I posted my very early 2015 closer rankings a couple of weeks ago. In continuing with the trend, I present to you my preliminary, but mostly complete, rankings for first basemen. The prices are based on a standard 5×5 rotisserie league with a budget of $260 per team. In this instance, I assume 60 percent of all teams’ budgets are spent on hitters, as is done in mine.
In a later version of this, I will enable the spreadsheet to be dynamic and allow users to input their own budget amounts and percentages spent. In the meantime, here is the static version.
Let me try to be as clear as possible about how I determine prices: I do not discount or add premiums based on positional scarcity or relativity. I like to know exactly what a home run, a steal, a run, etc. is worth, no matter who it comes from. It gives me a better idea of the depth at each position and how urgently I need to overspend at the so-called shallower positions, such as catcher and third base, as y’all will see in future installments of these rankings.
- The statistics, to my eye, are all scaled down slightly (except for maybe home runs). However, this effect happens to every player, so the changes are relative and, thus, the prices are theoretically unaffected.
- Jose Abreu is the #2 first baseman, and it’s not even that close of a call. I honestly thought Paul Goldschmidt‘s stock would be a bit higher — remember, my computer calls the shots here, not me — but the projections believe more in Goldy’s 2014 power (which paced out to 27 home runs in a full season) than his 2013 power, when he dropped 36 bombs. He’s also no lock to stay healthy. Which no one is, really. Still, I may take the over on all his stats, but not by a large margin.
- I will, however, take the over on Edwin Encarnacion‘s statistics, as he has bested all the projected numbers each of the past three seasons, and he does it all while battling injuries. I will take him at the price simply because of what I will call “health upside” — everyone assumes he will get hurt, but if he can play a full 162, he’s a monster — and because if his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) ever reaches a normal level, his batting average boost will send his stock through the roof.
- No surprise to see Anthony Rizzo at #5 after last season. I’m a believer, and he will be surrounded by a slew of talented youngsters next year.
- Freddie Freeman, hero of my hometown, is simply not where I expected him to be after his 2012 season. Granted, he’s an excellent player, but until he chooses to hit for power rather than spray line drives (again, not a problem in real, actual MLB baseball), and until the Braves stop sucking (which may not be any time soon), he may not be that great of a first base option.
- The two Chrises — Chris Davis and Chris Carter — round out the top 10 with almost identical profiles. Lots of power, lots of strikeouts, low batting averages. The shift may have suffocated Davis’ batting average, but it shouldn’t happen again, and I am considering investing in him if his stock has devalued enough after last year’s atrocity.
- Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Ryan Zimmerman are shells of their former selves.
- Lucas Duda is for real, but his batting average is a liability, as is a lot of the Mets’ lineup.
- The projections have what amounts to almost zero faith in Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer and Brandon Belt. Mauer may be the saddest tale of them all. He’s still good for a cheap batting average boost, but single-digit homers? I just feel bad for the guy. And the owner who banks on the rebound.
- Looking at Adam LaRoche‘s projection, I’m starting to really like that move by the White Sox. Part of me feels like he’s going to be undervalued or maybe even not considered on draft day, and that’s appealing to me.
- Steve Pearce at #16 is an upside play, given his 2014 looks all sorts of legit.
- Jon Singleton: the poor man’s Chris Carter.
- And just because Matt Adams is beating the shift instead of hitting home runs doesn’t render him without value. He’s not my cup of tea, but 19 home runs could be conservative for him.
I am so far behind, guys. I’m sorry. Really. But hey! Happy holidays! Spend it with the people you love, and if you can’t, be sure to think about them, for they are probably thinking about you, too.
Anyway, yeah, I’m way behind. I’m going to list a handful moves that have been made, in case you were not aware of them, and I will elaborate on the ones that are most intriguing.
Angels sign OF Raul Ibanez
I mean, they needed someone to fill the role of Old Left Fielder once Vernon Wells left. This deal isn’t that bad, though, because the Angels signed the aging outfielder to a one-year contract rather than for two or three years. He won’t hit 29 home runs again, but the power isn’t a fluke, either considering he has surpassed 30 home runs twice since his age-33 season. I expect something more like 19 home runs, but I think he has mid-20s upside as well, as long as he can stay healthy. Ibanez seems like he’s got some Duracell in him, though. He’s the Energizer Bunny.
Preseason rank: Low-tier or backup OF
Astros sign SP Scott Feldman
Feldman is even more irrelevant in fantasy than he used to be.
Twins re-sign SP Mike Pelfrey
Athletics sign RP Jim Johnson
Orioles sign RP Grant Balfour… but fails his physical
This was an interesting pair of moves, considering each player was signed independently of the other for roughly the same price. Balfour is the better pitcher, though, as evidenced by Johnson’s volatile percentage of converted saves. (Balfour, however, does walk a batter too many for my taste.) It was recently announced, though, that Balfour failed his physical and was thus not signed by the Orioles. I don’t know much more about it, but I’m guessing it has to do with his age, considering I heard little (if nothing) about any ailments Balfour experienced in 2013. I have a feeling this will turn into a Mike Napoli type of situation, where a team will get him for a bargain and cash in. In the meantime, he’s teamless. But I wouldn’t let the size of his next contract influence my ranking of him.
