August first base rankings

**Please, if you have not done so already, READ THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH. This will help you understand the methodology behind the rankings.

Most fantasy rankings are forged on “gut calls” and the whimsical notions of whoever is compiling the list. Some experts don’t pay for saves, some don’t pay for steals, some wait on pitching, some value upside, some value reliability, and so on. While it might be nice to see plenty of different opinions, it probably doesn’t truly help unless you understand the biases of each individual ranker. This is why some of the writers here at The Hardball Times have created their own, objective valuation methods, outlined here and here (reading, or at least skimming, these introductory articles will give you a much better understanding of the rankings that follow and should help to answer most potential questions).

In accompaniment with Oliver’s rest-of-season forecasts, we will use these objective formulas to create objective rankings. You may not agree with a particular rank, but you will know how the ranking was calculated and you won’t have to guess what the ranker was thinking. This should make adding your own personal adjustments and biases much easier. And perhaps this type of ranking will introduce some potential buys and sells that you may have otherwise overlooked.

These rankings will assume a 12-team league in adjusting for league average. The ordering of players, however, is unaffected; players will rank in identical order for leagues of all sizes.

Previous installments:
{exp:list_maker}Catchers {/exp:list_maker}

1Albert Pujols19132133930.3051.231.8312.79
2Paul Konerko201321239 0.3110.961.5612.06
3Adrian Gonzalez20332936 0.3230.711.3311.37
4Paul Goldschmidt20532113720.280.580.8611.02
5Michael Morse20029103510.2960.400.6410.50
6Prince Fielder193321034 0.2970.390.7210.49
7Ryan Howard192301136 0.2780.260.3710.13
8Chris Davis210281036 0.2740.040.029.51
9Justin Morneau21730935 0.274-
10Billy Butler20628732 0.301-
11Mark Trumbo19226103320.266-0.08-0.279.20
12Anthony Rizzo19727103320.262-0.09-0.289.17
13Bryan LaHair173261032 0.278-0.16-0.308.99
14Freddie Freeman2082873110.28-0.28-0.358.65
15Mark Teixeira178261032 0.26-0.35-0.658.45
16Eric Hosmer2112862730.279-0.36-0.508.41
17Adam Dunn193291235 0.222-0.39-0.868.35
18Adam Lind20125932 0.26-0.51-0.878.02
19Brandon Belt1922952630.274-0.53-0.717.97
20Michael Cuddyer1652462620.289-0.56-0.837.86
21Michael Young2022642510.302-0.61-0.707.75
22Allen Craig15422727 0.291-0.68-1.027.55
23Kendrys Morales16722727 0.283-0.75-1.147.37
24Adam LaRoche18324829 0.259-0.75-1.237.34
25Carlos Pena19728103110.214-0.80-1.487.23
26Carlos Lee1872452510.278-0.89-1.306.96
27Joey Votto1011952010.329-0.99-1.466.70
28Lance Berkman1322162110.283-1.04-1.616.55
29Brandon Moss1642272510.243-1.14-1.886.29
30James Loney1772132010.275-1.43-2.115.48
31Casey Kotchman18622422 0.264-1.43-2.135.48
32Todd Helton13519418 0.283-1.52-2.265.25
33Ike Davis12917520 0.256-1.64-2.604.90

*Full season = the raw (non-adjusted) full season pace roto score using the roto points-above-replacement method. This is, essentially, the amount of expected roto points each catcher would score above an empty spot in a lineup over a full season.


Adrian Gonzalez – I can buy into the counting numbers Oliver projects for Gonzalez, but I cannot say I would endorse paying for a .323 average. Gonzalez hit .338 last season with a .380 BABIP (57 points higher than his career average). He also hit for more power last year than he is thus far in 2012, which gave his average a boost, too.

This year, his BABIP is fine at .334, and Gonzalez is striking out just as often as he did in 2011, but he is hitting just .298. Even with a small uptick in power, Gonzalez is going to need some serious BABIP love to hit .323 the rest of the way. Could he do it? Yes. Should fantasy owners pay for that as a baseline batting average? No.

Arbitrary Adjustment: Even with the slight uptick in power Oliver forecasts, I’d expect marginal regression in strikeout rate and BABIP. Giving him a 16.5 percent strikeout rate and a .330 BABIP, the new projected average of .305 seems appropriate. This would bring his roto value to 0.47 (rPAA) and 0.89 (EYES).

Paul Goldschmidt – Really? Paul Goldschmidt? I was surprised when I saw it, too. I know he has good power, and the low-teens stolen base total that he will end up providing is sneaky value, but does that justify a ranking one spot ahead of Prince Fielder?

Well, I am fine with the power and speed projections. And while a .280 average might seem high, Goldschmidt has cut down on the whiffs and has produced a high BABIP at every level, so I am going to defer to Oliver here, too.

Where I do disagree with Oliver, though, is in the run and RBI totals. In 471 career at-bats, Goldschmidt has averaged 0.163 RBI (0.161 in 2012) per at-bat. Oliver believes that Goldschmidt will produce 0.18 RBI per at-bat from this point forward. Maybe he will, as RBI are unpredictable, but that’s not the point. The point is that we shouldn’t be paying for things that probably won’t happen.

Arbitrary Adjustment: With an adjusted RBI rate of 0.163 (his career rate), Goldschmidt projects to drive in 33 more runs this year. Do the same with runs scored and we get 30, for new valuations of 0.34 (rPAA) and 0.44 (EYES), which moves him behind Fielder but still keeps him fifth overall among first basemen, a spot that I still wouldn’t value him at.

