We have two months of data in the books, so I have decided to deviate a littler further from my previous first base tier rankings. In case you were curious about where the first basemen ranked previously, here you go:
I’ve decided to add some tiers this go around because there are players who fall into two categories who I am having difficulty tiering with the rest of the first basemen. The first additional tier will be guys out for any significant time be it injury, suspension, or are simply in the minors. It’s great to stash some of these guys if you have the room, but you should be looking elsewhere for playing time so I simply ranked them in value in their own tier.
The other tier is for those multi-positional players. I had been very adamant that you should not be using catchers as your first basemen. That was until I had Kevin Plawecki, Yasmani Grandal, and Miguel Montero in a two catcher NL-only league, and needed to trade my starting first baseman for speed. So I am more sympathetic to wanting to put different people at 1B, but still struggle where to rank them amongst the more regular first basemen. This tier is just ranking those players with ten or less games at 1B who will not get the majority time at first. A few guys may have slipped in who are also ranked with the rest of the 1B.
The theme for this month’s tier rankings are my favorite summer jams. I work in education and yesterday was the last day for the students at the middle school I work at, so summer has officially started for us. Some songs have summer themes, whereas others are just fun songs that I like to hear during the summer months. If you disagree with my song selections, please make sure to list your favorites and why I am wrong, and I will do my best to ignore them. Just kidding…sort of. Anyway, hope you enjoy!
Tier 1: “Love” by the Globetroddas
One of my favorite hip-hop jams with a positive message about love and really sets a beautiful summer tone. Plus, the first tier is made for players we should love. And these two certainly fit that bill.
Goldschmidt was alone at the top for two months, but Cabrera has continued to show us why you should never sleep on arguably the greatest hitter of this generation. Cabrera is outperforming Goldschmidt right now and could easily be put ahead of him. I still think going forward Goldschmidt is going to have some monster months and by the end of the season will still remain the top 1B option. Goldschmidt is walking more than usual and just needs the power to come along a little more to be that top tier guy. His BABIP has gone up since the last article, so I expect big things.
Tier 2: “Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn
Maybe it’s the groove. Maybe it’s the lyrics. Either way, what a great summer song to cruise around and listen to, especially if you are fortunate enough to have a convertible. The title doesn’t necessarily apply to these players, though some could argue this is true of Hosmer.
First, let’s talk about Rizzo. The counting stats are nice and it seems like he should have even more home runs with that .261 ISO. Not saying his 12 are bad at all, just that even more would be even better. Especially with that .239 batting average. OBP league guys are happy, but BA leagues are hurting and I get that. His BABIP is historically low at .221 and I have to think that moves back in the right direction. When that does, watch out as he could easily enter that top tier if the average goes up.
Hosmer. I hope I’m not jumping the gun here moving him up, but the numbers he had produced so far are really top tier. Let me say what concerns me first. Hosmer is a historically high BABIP guy, yet the .375 mark he is at right now is almost forty points higher than his career high. This means the .330 average may be in some danger of dropping, unless he truly turned another corner, which is not out of the question. The other concern is the high HR/FB%, which is at 25%. Can’t imagine that sustaining so I’m not putting him this high for the home run power (though that has certainly helped his value). Ok, enough of the negatives, especially for a guy I put in the second tier. Why so high? Part of it has to do with some of our top tier 1B dropping significantly in production and Hosmer has continued to produce, so even if he regresses some, he will still put up nice numbers. In other words, his style of play makes him a relatively safe bet, in my opinion. I love his opportunities for RBI’s and Runs in his line-up, and his high contact approach certainly helps with his RBI total. Looking at the first basemen, there are not many batting over .300 and even though I am well aware of over-valuing BA, I still buy Hosmer’s approach in fantasy for now.
Tier 3: “I Wonder Why” by Dion and the Belmonts
I probably could’ve filled this list with Doo-Wop songs since they have the most summery feel for me. Alas, I chose just one, my favorite and also the soundtrack to a great summer scene in “A Bronx Tale.”
The power has been there for Encarnacion and Davis, though the BAs have not. Not too concerned there and when they hit their ultimate hot streak, you will be glad you still continued to value them this high. Just stay patient.
Tier 4: “I’m Trying to Break Your Heart” by JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
Wilco fans should recognize this song pretty immediately. When I first heard this, I was in total shock and this instantly became my new summer jam. With the exception of Belt, most of these players may be breaking your fantasy team’s hearts (though not intentionally as far I know).
Freeman and Votto both concern me as their BB%s are dropping and K%s have risen. I should probably drop them. Thing is, I am too chicken. I have bet against top-tier athletes before and felt very confident in my decision to do so. Then they burned me and all I am stuck doing is yelling on the street corner that I had said player before they broke out of their slump, which causes my neighbors to tell me shut up because they have no idea who I am talking about. Either way, I am giving these guys another month before I start dropping them.
Nice to see the former Longhorn get his act together, as Brandon Belt seems to be taking over for Votto as the 1B OBP-monster with his .425 OBP and his 17.2%(!)BB rate. The isolated power looks great as Belt has 23 extra-base hits. If the home run power arrives (only has 6 HRs right now), then he can easily move up 1 or 2 tiers. I actually like his potential more than Hosmer, but the lack of home run power concerns me somewhat in fantasy.
