Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 30 First Baseman for 2014, Part 2

Thearon W. Henderson

It's First Base Week at Fake Teams, and today we publish part 2 of our consensus Top 30 fantasy first baseman rankings for 2014. Check out where the Fake Teams writers rank Brandon Belt, Jose Abreu and Matt Adams this season.

We published part 1 of our consensus Top 30 fantasy first baseman on Monday morning. Today we bring you part 2 of our consensus fantasy first baseman rankings for 2014, for first baseman ranked 16-30. We used a points system for each of the 30 first baseman ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

We feel that providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than hearing me spew my rankings nonsense throughout the offseason. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

In addition to the rankings, we are now offering your 2014 projections for each player ranked, courtesy of Dan Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter. He has spent all offseason on his projections, and to learn more about how he calculates his projections, you can read his explanations here: Part 1| Part 2| Part 3. Part 1 details his projection approach, Part 2 details how he calculates his hitter projections and part 3 details how he calculates his pitcher projections.

We didn't stop at just providing you rankings and projections, as we are also providing you with auction values, courtesy of Dan, along with the Equivalent Fantasy Average for each player ranked, courtesy of Daniel Kelley. The fantasy average can be used to compare players at the same position.

Here is a brief explanation of Equivalent Fantasy Average, from Daniel's Fantasy Average Positional Breakdown piece a few weeks ago:

Those who have been around the last week or two probably saw my Fantasy Average piece, in which I attempted to use standard deviations to present every offensive players' fantasy contributions in terms of a batting average-like number. That presentation is a useful ranking tool and, since it's on a scale we're all familiar with, is a heck of a shorthand for overall strength. If your guy hit ".300" by Fantasy Average, he's a heck of a player.

And all of this is consolidated, with player photos, into statistical tables thanks to the work of Jason Hunt.

Fantasy First Base Rankings for 2014 - Part 2

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Matt Brian Alex Daniel Joe Jason Zack
16 Brandon Belt SFG 129 17 26 13 16 15 11 18 19
17 Carlos Santana CLE 129 12 18 16 19 17 18 19 16
18 Joe Mauer MIN 125 19 19 15 17 18 17 17 17
19 Jose Abreu CHW 119 20 16 17 14 26 15 15 22
20 Brandon Moss OAK 110 18 14 21 21 14 19 21 26
21 Mark Teixeira NYY 85 16 20 23 26 24 23 23 24
22 Kendrys Morales FA 79 22 19 27 20 21 25 18
23 Matt Adams STL 70 21 27 26 18 27 26 28 21
24 Nick Swisher CLE 65 26 24 22 22 25 25 22
25 Chris Carter HOU 60 25 23 24 28 30 20 29 25
26 Ryan Howard PHI 50 24 28 25 21 20 30
27 Justin Morneau COL 46 27 21 23 22 26
28 Corey Hart SEA 40 28 22 24 22 29
29 Adam Lind TOR 31 29 25 30 23 30 30
30 Adam LaRoche WSN 24 30 25 29 29 28

Others Receiving Votes: Ike Davis (22), Yonder Alonso (18), Mitch Moreland (15), Justin Smoak (11), Adam Dunn (10), Darin Ruf (6), Jonathan Singleton (4), Lucas Duda (3).

Player Profiles

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# 16 Brandon Belt (SFG)

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.289 76 17 67 5
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
571 0.36 0.481 9.11% 21.89%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.282 74 17 68 6
Auction Value: $ 7.53 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.273

Belt entered the major leagues a few seasons ago with much acclaim, but was mishandled by manager Bruce Bochy, who historically favors veterans over prospects. Then they tried to change his swing, which didn't work, so Belt went back to his old swing, and that resulted in Belt having his best year of his short big league career last season. Well, that and the fact that he played regularly. Belt ranked sixth in fWAR among ALL qualifying first baseman last season, which may indicate he is a better first baseman than he is for fantasy purposes. I am not sure that is really the case, as I see more growth from Belt in 2014.

