RankingsMarch 2, 2010

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Positional Tiers: First Base - 2 comments

By Michael Marinakis

Welcome to the second installment of the tier ranking series. In this article I’ll be discussing the fantasy first basemen you should be targeting in each part of the draft. Much like previous years, first base is ridiculously deep with solid options throughout the draft. If you miss out on one of the top five, you can just sit back and wait for the best possible value in the lower tiers while filling more shallow positions.

Tier 1: Round 1

Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols1.18.3271244713516568
Ryan Howard10.17.279105451418616
Prince Fielder8.34.299103461412591
Miguel Cabrera10.53.32496341036611
Mark Teixeira8.80.292103391222609

First base is incredibly deep this year with five sluggers as consensus top 10 picks. Pujols is going to go top two in pretty much every single draft and some combination of Howard, Fielder, Cabrera and Teixeira will likely go seventh through tenth. All of them are great options to build a team around and are some of the most risk-free picks you can make.

Tier 2: Round 3

Mark Reynolds25.40.260984410224578
Adrian Gonzalez29.50.277904091552
Joey Votto30.10.3228225844469
Justin Morneau37.47.27485301000508
Pablo Sandoval38.08.3307925905572
Kevin Youkilis35.01.3059927947491

The second tier isn’t quite as deep as it seems as Reynolds, Sandoval, and Youkilis will all most likely be drafted as third basemen. Still, Gonzalez, Votto, and Morneau bring plenty of thump in the third round should you miss out on one of the top tier guys. Don’t fret if you aren’t able to nab a first baseman from this tier, however, as there are plenty more solid options throughout the draft.

Tier 3: Rounds 5-6

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Colorado Rockies in Denver

Adam Dunn59.60.26781381050546
Lance Berkman69.04.2747325807460
Kendry Morales55.09.30686341083566

The first base power hitter trend continues into tier four with Dunn, Berkman and Morales. Dunn didn’t seem fazed by the move from hitter’s paradises in Cincinnati and Arizona as he continued to blast homeruns in the more spacious Nationals Park. His .267 average (the highest in his career) may scare some owners off, but there’s no doubting his consistency with the long ball as he came just two short of his fifth straight 40 (exactly 40) homerun season. Berkman had a down year in 2009 by his own standards; however, he continues to be a top notch fantasy first baseman and could easily outproduce his MDP. Kendry Morales broke out in a big way last year, but be cautious as I doubt his ability to sustain a .300 average or 18% HR/FB. In many drafts he’s going closer to the second tier, but if he does manage to fall to you in the late fifth or sixth round don’t hesitate to grab him.

Tier 4: Rounds 7-8

Derrek Lee75.79.30691351111532
Billy Butler83.09.3017821931608
Carlos Pena84.49.22791391003471

The top-notch first basemen run out after tier three, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t anymore solid options to fill the position. Derrek Lee and Billy Butler are guys who provide solid all-around production (though they won’t steal many) and Carlos Pena provides a big power bat at the expense of batting average. Lee bounced back in a big way last year and looked to be in vintage form, however, he is starting to get up there in years and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to continue at last years pace. Still, he’s a solid bet to put up a .290 average with 25 or so homeruns and good counting stats. Butler had a breakout year in 2009 and at only 23 years old heading into this season; he’s on the upswing of his career and should continue to get better. As he heads into his physical peak we could definitely see a few more of his 51 doubles leaving the yard. Pena continues to be a three-category stud, but his average can bring some hurt to your team. While he shouldn’t hit down near .227 again, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to get the average back over the .250 mark. If you head into this tier with a few high average guys that can absorb Pena’s weak batting average, he’s worth the pick for the power boost he’ll bring to your team.

Tier 5: Rounds 12-13

Minnesota Twins vs. Anaheim Angels

Michael Cuddyer136.55.2769332946588
Jorge Cantu166.62.28967161003585
Adam LaRoche210.14.2777825832555
James Loney185.50.2817313907576
Garrett Jones172.90.29345214410314

Tier five is where it starts to get a little sketchy. Michael Cuddyer had a huge year in 2009 bashing 32 homeruns whiel approaching 100 runs and RBIs with a reasonable average. However, I doubt his ability to maintain his 17.1% HR/FB (12.9% career) and would expect him to hit closer to 20 jacks this year. Even so, hitting behind Mauer and Morneau should give him plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and keep his RBI total high. Jorge Cantu should continue to be the clean up hitter for the Marlins giving him plenty of opportunities to knock in Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, and Hanley Ramirez. In 2009, Adam LaRoche bounced from the Pirates to the Red Sox and then back to the Braves where he started his career. He was a beast with the Braves hitting .325 with 12 homeruns in 212 at bats. This year he’s headed to the Diamondbacks and the hitter’s paradise at Chase Field. His first and second half splits over his career have been pretty crazy, but if he is able to figure it out a little quicker this year he could be great value at the 210th pick. Loney is as advertised, he won’t really wow you in any category but he’ll put solid numbers all around and won’t really hurt you in any category either. Garrett Jones is a bit of an enigma as he burst onto the scene last year crushing 21 homeruns in only 314 at bats. He doesn’t really have the track record in the minors to support the kind of numbers he put up so be wary drafting him this year.

Tier 6: Rounds 14-18

Chris Davis168.78.2384821590391 
Paul Konerko209.40.2777528881546 
Nick Johnson243.01.291718622457 
Todd Helton222.68.3257915860544 
Gaby SanchezN/A.2905516554314in AAA

By this time it’s pretty likely that you’ll have drafted at least one of the guys in the first five tiers, but if you haven’t or you need someone to slot in at a corner infield or utility position, there are still a few solid options in tier six. Everyone knows about the power potential of Chris Davis, however, his strikeout rate almost reached 40% last year and that won him a trip back to the minor leagues. He’s going to have to do more than hit a few bombs to keep a major league starting job and a 150:24 K:BB just isn’t going to cut it. He still has plenty of potential and and 24 years old has plenty of time to figure it out, but unless he can find a way to fix his plate discipline it’s going to be another rough year for the Rangers’ first baseman. Konerko, Johnson, and Helton aren’t very flashy but they all have ways to help a fantasy team without really hurting anywhere. If Johnson stays healthy and lands in the second hole of the Yankees line up his world-beating OBP could lead to him scoring a ton of runs while knocking his fair share in as well.

Michael Marinakis is a 24-year-old fantasy addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe all day where he posts as GiantsFan14 and waits for Buster Posey, the savior of the Giants, to arrive in the majors.
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2 Responses to “Positional Tiers: First Base”

  1. Regarding Morales, his HR/FB in past seasons is based on very limited AB (2006 – 197; 2007 – 119; 2008 – 61). I’d say he’s been a bit of a late bloomer in getting his power stroke up to snuff, but he mashed 15 HR in 317 AB of AAA ball in 2008. His FB rate wasn’t too far out of line on the small sample he had over his first three big league seasons either. The bigger thing to worry about is if he can pick up his LD rate, such that he can still hit for a healthy average.

  2. biesbol says:

    How do you not have Troy Glaus listed on either the 1B or 3B rankings? He will bat cleanup in an improved Braves lineup, and the move to 1B may give him a full year of health. he could easily post numbers at least like cuddyer.


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