Tier 5: “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone
Not sure if you can have a summer music list without this jam and one could argue it needs to be number one. This is my opinion, however, and it’s not my favorite summer jam anymore. I also think this is a fun tier as we have guys all over the place with different skill sets.
Travis Shaw is primarily a 3B, so he could fall into the other tier of players who are not primary 1B. Shaw is an odd case cause he has played 16 games at 1B and when I ran the numbers of qualified 1B, he came up. So I decided to include him. Shaw is having a very nice year and you probably didn’t pick him up as your primary 3B. With the inconsistency of 1B this season, he is a very solid choice at 1B and is putting up better numbers than one of the most consistent 1B, Adrian Gonzalez, who has not found his power stroke yet.
Jose Abreu dropped two tiers and could arguably drop even more. He has been brutal and I have no other reason to think he’ll bounce out of it other than past performance. If his downward trend continues, he’ll continue to drop.
A commenter criticized my decision to put Joe Mauer ahead of Albert Pujols in my last tiered rankings, which as I thought about it, is pretty fair. I really like what Mauer is doing this year by getting on-base and it’s nice to see him healthy. In fantasy, however, he is not producing the counting stats that Pujols is putting up right now, so Pujols is probably a better bet. The low BA and OBP really distracted me from the 11 HRs and the 36 RBIs. Those RBIs should continue to accumulate with a guy like Mike Trout batting ahead of you.
Chris Carter is due for a slide (though he did hit his 14th HR last night) and Justin Bour has picked it up as of late. I see them as similar in terms of end of season production. They will have their ups and downs, but by the end of the year, will have a good amount of HRs and a decent amount of RBIs, with low BAs and potentially decent OBPs. My goal is to keep them in this tier for the long-term instead of riding the ebbs and flows.
Steve Pearce has been mashing lately and will see more time with the Kevin Kiermaier injury. This may be a short-term tier jump, so ride it as long as he is the everyday first basemen.
Tier 6: “B-Boy” by Crown City Rockers
No real connection between the players in this tier and the song, but this was definitely one of my favorite summer hip-hop jams. Really under-appreciated hip-hop group, though I wouldn’t say that about many guys in this tier.
If anything, Wil Myers is a little bit overrated right now. Based on perception of play, I thought Wil Myers was having an above average season at 1B. This was without looking at the numbers closely, however. The .275 average seems nice, but the 5.3 BB% and the 22.6 K% scare me. Eight HRs while playing in PETCO is also solid, but less than 20 extra-base hits is also not a good sign. I’d feel comfortable if he was hitting a lot of doubles and just wasn’t hitting them out just yet. The name sounds nice since he was a big deal prospect, but I’m staying away unless I get blown away by an offer.
I take back my under-appreciated comment. I do like Justin Smoak. His triple-slash line is .274/.372/.430, with a BB% of 12.8. The K’s are a little high and the power has been pretty dismal. Not sure if we can expect the power to come through because he does not have a historically consistent track record, but for a cheap 1B option, I like buying Smoak as long as you do not have lofty expectations.
Tier 7: “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang
Really pretty song, but this tier definitely will drive you mad. There a few of these guys who may help your team, but keep active in your trade markets and waiver wires if you are relying on these guys.
Ok, admittedly, Sean Rodriguez is playing well above this tier. A 12.2 BB%? Are you kidding me?!?! With it has come an increase in strikeouts, but also the most productive stint in his career. Rodriguez has burned me many times in the past as a Tampa Bay Ray, so I am not buying just yet. The positional flexibility is great and the Pirates are giving him some solid playing time. I just can’t start bumping him up just yet based on his past. I will say this, however…if he continues hitting like he has, I will move him up. It seems really early to buy on Rodriguez because of what has transpired in his past.
Two other names I am curious about: Tommy Joseph and James Loney. I wrote about Joseph here, and I am not buying into the hype yet. The power looks nice as he has 3 HRs already, but the plate discipline is scary in a negative way. The Phillies are going to give him a shot this week moving forward ahead of Howard, so he will be an interesting case to monitor.
I like Loney’s situation. The Mets need a contact hitter to help drive up their batting average with RISP, which has been a real Achilles’ Heel so far. I’m not a big Loney fan as he typically hits for a rather empty batting average, but if he is getting up with runners on base, maybe he can squeeze out a decent amount of RBI’s for you. It was a safe bet for the Mets rather than trying to trade for another three-outcome hitter, like Carter, and Loney could be a safe, low-ceiling bet for your team if you need somebody to man 1B.
Tier 8: “Summer Jam” by The Cool Kids
Well, the song is cool. Still like picking up Clint Robinson in super deep leagues because of the potential of injury with Zimmerman, and he’s improved his hitting a little bit since I last wrote about him.
Tier 9: “Waiting in Vain” by Bob Marley
Probably my all-time favorite reggae song and deserves to be higher on my summer listening list, but the title really works for this group, who are basically the guys you are waiting to be called up again, or come back from injury or suspension. Stash the top guys, whereas the rest you can pretty much forget at this point.
Tier 10: “Happiness” by Dead Prez
I didn’t include every player with at least one game at first base this season. These are just some notable players who wouldn’t qualify as primary 1B, but may have some eligibility depending on your league. I chose the track “Happiness” because having multiple eligibility should bring happiness to your team.