Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: Initial look at first base

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

As a general rule, going 20 deep at an infield position will provide a long enough list of names to last an entire mixed-league draft.

But first base has a way of breaking the rules.

Once again, it's shaping up to be Fantasy Baseball's deepest position in 2014, and the depth extends to every tier. Considering one-third of my projected first round for 2014 (the subject of last week's Reality Check ) is first basemen, you'd think little would remain for the rounds that follow. But the position is so abundant from start to finish that I couldn't even fit probable mixed-leaguers like Adam Dunn, Nick Swisher, Kendrys Morales and Ryan Howard into my top 20.

And that's even with Matt Carpenter, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Victor Martinez, Jonathan Lucroy, Daniel Murphy and Michael Morse expected to lose eligibility at the position.

So who made the cut? Some you may have forgotten about. Some you may not see coming. But all are capable of the kind of production that would make them mainstays at just about any other position.

Top 10 first basemen for 2014:
1. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Blue Jays
2. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
4. Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
5. Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers
6. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
7. Buster Posey, C/1B, Giants
8. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
9. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
10. Allen Craig, 1B/OF, Cardinals

The top five I had already established in my projected first two rounds for 2014. Not everyone will agree on the order of the top four, with the biggest point of contention being my choice of Encarnacion at No. 1, but over the last two years, he's been the most productive hitter after Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout in Head-to-Head points leagues. He's like a hybrid of Davis and Cabrera, offering the power potential and batting average limitations of the former, but with the plate discipline of the latter, making him a safer bet than Davis to keep it up from year to year, especially now that he's done it two years in a row. He hasn't gotten much pub with the Blue Jays out of contention during that time, but ultimately, it's the numbers that count.

Everyone wants to write off Fielder just because he hasn't lived up to expectations this year, but even in his diminished state, he's been too productive to consider sitting in Fantasy. How many players can you say that about on your mixed-league team? And keep in mind that's the downside for him. At age 29, I'm thinking he's a better bet than not to bounce back to his previous six years' production, which would make him first-round material.

After him is where the position starts to get interesting, with any of the next five capable of filling that sixth spot. OK, so Posey is kind of a throwaway -- the obligatory catcher hybrid amid a sea of pure mashers. Sure, he's a good hitter in his own right, but his eligibility at the weaker position inflates his ranking at the stronger one. If you want him (as your catcher, I should hope), you'll have to use your third-round pick to get him, and that's all I have to say about him here.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Pujols, on the other hand, deserves a column unto himself. He probably stands out as the riskiest of this group considering he hasn't played in a game since July, but for a player who was noticeably hobbled for the four months he was active, limping around the bases on every home run as he settled into an unfamiliar DH role, he was surprisingly productive, averaging nearly as many Head-to-Head points per game as Fielder and more than either Hosmer or Craig. Just imagine if he was able to move like a normal person. Clearly, the Angels are committed to getting him right, so I wouldn't rule him out for a rebound of sorts at age 34. That may not be the most likely scenario, but again, he doesn't even need a rebound to justify the ranking.

The one player ranked behind him whose upside could propel him ahead, in my estimation, is Hosmer, who has been much more productive this season than his overall numbers let on. Yes, I'm willing to double down on my "mistake" from two years ago, when I declared him the sophomore first baseman to own over Freeman, but his performance since May 30 has me thinking I'll have the last laugh. That was the day the Royals changed hitting coaches from Jack Maloof, whose misguided approach to Kauffman Stadium was to turn his young sluggers into singles hitters. Since then, Hosmer has averaged 3.53 Head-to-Head points per game. Over the full season, Encarnacion, Davis and Goldschmidt are the only first basemen to average more.

At this stage of their careers, Freeman and Craig strike me as more or less the same player: likely .300 hitters with questionable plate discipline and moderate power. Craig was more of a home run hitter in 2012, and if he reverts to that form in 2014, Freeman will be a step behind him. Then again, as a 24-year-old in 2014, Freeman may end up taking two steps forward. Typically, I'm one to gamble on the upside, but I'd feel better about it in this case if Craig wasn't also eligible in the outfield, giving his owner more flexibility over the course of the season than the Freeman owner. Maybe when I see how the outfield stacks up, I'll have a change of heart.

Next 10 first basemen for 2014:
11. Carlos Santana, C/1B, Indians
12. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers
13. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
14. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
15. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels
16. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankee
17. Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants
18. Mike Napoli, 1B, Red Sox
19. Corey Hart, 1B, Brewers
20. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals

If a drop-off exists at first base, it's with these 10. While you could make a case for selecting any of Pujols, Posey, Hosmer, Freeman and Craig as early as Round 3, Gonzalez or Butler would feel like a reach in Round 4, where I anticipate a run on starting pitchers and second-tier outfielders like Jay Bruce and Carlos Gomez.

(Notice I completely skipped over Santana. Darn catcher hybrids mucking up my rankings.)

I wouldn't say I'm especially down on either Gonzalez or Butler, but at the point you'd consider drafting them, most everyone will have selected a starting first baseman already. And even if someone makes a play for a second, which is especially likely in leagues that require an extra corner infielder, you'll have an abundance of fallback options. Gonzalez has only furthered his decline from a year ago, and Butler, though still a great source of batting average, has returned to being the 15-homer guy he was for most of his career before exploding for 29 homers last year. If this year's numbers serve as new baselines for both -- which isn't so unreasonble, given their histories -- I say they rank closer to the players behind them than the ones ahead of them.

