Fake Teams 2013 Consensus First Baseman Rankings: Part 1

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Joey Votto is the #1 fantasy first baseman in the Fake Teams Consensus First Base Rankings for 2013. But, he doesn't come without some concerns.

Last week, the fantasy baseball writers here at Fake Teams covered the fantasy catcher position like no other, and this week we will bring you the same type of coverage for the fantasy first baseman. Today, I bring you Part 1 of Fake Teams Consensus Top 25 Fantasy First Baseman for 2013.

For a recap of who took part in the rankings process, the writers involved in the rankings include Bret Sayre, Jason Hunt, Craig Goldstein and myself. Before I get to the player profiles, here are the individual rankings, as well as the consensus first base rankings for 2013.

Our consensus first base rankings were calculated by assigning 25 points for a first place vote, 24 points for a second place vote and so on. There's also a 2-point bonus for appearing on a list, which gives more weight (in close scenarios) to players who appeared on more of our lists.

As you can see, we differ on the rankings of several players including Ike Davis, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira and others. I am the low guy on Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, which shouldn't surprise you, but I think that with Pujols' down year in 2012, a case can be made for any one of Pujols, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder as the #1 fantasy first baseman heading into the 2013 season.

Now let's take a look at our individual and consensus fantasy first baseman rankings for 2013:

Rank

Player

Team

Ray

Bret

Jason

Craig

Score

1

Joey Votto

CIN

2

2

2

1

105

2

Albert Pujols

LAA

4

1

1

3

103

3

Prince Fielder

DET

1

3

3

4

101

4

Edwin Encarnacion

TOR

6

4

5

2

95

5

Adrian Gonzalez

LAD

3

5

4

6

94

6

Allen Craig

STL

5

6

7

11

83

7

Buster Posey

SF

8

7

9

5

83

8

Billy Butler

KC

7

9

8

9

79

9

Paul Goldschmidt

ARZ

9

8

11

10

74

10

Paul Konerko

CHW

14

18

6

8

66

11

Eric Hosmer

KC

11

11

13

16

61

12

Joe Mauer

MIN

15

14

20

7

56

13

Mark Teixeira

NYY

10

10

19

18

55

14

Adam LaRoche

WSH

19

21

10

13

49

15

Adam Dunn

CHW

22

15

15

12

48

16

Anthony Rizzo

CHC

21

13

14

17

47

17

Corey Hart

MLW

13

23

17

14

45

18

Freddie Freeman

ATL

18

12

12

NR

42

19

Ike Davis

NYM

12

16

22

24

38

20

Ryan Howard

PHI

20

19

16

25

32

21

Carlos Santana

CLE

17

22

18

NR

27

22

Chris Davis

BAL

24

25

23

15

25

23

Justin Morneau

MIN

NR

17

24

22

21

24

Brandon Belt

SF

NR

20

25

20

19

25

Mark Trumbo

LAA

16

NR

21

NR

19

Player Profiles

1. Joey Votto, CIN

Votto put up a career high triple slash line in 2012, hitting .337-.474-.567 with 14 HRs, 59 runs, 56 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 374 at bats. His triple slash line was a career high, but his HR, runs, RBI and stolen bases were all career lows, as he missed 51 games due to a knee injury that required two surgeries. When he did return, he was not the same hitter he was before the injury. Votto did not homer in his last 108 at bats of the season, 76 of which came after his return in September. He should benefit from an offseason of rest and recovery from the knee surgery, but I have concerns about his power output in 2013. It's looking more and more that his 2010 season was a career high power wise, and he appears to be more of a mid-20's home run hitter, than a guy who could pop 30+ bombs every year.

2013 Projection: I see Votto hitting .320 or higher, with a very high OBP, 25 HRs, 100+ runs and 100+ RBI. I was the low man among the four Fake Teams writers on Votto, so maybe my projection is low.

2. Albert Pujols, LAA

I don't have to rehash why I am down on Pujols going forward, but the age and injuries are starting to affect his performance on the field. There will come a day where he will be DH'ing more than playing first base, but that is probably many years away, and we are talking about 2013, so stay on subject, Ray!!! Anyway, we did see his stats take a hit in 2012, as he hit .285-.343-.516 with 30 HRs, 85 runs, 105 RBI and 8 stolen bases. The home runs, runs, BA, OBP and SLG were all career lows, even though he missed just 8 games all season. His walk rate was the lowest of his career, so that tells me pitchers are challenging him more than ever. His ISO has dropped 100 points in the last three seasons, while his SLG has dropped around 140 points over the same time frame. He did hit 50 doubles in 2012, and he had offseason knee surgery, so maybe his power will turn back up in 2013. He also won't hit .217 with no homers in April 2013 or hit .269 with 1 HR in September of 2013.

