Pod’s Picks June Update: First Base

Today I continue on updating my Pod’s Picks, comparing my rank versus the other three RotoGraphers. We moved on to the first basemen this time, of which the consensus rankings were published two weeks ago. I’ll generally only consider those first baseman I ranked within the top 20 for the bullish category and those the rest of the crew ranked in the top 20 for the bearish category.

Bullish

Matt Adams

My Rank: 16 | Their Rank: 22

Matt Adams‘ .363 wOBA is almost identical to his .365 mark last year, but the shape of his performance has been completely different. He has swung significantly more often and made better contact, which has resulted in fewer strikeouts. That improvement, along with a ridiculous .386 BABIP, has led to a batting average well above .300, which is highly unlikely to last. We didn’t expect Adams to be a strong source of batting average value, but instead be a prototypical left-handed slugger. Unfortunately, his HR/FB rate has surprisingly slipped below 10% and his ISO is a rather meh .174. Although his batted ball distance has declined, it hasn’t been such a precipitous drop that would lead to his HR/FB rate mark more than halving. I think his batting average is going to come down, but a power rebound is going to offset it.

Brandon Moss

My Rank: 9 | Their Rank: 12

This is a question of how much to weigh the first two and a half months of his plate discipline improvements. He’s swinging at balls outside the zone less frequently, making better overall contact and swinging and missing less often. All that has led to a much improved contact rate, which has been his biggest weakness at the plate. But really, the majority of his strikeouts didn’t pile up until he joined the Athletics, and that coincided with a huge spike in power. Now, he’s been able to recapture his better contact ability from many seasons ago, but still maintain his massive power. Since he’s an extreme fly ball hitter, he doesn’t even need a 20%+ HR/FB rate to sock well over 30 homers.

But the best news? He’s actually starting against southpaws now and has been for weeks. If he’s no longer a strict platoon player, that will boost all his counting stats. And although it’s a small sample, he’s actually crushed lefties this year to the tune of a .425 wOBA, so he should continue to start against them, at least until his .440 BABIP comes crashing down.

Bearish

Justin Morneau

My Rank: 26 | Their Rank: 16

So all it took was a move to Coors Field for Morneau to find the fountain of youth? I don’t think so. Though his .207 ISO and 16.4% HR/FB rate would suggest that Morneau is as healthy as ever and taking advantage of the thin air in Denver, his batted ball distance suggest something different. That marks sits at just 270 feet, which ranks 232nd in baseball. Last year, his distance was virtually identical, yet his HR/FB rate failed to even breach the 10% plateau. Remember, the thin air of Coors is already accounted for in the distance since the ball travels further, so he doesn’t get any bonus points that the distance number isn’t capturing. Aside from the worry that his HR/FB drops, his fly ball rate is sitting at a career low.

Victor Martinez

My Rank: 19 | Their Rank: 9

A lot of teams are going to win their leagues because of V-Mart. Are we really weighing two and a half months over an entire career history for a 35-year-old? That’s right, he’s already 35 and currently posting a .400+ wOBA for the first time in his career. His batted ball distance is the exact same as last year, yet his HR/FB rate has nearly tripled. There’s simply no way you can bet on this power surge to last, and that’s what has fueled his insane performance thus far.



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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: 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.


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Pat
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Pat

Pod, it appears you were really off on your prognostications this year especially conspidering your poor tout wars showing. What will you do different next year to try to right the ship?

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