In fact, part of me is tempted to rank Rizzo over them because of his upside, but I'll go the more cautious route after getting burned by Ike Davis each of the last two years. The Mike Trouts of the world have spoiled us, but over the course of baseball history, a .230ish batting average for a 24-year-old in his first full season is hardly cause for concern. Rizzo will continue to make strides as he approaches his prime, and his high walk rate will keep him relevant throughout the ups and downs.

Trumbo represents the safe, if not uninspired, fallback option before the onslaught of imaginative picks to close out the top 20, when banged-up veterans like Teixeira, Hart and Howard and untested up-and-comers like Adams, Darin Ruf, Kyle Blanks and Justin Smoak enter the discussion.

And then you have your tried-and-trues like Napoli, Dunn, Swisher and Morales, who some people might be inclined to rank higher for projection's sake, but at a deep position like first base, I'm aiming for better than just a capable bat. I want a game-changer, and if Adams claims everyday at-bats in St. Louis with Carlos Beltran on his way out the door and Hart's surgically repaired knees allow him to earn a full-time role somewhere, that's exactly what they'll be.

Of course, if neither appears to be case in March, I'll adjust. But based on what I expect to happen in the offseason, Adams and Hart will be prime sleepers on Draft Day -- Adams as the latest in the Cardinals' assembly line of homegrown mashers, having compiled a .318 batting average and .927 OPS over his minor-league career, and Hart as the steady home run hitter who averaged as many Head-to-Head points per game in 2012 (3.01) as Craig has this year.

I did sneak one tried-and-true into my bottom five in Napoli, but that's partially in response to perception. Fantasy owners will have a soft spot for him because of his past eligibility at catcher. That said, he's a safer bet for homers than Swisher or Morales and a safer bet for batting average than Dunn, so I don't mind giving him a slight bump, particularly if he re-signs with the Red Sox.

In Rotisserie leagues, it could be more than just a slight bump for him, Dunn, Howard and even Ruf because of what they can offer in home runs, but personally, I prefer a well-rounded hitter like Belt, who could be on the verge of a Hosmer-like breakout in 2014 after taking another step forward this year.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Eddie Butler to join six-man rotation
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler will start Saturday against the Diamondbacks, MLB.com reported Monday.

Butler will be part of a six-man rotation for the final few weeks of the season, following the completion of the Double-A Tulsa season. Butler finished the season with a 3.99 ERA in 117 1/3 innings in the minors, and he allowed six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in the majors before suffering a shoulder injury. 


Martin Prado heads to 60-day DL, ending season
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:05 pm ET) Yankees infielder Martin Pradowas placed on the 60-day disabled list Tuesday, after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. His season is over after 143 games. 

Prado hit .282/.321/.412 in 573 at-bats on the season. 


Jose Pirela added for final weeks
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:03 pm ET) The Yankees called up infielder Jose Pirela from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barrie Tuesday to replace Martin Prado on the active roster.

Pirela hit .305/.351/.441 in 130 games at Triple-A this season. 


Martin Prado undergoes appendectomy; season likely over
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:08 am ET) Yankees infielder Martin Prado's season is likely over after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Tuesday, YES Network reports. Further details are not known at this point.

Prado hit .316/.336/.541 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 133 at-bats after joining the Yankees at the trade deadline. He is under contract for next season, and figure to be in the team's plans as a super-utility player. 


Oswaldo Arcia day to day with back injury
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:22 am ET) Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is day to day after tweaking his upper back on a swing in Monday's 8-6 loss to the Tigers.

Arcia suffered the injury in the sixth inning and was replaced in the eighth by a pinch-hitter. After the game, manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com he hopes the injury is not a serious one, but should know more Tuesday.

Arcia is second on the team with 18 home runs in just 333 at-bats, while hitting .231/.304/.456 overall.


Matt Shoemaker set for MRI Tuesday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker will undergo an MRI on his side to determine the cause of him discomfort in his left rib cage, MLB.com reported Monday.

Shoemaker left his start Monday in the eighth inning with the discomfort, but it is not considered a serious issue at this point. It is not clear whether this is expected to impact his availability for his scheduled start against the Rangers Saturday.  


Steve Tolleson exits game with wrist injury
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Blue Jays infielder Steve Tolleson was forced out of Monday's game against the Orioles after being it on the right wrist with a foul ball in the fourth inning.

Tolleson stayed in the game and wasn't removed until the eighth inning. He finished 2 for 3 with a pair of singles in a 5-2 defeat. He is hitting .241 with three homers and 14 RBI over 158 at-bats. His status remains uncertain for Tuesday in Baltimore.


Hisashi Iwakuma knocked around against Angels
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:18 am ET) Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma got knocked around Monday night against the Angels in Anaheim, dropping to 14-8 on the year. He coughed up seven runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four over 3 1/3 innings of an 8-1 defeat.

Over his last five starts covering 21 1/3 innings, Iwakuma has allowed 22 earned runs. He owns a 3.42 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 26 starts (168 1/3 innings). His next start will come Saturday at Houston.

Matt Shoemaker stays dominant in win over M's
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker dominated the Mariners for the win Monday night, improving to 16-4 on the year. He allowed one run on five hits and no walk while striking out five over 7 2/3 innings of an 8-1 victory.

Over his last two starts covering 14 1/3 innings, Shoemaker has allowed two earned runs. He owns a 3.04 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP over 136 innings of work. His next start will come Saturday at home against Texas.

Andrew Cashner goes the distance in win over Phillies
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:09 am ET) Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner went the distance Monday night against the Phillies, limiting hitters to two hits over nine shutout frames to improve to 4-7 on the year. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk in a 1-0 victory.

Over his last three starts covering 23 innings, Cashner has allowed four earned runs. He owns a 2.20 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over 17 starts (110 1/3 innings). His next start will come Saturday at home against San Francisco.

 
 
 
Rankings