Equivalent Fantasy Average: First Basemen

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Do you know how hard it is to get a computer to say you'll be GREAT, and not just good? It's hard. You do you, Paul Goldschmidt. You do you.

The more I've played around with Equivalent Fantasy Average, the more I've noticed some thresholds. For one, unlike batting average, EFA is pretty concentrated. With few exceptions, guys aren't falling much below the .240 mark, and the ones that do are in no way fantasy worthwhile.

Also, with very few exceptions, guys don't go off the charts. In the last three years, the greatest single-season EFA is .333 (Miguel Cabrera in 2013). Only eight different player-seasons have reached .320 or higher (Cabrera in 2013 and 2012, Mike Trout in 2012, Ryan Braun in 2012, Paul Goldschmidt in 2013, Matt Kemp in 2011, Yadier Molina in 2012, Albert Pujols in 2011). In the same span, some 18 guys have put up a batting average of .320 or better.

In short, EFA proves that, on a fantasy scale, graded over five categories and 162 games, guys just don't run off and hide from their compatriots. What that means is that it is relatively easy to break guys' EFAs down by tiers. Guys with an EFA of .300 are good, but guys with a .320 or higher are super-duper-stars.

For the 2014 Projected EFAs, there was only one player to reach that magical .320 mark: Paul Goldschmidt. There are (hypothesis time) two reasons for that. The first is a mathematical reality sort of thing: Math absolutely doesn't like outliers. While the reality is that someone will likely be a mega-performer in a given year, just like some team could easily win 110 games, you simply aren't going to find a math approach that will call for off-the-charts performance. Math loves the mean.

But the second reason is that, right now, there just aren't that many players who blow away their peers. I'd be willing to bet that some of Rickey Henderson's or Alex Rodriguez' or Barry Bonds' best seasons would crush some EFA records (I need to do these at some point), but we're in a baseball world these days in which the top just isn't as high above the middle as it has been in the past.

Beating both of those truisms (crushing your competitors and having a computer recognize that that will happen) and putting up a projection of .320 or better is no mean feat. That's why Goldschmidt, who comes in as our No. 2 first baseman (No. 1 until Miguel Cabrera qualifies at the position), is such a special player.

Here's the thing about Goldschmidt (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Eric Hosmer): He does it all. Cabrera has a high batting average, hits homers, and scores and drives in runs. But once you look at stolen bases, Cabrera offers basically nothing. Goldschmidt and Hosmer, though, steal bases, and that ability is something EFA loves, and that is reflected in both players' scores.

I'm not arguing against Cabrera as the No. 1 first baseman or the No. 2 overall fantasy player. But I think a look at the EFA among first basemen paints a picture that shows that Goldschmidt deserves a longer look for the top couple spots in fantasy drafts than you might think. Drafting Goldschmidt at No. 2 (if you're bold) means you have slightly less of a need to jump on a Rajai Davis type as your last outfielder. No, Goldschmidt won't steal the bases Davis will. But Goldschmidt and, say, Leonys Martin stand a good chance of totaling better than Cabrera and Davis, and if you have Goldschmidt in your pocket, you won't feel like you need to hunt that extra category quite as much.

Anyway, here's a look at the projected EFAs (based on the 2014 stat projections provided by Rotobanter) among first basemen for 2014. (Note: Players must be projected for a minimum of 300 PA to qualify for EFA, and I've included DH-only guys like David Ortiz and Billy Butler among first basemen, just to have somewhere to put them.):

Rank First Baseman Team Projected 2014 EFA
1 Paul Goldschmidt ARI .320
2 Miguel Cabrera DET .313
3 Edwin Encarnacion TOR .301
4 Eric Hosmer KCR .297
5 Chris Davis BAL .295
6 Freddie Freeman ATL .290
7 Joey Votto CIN .289
8 Prince Fielder TEX .286
9 Anthony Rizzo CHC .284
10 Mark Trumbo ARI .280
11 David Ortiz BOS .278
12 Allen Craig STL .276
13 Adrian Gonzalez LAD .276
14 Albert Pujols LAA .276
15 Buster Posey SFG .274
16 Brandon Belt SFG .273
17 Billy Butler KCR .272
18 Brandon Moss OAK .269
19 Chris Carter HOU .265
20 Kendrys Morales TBA .265
21 Carlos Santana CLE .265
22 Corey Hart SEA .264
23 Joe Mauer MIN .263
24 Mike Napoli BOS .263
25 Mark Teixeira NYY .263
26 Victor Martinez DET .261
27 Justin Morneau COL .260
28 Matt Adams STL .258
29 Nick Swisher CLE .258
30 Yonder Alonso SDP .256
31 Mitch Moreland TEX ,255
32 Justin Smoak SEA .255
33 Adam LaRoche WAS .254
34 Adam Lind TOR .252
35 James Loney TBR .250
36 Adam Dunn CWS .248
37 Ryan Howard PHI .248
38 Logan Morrison SEA .248
39 Ike Davis NYM .245
40 Mark Reynolds MIL .245
41 Lucas Duda NYM .243
42 Garrett Jones MIA .243
43 Juan Francisco MIL .240
44 Darin Ruf PHI .239
45 Kyle Blanks SDP .233
46 Paul Konerko CWS .230

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