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First base tiers for Draft Day 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You've heard of two-catcher leagues? How 'bout one that lets me start two first basemen?

In every draft, regardless of format, I find myself wishing I had room for one more. A utility spot alone doesn't cut it. Even a corner infield spot in a Rotisserie league fills up all too quickly.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiers are designed to deliver the most efficient draft possible by using player rankings to reveal the distribution of talent at each position. A new tier begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the one 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. -- SW

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Print Scott's tiers for Draft Day!

While to some degree, that's an indication you can wait at the position, it's a fine line. Sure, you'll find plenty of studs at first base, both potential and proven, but if you pass up all the proven ones in the early rounds, you're left with only potential ones. And the thing about potential is it isn't always met.

In short, the stakes are higher at first base. If by some unfortunate development, everyone ends up with a stud there but you -- which is entirely possible considering the top two tiers go 10 deep (excluding Posey and Santana, who are sure to be drafted as catchers) -- you'll be at a disadvantage even if the player you start there is decent in his own right.

Notice I include David Ortiz here, as well as other DH-only players like Billy Butler and Victor Martinez. You can't actually play them at first base, but since your utility spot would likely go to a first baseman otherwise, tiering them with the first basemen gives you a better concept of when to draft them. I've marked them with an asterisk (*) in case you prefer to keep your utility spot flexible.

The Elite: Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder
The Near-Elite: Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, Allen Craig, David Ortiz*
The Next-Best Things: Mark Trumbo, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Matt Adams, Billy Butler*, Brandon Belt
The Fallback Options: Mark Teixeira, Victor Martinez*, Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss, Kendrys Morales
The Last Resorts: Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Adam Dunn, Ike Davis, Ryan Howard, Chris Carter, Justin Morneau, Adam Lind
The Leftovers: Justin Smoak, Adam LaRoche, James Loney, Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Jon Singleton, Darin Ruf, Mark Reynolds, Mitch Moreland, Garrett Jones, Mike Olt

See what I mean about the proven studs? I'm perfectly fine with Pujols as my starting first baseman (his per-game production before shutting it down last year was actually quite good, though not up to his usual standards) and love the strides Hosmer made over the course of the year, but you can't wait half the draft and expect to get any of The Near-Elite. No matter how much you believe in a breakout for Rizzo or trust in the scouting reports for Abreu, you're most likely drafting your top first baseman in the early rounds.

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In fact, the first round is the only way to assure yourself one of the heavyweights at the position. If you've studied the mock drafts, you know they're all gone by the middle of the second round. Just because Goldschmidt is part of a deep tier doesn't mean you shouldn't consider taking him third or fourth overall. That pick may be your only chance at one of The Elite at the position.

The third tier, The Next-Best Things, is the most interesting one. Gonzalez, Trumbo and Butler don't really do anything for me. We've already seen the full extent of their potential, and it's exactly what you'd expect for a middle-round pick. But Adams hit .315 with eight home runs and a .952 OPS as an everyday first baseman in September, and some of the scouting reports for Abreu make him out to be a stud. Sure, you could wait to get both, trusting one to break through as a must-start first baseman, but you leave yourself with no recourse if someone else beats you to the punch. My preferred approach is to draft a first baseman from either The Elite or The Near Elite and then wait to get whichever of Adams and Abreu -- typically Abreu -- lasts the longest. Knowing where they stack up at a deep position buys me some time at utility, allowing me to stock up on starting pitchers earlier than I otherwise would. It's a way to take advantage of the depth at the position while still guarding against the worst-case scenario. Unlike first base, not everyone is going to have a stud at utility.

By the time you get to The Fallback Options, so many first baseman have gone off the board that if you haven't selected one yet, you've basically conceded the position. Yeah, in Head-to-Head points leagues, Martinez is still pretty valuable because of his low strikeout rate and doubles potential, and Teixeira may be able to salvage something yet. But even in a best-case scenario, they won't give you the high-end production everyone else in the league has already secured at the position. In Rotisserie leagues, which typically require a corner infielder in addition to a first baseman and utility player, the tier obviously matters more, but you'll probably find comparable options at the shallower third base position at that stage of the draft.

Among The Last Resorts, Dunn, Howard and Carter still matter in Rotisserie leagues because of their home run potential, but if you have to resort to one of them, you've done something wrong. They're liable to kill you in batting average, assuming they keep their jobs.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Start a good sign for Emilio Bonifacio
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:42 pm ET) After missing more than a month with a strained oblique, Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio came off the DL Tuesday. But the bigger news for Fantasy owners is that he started his first game back. With Arismendy Alcantara now up in the big leagues and Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano crushing it in recent weeks, his starting role was less than assured.

And frankly, it still is. Bonifacio's start Tuesday was against a left-hander, Eric Stults, and the switch-hitter entered the day batting .362 against lefties compared to just .230 against righties. Given that Chris Coghlan, who bats left-handed, was out of the lineup Tuesday, this could have the makings of a platoon.

As an everyday player, Bonifacio's steals potential and versatility would make him a nice find in Rotisserie leagues. As a part-timer, he's nothing more than waiver fodder.

If you need steals, you certainly have nothing to lose by making a move for him now, but understand he's hardly an open-and-shut case.


Scooter Gennett exits game with quad tightness
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett was removed from Tuesday's game after experiencing tightness in his right quad, the team announced.

