Reviewing 2014 Pod’s Picks: 1st Base

We’re moving on to our recap of the first basemen this week, so let’s begin by reviewing my Pod’s Picks for the position.

Bullish

Brandon Moss

My Preseason Rank: 18 | Preseason Consensus: 23 | Actual Rank: 15

In his first full season in 2013, Moss followed up his breakout half-season well, mashing 30 homers and posting a .369 wOBA. Nothing in his underlying skill set screamed regression was coming, which is why I projected a similar performance this year. Although he did suffer a decline in both his BABIP (and resulting batting average) and HR/FB rate and homer total, he was still good enough to provide solid value. He doesn’t appear in Zach’s first base rankings because he played the outfield more often, but the dollars he earned in the outfield would have ranked 15th among first basemen. If his hip was to blame for his second half struggles, he should rebound next year.

Closer Ranking: Me

David Ortiz

My Preseason Rank: 7 | Preseason Consensus: 11 | Actual Rank: 9

We have been expecting some sort of proof that Ortiz is in fact aging for several seasons now and he has simply refused to provide it. As such, I have been hesitant to project much decline, even though we know that older players could suddenly drop off a cliff without warning. Of course, since it’s without warning, that means we have no idea when it’s actually going to happen. Well, it wasn’t this year! Ortiz hit the the most fly balls he has since 2009, which boosted his homer total to tie with his highest mark since 2007. Amazingly, he scored just 59 runs, despite knocking himself in 35 times. He only scored by others doing 24 times! His lowest BABIP since 2001 also took a bite out of his value.

Closer Ranking: Tie

Adrian Gonzalez

My Preseason Rank: 8 | Preseason Consensus: 12 | Actual Rank: 5

I struggled to explain why I ended up more bullish than the rest of the crew since I didn’t personally believe I was a fan. But with Gonzalez hitting just 40 homers in 2012 and 2013 combined, it’s likely that fantasy owners were overlooking the strong batting average contribution and RBI totals, leaving him undervalued by owners who wanted more power from their first baseman. Instead, he decided to just deliver more power himself. An increase in strikeout rate and the lowest BABIP since 2009 meant he was only a slight positive in batting average, but it didn’t push him out of the top five first basemen.

Closer Ranking: Me

Bearish

Billy Butler

My Preseason Rank: 17 | Preseason Consensus: 10 | Actual Rank: 21

In 2012, Butler finally enjoyed that big power breakout we had all been waiting for. But with a low fly ball rate and a HR/FB rate nearly double the previous season, it was an open questions as to whether he could come close to a repeat. He did not, and reverted right back to the pre-2012 Butler in 2013. So when ranking and projecting him heading into 2014, was a rebound in the cards or was he just a 15-20 homer guy with a good average? I thought he was the latter and my ranking reflected that. I certainly didn’t expect his HR/FB rate top fail to clear even 7%, but for a guy who hits so few fly balls, this is the downside risk.

Closer Ranking: Me

Adam Lind

My Preseason Rank: 24 | Preseason Consensus: 19 | Actual Rank: 29

Surprisingly, Lind is the only name on here who lost significant time due to injuries. But I’m not so sure that a full, healthy season would have resulted in his ranking being closer to the consensus anyway. He somehow managed to hit a career high .321, which was boosted by an inflated .369 BABIP, but not supported by his batted ball distribution. In fact, his distribution was fairly similar to where it always was. So more at-bats likely would have led to a decline in batting average. And since his power disappeared, he may have been rendered rather useless in shallower leagues.

Closer Ranking: Me

Final Tally:
Me: 4
Consensus: 0
Tie: 1

We hoped you liked reading Reviewing 2014 Pod’s Picks: 1st Base by Mike Podhorzer!

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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