First basemen and utility players are clearly the glamour position in fantasy baseball. There are more good ones than at any other position. This makes it difficult to plan for a draft. You can go one of two roads on draft day. You can simply pick the best players regardless of position and come out with a strong first baseman and utility player early in your draft, or you can punt first base and come away with a pretty good second tier guy.

Like with last time, we are using value over replacement player to break our players into tiers. Players with an adjusted rate over 40 are tier one guys. Players with between 25 and 40 are tier two guys and players with between 10 and 25 are tier three guys. As you can see, that leaves us with 25 players total that qualify. If you can’t come out with at least two guys on draft day, then you aren’t doing your job.

Tier One

Paul Goldschmidt— Arizona Diamondbacks

2013: 53.0

2014: 40.1

2015: 73.4

ADJ: 58.9

Again, it is important to point out that the distance between the best guy and the second best guy is paramount. Goldschmidt also offers the speed element that so few offer at first base. 2014 was shortened by injury, so he is about as good a bet to earn more than 50 runs as anyone in baseball.

Miguel Cabrera— Detroit Tigers

2013: 84.8

2014: 44.8

2015: 40.6

ADJ: 49.4

Cabrera spent part of last season on the disabled list, so his numbers might have been artificially low. Still, he has slowed down considerably between 2013 and today. I think he probably gets to 40 in 2016, but not much more. He definitely isn’t a fantasy first rounder anymore.

Joey Votto— Cincinnati Reds

2013: 53.8

2014: 13.8

2015: 70.9

ADJ: 49.0

Joey Votto is a darn good baseball player. He might be the most effective offensive player in the game. What he isn’t is a dominant fantasy player. His fantasy value is wrapped up in the fact that he walks about once per game. In a six category league he is well worth a first round pick. In standard five category leagues he drops down several rounds.

Anthony Rizzo— Chicago Cubs

2013: 10.5

2014: 51.6

2015: 49.5

ADJ: 43.7

Rizzo has come of age the last two seasons and has quietly put up very good numbers. Unfortunately, his run scoring and RBI numbers haven’t matched his overall value. He is similar to Joey Votto that way. The difference is that he is on a better team and might see those numbers catch up with the support of quality teammates.

Tier Two

Edwin Encarnacion— Toronto Blue Jays

2013: 45.0

2014: 26.6

2015: 42.5

ADJ: 37.6

Encarnacion narrowly edges out Chris Davis, but he might drop below him depending on what the future holds for Davis. This is why I don’t rank guys. It doesn’t make much sense to separate guys that are one tenth of a run apart. I like Encarnacion’s consistency a little more, but Davis does have a slightly higher ceiling.

Chris Davis— Free Agent

2013: 73.9

2014: 10.7

2015: 43.3

ADJ: 37.5

There is too much uncertainty to make Davis a tier one guy. Of course, this is where position makes such a big deal. He will be eligible at third in some leagues and Scott Boras is packaging him as a potential corner outfielder as well. If he has positional flexibility then he becomes a tier one guy.

Jose Abreu— Chicago White Sox

2013: N/A

2014: 49.7

2015: 26.0

ADJ: 35.5

I remember saying that Abreu would likely take a step back this season. Someone challenged me on that one. Well, it happened. It usually does happen because the league has a book on him now. He also has a book on the pitchers. The adjustment score might actually be a good estimate for him.

Freddie Freeman— Atlanta Braves

2013: 43.5

2014: 37.0

2015: 28.7

ADJ: 33.9

Freeman spent time on the shelf in 2015 or his numbers would have likely approached his 2013 and 2014 numbers. I would avoid Freeman unless he is traded this offseason. There just isn’t much around him in Atlanta, so his numbers would likely become more ordinary.

Lucas Duda— New York Mets

2013: 14.3

2014: 32.6

2015: 37.1

ADJ: 31.8

There is a temptation with a player like Duda to assume that the progress will continue and he will become a tier one guy. That temptation always intensifies when a player is on a team that makes a deep playoff run. We romanticize a lot of guys in that situation. Duda is a classic power hitter in that he has spurts of great play interspersed with periods where you wonder if he will ever hit again.

Adrian Gonzalez— Los Angeles Dodgers

2013: 21.9

2014: 25.1

2015: 33.1

ADJ: 28.6

Gonzalez got off to one of those once in a lifetime starts last April and then when you looked up in September he was around where he always was. That has to concern everyone moving forward. Gonzalez is an accumulator and accumulators always look better than what they really are. They also rely on talented players around them.

David Ortiz— Boston Red Sox

2013: 45.2

2014: 23.7

2015: 26.0

ADJ: 28.4

Big Papi has already announced his retirement following the 2016 season. It’s always best to retire too early than too late. Every season, it looks like Ortiz is done and every season he musters something deep inside and produces like he always has. It would be good to bet that he can do it one more time before riding off into the sunset.

Brandon Belt— San Francisco Giants

2013: 34.3

2014: 7.7

2015: 37.3

ADJ: 26.9

Belt makes me nervous. He can be either really good or really ordinary. He isn’t a traditional power hitter like most first basemen, so you are relying on a high batting average and solid on base skills for his value. Sometimes that doesn’t translate to fantasy success.

Tier Three

Like with the catchers, there are a ton of first basemen that find themselves between ten and 25 in the projected VORP department. So, the key isn’t so much where players rank, but the separation between them. When you get to this level, you can get a significant player at another position and still get a productive guy later.

2013 2014 2015 ADJ Comments
Carlos Santana 45.1 33.0 10.0 23.5 Moving to first was supposed to help.
Albert Pujols 17.7 29.9 19.7 22.8 He’ll be out most of the first month.
Adam Lind 22.3 18.0 25.9 22.7 He’s a good complementary player.
Eric Hosmer 26.1 5.9 29.3 21.0 Don’t buy into the WS hype.
Pedro Alvarez 29.7 12.4 18.0 18.0 He’s a significant non-tender candidate.
Prince Fielder 28.6 -1.4 21.8 15.2 He’s better than this but by how much?
Evan Gattis 18.7 23.5 7.6 14.8 Very underwhelming as a DH.
Ryan Zimmerman 34.6 11.9 9.4 14.4 Very good when healthy. Rarely healthy.
Mark Teixeira -0.7 3.8 24.7 13.5 See above.
Kendrys Morales 20.0 -6.3 22.4 12.4 Better than this, but probably overrated.
Chris Carter 15.1 22.8 4.0 12.1 Rob Deer lives.
Victor Martinez 13.5 46.7 -11.7 12.0 Last year was truly disturbing.
Joe Mauer 42.7 10.5 1.8 11.5 Didn’t you use to be the MVP?


Previous post

2015 Fantasy Football: Week 12 Target Report

Next post

2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: NBA Stock Market