2014 Fantasy Baseball Positional Preview-First Base

Today we launch our 2014 Fantasy Baseball position by position previews. We’ll have a new position featured each day, finishing with our overall Top 300. We’ll be using our writers’ composite rankings as we break things down this week, but click on the link for both Steven’s and Ryan’s individual ranks to see where they differ. Time to start with a position that, unlike past years, you must address early in your draft. Ryan, @RyNoonan kicks us off with a look at First Base.

 

1 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
2 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
3 Prince Fielder Rangers
4 Freddie Freeman Braves
5 Chris Davis Orioles
6 Joey Votto Reds
7 Albert Pujols Angels
8 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
9 Eric Hosmer Royals
10 Buster Posey Giants
11 Anthony Rizzo Cubs
12 Allen Craig Cardinals
13 Carlos Santana Indians
14 Joe Mauer Twins
15 Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
16 Jose Abreu White Sox
17 Matt Adams Cardinals
18 Brandon Belt Giants
19 Mike Napoli Red Sox
20 Nick Swisher Indians
21 Brandon Moss Athletics
22 Michael Cuddyer Rockies
23 Corey Hart Mariners
24 Kendrys Morales FA
25 Mark Teixiera Yankees
26 Adam Lind Blue Jays
27 Chris Carter Astros
28 Ryan Howard Phillies
29 Justin Morneau Rockies
30 Victor Martinez Tigers
31 Adam LaRoche Nationals
32 Ike Davis Mets
33 Logan Morrison Mariners
34 Adam Dunn White Sox
35 Mitch Moreland Rangers
36 Yonder Alonso Padres
37 Gaby Sanchez Pirates
38 Mark Reynolds Yankees
39 Brett Wallace Astros
40 Garrett Jones Marlins

 

First things first, Miguel Cabrera is moving to 1B this year, and he’ll be the top ranked player here once eligible. More than likely though, if you own him you’re starting him at 3rd base.

It’s a different era. There just aren’t that many 30+ home run hitters anymore. How many do you think there were in 2013? Go ahead, guess, I’ll wait… Wrong. It was 14. Exactly half as many as 5 years ago, when 28 players hit 30+ HR’s in the 2008 season. Six of the 14 players that did it last year are listed above. The aforementioned Miguel Cabrera would make it 7 and if David Ortiz has 1B eligibility in your league, he’d make 8 of 14. The game has changed, so you need to change your strategy. In 2008 you could wait at 1B because it was so deep, sure the elite guys were worth the early round pick it took to land them, but you could wait and still be happy with your starter. Now, you need to jump into the 1B pool early, and don’t be shy to jump back in again a pick or 2 later. I’ve broken them into tiers. It’s important to separate positional ranks into tiers so you know when its time to buy, or time to wait on the position. You’re able to resist the temptation to fill positional needs too early, and allows you to maximize value throughout the draft.

 

[b]Tier 1[/b]

Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
Prince Fielder Tigers
Joey Votto Reds
Chris Davis Orioles

 

This is the best of the best and the case can be made for all of them being top 10 overall. Paul Goldschmidt feels really safe for someone with a limit track record, but I have no doubt that he’s a top 5 pick this year. [b]Edwin Encarnacion[/b] has had back to back top 10 seasons and he’ll be even better this year. Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes missed a combined 113 games last year, their return combined with slightly better batted ball luck (.247 BABIP) makes E5 a nice value around pick 10. He’s another guy that you’re starting at 3rd though, most likely. Don’t overreact to ‘down’ years from [b]Prince Fielder[/b] and [b]Joey Votto[/b], they are safe and late first, early 2nd round picks. [b]Chris Davis[/b] is polarizing. Last year’s fantasy MVP scares me a little and I’d let someone else take him, especially if it’s in the top 10.

 

[b]Tier 2[/b]

Freddie Freeman Braves
Albert Pujols Angels
Eric Hosmer Royals
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
Allen Craig Cardinals
Anthony Rizzo Cubs

 

[b]Freddie Freeman[/b] is getting a lot of early season love, and I understand why. I’m just not quite ready to put him in the group above yet, but he’s still a early round pick. [b]Albert Pujols[/b] has declined, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay away, there’s still value here. He doesn’t run anymore, and his plate discipline metrics have slid to a place where I can’t predict a .300+ average any longer, but he’s still a strong bet to hit .280/30/100. [b]Eric Hosmer[/b] needs to continue his 2nd surge, which saw his GB% drop and his FB% rise. He has a huge ceiling and is still young, but he won’t meet projections if he can’t drive the ball consistently and hit more fly balls. [b]Andrian Gonzalez[/b] is steady and boring. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’ll give you .290/24/100 in his sleep. The move to the OF for the oft-injured Craig isn’t something that excites me, but on a per game basis he’s a top 40 bat. [b]Anthony Rizzo[/b] will continue to grow, and I feel like he’ll make a leap this year, maybe to the top of this tier. If [b]David Ortiz[/b] has 1B eligibility, and he does in Yahoo!, he’s right behind Pujols for me in this tier. I keep hearing how old Papi is, and he keeps raking.

 

[b]Tier 3[/b]

Buster Posey Giants
Carlos Santana Indians
Joe Mauer Twins

 

Catchers with 1B eligibility. We’ll go into details on these 3 in our Catcher Preview, but you’re starting these players at C.

 

[b]Tier 4[/b]

Matt Adams Cardinals
Mike Napoli Red Sox
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
Jose Abreu White Sox
Brandon Belt Giants
Brandon Moss Athletics
Michael Cuddyer Rockies

 

By this point you should already have at least one 1B from the tiers above, but if you don’t this is your last chance for a passable starter. These guys all have questions, but there’s power throughout the tier. [b]Matt Adams[/b] just needs at bats. He’ll hit lefties well enough to stay in the lineup, and he mashes right handed pitching. [b]Mike Napoli[/b] and [b]Mark Trumbo[/b] are good additions if your team looks strong in average at this point, both could hit 30 HRs. [b]Jose Abreu[/b] is a young, powerful Cuban beast, playing in HR heaven in Chicago. He’s a mystery of sorts when trying to forecast his plate discipline, but I think the power comes early and often. [b]Brandon Belt[/b] continues to improve, but he’s limited in that park. I can’t see that swing translating into big power numbers in SF, but he won’t hurt you in any category. [b]Brandon Moss[/b] hit 30 homers while in a platoon role, that deserves your attention. If he learns to hit lefties he could be dangerous.

 

[b]Tier 5[/b]

Corey Hart Mariners
Kendrys Morales FA
Nick Swisher Indians
Ryan Howard Phillies
Chris Carter Astros
Victor Martinez Tigers
Mark Teixiera Yankees
Adam Lind Blue Jays
Justin Morneau Rockies
Adam LaRoche Nationals
Ike Davis Mets
Adam Dunn White Sox
Mitch Moreland Rangers
Logan Morrison Mariners
Mark Reynolds Yankees
Garrett Jones Marlins
Paul Konerko White Sox
Yonder Alonso Padres
Brett Wallace Astros

 

This is the last group, and it’s full of guys worth owning. Some for all year and some for their eventual hot week or month. Lots of big power/low average guys here. We’ll learn more about some of these guys as we get closer to the spring, but there’s value to be had here late.