THE DIRTY DOZEN (PLUS TWO)
Tiers are popular but I decided that this year’s stocked inventory at FIRST BASE could be broken up into two parts. Last week featured 19 ideal corner/utility/ bench types. This week I am proud to unveil the cream of the crop. You may be thinking: if the typical league is twelve teams, why is this screwball putting 14 players on “THE LIST”. Real simple- it was so close I could not banish any of these guys to “page two status”.
14. Miguel Cabrera (DET)– still only 34 years old but definite concerns (bad health/ slow bat) surround arguably the best hitter in baseball the past decade. Due to his stellar career, he is too good to discount entirely. The smart play is to add a round or two to where you project him to even consider the risk.
13. Justin Smoak (TOR) – many will call the breakout a fluke but maybe now is the time for the big switch hitter. Liberation from the worst hitter’s park (Seattle) to Toronto seems to have finally taken grip. Don’t expect a repeat, but 35 bombs, 100 RBI and .255 average could easily happen.
12. Eric Hosmer (SD)– may be overrated based on name recognition, Hosmer is still relatively young and a durable force. This guy is a throwback two-way player who could help any team. In spite of going to a pretender (SAN DIEGO), in a new league, and playing 81 games in Petco- still recommended since he’s IN HIS PRIME. Perfect leftover strategy at 1B: make him one of the last starters chosen and load up in other areas….
11. Josh Bell (PIT)- rookie year and minor league stats offered no foreshadowing. But in 2017, the 6’2″ /230 lbs Bell got busy. Impressive debut overall and he even set a record for most HRs (26) by a rookie switch hitter. Will either bat third or cleanup and should challenge 30 dingers with strong peripherals. Pardon the pun: a cornerstone dynasty player.
10. Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – finally had the mega-year the experts predicted years ago. Not the youngest guy at 33, he’s still underrated. If you think his medical menace days are behind, grab him in the middle rounds and sleep like a baby.
9. Wil Myers (SD)– a guy who practically lived on the disabled list for years, Myers has put together back-to-back good, if not great, seasons. Entering his prime at 27, a career year is possible. Ability to steal bases (48 the last two years) makes Myers a tipping point type of talent. Playing in S.D and excessive amounts of strike outs are the only thing keeping him from being elite. The addition of Hosmer will help his numbers but casts an ugly shadow courtesy of his legendarily lousy outfield defense.
8. Edwin Encarnacion- (TOR)- so what if his original nickname was E5 (error third base) when he was a lanky youngster in Cincinnati? Flash forward to the last seven years: scores 100 runs, drives in 100, bashes 35+, on a good team, bats cleanup, OPS around .900- what’s not to like? Despite being older than most on this list still worth a rock solid $22 bid (5th round selection).
7. Rhys Hoskins (PHI)– the given was that at some point the lowly Phillies would give their crown jewel a well deserved crack at the big time. The result was beyond imaginable yet the record book may have hinted otherwise.
- age 22 at two levels hit 25 HRS
- age 23 at two levels hit 38 HRS
- age 24 at two levels hit 47 HRS (including a mind-boggling 18 HRS in 170 major league at bats)
Also to be found throughout his career: a high average, an above average ability to take a walk and a relatively low strikeout rate. Can you spell SUPERSTAR?? Time will tell, but the indisputable facts are: 1) Hoskins plays in possibly the best hitters park in the NL, 2) he is the linchpin in a lineup brimming with talent and 3) he will be heavily supported by fans that may even think the Eagles did it, why not the Phils??
This is all based on a small sample. Opposing pitchers had the off-season to figure out what to do with this beast. As a result, he is not rated as top echelon in 2018. Could he actually be worth his high price tag?
6. Cody Bellinger (LAD)– Remarkable year by one of baseball’s youngest stars as attested by R.O.Y award and MVP consideration (#9). But a late season swoon and post season record 29 strikeouts in 64 AB’s (not a misprint) are a concern. Kudos to last year’s owners that rode the wave. But will those same owners pay up in 2018 (current ADP hovering at 24)? Could have been listed higher but I’ll give him another few years before crowning him the King…..
5. Jose Abreu (CHW)- Cuban slugger set career highs in doubles, runs and hits. Add in 30 homers and 100 RBI minimums and you have a building block player. Even in spite of a less than stellar Chisox supporting cast, a no-risk 2nd round/ $25 salary stalwart.
4. Anthony Rizzo (CHC)- hallelujah!! a hitter that actually had more walks (91) than K’s (90). Rizzo is a splendid, in his prime, top of the order stats stuffer that could make a run at MVP if the Cubbies return to form. Also worth noting is that if you play in a Yahoo league – qualification at 2B, makes this guy even more special. IMHO- 20 game rule is WAY MORE REALISTIC!