2013 Projection: I see Pujols hitting .290-.350-.500 with 35 HRs, 90 runs and 100 RBI in 2013.

3. Prince Fielder, DET

Fielder, like Pujols, also saw his power drop in 2012, but he has always been a "good year" followed by a "bad year" guy, so if the trend continues, 2013 should be another good year for Fielder. Fielder hit .313-.412-.528 with 30 HRs, 83 runs and 108 RBI in 2012, or just about what Pujols hit, but with a higher triple slash line. But, unlike Pujols, his batting average in 2012 was a career high. Fielder's 17.9% HR/FB rate was his worst since 2006, but I think his power will return in 2013, his "good" year.

2013 Projection: I see Fielder hitting .300 with 36 HRs, 85 runs and 110 RBI in 2013.

4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR

In 2012, Edwin Encarnacion put together one of the better breakout seasons we have seen in a long time. Back when he was still playing third base for the Cincinnati Reds, many thought that he could put up multiple 30 HR seasons, but that never came to fruition. Until this season. Encarnacion hit .280-384-.557 with 42 HRs, 93 runs, 110 RBI and 13 stolen bases, and improved his walk rate from 8.1% to 13.0%, a substantial improvement. Fantasy owners will have to answer this question on draft day: can he duplicate his 2012 performance in 2013?

2013 Projection: I will go with the side that says no, but I do think he can hit 30+ bombs and drive in 100 runs in the Blue Jays lineup in 2013.

5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD

The trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angele Dodgers was supposed to lift the Dodgers playoff chances in 2012, but it did the exact opposite, as the team did not hit/score runs for about a month post trade. Looking at Gonzalez's 2012 season, the one thing that sticks out for me is the drop in power. I wrote this piece back in June, where I discussed the power outage in Gonzalez's game. He finished the season hitting .299-.344-.463 with 18 HRs, 75 runs and 108 RBI, so he still can hit for average and drive in runs. Since his 40 HR season, his home run output has steadily dropped, from 40 in 2009, to 31 in 2010, to 27 in 2011 to just 18 in 2012. Along with the drop in home runs, his ISO has followed, from .274 in 2009 to .164 in 2012, and now he is moving to another pitcher's park in the NL West, yet he will bat in the middle of what should be a very productive lineup. Will the power return? I would like to see the walk rate improve along with the power. Is he still dealing with shoulder issues, or has the bat slowed?

2013 Projection: I see Gonzalez hitting .300 with 24 home runs and 105 RBI in 2013.

6. Allen Craig, STL

If you don't know It by now, I really like Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig for 2013. I like Craig so much that I ranked him as my 5th ranked fantasy first baseman for 2013 back in September. Craig hit .307-.354-.522 with 22 HRs, 76 runs and 92 RBI in 469 at bats this season, and I think he can build on that in 2013. I wrote this piece back in last August where I provided an in depth look at his 2012 season. He missed all of April, and never hit below .264 in any one month, and hit .290 or better in four of the five months he was healthy.

2013 Projection: With a full time roll, and good health, I can see Craig putting up a 25 - 30 HR, 100 RBI, .290 BA season in 2013. This is better than a few guys ahead of him.

7. Buster Posey, SFG

The reigning National League MVP garnered our top fantasy catcher spot last week, and comes in at #7 in our first base rankings for 2013. Posey played 29 games at first base in 2012, so he is first base eligible in most leagues in 2013. Posey had his best year yet in 2012, leading the NL in hitting with a .336 BA, with 24 HRs, 78 runs and 103 RBI. Posey turns 26 years of age exactly ten days after St. Patrick's Day, 2013, and I wonder if we haven't seen the best from him yet. I could see a bit more power from him going forward, assuming good health.

2013 Projection: I see Posey hitting .310 with 25 HRs, 95 RBI and 80 runs scored in 2013.

8. Billy Butler, KC

Butler is another guy who I thought was ready for a power breakout season, but that was about three years ago. Butler's power finally presented itself in 2012, as he hit .313-.373-.510 with 29 HRs, 72 runs and 107 RBI in 2012. I said a few years ago that some of his 40+ doubles would start making their way over the fence, and they finally did, as his doubles dropped from 44 to 32 in 2012. How did he do it? Well, for starters, his fly ball rate dropped from 35.85 to 28.8%, yet his HR/FB% almost doubled to 19.9% from 10.4%. Fantasy owners will have to decide whether the power bump was real or not on draft day.

