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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.