3. Freddie Freeman (ATL) – you might be thinking: How can I rate a guy that missed 45 games last year in the top three? Real simple: it’s time. For the sake of what could have been let’s extrapolate the damage that Freddie could have done if he played out the full season
- HR= 33
- RBI = 95
- SB= 11
- OBP = .403
- OPS= .989
An overly simplistic way to look at it, or is it quite possible that a guy in his prime (28) and playing in a notoriously good hitter’s park (last year, especially for lefties ) can touch this kind of stratosphere? AYUP
1b.Joey Votto (CIN)– Could be better than Goldie in leagues that feature walks, OPS and/or OBP. Lifetime average of .313 among the best for active players. Power is good, not great compared to some of his lumberjack peers. Despite advancing age (34) he remains a game wrecker of the highest magnitude.
1a.Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)– spectacular talent who only seems to be getting better. Be it your typical 5 X 5 category league or the monstrous 8 X 8 like the MLFS League of Champions this guy is a statistical wonder and, in a common year, a top five selection in most formats.
NEW DEVELOPMENT ALERT: Chase Field, home of the D’backs will store baseballs in a humidor (similar to the one at Coors Field) this season. Without blinding you with the science of it all, there will be fewer homers blasted by Arizona and opponents in 2018. It’s been ten years since the Rockies decided to reign in the long ball and it worked. The numbers don’t lie: Homers down 25% and Batting Average down 10%. According to the experts it would be even worse in Arizona (due to the inherently low humidity in comparison to Colorado).
Is this a gloom and doom situation for Goldy? A quick review of his lifetime stats (six years) says NOT REALLY. Homers were, for all intents and purposes, identical (87 home/89 road). Batting average? Also even (.299 home/ .298 road). So maybe his average will suffer a couple of points overall and his homer total “wanes” to 30. NO BIG DEAL- still remains, at worse, a top ten pick in my book.
NUMBERS NERD BONUS (tables composed after I had made original rankings)– for those of you thinking my player capsules are a bit brief and/or lacking numbers, I concocted a G(ozzified) S(tatistical) R(eview) for three reasons. Firstly, I wanted to see if my 2nd flight group (#15 through #33) were on average inferior to the 1st flight. Last but not least, did I under/overate a player bad enough to tinker with “the list”? Sounded easy enough. So, I wrote down the categories I thought relevant for standard leagues and one slightly more advanced league without going too cuckoo. That was the easy part: At bats, runs, homers, RBI, SB, AVG and OPS. Also out of nothing more than morbid curiosity, you’ll see columns for CR/age (career year age) and real age. Now for the hard part: I had to decide the time span of the analysis. choose the common last three years averages method (430 minimum AB average to qualify). So the next hurdle was what to do with those lacking playing time (mostly youngsters). I could either include them and normalize their numbers or just give them the boot altogether. For the purposes of this study as MLB umpire, the flamboyant Emmitt Ashford used to say YER OUTTTTTTTTTTTT. The omitted players will be listed below the tables. Nonetheless I figured that the sample size of 19 (10 from 1st flight and 9 from the 2nd flight) could provide enough data to see if any correlations emerged.
1B (2nd flight)
OMITTED: 33Cron, 31 Thames, 30 McMahon, 24 Healy, 23 Gurriel, 22 Bour, 21 Gallo,19 Bird,18 Olson,17 Mancini
1B (1st flight)
OMITTED: Smoak 13, Bell 12, Hoskins 7, Bellinger 6
Not Rated (but maybe valid): Jose Martinez, Cards; Matt Adams, Nats; Lucas Duda, FA, Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
Lots of numbers right? As you might have expected, the 1st flight had the edge across the board. I felt secure with the Flight 2 players but did move Hosmer up a couple of spots in Flight 1. Freddie Freeman easily could have been bumped a few spots downward but ….let’s call it writer’s privelege. As far as the omitted “youngsters,” was last year’s performance a fluke, a reasonable norm or just the beginning? GOOD LUCK ON THAT ONE….
Thanks for reading the piece. Next week a trip to the hot corner for 3B RANKS (PART 1) – SEE PREVIEW BELOW
25. Nick Senzel (CIN)– probably too young but has batting crown ability. Reds probably won’t rush him but especially if you hear he’s changing position put a big star next to his name particularly in dynasty leagues.
24. Matt Duffy (TB)– by default he’ll be in the heart of the Rays lineup. Still youngish but missing all of last year due to injury doesn’t breed confidence. Deep bench material only.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday February 22nd, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #100 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is John Gozzi. John is new to the MLFS baseball writing staff in 2018 and His articles publish every Saturday morning at 7 am. He is also the co-host of our Sunday show along with Brian Roach Jr, which airs live from [7:30]-9pm EST every week.
The link above is to listen on our blog talk radio website. You can listen to the show directly on the homepage of majorleaguefantasysports.com without the annoying popups and obnoxious ads that are on the blog talk website. It will be playing automatically during the show time.