In 2013, he played a career high 150 games, hitting .289-.360-.481 with 17 HRs, 76 runs, 67 RBI and tossed in 5 stolen bases as well. He hits plenty of line drives that provides a floor for his batting average, and saw his fly ball rate rise over 40% and his HR/FB% rise to over 10% last year, so it appears he is focusing on adding more loft in his swing. As he matures as a hitter, we should see 20+ home runs from him, and I think it could be as soon as 2014. The issue with Belt, though, is he plays for the Giants which doesn't have the most dangerous lineup in the game. With that said, he is a candidate to break out in 2014 if things come together for him and the Giants lineup.

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# 17 Carlos Santana (CLE)

Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.268 75 20 74 3
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
642 0.377 0.455 14.49% 17.13%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.261 73 20 75 2
Auction Value: $10.24 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.265

Santana is eligible at first base, catcher, DH and apparently will see plenty of time at third base in 2014. I wrote about Santana in our Top 30 Catcher Rankings last Monday.

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# 18 Joe Mauer (MIN)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.324 62 11 47 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
508 0.404 0.476 12.01% 17.52%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.300 78 10 71 0
Auction Value: $12.56 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.263

Like Santana, Mauer will be moving to a new position in 2014, and we felt it necessary to include him in our catcher and first base rankings for our readers. I doubt any fantasy owner will draft him as a first baseman, but there might be a select few out there that will. I wrote about Mauer in our Top 30 Catcher Rankings last Monday.

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# 19 Jose Abreu (CHW)

Photo Credit: Koji Watanabe - Getty Images
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
DID NOT PLAY
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
NO PROJECTION

We don't know too much about Jose Abreu, as he has yet to play one game in the major leagues. Andrew Ball wrote a piece on Abreu over at Beyond the Boxscore and here is an excerpt, to give you an idea as to how he performed in Cuba:

The 26-year-old right-handed hitter is one of the most decorated hitters in the history of Serie Nacional, the top Cuban league. He began his professional career at just 17-years-old, holding his own with a .271 average against much older competition. From there he blossomed into one of the top hitters in the league, or any league for that matter, hitting .399/.555/.822, .453/.597/.986, .394/.542/.837, and .382/.535/.735 in his last four seasons in Cuba. During that stretch, he hit 111 home runs in 254 games and walked nearly twice as often as he struck out. Of course, we need context to correctly gauge those numbers.

And here is Jason Hunt on Abreu from the White Sox Top 10 Prospects piece earlier this offseason:

The range on Abreu is extremely wide at this point, as there have been reports that think he could be an MVP-level contributor, and others that point him more toward the middle of the pack among first basemen. He seems unlikely to me to play in the minor leagues given the size of his contract and their need at the position with Paul Konerko being a free agent. He's going to provide power either way, but the question really seems to stem from whether he will hit for a high average as well, or just be an issue in the category. He's an interesting sleeper for the 2014 season, as he will likely go later in drafts due to the depth of the first base position and the quantity of unknowns surrounding him.

Abreu recently was drafted as the 14th first baseman taken in the recent FSTA experts league draft, and was the 104th player drafted in the 15 team league. ZiPS projects him to hit 26 HRs, drive in 65 runs and hit .273 this season, but the range of expectations will probably be all over teh map this offseason, especially after the success Yasiel Puig had last season and Yoenis Cespedes had in 2012.

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# 20 Brandon Moss (OAK)

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.256 73 30 87 4
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
505 0.337 0.522 9.90% 27.72%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.253 70 26 80 2
Auction Value: $ 7.04 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.269

Moss has made his way around baseball as he has played with the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies and now has found a home with the A's. It is not shocking that GM Billy Beane has extracted the best out of Moss, and that is his power. The Pirates could certainly use his bat at first base this season, but that is not to be, for now.

Moss had a terrific season at the plate in 2013, hitting .256-.337-.522 with 30 HRs, 73 runs and 87 RBI. He's a huge fly ball hitter, as almost 52% of his batted balls were hit in the air last season, and 18.8% of them ended up in the seats. Moss struggles mightily vs lefties, hitting just .200 against them in 2013, so he will sit often when a righty is not on the mound. Moss represents cheap power that one can draft later than the other 30 home run hitters in the game. He was drafted in the middle of the 15th round in the FSTA experts league draft a few weeks ago.

