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.
In practice, Scoresheet’s loose positional qualification rules and deep rosters imply that first basemen need to deliver a strong performance to be worthy of keeper status. As before, we’re ranking players based upon their value in a standard continuing league. The caveat here is that we’re only listing players who do not qualify at any position other than first base (or DH), which is why you won’t find any $150 million Orioles on this list, for example.
1. Miguel Cabrera (Overall Rank: 4, National League Rank: 4)
Cabrera is still at the top of our first-base rankings in the American League, but as you can see from his mixed-league ranking, his value is beginning to wane. You still have time before seeking out a trade, but Miggy may be a good “year too early” trade candidate, especially if you’re keeping him as an NL crossover from his Marlin days.
While it can sometimes be difficult to figure out where on the rankings you may accidentally step into controversy, I suspect the last two rankings may look bizarre to some players. You may be right, but it all goes back to our initial introduction—finding a first baseman is about seeking stardom. Hosmer’s “very goodness” is beginning to feel like something of a shackle, and we don’t see him breaking out enough to be worth more in the long run than other players with limited horizons. As for Bird, we’re pretty heavily invested in a way that’s rare for us with first base prospects. Not only has he demonstrated skill at the major league level, but he’s a smart player who we can see outpacing his ceiling, especially if he learns to control the strike zone the way he did at lower levels. And while he’s currently blocked, that’s unlikely to affect his value beyond midseason. If you’re talented, those things have a way of resolving themselves.
Throw these guys in a blender, more or less. The American League has two big bopper slots to fill, which makes all of these players a bit more valuable than they would be in the other league. That said, they’re also competing against players like Nelson Cruz, not to mention more versatile fielders, so if you’re in a shallower format, this is one of the first places we’d look to cut back.
Below the Keeper Line
It has been a wonderful run, Joe Mauer. We’ll always have the sideburns and car dealership commercials. Mitch Moreland will be kept in a number of leagues after a big season, but he still strikes us as the model of a round 15 bat. Jon Singleton is a lesson in the value of non-elite first base prospects. Victor Martinez is an intriguing target if you’re willing to gamble on older players in the draft. As a note, Hanley Ramirez should receive a brutal outfield defensive rating, in which case we still like him here as a keeper and mild comeback candidate.
This ranking is the flip side of keeping non-elite first base prospects, we suppose. If you did keep these players as rookies, mazel tov. Enjoy the offense.
There’s a significant drop to the next hitting tier. These players are the type of profile that we rarely end up with on our own teams, as we tend to like our first basemen to be much better or to scrimp at the position. In the NL this year, we’d be more inclined to change our strategy, as you’ll see below.
Zimmerman and Bour are likely only keepers in leagues without significant crossover inflation at the position.
Below the Keeper Line
Crickets. Tumbleweeds. Ennio Morricone soundtracks. Okay, okay, if you don’t have a keeper first baseman, it’s not completely desolate. You can potentially patch together flotsam like the Cardinals platoon, or draft John Jaso or Chris Carter. Next week’s list (spoiler alert!) will be equally desolate, with even fewer options, so watch The Martian to prepare.