It’s been interesting to watch the path of first basemen this season, as some of the big names started off relatively slow. I probably had too many tiers since guys were all over the place and I was still getting my feet wet with this process. I was now able to cut it down to five tiers and I am feeling more comfortable with these evaluations than past ones mainly because the numbers are starting to normalize well.
Alex Chamberlain brought up an interesting question in his rankings, regarding what people are looking for. Should these be rest of the season rankings? End of season? Where players currently stand? I definitely don’t want this to purely be a ranking of what players have done so far, since you can go to other websites and they can quantify that. As I mentioned in my other rankings, these are more predicative, though admittedly, I weighed current season performance more than I have in my other rankings. Although the Jose Abreus, Adrian Gonzalez‘, and Mark Teixeiras gave me some trouble when trying to rank since there should be some bounceback, but their performance so far has not shown much of it (at least in terms of fantasy value).
John Coltrane died on July 17, 1967. In honor of his music, I have decided to set up the tiers by my favorite Coltrane albums. This list can change frequently, and I left off the live performances because that is a whole other world that I may not have been able to escape. However, if you’re new to jazz and want to explore Coltrane, these albums are excellent starting points. I love his later stuff, but that can get a little too crazy for somebody not very familiar with jazz.
Tier 1: A Love Supreme
Rizzo had not been placed in the first tier previously because of his low batting average, but the counting stats were certainly there. Now that his batting average is finally where it should be (.281), I can’t see any reason not to include him in this tier. There wasn’t too much of a doubt he could get to this point, especially with his previously low BABIP, so it’s good to see he was able to get that BA up in such a short amount of time.
Some of the other players outside of the first tier may have better counting stats than Goldschmidt and Cabrera, but you are not going to find many players more consistent than these guys. Goldschmidt gets the top ranking because he adds value with the stolen base as he has 11 right now.
Tier 2: Giant Steps
I should’ve had Wil Myers higher earlier, but his low BB% really concerned me. He has improved that as he is very close to 10% (9.6), and outside of batting average, outdoes Goldy in every fantasy category. Based on performance so far, he has been the number one fantasy first baseman. Again, though, this list accounts for what will happen and I still think Myers will do very well, but the HR/FB is a bit high to sustain (20.4%) so there will probably be some regression. Not enough to sell him, but enough to say by the end of the season he is not in the top tier.
Overall, this is an excellent tier, especially with Freeman and Votto performing at the levels we generally expect from them. All these guys can help you in 3-4 categories, and are weak in at least one. Some because of environment (Belt’s low HRs), some because of situation (Freeman’s low RBIs), or others because that is who they are (Santana’s low BA).
Tier 3: Lush Life
Now we’re entering the tier where you only getting about 2-3 categories of strength which each player. This is also a pretty old group so age and health are definitely concerns for these guys. Adrian Gonzalez has not done much in fantasy with only 6 HRs, so he could be a good buy-low candidate. Then again, according to Jeff Sullivan, maybe the lack of power is real. The BA is strong as are the RBIs, and nothing really jumps out with his numbers that indicate that this lack of power was expected.
David Freese has played very well for the Pirates this season, and is seemingly outperforming his platoon partner (John Jaso) at first. Freese has value because of the super utility role he has, so he gets a nice amount of playing time. If Jaso continues to struggle, Pirates may consider calling up Josh Bell, which would take some 1B time away from Freese, though not totally stunting his playing time.
Tier 4: Ballads
Matt Adams will probably see a lot more playing time now that Brandon Moss and Matt Carpenter are on the DL. Always a nice power source and could get some nice RBI opportunities, so he may be worth riding the wave especially if he gets hot.
I wasn’t a huge Loney fan when the Mets initially picked him up, and I wrote about his highs and lows here. Then the power has seemed to come back (.165 ISO), which now makes him a very intriguing player. Could be chalked to small sample size, but may also be because of Kevin Long, as noted on Mets Merized Online. Similarly to Daniel Murphy, Kevin Long has worked on Loney’s stance and approach to hit for more power. Seemingly, it has worked so far and has certainly worked for Murphy since the end of last season.
Mark Teixeira has had a tough season and based on what he has done this year, he should be in a lower tier. I can’t give up on his past years just yet and don’t want to miss out on that potential power surge, hence putting him in the fourth tier. I have nothing more substantial than that.
Tier 5: Blue Train
I’ve been surprised Reed has struggled the way he has so far. Didn’t think he’d set the world on fire like Tyler White did when he first came up, but thought he would hit better than .138. Out of this group, he has the most upside and would be the most likely guy I would invest in if these were my only options. Zimmerman has been a surprise in that he has been healthy and pretty brutal. Probably unfair I stuck him in the 5th tier and didn’t do the same to Teixeira, but I just don’t see much upside to Zimmerman anymore.
Disabled List (Tiers based upon return)
Matt Carpenter (Tier 2)
Brandon Moss (Tier 3)
Justin Bour (Tier 3)
Lucas Duda (Tier 3)
Steve Pearce (Tier 4)