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|