2013 Projection: I see Country Breakfast hitting .305 with 27 HRs, 75 runs and 95 RBI in 2013.

9. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI

Now here is a guy who could move up these rankings in a year from now, as not only does he hit for power, he hits for average, can steal some bags and hits in a hitter friendly ballpark. Goldschmidt hit .286-.359-.490 with 20 HRs, 82 runs, 82 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 514 at bats, his first full season in the big leagues. Unlike other young power hitters, Goldschmidt doesn't strike out a ton, and knows how to take the free pass, as he walked in 10..2% of his plate appearances in 2012. Goldschmidt also hit 43 doubles, so the power is legit, and the home run total should see a bump in 2013.

2013 Projection: I see Goldschmidt hitting .270 with 25 HRs, 80 runs, 90 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 2013.

10. Paul Konerko, CHW

Are we starting to see Konerko's numbers begin their decline. Konerko hit .298-.371-.486 with 26 HRs, 66 runs and 75 RBI in 2012, his worst power performance since 2008, yet that was in 22 less games. His power numbers have declined two years in a row, and Konerko will turn 37 during spring training, so his stats could continue to take a hit in 2013. But, he can still provide solid value as he can still hit for average and get on base.

2013 Projection: I see Konerko hitting .285 with 22 HRs and 80 RBI in 2013.

11. Eric Hosmer, KC

Hosmer had a disappointing 2012 season for Royals fans and fantasy owners alike. His disappointing season allowed me to trade for him in my AL-only keeper league this year, so I now have him for the next two years at $15. Anyway, Hosmer struggled out of the gate and never got back on track at the plate, ending the year hitting .232-.304-.359 with 14 HRs, 65 runs, 60 RBI and 16 stolen bases. All this after a solid rookie season which saw him hit .293-.334-.465 with 19 HRs, 66 runs, 78 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 523 at bats. The culprit for the down sophomore season? His .255 BABIP was the 7th worst in all of baseball in 2012. Fantasy owners can take a couple positives from his 2012 season: 1. He improved his walk rate from 6.0% to 9.4%, and 2. he was successful in 16 of his 17 stolen base attempts.

2013 Projection: I expect Hosmer to hit .280 with 22 HRs, 75 runs, 90 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 2013. I may be high on the stolen base total, but if he just improves his BABIP, he will have more opportunities in 2013.

12. Joe Mauer, MIN

Mauer is the second catcher on our Top 25 fantasy first baseman rankings for 2013, and deservedly so. Mauer won't ever hit 28 HRs again, but he could bump his power total into the 15 range at some point, if he sacrificed average for power. Mauer hit .319-.416-.446 with 10 HRs, 31 doubles, 81 runs, 85 RBI and 8 stolen bases in 12 attempts in 2012. He is one of the few hitters in baseball that walked more than he struck out last season, the sixth time he has accomplished that feat in his career. If Mauer is to improve his home run totals, he will have to hit a few more fly balls, as he hit the ball in the air at just a 22.4% clip in 2012, and that was up from 21.5% in 2011. He hits plenty of line drives, but could stand to replace some of his ground balls (52.6% in 2012) for fly balls going forward.

2013 Projection: I expect Mauer to hit .320 with 12 HRs, 85 runs, 90 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 2013.

13. Mark Teixeira, NYY

How the mighty have fallen. Teixeira was once an easy Top 5 fantasy first baseman not too long ago, but his batting average has cratered the last few seasons, and doesn't appear to be coming back any time soon. Teixeira hit just .251-.332-.475 with 24 HRs, 66 runs, and 84 RBI in just 123 games in 2012. It's amazing that a power hitter who doesn't strike out too much (15.8%) and knows how to take a few walks (10.3%), hits for such a low batting average. Here is a look at his BABIP trend since 2007:

2007: .342 BABIP

2008: .316 BABIP

2009: .302 BABIP

2010: .268 BABIP

2011: .239 BABIP

2012: .250 BABIP

it is quite obvious that Teixeira has sacrificed average and OBP for power hitting in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. So fantasy owners will draft him accordingly going forward.

2013 Projection: I expect Teixeira to hit .255 with 31 HRs, 80 runs and 100 RBI in 2013.

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