Pod’s Picks: First Base

On Monday, I started identifying which players at each position my ranking differed most from the RotoGraphs consensus. I began with catchers, and now it’s time to move around the diamond to first base. Once again, I will only look at those expected to earn value in standard 12-team mixed leagues. With the first base, corner and utility slots, I will assume 20 first base will earn at least a buck of value. The bullish picks will only include players I ranked in the top 20, while the bearish will include only those included in the top 20 by the consensus.


David Ortiz

My Rank: 7 | Consensus: 12

Oops. This was clearly the result of too high an at-bat projection and I have subsequently lowered it (the projection change occurred yesterday), which probably brings my ranking back in line with the rest of the crew. There is really no reason I would be more optimistic about a 37 year old who isn’t 100% healthy. A reminder that I am always tinkering with my projections, reacting to news and sometimes reevaluating players, so my rankings are fluid.

Michael Cuddyer

My Rank: 17 | Consensus: 22

Once again, I am guessing that I am projecting more at-bats than everyone else at 525. Cuddyer hasn’t been particularly injury prone in the past, so I’m not about to dock him significantly because of last year’s oblique strain. What is usually forgotten about Cuddyer is that he actually steals bases. You don’t usually get those from your first baseman. Sure, 5-10 steals doesn’t sound like much, but 1 steal is typically worth more in dollar value terms than 1 home run. So, imagine his projection was for an extra 5-10 homers with 0 steals. That would most certainly increase his perceived value, though his actual value wouldn’t have increased at all.


Billy Butler

My Rank: 9 | Consensus: 4

Butler’s HR/FB rate nearly doubled, despite his average fly ball plus home run distance only increasing by four feet. Of course, one could also point to his absolute average distance being excellent and claiming he had been unlucky in previous years. That could very well be the case, but he also hits a low rate of fly balls which hurts his home run potential as well. It’s funny to be pessimistic this year after making a bold prediction last year that he would hit 30 home runs and nearly being correct.

Anthony Rizzo

My Rank: 12 | Consensus: 9

After drafting him in LABR in mid-February, I had no idea I would be less optimistic than the rest of the rankers. I feel like my projection is very fair, though now that I compare my home run projection (25) to the rest of the systems, I see maybe I am being a bit too conservative. It’s probably just the nature of projecting a young, unproven player where it is difficult to project a repeat of that 18% HR/FB rate. However, I would not be surprised at all if he ranked closer to what the others are projecting than I am.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

13 Responses to “Pod’s Picks: First Base”

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  1. jimbo says:

    And Cuddyer is a career .270 hitter. Probably won’t hurt you there, might even help. He’s a poor-man’s 5-category guy isn’t he?

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    • ManwichMan says:

      You’re gonna have to explain how 5 to 10 more home runs would be no extra value. Relative to other outfielders again?

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      • What I was describing is a scenario in which Cuddyer’s steals projection was instead added to his home run total. Imagine his projection consisted of 0 steals and not 5-10, but with 5-10 more homers. His value would be unchanged, or lower.

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      • ManwichMan says:

        Well yeah, I understand that. I know 5-10 steals would put him in the top tier of first basemen, in regard to steals. But I don’t get how gaining extra hrs, runs, and rbis, would be a loss.

        Basically, by zips, going from 21/67/73/8/.284 to 29/76/87/0/.284

        I need to go back and compare the rankings

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      • I didn’t assume an increase in RBI and runs scored as well. If you add those, then he prob does increase in value slightly. I was just operating under the “all else being equal” assumption, that 1 steal is worth more than 1 home run, ignoring the fact that a home run also is a run scored and at least an RBI.

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      • Lenard says:

        But adding one HR to the prediction should automatically add one R and one RBI to the prediction by default, correct? With regards to RBI, maybe 1.5 or so considering not all of them will be solo?

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    • ManwichMan says:

      *first base. I am a bit tired

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  2. Stormin' Norman says:

    I might as well ask here, can I see the math/method to how a SB is worth more than a HR when a HR is worth four categories (avg (since it’s a hit), a run, a rbi, and of course the HR itself)?

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    • I think people are misunderstanding when I say a steal is worth more than a home run. I’m completely ignoring a home run’s effect on RBI and runs scored totals. Strictly comparing the two metrics, there are fewer steals on a fantasy roster than home runs. So, that makes 1 steal worth more than 1 home run. Just like 1 home run is worth more than 1 RBI, because a fantasy team records many more RBI than home runs.

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      • Stormin' Norman says:

        But if you’re going to ignore that effect, it kind of takes away from the point of comparing the two, don’t you think?

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      • No, because my point was Cuddyer’s perceived value. 27-85-80-0 looks better than 20-85-80-7, right? All I’m saying is that in dollar value terms, the 2nd line is worth slightly more and that’s what his projection is closer to.

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      • Bandwith Bob says:

        re: “Strictly comparing the two metrics, there are fewer steals on a fantasy roster than home runs.”

        Sure, but this doesn’t make steals more valuable. What gives a stat value is its use to a team. The average spread between teams in homers will be tighter than that of steals.

        Therefore, adding 10 HR’s will usually help you more than adding 10 steals.

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  3. Shaun Catron says:

    I’m buying all Rockies this year. I think people underestimate how much of an idiot Jim Tracy was.

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