Johnson’s preseason rank: Mid-tier RP
Balfour’s preseason rank: Mid-tier RP
Athletics receive SP Drew Pomeranz and RP Chris Jensen, Rockies receive SP Brett Anderson
Say goodbye to any chance of Anderson living up to his potential ever again. Meanwhile, Pomeranz just went from lost-cause prospect to fringe starter-slash-fantasy sleeper. Pomeranz put up great numbers in the minors because being banished to the pitchers’ hell that is Coors Field and has always had good stuff: 10.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9. See that? Pomeranz used to be great at limiting home runs. And the high walk rate is negligible with a strikeout rate like his minor league rate. Pomeranz has underwhelmed since getting the call in 2011, though, let alone being humiliated last year in 16 starts. I won’t be surprised if he garners little credence in preseason ranks for 2014. But if the Athletics give him a legitimate shot at the No. 5 spot in the rotation, things could get interesting. I’m not saying he’s worth drafting, because he doesn’t look anything like the pitcher he once was in the minors. But a change of scenery, especially away from Colorado, could be exactly what Pomeranz needs
Pomeranz’s reseason rank: Barely a top-100 starter
Anderson’s preseason rank: Barely a top-100 starter
In other news…
- Let the bidding begin on Masahiro Tanaka
- Rusney Castillo defects from Cuba
- Roy Halladay and Mark Prior retire
- Kevin Youkilis and Luke Scott sign contracts with Japanese teams. We will miss you, Youk.
*Each team re-signed one player, so they’re technically not all “new.” Moving on.
Maybe I missed something, but have any AL East teams other than the Red Sox and Yankees made moves this offseason? Boston and New York has made three signings a piece. That sets up a pretty easy comparison for the question to which everyone wants an answer: Which team “wins” this postseason so far?
(I get really self-conscious when using questions in my writing. My high school English teachers drilled into my brain that using rhetorical questions is a crutch in persuasive writing, as is asking yourself a question to simply answer it later. But really, am I trying to impress Advanced Placement test graders anymore? No. No I’m not.
If you are an AP test grader, I apologize.)
BOS signs C A.J. Pierzynski
AJP bounced back from down years in 2010 and 2011, and his 2013 was pretty much in line with how he has typically produced throughout his career. He’s 36 — that kind of tread on a catcher’s tires is always a red flag — but he’ll be hitting in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, so maybe another 15+-HR season and .275 average is not out of the question. Pierzynski is probably an upgrade over Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the dish, despite Salty’s productive 2013.
Winner: Both parties
Pierzynski’s preseason rank: No. 2 catcher in deep leagues
NYY signs OF Carlos Beltran
Man, I love Beltran. Who doesn’t? (Answer: Mets fans.) (Shit, I used a rhetorical question again…) But where does he fit in the Yankees’ plans? That team is just flat-out old now. Their outfield is already bursting at the seams with Jacoby Ellsbury (spoiler alert), Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells (negligible) and Brett Gardner. Meanwhile, the average age of their potential starting outfielders is 35, and that’s before Ellsbury joined the crew. I’m guessing Wells will be relegated to bench duty. But I have also heard Gardner figures to play into the Yankees’ everyday plans. Sounds like Ichiro is on the market, and I’ve read that the Giants are possible suitors. Anyway, Beltran is good, but he’s not a solution to the Yankees’ problems, which is zero preparedness for beyond 2015 when every single one of their players falls apart.
Preseason rank: Probably a top-3o OF — full rankings pending
BOS signs RP Edward Mujica
Mujica made a name for himself as Jason Motte‘s replacement at the back end of the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen, and there’s no reason he can’t do it again. Some people argue he broke down at the end of the year, but manager Mike Matheny wore him down with consecutive (two, if not three) multi-inning outings in August, and even Mujica said it wore him out. It’s fair to worried about durability, but if you’re going to write off a solid closer for a good team because he might wear down in September, you have bigger things to worry about. HOWEVER… Koji Uehara is still there. And so is Junichi Tazawa. And given Uehara’s incredible success last year, Mujica would only see chances for saves on Uehara’s rest days at best. Unfortunately, I must politely ask everyone who rode the Mujica train last year, myself included, to disembark.
Winner: Red Sox
Preseason rank: Unranked/not draftworthy
NYY re-sign SP Hiroki Kuroda
Not much to see here — he’s old, but it’s a one-year deal and he has proven he’s still plenty effective. It still doesn’t solve the Yankees’ age problem, though.
Preseason rank: 40th
BOS re-signs 1B Mike Napoli
Feels weird to call Napoli a first baseman and only a first baseman. Again, nothing to see here, but Napoli’s lack of eligibility at catcher is kind of a deal breaker.
Preseason rank: Low-tier 1B
NYY signs OF Jacoby Ellsbury
Yes, I couldn’t help but spoil the surprise earlier (even though it’s not really a surprise). Ellsbury has joined the archenemy, and of course all Red Sox fans are really flustered. Meanwhile, the Yankees overpaid… Way overpaid. Something like $20 million a year for seven years. Look, guys who rely on their wheels for productivity have been known to break down at about his age (see: Michael Bourn). Give it another couple of years and 50 stolen bases will only be 20, or maybe even 10. His power will likely decline, too, as will his defensive range. It’s just not a good situation. Seven years was way too long to begin with, and the price makes it worse — and I have yet to touch upon his abundant injury risk. Don’t fret too much, Red Sox nation. You’ll be grinning about this one in 2017 as the Yankees dynasty completes its collapse.
Preseason rank: Top-1o OF, with downside