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2013 First Base Tier Rankings: Preseason

Earlier this month we rolled out our consensus rankings, and now it’s time to pick them apart a bit and separate everyone into individual tiers. The individual player rankings slightly different from our consensus — I did disagree with some rankings and adjusted accordingly — but not a whole lot. In the past I excluded the catcher-eligible guys from the first base rankings because no one ever bothered to actually plug those guys into first base in their lineups, but I’m going to include them this year for the sake of completeness. Here are the tiers:

Tier One
Albert Pujols
Joey Votto
Prince Fielder

Despite offseason knee surgery and what is now a four-year decline in wRC+, Pujols remains in the top spot because he’s as much of a lock for .280/30/100 as any player in the game. At first base you need guaranteed production, and that’s exactly what Albert gives you. Votto is kinda coming off a knee injury of his own and would occupy the top spot in OBP leagues. Fielder mashes andI don’t think there would be much argument if he ranked ahead of the other two.

Tier Two
Edwin Encarnacion
Buster Posey
Billy Butler
Allen Craig
Paul Goldschmidt
Adrian Gonzalez

The various projection systems are slightly less bullish on Encarnacion and Posey following their monster years, projecting 25-32 homers for the former and a .300 or so batting average with 20 dingers for the latter. Still great, just slightly less great compared to 2012. I am concerned about Gonzalez, who has seen his homer total, ISO, and BB% decline in each of the last three years. Leaving Fenway Park and moving into Dodger Stadium doesn’t figure to help his offensive output either.

Tier Three
Paul Konerko
Joe Mauer
Anthony Rizzo
Freddie Freeman
David Ortiz
Mark Trumbo
Ike Davis

I guess this is our tier of up-and-comers and fall-downers. Konerko seemed to battle nagging injuries all season and had surgery to remove bone chips from his wrist over the winter. Mauer is AVG and OBP gold but he doesn’t do much else in fantasy. Ortiz is likely to start the year on the DL with continued heel problems and who knows how that will affect him during the season. Rizzo’s poised for stardom and could entrench himself firmly in Tier Two before the season ends. Tier One might be a little optimistic right now.

Tier Four
Adam LaRoche
Eric Hosmer
Chris Davis
Ryan Howard
Nick Swisher
Justin Morneau
Mark Teixeira
Michael Cuddyer

Who the hell knows what the think of Hosmer. He stunk last season and is tearing the cover off the ball this spring, but he did the same thing last year. Everyone seems to love the tools and hitting prowess, but I want to see some actual production before bumping him up any higher. Teixeira will be out until roughly June with a wrist problem, and that’s assuming it heals properly and he doesn’t need surgery. The team already acknowledged the rest and rehab approach might not work. Given his declining production, he might actually be a tier too high all things considered.

Tier Five
Carlos Santana
Todd Frazier
Garrett Jones
Kendrys Morales
Corey Hart
Mike Napoli
Brandon Belt
Adam Dunn
Lance Berkman
Yonder Alonso
Mark Reynolds
Chris Carter
Michael Young
Dustin Ackley

Some big injury concerns here, specifically Napoli (hip) and Berkman (knees). I do think Napoli will absolute mash playing half his games in Fenway though, like seriously mash. A 175 wRC+ at home type of thing. Hart is coming back from knee surgery himself and is tentatively scheduled to return in late-April. Dunn is good for homers and nothing else at this point, Young batting average and nothing else. I think Carter could wind up having a real big year in right-handed hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Options are starting to be very limited this far down the draft board and I wouldn’t be comfortable with any of these guys as my starting first baseman.

Tier Six
Mitch Moreland
Tyler Colvin
Brandon Moss
Matt Carpenter
Jeff Keppinger
Daniel Murphy
Carlos Pena
Adam Lind
John Mayberry Jr.
Chris Parmalee
James Loney
Jordan Pacheco
Justin Smoak
Luke Scott
Brett Wallace
Todd Helton
Mike Olt
Daric Barton
Carlos Lee
Casey Kotchman

The worst of the rest, I suppose. I do like Carpenter a bit (okay far too much, I paid $19 for him in our staff ottoneu league), but other than an unexpectedly big year from Smoak or huge rookie year form Olt, there’s not a ton of fantasy value here. Olt was just sent to the minor leagues earlier this week, by the way. Lee remains unemployed as of this writing and might have been forced into retirement.