Gennett went 0 for 2 at the plate before being removed. He also dealt with quad tightness over the weekend. Gennett has hit .305/.343/.481 with eight home runs, 34 RBI and six stolen bases in 295 at-bats.


Pedro Alvarez removed with knee discomfort Tuesday
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(9:11 pm ET) Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez was removed from Tuesday's game with a knee issue.

Alvarez left the game with left knee discomfort. He was 1 for 2, with a double, before being removed from the game. 


Your daily White Sox closer assessment
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:05 pm ET) You may recall White Sox manager Robin Ventura had this to say after Zach Putnam bailed out Jake Petricka with two outs in the ninth inning Saturday for his second save in as many days:

"Unfortunately, I don't have a guy that you're just going to leave out there, saying that's your closer," Ventura said.

But the second half of that quote may actually say more:

"I like Put's swing-and-miss ability with some lefties, and that's the reason."

"Put," of course, is Putnam, who struck out left-handed hitter Jason Castro with two runners on to secure the save Saturday. But looking back on it, the most interesting part of Putnam bailing out Petricka is that it happened immediately after the second out, not after the second runner reached base. If a right-handed hitter was due up instead of Castro, Ventura may have just let Petricka finish out the inning.

Which explains why Ventura went back to Petricka in the ninth inning Monday. Two right-handed hitters were due up.

After weeks of trying to discern what's happening at the back end of the White Sox bullpen, we may finally have an answer: It's a lefty-righty platoon. Considering they're not so great individually anyway, perhaps you should leave both Putnam and Petricka for the deepest of Rotisserie leagues.


Kelly Johnson to see time in right field
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:04 pm ET) Yankees infielder Kelly Johnson is starting in right field for the first time in his career Tuesday, and manager Joe Girardi indicated that Johnson could play more often in right field moving forward, MLB.com reports.

"He's played mostly left field, but I think he's athletic enough that it shouldn't be a problem," Girardi said. "I might have to do it if we can't get Carlos [Beltran] out there, because I can't run these guys out there every day."

The Yankees acquired Chase Headley Tuesday and will start him regularly at third base, where Johnson has made a majority of his appearances this season.


Could trade resuscitate Yangervis Solarte's value?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(8:50 pm ET) The trade that brought Yangervis Solarte from the Yankees to the Padres Tuesday assures at least one thing: The 27-year-old utility player play every day again. Between Jedd Gyorko's plantar fasciitis, Everth Cabrera's strained hamstring and, of course, Chase Headley's sudden departure, the Padres have openings all across their infield.

Though Solarte hadn't completely disappeared from the lineup in his final weeks with the Yankees, he sat too often to have any chance of overcoming his midsummer slump -- which, by the way, has lasted only 18 games. Granted, he's gone 4 for 51 (.078) during those 18 games, but the lack of repetition certainly hasn't helped. When inexperienced players see fewer pitches, they tend to get worse rather than better. Solarte hasn't had a chance to work through this slump. The Yankees pulled the plug on him too quickly.

He'll get that chance with the Padres, and because of that, I wouldn't rule out him making an impact in the second half. Throughout his slump, he has continued to make contact at a high rate, striking out just nine times in those 18 games, and players who do that typically hit for a high batting average. When the Yankees sent Solarte down for five games in the middle of the slump (giving him those consistent at-bats he lacked in the majors), he went 12 for 20 (.600). The ability is still there.

That's not to say I'm rushing to pick Solarte back up. It's probably unnecessary outside the deepest of leagues. But if he shows signs of life, I'll be ready.


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(8:49 pm ET) The Mets aren't willing to eat salary in a deal including Bartolo Colon, according to Newsday

Colon has drawn interest on the market, but no deal is imminent. The Mets are currently weighing the market, and are not willing to eat money in the deal. Colon is owed $11 million next season. He has a 4.12 ERA over 126 2/3 innings. 


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(8:43 pm ET) The Marlins are more likely to extend Casey McGehee than trade him, according to MLB.com.

McGehee's name has come up in trade rumors recently, but the club isn't inclined to deal him. McGehee is signed cheap, and still has one more year of arbitration. The club can bring him back at a higher price, or opt to hand him an extension. The team is willing to do that since McGehee is considered a leader in the clubhouse. McGehee is hitting .322/.389/.399 over 376 at-bats. 


Alex Rios, Jake Smolinski expected to be available Wednesday
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(8:04 pm ET) The Rangers expect outfielders Alex Rios and Jake Smolinski to both be available Wednesday, MLB.com reports.

Rios was out of the lineup for a third straight day Tuesday while nursing a sprained ankle, but he said he's ready to return. "It felt good," Rios said before the game. "I know Wash wanted to give me an extra day, but I'm ready. I expect to be as good as ever."

Smolinski was removed from Monday's game after fouling a ball off his foot. "As of right now, it's nothing to be concerned about," manager Ron Washington said Tuesday of Smolinski's injury. "It's just sore where it hit off his foot."


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(8:03 pm ET) Giants infielder Joe Panik left Tuesday's game with an ankle injury.

Panik was officially diagnosed with a right ankle sprain. At this time, it's unclear how long Panik will be sidelined with the injury. He's hit .213 in 61 at-bats.  


 
 
 
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