First base. It's the granddaddy of deep. Big bats as far as the eye can see.
| Tiering is a method of doctoring positional rankings so that players of similar value are bundled into groups. A new group begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the player preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- Scott White |
But it can burn you if you get too comfortable waiting around for leftovers. See, for as many options -- and I mean legitimate, potentially high-end options -- as it offers, a significant number of them are eligible at other, not-so-deep positions.
What's "a significant number?" Well, of the first 20 players I've ranked at the position, seven are eligible somewhere other than first base. (And that's not counting David Ortiz and Victor Martinez, who technically aren't eligible even at first base. Look, I had to put them somewhere. Tiering the only two relevant DH-only players by themselves wouldn't help you gauge where to draft them, would it? Don't worry: I put an asterisk (*) next to their names in the tiers, in case you forget.)
Chances are that second position, whatever it is, is what they'll be drafted to play. First base is deep, after all. Why not fill the shallower positions first? But the danger in that line of thinking is everyone thinks that way. Unless you anticipate the upper tiers depleting faster here than at other positions, you'll find yourself drafting from a lower tier than you had intended.
The Leftovers: Mark Reynolds, Brandon Belt, Michael Young, Garrett Jones, Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, Matt Carpenter, Adam Lind, Justin Smoak, Chris Parmelee, Mitch Moreland, Tyler Colvin, Chris Carter
After ranking head and shoulders above the rest for the better part of a decade, Pujols has slowed down enough that first base can finally have a first tier as deep as the rest of the position. Lots of early-round types here. Some might quibble over my inclusion of Posey and Encarnacion in The Elite, but the bottom line is I'm willing to go the extra round or two to nab Encarnacion over someone like Craig. To me, that's a surefire indication that they belong in separate tiers.
Slotting Mark Teixeira with The Near Elite was almost painful for me. I really don't want him as my starting first baseman this year. If early draft data is any indication, he might very well be the last of that second tier to go off the board, which might be what compels me to draft him in the fifth or sixth round when I'd prefer to direct my attention elsewhere and target an Ike Davis or Rizzo type later. So in essence, I'd be protecting myself from myself by dropping him a tier, and sometimes, that's exactly the way to go.
But ultimately, I opted against it here. It's not like I take literally the last remaining player in every tier. If only Butler and Teixeira remain, I'm probably grabbing Butler because I'm not expecting either to get back to me. And if only Teixeira remains and I honestly have no other direction to go at any other position, I probably am taking him, so it's not brazenly dishonest.
Is it a perfect? Not at all, but unless I intend to give Teixeira his own tier, I can't expect him to fit perfectly anywhere.
Konerko was another tweener for me, but ultimately, I decided he didn't belong in the same category as Goldschmidt or Freeman, who performed up to the level of Teixeira on a per-game basis in Head-to-Head leagues last year. Do Davis and Rizzo? Well, they have about the same upside as Goldschmidt and Freeman, even if they're not as far along. Konerko, on the other hand, is due for a steep decline in his age-37 season and showed signs of it in the second half last year. Frankly, I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer Howard or Trumbo to him.
Hart's inclusion in the The Next Best Things was iffy, given that his recent knee surgery will likely cost him the first two months, but let's be real here: He's getting drafted in all leagues. The same isn't necessarily true for any of the players in the next tier.
The name of that tier, The Last Resorts, is a little harsh at a position as deep as this one. Dunn hit 41 homers last year, for crying out loud, and Chris Davis and Moss are big power threats in their own right. Hosmer is just a year removed from being the top breakout candidate at the position, and it's not like he's a lost cause at age 23.
Chances are that tier will litter the late rounds of most drafts. How else are you going to fill that DH or utility spot? What passes for a sleeper at first base would likely be a mainstay at second base or shortstop.
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