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# 21 Mark Teixeira (NYY)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.151 5 3 12 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
63 0.27 0.34 12.70% 30.16%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.245 67 24 81 1
Auction Value: $ 4.57 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.263

Teixeira is coming off wrist surgery in 2014, so many will question how well he will perform upon his return this season. We will learn more in spring training, but here is what he told Bryan Hoch from MLB.com on his rehab back in December:

"I'm close to 100 percent. I feel like I'm healed. I wish I was a little bit looser; my wrist is going to be tight for a while because of the way the surgery was performed. They had to kind of tighten everything up to make it secure. It's still a little bit tight, but that's why I'm doing rehab every day and doing exercises every day. I'll start swinging a bat in January and that will also help loosen it up."

I am not sure if he has started swinging a bat yet, but questions will remain until spring training begins in mid February and games begin in March.

With that said, he turns 34 in early April, and age could catch up to him. He won't hit for a high average, as he hasn't hit higher than .256 since 2009. The hope is that he can return to the power hitting first baseman he was before the wrist injury.

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# 22 Kendrys Morales (FA)

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.277 64 23 80 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
657 0.336 0.449 7.46% 17.35%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.278 66 21 79 0
Auction Value: $ 7.12 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.265

Morales has yet to sign with a team this offseason, so where he lands will impact his fantasy value in 2014. He had a solid season at the plate playing in Seattle last season, hitting .277-.335-.449 with 23 HRs, 64 runs and 80 RBI in 155 games. His performance at the plate could improve if he can hit a few more line drives and fly balls, as he hits way too many ground balls (48.7% last season) for a power hitting first baseman/DH. His HR/FB% took a hit last season, dropping from the 20% rate to 14.5% in the spacious Safeco Park. A move to a hitters park like Camden Yards would improve his fantasy value in 2014, as he could approach the 30 HR level should that happen.

Morales was one of 19 hitters last season to his 23 or more home runs, drive in 80 runs and hit .270 or higher, and that is among all MLB hitters. Among fantasy first baseman, he was one of six who accomplished that feat last season, so he has some hidden value for fantasy owners on draft day.

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# 23 Matt Adams (STL)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.284 46 17 51 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
319 0.335 0.503 7.21% 25.08%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.272 57 21 68 0
Auction Value: $ 2.57 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.258

Adams has big power, which was on display last season. Adams hit .284-.335-.503 with 17 HRs, 46 runs and 51 RBI in just 319 plate appearances. He hits a good amount of fly balls (36.1% in 2013), and benefitted from an excellent 21.8% HR/FB% last season. In a full season of play, Adams is a 30 home run threat, but his ability to hit left handed pitching will go a long way in determining how much playing time he will see in 2014. He struck out in 19 of his 52 plate appearances vs lefties last season, so he could be platooned if he can't show improvement vs lefties this season.

20130219_jla_ar5_325.0

# 24 Nick Swisher (CLE)

Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.246 74 22 63 1
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
634 0.341 0.423 12.15% 21.77%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.253 72 20 62 1
Auction Value: $ 1.92 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.258

Swisher quietly put up his ninth straight 20 home run season in 2014, but saw his batting average take a nose dive. Swisher hit .246-.341-.423 with 22 HRs, 74 runs and 63 RBI in 145 games last season. His batted ball profile has been one of the most consistent I have seen thus far:

Year: LD%/GB%/FB%

2011: 21.8/38.9/39.4

2012: 22.3/38.8/39.0

2013: 23.1/38.1/38.8

All this tells me what you see is what you get from Swisher. He's a 20 home run 70-80 run, 70-80 RBI hitter, and that has value in an era where power and run scoring is down. He has played in 145 games or more in eight straight seasons now, and has never had a serious injury, so he's a one who comes with little risk on draft day.

20130221_mje_ah6_1130.

# 25 Chris Carter (HOU)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.223 64 29 82 2
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
585 0.32 0.451 11.97% 36.24%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.235 66 29 83 1
Auction Value: $ 5.27 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.265

Carter had a solid first full season in the big leagues, but struggled to make contact. He hit just .223-.320-.451 with 29 HRs, 64 runs and 82 RBI in 148 games for the young and rebuilding Astros lineup. But like many young power hitters, there is a lot of swing and miss that comes with Carter's power. Carter struck out in 36.2% of his plate appearances last season, and his 15.5% SwStr% ranked third in baseball last season, ranking only behind Josh Hamilton and Pedro Alvarez. His 65.4% contact rate was the worst in the game last season, so one has to wonder how much longer we will see his name penciled in the Astros lineup once some of their prospects, George Springer and Jonathan Singleton, are ready. Both should be ready this season, so we could see Carter's playing time reduced as a result.

