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The positional tier rankings continue to roll out, and today we have the first basemen. For the third year in a row, we’ve made this a collaborative effort.

Players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by a “star” rating. Five-star players are the studs at their position. In general, they are the players who will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they will 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 2015.

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 5×5 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'll 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, of course, was ranked with the catchers last week and Carlos Santana, who traded his catcher eligibility for eligibility at third base last year, will be ranked at third base along with Chris Davis (21 games at third base). While there are unique situations where a fantasy owner might start Posey or Santana (or Todd Frazier) at first, these situations are the exception and not the rule.

Since there isn’t a DH tier or accompanying article, this year we’ve included notable DHs in the first base tier. There’s an asterisk next to David Ortiz, Chris Carter, and Kennys Vargas to remind you.

Five Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Miguel Cabrera

DET

$42.65

$26.85

685

101

25

109

1

.313

Paul Goldschmidt

ARZ

$31.32

$27.02

479

75

19

69

9

.300

Edwin Encarnacion

TOR

$25.30

$20.25

542

75

34

98

2

.268

Jose Abreu

CHW

$30.09

$22.54

632

80

36

107

3

.317

Last year, we saw Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis make the leap up to this group and as you can see Davis is no longer a member after he posted an average below the Mendoza line in 2014. Despite missing time down the stretch, Goldschmidt contributed in all five categories for the third straight season. He’s an absolute fantasy stud.

Miguel Cabrera returns to first base after losing his third base eligibility. He finished the season strong with a .379/.409/.709 line in September, but offseason ankle surgery for a stress fracture leaves his availability still up in the air for now.

Five-Star Value Pick: Edwin Encarnacion
Encarnacion missed time with a thigh strain and still finished as the fifth-most valuable first basemen in mixed leagues last year, according to BP valuation expert Mike Gianella. Over the past three seasons, Encarnacion is tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the highest ISO (.272) and trails only Cabrera in home runs (112 to 113). His 13 percent strikeout rate over the same span is lower than most power hitters’ and adds stability to the profile. Encarnacion can roll out of bed and hit 30 home runs. Just take him and hope he plays 150 games, which he’s done just once.

Four Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Adrian Gonzalez

LAD

$10.26

$17.86

660

83

27

116

1

.276

Victor Martinez

DET

$13.75

$16.38

641

87

32

103

3

.335

Anthony Rizzo

CHC

$15.94

$20.06

616

89

32

78

5

.286

Albert Pujols

LAA

$19.83

$18.44

695

89

28

105

5

.272

Freddie Freeman

ATL

$8.77

$17.21

708

93

18

78

3

.288

Joey Votto

CIN

$18.24

$20.55

272

32

6

23

1

.255

Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, and Freddie Freeman make up the returning class at the four-star tier. Freeman has age on his side (he’s 25) and a high batting average floor given his league leading 31 percent line drive rate last year, but he’s the only member of this tier to play a full season and fail to crack 20 home runs as well.

Rizzo’s .286 AVG was a marked improvement over his .233 AVG in 2013. While his BABIP jumped from .258 to .311 as well, there’s no reason to assume Rizzo will go back to hitting below .250. He also upped his line-drive rate to 22 percent (from 19 percent in ’13) and fly-ball rate to 42 percent (from 38 percent). Early and unofficial PECOTA projections have Rizzo hitting .262, so it’s not like hitting .275 is out of the question.

Votto wasn’t necessarily difficult to rank as he finds himself in this tier mostly due to legacy and potential, but it’s not easy to figure out what to make of his last few seasons. A quadriceps injury derailed his season last year, but career-worsts in ISO (.186), SLG (.491) and RBI (73) in 2013 were also disconcerting.

Four-Star Value Pick: Victor Martinez
Martinez’ home run spike at age 35 is sure to give some owners pause—he hit more home runs (32) than in his last two seasons in Detroit (26)—and won’t change what the projection systems will say about him much at all, but it’d be a mistake to underestimate him. After shaking off the rust from missing all of 2012 with an ACL injury, Victor has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball for the last year and a half. The fact that he’s a truly great hitter with power and not just a power hitter is an important distinction and one that should continue to benefit Martinez, who’s thriving at a time in his career when most are declining. Early NFBC Average Draft Position data has Martinez being selected outside the top 35, well after Rizzo (18.11 ADP).

Three Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL$

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

David Ortiz*

BOS

602

59

35

104

0

263

Lucas Duda

NYM

$4.28

$14.87

596

74

30

93

2

.253

Justin Morneau

COL

$3.89

$15.50

550

62

17

82

0

.319

Adam LaRoche

CHW

$2.50

$10.77

586

73

26

92

3

.259

Prince Fielder

TEX

$14.47

$15.27

179

19

3

16

0

.247

Brandon Belt

SFG

$5.61

$17.03

235

30

12

27

3

.243

Chris Carter*

HOU

572

68

37

88

5

.227

I nearly incited an Anchorman-level brawl when I sent the rest of the fantasy team a rough draft of these tiers which included Brandon Belt in the four-star tier. While I caved to popular opinion—you ingrates—requests to move him all the way down to the two-star tier were rebuffed. Belt only played 60 games due to injuries and struggled to hit for average (.243) last year, but in the two seasons prior he hit .283 over 295 games. Given good health and an average bounce-back, Belt has the power to turn in a 20-25 home run season, which would make him a complete player for fantasy purposes.

