Now that we have completed our consensus position rankings for 2014, it is time to address rankings for those of you in AL only and NL only leagues. Ray has already begun posting his NL only positional rankings and you can find them here:
In case you missed the consensus mixed league position rankings and projections that we have published to date, you can find the links to each post below:
I will be posting my AL only rankings over the course of the next week. Today, we'll take a look at first base.
The top of the AL first base rankings boasts three players that are of the best in the game. Chris Davis is a monster who I really believe in. Watch this if you're not a believer. He cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate and annihilated right handed pitching in 2013. Prince Fielder could hit 50 home runs in the jet stream in Arlington and Edwin Encarnacion has been one of, if not the best first basemen in the league the last two seasons. He fills up all five categories. Oh, and he walks more than he strikes out - rare for a power hitter.
I opted for Albert Pujols over Eric Hosmer which was a much more difficult decision than I would have anticipated. I haven't been a huge Hosmer fan and I love Pujols even to this day but Hosmer has rare speed for the position and has a chance to hit for a better average than Pujols this year. I don't think the difference in average will be drastic and if Pujols is healthy, he could still swipe a few bags (his stolen base total is more about being smart and picking his spots than it is speed). Having said that, I believe Pujols will outperform Hosmer in the other three roto categories thus giving him the slight edge. Mike Napoli is an underrated player and I believe he will put up numbers similar to Pujols but hit for a lower average.
Brandon Moss, Jose Abreu and Chris Carter are kind of lumped together for me and I gave Moss the top spot of the three. They all have 30 home run potential but Moss has done it before whereas Abreu has not (at least in the U.S.) and I don't think he'll hit below .250 which isn't the case for Carter. I gave some pause about Moss at first because of the way the A's platoon players but after looking at the A's other options, I'm not worried about Daric Barton taking his at bats and I don't think Michael Taylor will cut into his time much either. Abreu looks pretty good this spring and I would probably go conservative on the home run projection and put him closer to 25 but there's the definite possibility that he's a monster.
I really like Adam Lind and the dude has an 80 grade beard but it's looking like he might share time and will probably be limited to DH on most nights. I don't know that he is in the same class as the previous three I mentioned but he's just outside with the potential to move into it. Nick Swisher is pretty consistent and you know what you'll get from him. It's decent production and it's definitely valuable but probably not if you taking him any higher. Corey Hart is a wild card but we remember what he could do before his injuries and Kendrys Morales is tough to rank with the uncertainty of this contract (or lack thereof) status.
I'm taking Adam Dunn over Mark Teixeira this year because I'm worried about the wrist and missing the entire season. Teixeira hasn't had a strong spring and while he's a notoriously slow starter, I would have liked to have seen a little more from him so far. I think Teixeira's best case scenario is somewhere around what Dunn is likely to do. If Tex hits 30 home runs and drives in 90, I will be slightly surprised and while Dunn may hit .220 (or worse), I don't think Teixeira will hit .250. Teixeira still has some name value and people will believe he can come back and hit in Yankee Stadium. They may be right but it's a risk I'm staying away from this season.
I really liked what Mitch Moreland did at the beginning of the year last year but he fell off a lot after his injury and his swing has looked way off this spring. He'll be the primary DH for a stacked Rangers lineup and I'll keep an eye on him early but I'm not as high on him as I was last May. James Loney and Logan Morrison round out my top 20 and neither one seems set to light the world on fire. James Loney is a piece to add when you need some help in batting average or a warm body that will get a ton of at bats and won't kill you. I've been a huge LoMo fan since he came up but he can't stay healthy and he's hit in terrible ballparks his whole career. It will be interesting to see how this Mariners team shakes out and while I think LoMo has some upside, the chances of him reaching it are slim.
You can follow Zack on Twitter at @FantasyNinja8.