Today, we begin our review of our 2012 fantasy baseball position rankings. Reviewing our predictions from the beginning of the season helps us see what right and what went wrong, as ranking players is a learning process and we learn something new every year.
Today, I will take a look at my 2012 first base rankings so you, and I, can learn from what I got right and what I got wrong. No fantasy writer will be 100% perfect in his rankings, and no one expects that. I think fantasy baseball is like investing in the stock market, the more you play, the more you learn. Valuing, or ranking, players is not an easy task, and takes years of playing to figure out who to rank high and who is due for a fall in production.
I like to look at trends in player performance, as sometimes overall stats can mask a slowdown in production for some players. A solid win total and ERA could mask a starter whose peripheral stats are in a down trend and could result in a down year. Others may be experiencing an uptrend in power, yet have not seen the home run total move much. These are things I take note of when ranking players. Some players are very easy to rank, while others, like Albert Pujols, are more difficult.
With that said, I will review the first baseman in the order I ranked them back in February. Here are my final 2012 First Base Rankings, with some player profiles as well.
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET
Cabrera played third base all season, but was first base eligible on draft day. Miggy won the Triple Crown in 2012, hitting .330-.393-.606 with 44 HRs, 109 runs and 139 RBI. He will challenge Ryan Braun and Mike Trout as the #1 pick in fantasy drafts in 2013.
2. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Gonzalez's overall numbers were good this season, but the power dropped too much for my liking, which I wrote about earlier in the season. AGonz ended the season hitting .299-.344-.463 with just 18 HRs, 75 runs and 108 RBI, which tied Prince Fielder for second most amongst fantasy first baseman. As a Dodgers fan, I hope to see his power return in 2013.
3. Albert Pujols, LAA - I was down on Pujols heading into 2012 drafts, and he ended up making me look good, as he hit well for most any fantasy first baseman, but he was not the same Pujols we have come to expect year in and year out. Pujols hit "just" .285-.343-.516 with 30 HRs, 85 runs and 105 RBI this season, all well below his career averages. I am sure I will have more
4. Prince Fielder, DET
Fielder did not put up the high 30s home run total, but he did hit 30, driving in 108 and hitting .313-.412-.528 and hit over .300 in every month but June this year. He will be in my top 3 fantasy first baseman for 2013, maybe even in the top spot.
5. Joey Votto, CIN
I don't know what to make of Votto this offseason, especially after his sub-par power year in 2012. Votto hit .337-.474-.567 with 14 HRs, 59 runs and 56 RBI this season. Wow, .474 OBP?? I had no idea, but unless you are in a league that uses OBP as a category, his counting stats were MEH. Votto was obviously not 100% when he came back from his late season knee surgery. Votto his zero home runs in his last 130 at bats this season. Let that sink in during the offseason.
6. Mark Teixeira, NYY
Another first baseman who will drop in my rankings next season. I have been waiting for Teixiera to return to the .290 hitter he was several years ago, but that has not happened. Teixeira appears to be an all power, low batting average fantasy first baseman going forward. He hit just .251-.332-.475 with 24 HRs, 66 runs and 84 RBI in 450 at bats this season. Since becoming a New York Yankee, his BABIP has dropped about 70 points since 2008.
7. Eric Hosmer, KC
Ahh, I caught the Hosmer hype in 2012, and he disappointed many a fantasy owner, hitting just .232-.304-.359 with 14 HRs, 65 runs, 60 RBI and 16 stolen bases. But, I will be right back on the Hosmer train in 2013 as well, as I can see him bouncing back ala Jason Heyward. He could easily put up a 25 HR, 90 RBI, 20 stolen base season if he can lift his .255 BABIP back to the .300 level.
8. Paul Konerko, CHW
Konerko's 2012 season looks very similar to his 2011 season with one exception. His RBI dropped by 30 and his home runs dropped by five. We may have seen the best from Konerko and he will drop a bit in my 2013 first base rankings.
9. Michael Morse, WAS
Morse had a disappointing season as he was hurt for a good part of the season, but when he was healthy, he was the same hitter he was in his breakout 2011 season. Morse hit .291-.321-.470 with 18 HRs, 53 runs and 62 RBI in just over 400 at bats. He hit .299 or better in three of the four months he played in 2012. Depending on what the Nationals do in free agency, Morse may be the team's first baseman in 2013, yet he won't have eligibility on Opening Day.
10. Carlos Santana, CLE
With a strong second half, Santana turned a bust of a season into a decent, yet disappointing season in 2012. He hit .252-.365-.420 with 18 HRs, 72 runs and 76 RBI, with 13 HRs and 47 RBI coming in the last three months of the season. He will have first base eligibility again in 2013, and fantasy owners hope he can put together two halves like his second half of 2012.
11. Mike Napoli, TEX
Napoli could not duplicate his .320 BA in 2011, but still hit for power this season. He tripled slashed .227-.343-.469 with 24 HRs, 53 runs and 56 RBI in 2012. Where he plays in 2013 is anyone's guess, but if he leaves Texas, I am willing to bet that his numbers will drop a bit.
12. Lance Berkman, STL
Berkman battled injuries this season, and more than likely will retire this offseason. I knew he wouldn't duplicate his great 2011 season, but did not expect him to hit just 2 home runs and drive in 7 in 2012.