While David Ortiz hasn’t even played double-digit games at first since 2006, Chris Carter had first base eligibility last year and earned $14 in 12-team mixed leagues. Carter hit .205 in the first half of the season and no one could blame you for cutting bait at the end of June, but, of course, he went on to hit .296 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI from July 4th through September 5th. Arbitrary endpoints aside, Carter increased his line-drive rate to 24 percent in the second half and the rest of his numbers followed suit. He can be maddening to own, but the power is there for a monster season if he could ever hit .250.

It wasn’t that long ago that Prince Fielder was considered a fantasy stud. Before 2014 Fielder still appeared to have a fairly high floor because of his durability as prior to last year he had played at least 157 games eight seasons in a row. He hit at least 25 home runs in all eight of those seasons and drove in at least 102 runs six times, but after a neck injury limited him to 42 games last year almost all bets are off.

Three Star Value Pick: Adam LaRoche
The perpetually underappreciated LaRoche bounced back last year to hit .259, blast 26 home runs, and drive in 92 runs on his way to earning $16 in mixed leagues. He’s 35, but there might be some power upside here as his new ballpark in Chicago had a park factor for left-handed home runs in the top 10 in baseball and his old ballpark was in the bottom third. It was just a few years ago that LaRoche hit 33 home runs in Washington (2012). His early NFBC ADP is at 150, which is behind Eric Hosmer. Now that is really taking LaRoche for granted.

Two Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Matt Adams

STL

$9.69

$18.14

563

55

15

68

3

.288

Mark Trumbo

ARZ

$15.56

$20.30

362

37

14

61

2

.235

Brandon Moss

CLE

$1.16

$14.91

580

70

25

81

1

.234

Eric Hosmer

KC

$10.40

$15.87

547

54

9

58

4

.270

Brandon Moss is comparable to some of the power hitters in the three-star tier and he’s moving to a more hitter-friendly ballpark, but offseason hip surgery and his failure to earn $10 in mixed leagues last year finds him in this group.

Hosmer would be in the one-star tier if I had my druthers. He’s a risky proposition in both average and power as he’s far from a lock to hit .280 or amass 20 home runs. He also failed to post double-digit steals for the first time in his career last year. Hosmer’s simply not yet shown that he’s a good enough hitter to trust in fantasy.

Two Star Value Pick: Matt Adams
Adams isn’t a sexy pick, but he’s the most dependable member of this tier because he should hit for the best average. His career AVG in 277 games is .283. Adams hit just 15 home runs last year, but early and unofficial PECOTA projections have pegged him for 18 dingers in 484 plate appearances. Getting to 20 home runs isn’t out of the question for Adams, who I’d take over Hosmer every day of the week and twice on draft day.

One Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Kennys Vargas*

MIN

234

26

9

38

0

.274

Steve Pearce

BAL

$1.00

$14.83

383

51

21

49

5

.293

James Loney

TB

($4.08)

$8.32

651

59

9

69

4

.290

Logan Morrison

SEA

($1.18)

$9.38

365

41

11

38

5

.262

Adam Lind

MIL

($12.04)

$9.24

318

38

6

40

0

.321

Mark Teixeira

NYY

($3.54)

$8.01

508

56

22

62

1

.216

Garrett Jones

NYY

($7.74)

$6.32

547

59

15

53

0

.246

Michael Morse

MIA

$2.83

$15.09

482

48

16

61

0

.279

Mike Napoli

BOS

$10.92

$13.81

500

49

17

55

3

.248

Joe Mauer

MIN

518

60

4

55

3

.277

The majority of the one-star tier is made up of low-average power hitters who have trouble staying healthy. Logan Morrison was healthy enough in the second half last year as he hit .284/.341/.448 with six home runs in 60 games. Back and foot injuries limited Adam Lind to 96 games last year, marking the second time in three years he’s failed to play 100 games. It’s a shame Drake has never rapped about Mark Teixeira in a song, because ever since he had wrist surgery in 2013, nothing was the same. Garrett Jones’ stock actually improves going to New York, where he may not have to wait long before injuries present the opportunity for regular playing time. Mike Napoli amassed at least 500 plate appearances for the second year in a row last year—the first time he’s accomplished that feat in consecutive seasons—but he hasn’t hit above .259 since 2011.

At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Kennys Vargas is a massive human. You can’t miss him and you shouldn’t if it’s the end of the auction. As Craig Goldstein noted yesterday, Vargas should be able to cut down on his strikeouts while putting the ball in play more this year, giving him a shot at holding his BABIP-fueled average. With Joe Mauer’s durability issues, Vargas should gain first-base eligibility during the season.

One Star Value Pick: Michael Morse
Morse continues the theme of low-average power hitters who can’t stay healthy, but did you really think I was about to recommend buying James Loney? He’s topped 102 games in a season just twice, which makes him difficult to count on, but he’s been known to hit when he plays. A full-time move to first base might help keep him upright and the move to a lineup containing Giancarlo Stanton makes Morse attractive enough to be an end-of-the-auction flier.