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# 26 Ryan Howard (PHI)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.266 34 11 43 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
317 0.319 0.465 7.26% 29.97%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.242 47 19 70 0
Auction Value: $ -3.23 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.248

Howard was once one of the more feared power hitters in the game, but that has all changed due to injuries and age. After hitting 31 or more home runs in six straight seasons, from 2006-2011, Howard has hit a combined 25 home runs over the last two seasons. He has gone from being a hitter with a double digit walk rate to a sub-8% walk rate, and his strikeout rate has creeped into the low 30% range.

A return to the 30 home run level is certainly possible for Howard, but he will have to stay healthy all season, and at the age of 34 he repesents a risk to do so. He is also one who could see a platoon beginning in 2014, as he struggles to hit left handers. Actually, to say he struggles vs left handers is an understatement, as he hit just .173-.218-.321 against them last season. Darrin Ruf could see time at first base vs lefties for the Phillies in 2014.

20130219_jla_ah6_134.0

# 27 Justin Morneau (COL)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.259 62 17 77 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
635 0.323 0.411 7.87% 17.32%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.268 64 18 77 0
Auction Value: $ 4.03 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.260

Morneau is a sleeper this season, as he moves from the pitcher-friendly Target Field to hitter-friendly Coors Field. Last season, Morneau played in 152 games, hitting .259-.323-.411 with 17 HRs, 62 runs and 77 RBI. He hits enough fly balls (38%) that we could see a return to the 22-25 range hitting in the Rockies lineup. Like Howard, he struggles to hit left handed pitching, and could see his playing time reduced under manager Walt Weiss.

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# 28 Corey Hart (SEA)

Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
DID NOT PLAY (INJURED)
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.252 68 21 72 3
Auction Value: $ 3.84 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.264

Hart moves from Milwaukee to Seattle this offseason after missing all of 2013 due to two knee surgeries. Prior to missing the 2013 season, Hart had hit 26 or more home runs in each of his last three seasons (2010-2012), and driven in 80 or more runs in two of those seasons. Moving to Seattle will bring down his power potential, and he will have to prove that his knees are completely healthy in spring training. He is a late round sleeper in 2014 drafts, who will probably play first base and DH for the new look Mariners.

20130218_jla_ah6_028.0

# 29 Adam Lind (TOR)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.288 67 23 67 1
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
521 0.357 0.497 9.79% 19.77%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.257 58 19 60 0
Auction Value: $ -1.18 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.252

Lind had a nice bounce back season in 2013, hitting .288-.357-.497 with 23 HRs, 67 runs and 67 RBI in 143 games. His .497 slugging percentage was his highest since 2009 when he hit 35 home runs, scored 93 runs and drove in 114 with a .562 SLG. He struggled against left handed pitching last season, hitting .203 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI in 96 at bats, but, for some reason, hit .304 on the road vs lefties. Figure that out.

Lind split time between first base and DH for the Blue Jays last season, and figures to do the same again this season, as the Blue Jays have been very quiet this offseason. He benefitted from a .324 BABIP last season, so there is a good chance his batting average regresses as his career BABIP sits just under .300.

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# 30 Adam Laroche (WSN)

Photo Credit: Brad Barr - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.237 70 20 62 4
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
590 0.332 0.403 12.20% 22.20%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.242 65 19 65 1
Auction Value: $ -0.88 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.254

LaRoche had a down year at the plate in 2013, as his triple slash line dipped to .237-.332-.403 with 20 home runs, 70 runs and 62 RBI. He is one year removed from a 33 home run, 100 RBI season, so there is a chance he could improve in both categories this season, especially since he hits in the middle of the Nationals lineup which should score more runs than they did last year. I can see him returning to the .270 hitter, with 20-25 HRs and 80-85 RBI in 2014, and he should be available late in drafts or on your league waiver wire in shallow leagues.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.

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