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Sneaky Stats Still Count: First Base Edition

Let me apologize for making this title seem like a bigger deal. In reality, I’ll only be examining one particular team’s 2012 first base situation. That being said, this team’s first base .354 wOBA was good for eighth in all of MLB. If you prefer park adjusted numbers, then said team’s first base was responsible for a 127 wRC+, ranking at an astonishing fourth.

Without looking it up, could you guess the fourth most effective first basemen? I know I couldn’t have. Well, okay, I could have guessed, but it would have been an incorrect guess.

The question was phrased just so because there wasn’t a single person responsible for the eighth best wOBA and fourth best wRC+; it was in fact a platoon situation of the Oakland Athletics. Yes, between Chris Carter and Brandon Moss, the A’s first base situation turned from massive question mark and ineffective fantasy option to a strength and roto asset.

Of course, the key drawback here is that a platoon situation requires a fantasy owner to own both halves of the platoon to maintain a regular presence. Assuming that you play in a daily league, platooning a position can make for a very cheap and effective fix. For those of you in weekly leagues, this becomes trickier, if not an outright hassle. If you have the flexibility on your roster to house both sides and play in a daily league, then platooning is in fact a viable fantasy option. I would rather house both sides of a platoon than keep a middle reliever around. For those of you that have an innings limit (which should be every league, and yet I digress), keeping an extra position player around helps cut down on juggling your pitchers. To get a better view of just how effective a platoon can be, I’ve drawn up a table that has both Carter’s and Moss’ seasonal numbers. The combination of Moss and Carter was responsible for 151 games at first base (not all of which were starts) and together they had quite the fantasy season.

Home Runs Runs RBIs SB AVG Games PA’s
Brandon Moss 21 48 52 1 0.291 84 296
Chris Carter 16 38 39 0 0.239 67 260

Between the two, they managed to outproduce first base fantasy necessities such as Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Mark Trumbo and Paul Konerko. Combined, Moss and Carter would be outpaced by only the studs of first base. The glue that holds all of this together is the extra roster spot. The question remains: Is the combined production worthy of owning two first basemen and only playing one at a time?Simple math shows 37 home runs, 86 runs, 91 RBIs, 1 stolen base and a weighted .270 average. Given that neither was drafted — neither was even on the Opening Day 25-man roster — it is hard to imagine better value at first base than what Moss and Carter provided.

If a key player at a thin position hits the DL, do you drop one of them? If so, which? Keep the older, but left-handed hitting Moss, or gamble and go with the younger but smaller time shared Carter? I can’t speak for you, but if I had the gift of 100% accurate hindsight, I would have loved to have both Carter and Moss on my squad.

With the type of depth that first base showed this year as well as recent past years, it should be no surprise that these two admittedly obscure players could get lost in the fold. That being said, their sneaky and quiet numbers count the exact same as their flashier named and more well known counterparts. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that running a platoon at a key offensive position shouldn’t be so harshly opposed.