Ryan Howard – Since returning from a lengthy stint on the disabled list, Howard has shown good power—a .250 ISO, his best mark since 2009—but also has struck out a ton (35.4 percent). Strangely, Howard’s swinging strike rate is at the lowest of his career, and his contact percentage is at a career best, so the strikeout issues are probably the result of a small 65-plate appearance sample.

The whiffs should come down, and his .214 average should come up, but ranking Howard sixth among first basemen would be extremely aggressive due to the injury risk, the uncertainty of performance, and the departures of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, two of the cogs that made the Phillies lineup … uh, respectable? They are two of the Phillies’ best hitters; let’s go with that. Considering all of these factors, it would seem that cautiously undervaluing Howard would be more desirable than bullishly overvaluing him.

I am not going to make any arbitrary adjustments, but I will note that Ryan Howard is 32, a health risk, his skills have already been in decline, and the last vestiges of what was once a quality offense are being removed from around him. What’s more, he hasn’t exactly set the world ablaze since his return, hitting .214/.323/.464. I would devalue him significantly.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

Chris Davis, Justin Morneau and Bryan LaHair – I will make it quick here. I don’t agree with any of these three players’ high run and RBI projections because their traditional rates simply don’t warrant it. I also think Davis’ batting average will be about 20 points lower than his projected .274. He has struck out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances, which is actually lower than what he usually does. Both Morneau’s and Davis’ projected at-bat totals of 217 and 210, respectively, are a bit steep, as well.

Arbitrary Adjustments: Davis’ fantasy line changes to 24/9/28/0/.253 in 190 at-bats, moving him down to around 25th among first basemen. Morneau’s line dips to 23/8/27/0/.274 in 180 at-bats, 23rd at first base. And LaHair’s adjusted line of 21/10/24/0/.278 drops him to 24th.

Mark Teixeira – This ranking is more a function of playing time than anything else. Adjusting Teixeria’s line to reflect 215 at-bats, rather than 178, gives him new scores of 0.31 (rPAA) and 0.36 (EYES), and a new ranking of 6th. Of course, his potential wrist injury could significantly impact Teixeira’s playing time, so keep an eye on those MRI results.

Adam Lind – Blarg! Runs and RBI projections seem a bit high, once again. I am adjusting his projection to 21 runs and 25 RBI. New rank: 27th.

Ike Davis – Davis has been playing every day for a while now, so a projection of 129 at-bats is probably low. Giving him 180 at-bats and a bit more power moves him up to 16th at the position.

Here is how the ZiPS projection system ranks the top-30 first basemen for the rest of the 2012 season.

1Miguel Cabrera21336124010.3151.492.5013.06
2Albert Pujols20835123740.2931.312.0412.56
3Joey Votto19333103540.3061.091.7911.97
4Mark Teixeira20933124110.2630.731.0810.97
5Prince Fielder20931113910.2820.721.1410.95
6Adrian Gonzalez217311037 0.30.701.2610.90
7Michael Cuddyer2043183240.2790.390.6610.04
8Eric Hosmer2313072960.2810.350.599.93
9Mark Trumbo21027113520.2670.300.369.80
10Paul Goldschmidt20127103240.2640.230.239.62
11Paul Konerko190261032 0.2950.210.399.55
12Edwin Encarnacion17627102830.2730.100.109.26
13Freddie Freeman2022983310.2770.050.199.12
14Michael Young2262742820.283-0.43-0.437.80
15Adam Dunn180271233 0.211-0.46-0.977.70
16Allen Craig1492372710.282-0.48-0.697.66
17Carlos Lee1982263110.278-0.49-0.697.64
18Mike Napoli15223102510.257-0.50-0.887.62
19Anthony Rizzo1702172930.259-0.53-0.937.51
20Mark Reynolds17927102830.212-0.57-1.127.42
21Garrett Jones1772382720.254-0.58-0.997.38
22Chris Davis1932392710.254-0.59-1.017.35
23Ryan Howard1482193010.243-0.61-1.107.31
24Carlos Santana1812872720.243-0.61-0.937.31
25Michael Morse16022727 0.281-0.61-0.887.30
26Bryan LaHair1812292310.265-0.65-1.077.20
27Adam Lind1782082810.258-0.71-1.207.02
28Brandon Belt1672352240.263-0.78-1.206.83
29Carlos Pena1762692610.21-0.97-1.666.32
30Adam LaRoche16020727 0.25-1.00-1.596.24

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Corey Hart?

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

Oliver has him at 29/10/33/2/.281, which ranks him 8th.

Fun to look at, but this list is hard to take seriously. A few quick notes… Goldschmidt is a joke at number 4. His splits once again are horrible against RHP – .252/.321/.410 and lefty mashers are valuable to a roster, but a top 5 1B? Morneau – The proj. have Morneau with the most AB the ROS with 217. I’d be extremely surprised if he is even in the top half of 1B for PA or AB from here on out… C Davis – AAAA player that ran into a few dingers early. Being ahead of Trumbo/Craig/Freeman/Tex is laughable.… Read more »
Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

The different rankings for Votto reflects the uncertainty of his return date. Although news came out today that he is taking grounders and looks on track for a return sometime next week.


Are Votto’s rankings in the two charts so different because the top one is factoring in his injury, and the bottom is not?

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

Encarnacion will be ranked among Third Basemen.


Cuddyer is better than Encarnacion ??? Let’s deal, baby. Cuddyer for Edwin straight-up !