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.
After tonight’s 3-for-3 performance, complete with a home run, a double, two runs, two RBI and two walks, Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion is having a historic year. I raved about it earlier, but it has only gotten better: Encarnacion’s walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K) coupled with his isolated power (ISO) are an insane combination. (In the context of the post-Steroid Era.)
Let’s do an almost-quick exercise. As of Sept. 3, here are Encarnacion’s stats…
Since 2005 (because Barry Bonds‘ last relevant year is 2004), 19 players have amassed 29 seasons with a BB/K ratio better than one and a .200+ ISO. Twenty-seven of 29 cracked the top 15 in Most Valuable Player voting, and the average MVP finish was 6th or 7th (6.3).
Let’s start with the BB/K ratio. Of the 29 seasons with at least a 1.00 BB/K, only 12 topped a 1.25 BB/K. Narrowing it down further, only nine topped 1.33 BB/K. Finally, only seven topped Encarnacion’s current BB/K — five of them were done by then-St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, and the other two by Chipper Jones and Nomar Garciaparra. Not bad company, if I dare say so.
Now, onto the ISO. Of the 29 seasons with at least a .200 ISO, only 13 topped a .250 ISO, and only eleven were higher than Encarnacion’s .267 ISO.
Still with me? I’ve yet to reach the best part yet. Fourteen of the 29 seasons notched a better BB/K ratio or ISO than Encarnacion’s. So here’s where it gets most interesting: Of those 14 seasons, how many seasons eclipsed both Encarnacion’s BB/K ratio and ISO?
Four. At the hands of whom, you ask? Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols and Albert Pujols. (Speaking of good company…)
And how did Pujols rank in the MVP voting those four years? First, first, first and second. (He finished second behind the Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard in 2006.)
During any other year when Miguel Cabrera wasn’t vying for back-to-back Triple Crowns and Chris Davis wasn’t blocking Cabrera’s path in the home run c ategory, Encarnacion would be more than just a MVP candidate; he could be the MVP candidate. His 36 home runs and 102 RBI trail only Cabrera and Davis in the American League (he trails Goldschmidt, of the National League, in RBI but has the edge in home runs), and his BB/K ratio is actually improving, with 22 walks to 10 strikeouts since Aug. 1.
Of course, there are endless factors to consider when voting for a MVP, such as defensive metrics and team success (a better batting average wouldn’t hurt, either), so the race certainly doesn’t come down to just BB/K and ISO. But Encarnacion’s plate discipline and power combination in 2013 is something that, aside from what Pujols has done, hasn’t been seen in a decade. That’s something to be commended, and I will be thoroughly disappointed if Encarnacion doesn’t finish a top-5 American League MVP candidate.