13. Mark Reynolds, BAL
Reynolds did what Reynolds does in 2012. He hit just .221-.335-.429 with 23 HRs, 65 runs and 69 RBI this season. He is the mini-Adam Dunn, and may start to see his playing time decrease in the next few seasons.
14. Freddie Freeman, ATL
Freeman quietly put up a 23 HR, 91 run, 94 RBI season but hit just .259-.340-.456 and for me, doesn't have the 30 home run power I expect from a first baseman.
15. Michael Young, TEX
Young had a down year in 2012, hitting .277-.312-.370 with 8 HRs, 79 runs and 67 RBI and may see his playing time decrease in 2013. He hit .265 or lower in four of six months this season and his ISO dropped below .100 for the first time in his career.
16. Adam Lind, TOR
Lind had a terrible year in 2012, resulting in a demotion to AAA where he tore the cover off the ball. He ended the season hitting .255-.314-.414 with 11 HRs, 28 runs and 45 RBI in 321 at bats this season. I don't see Lind getting more than 300 at bats in 2013.
17. Ike Davis, NYM
Davis had a horrific start to the 2012 season, hitting just .185 in April and .154 in May, and through the end of May had just 5 HRs and 21 RBI, ending up on the waiver wire in many leagues. But, beginning in June, he turned things around and never hit less than 5 HRs in the last 4 months of the season. He hit 27 HRs and drove in 69 from June 1 to the end of the season. Davis will end up a bit higher in my 2013 rankings.
18. Ryan Howard, PHI
Howard missed the first three months of the season, and struggled at the plate when he did return. Howard hit just .219-.295-.423 with 14 HRs, 28 runs and 56 RBI in 256 at bats, but his walk rate dropped and his strikeout rate climbed to a whopping 33.9%. Howard has a knack for driving in runs, and I wonder if he can improve upon his second half performance in 2013.
19. Gaby Sanchez, MIA
Sanchez was so bad he was demoted to AAA and eventually traded to the Pirates where he is nothing but a backup.
20. Carlos Lee, MIA
Lee is not the power hitter he once was and probably is only draftable in the deepest of leagues in 2013. Lee hit .264-.332-.365 with 9 HRs, 53 runs and 77 RBI this season for the Astros and Marlins.
21. Justin Smoak, SEA
I was high on Smoak (ha!) coming into the season, but reports that he sells out for the fastball and can't hit offspeed stuff is well known. Smoak hit just .217-.290-.364 with 19 HRs, 49 runs and 51 RBI this season, but hit well in September hitting .341 with 5 HRs, 14 runs, 11 RBI and a 13-13 strikeout to walk ratio. The Mariners are moving their fences in next season, so we might just see the power from Smoak that we have all been waiting for, but there is talk that teammate Jesus Montero may play some first base in 2013, so he could be a platoon.
22. Michael Cuddyer, COL
Cuddyer was productive when healthy in 2012, hitting .260-.317-.489 with 16 HRs, 53 runs, 58 RBI and 8 stolen bases in 358 at bats. My concern is not his production, but his health. He turns 34 in March and we have seen his at bats drop from 609 two years ago to 358 this season.
23. Lucas Duda, NYM
Duda was a popular sleeper pick back in March, but Duda failed to hit like he did in 2011. Duda hit just .239-.329-.389 with 15 HRs, 43 runs and 57 RBI in 401 at bats. He saw his slugging percentage drop by almost a 100 points and his strikeout rate increase from 16.4% to 26.1%, so he has questions going into 2013.
24. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
Goldschmidt was definitely ranked too low in March, and he will see a significant bump in my first base rankings heading into 2013. Goldschmidt hit .286-.359-.490 with 20 HRs, 82 runs, 82 RBI and 18 stolen bases. He doesn't strikeout as much as expected and walked in over 10% of his at bats, so he could see some growth in 2013.
25. Yonder Alonso, SD
Alonso proved that Petco Park is a difficult place to hit, as he triple slashed .273-.348-.393 with 9 HRs, 47 runs, and 62 RBI in his first full season in the big leagues. He is nothing more than a waiver wire fantasy first baseman in shallow leagues, and is only rosterable in deeper formats.
I will address the remaining rankings on Friday, as there are several first baseman below that will be ranked in my Top 25 fantasy first baseman for 2013.
26. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
27. Carlos Pena, TB
28. Adam Laroche, WAS
29. James Loney, LAD
30. Todd Helton, COL
31. Mark Trumbo, LAA
32. Adam Dunn, CHW
33. Mitch Moreland, TEX
34. Bryan LaHair, CHC
35. Garret Jones, PIT
36. Mat Gamel, MIL
37. Brandon Belt, SFG
38. Aubrey Huff, SFG
39. Casey McGehee, PIT
40. Kendrys Morales, LAA
41. Casey Kotchman, TB
42. Daniel Murphy, NYM
43. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
44. Mike Carp, SEA
45. Ty Wigginton, PHI
46. John Mayberry, PHI
47. Justin Morneau, MIN
48. Chris Parmalee, MIN
49. Brett Wallace, HOU
50. Juan Rivera, LAD