Reviewing Pod’s Picks: First Base

It’s first base week and that means it’s time to continue reviewing my preseason Pod’s Picks series. For a refresher on my original arguments behind a player being undervalued and overvalued, check out Pod’s Picks: First Base.

Bullish

David Ortiz

My Preseason Rank: 7 | Preseason Consensus: 12 | Actual Rank: 4

So initially, I figured that I was bullish on Ortiz because my at-bat projection was too optimistic and had to be lowered, which would drop him closer to the consensus. Turns out that I should never have reduced my at-bat projection at all as he ended up coming to the plate nearly the same amount of times as he had from 2009-2011! Ortiz finished fourth in fantasy value among first basemen and continues to give aging effects the middle finger. If you could find a chink in the armor, you’re a better man than I.

Michael Cuddyer

My Preseason Rank: 17 | Preseason Consensus: 22 | Actual Rank: 8

Cuddyer missed some time due to injury, failed to reach 500 at-bats, yet still finished eighth in value among first basemen. Fueled by a career high BABIP which resulted in a batting average above .284 for the first time, his fantasy value surged despite all his other stats being in line with expectations. At 35 in 2014, he might go from being undervalued to being overvalued.

Bearish

Billy Butler

My Preseason Rank: 9 | Preseason Consensus: 4 | Actual Rank: 22

As I expected, Butler’s HR/FB rate fell back to Earth and in line with his pre-2012 career marks. Without the additional power, he’s suddenly a rich man’s James Loney, and that’s not exactly the type of performance fantasy owners are looking for from their first baseman. Butler was just the 22nd most valuable first baseman this year, as the power fell and his RBI and run totals were held back by a mediocre surrounding cast. Of course, being led-footed doesn’t help his ability to score runs either. I’m not so sure he’ll be undervalued next season.

Anthony Rizzo

My Preseason Rank: 12 | Preseason Consensus: 9 | Actual Rank: 25

I was very surprised to learn that I was bearish on Rizzo. I drafted him in two of my most important leagues, though I remained fairly conservative with my projections, leaving plenty of room for the upside I knew he possessed. Unfortunately, he failed to reach even my somewhat less optimistic projections. He finished 25th in value among first baseman, right in front of the aforementioned Loney. Although his ISO actually increased, his HR/FB rate took a dive, which hampered his chances of reaching the 30 home run plateau many felt he could achieve this season. But what really killed his value was the .258 BABIP. His xBABIP was .297, so it certainly appears to be driven by some poor fortune. His upside remains and there’s a good chance he earns a profit in the majority of fantasy leagues.




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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.


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