my dog, which actually enhanced the trip despite there being a total of 34 hours of driving to and fro. Thankfully, I like driving.

One of my favorite parts of the event is Draft Saturday. I believe they started the live drafts three or four years ago and it has evolved a bit throughout, but the staple has been a pair of NFBC-style drafts wherein we draft 23 rounds in person and the other 27 on the internet over the winter. It’s a draft-and-hold, which means no pickups or trades. Surplus is less useful and you need contingencies because you will get injuries during the season. We do a Kentucky Derby Style draft slotting (see no. 4 on that link for an explanation) and assuming the top two were gone, I was hoping to grab the three-spot for Paul Goldschmidt.

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The staff casts its ballots for the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year awards.

Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff choices for the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's choices may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results.

For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.

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June 26, 2013 5:00 am

Sporer Report: The 2014 First Round: A Look Ahead, Part One


Paul Sporer

Next year's draft season is still nine months away, but the lessons we've already learned this year could carry over.

We’re taking a break from my series on streaming hitters with sharp splits to discuss the future a bit. There is nothing in particular about this point in time that makes it worth discussing 2014 now. Most teams have played about 75 games, but I didn’t even know that before I planned this; again, the point in the season is irrelevant. It’s just something I like to do around the start of summer as the first check-in point.

As much as I love to enjoy the here and now of the season we’re in the throes of, I also like to look forward and see how the current season might be affecting the following spring’s drafts. We are about nine months from the 2014 draft season so a whole lot will change from now until then, but I guarantee that some of what we’ve seen thus far will stick and have a lasting impact on 2014. In fact, in part one of a two-part look at what we’ve learned (or think we’ve learned) thus far, we start with something that I’m certain will be true in March 2014.

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Two epic plate appearances with a dramatic disparity in styles.

Normally this series is on the blog side of the site, but since this is an extra-long edition, I’ve made it an article. If you’re new to “Longest Plate Appearance of the Week” because you don’t read the blog section regularly, A) read the blog section regularly! and B) catch up on the first edition here and the second edition here. I’ve added a few new elements this week: the length of the plate appearance, the number of mound visits involved, and a GIF of an exhausted player who’s wishing the plate appearance would end.

Bonus long plate appearance trivia: I don’t know why I didn’t think to look it up before, but if we’re going to talk about long plate appearances every week, we should know what the gold standard in long plate appearances is. The pitch-by-pitch data in our database goes back to 1988, and in that time, the longest plate appearance was a 20-pitch battle between Bartolo Colon and Ricky Gutierrez on June 26, 1998. Gutierrez struck out swinging. So, 20 pitches: that’s the goal. The average plate appearance in 1998 was 0.15 pitches shorter than today’s, so we have a head start.

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