“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” - Alan Watts
There is a changing of the guard in first base rankings as the 2013 season can attest to. The safety of projecting Albert Pujols as the top option at the position will come to an end. Owners of players such as Encarnacion, Hosmer, Freeman and Belt cashed in on their investments. However, if you had Pujols, Butler, Ike Davis and Teixeira, your season was probably a disappointment. It appears that projecting this position going forward is about to change and in some ways for the better. But relying on first base as a power position in 2014 may be a mistake.
I took the liberty of leaving Matt Carpenter off of the list above as most would use him at second base over first but this allowed the chart above to reflect Allen Craig as dead on. Freddie Freeman also justified my preseason love and solidified himself as a mainstay in the heart of the Braves lineup. Paul Goldschmidt (34 HR/15 SB) and Edwin Encarnacion (36 HR/7 SB) also had great seasons and may represent where the first base position is evolving to. Both have power and the ability to steal a base.
It appears that I was too high on Prince Fielder but a bounce back in 2014 would not totally surprise anyone. I touted Cuddyer in an outfield piece but never anticipated he would be the fourth ranked first baseman on the player rater. But with only seven games there in 2013, that will end. As for Pujols, I wanted to rank him lower but did not have the stones to do so in only my second article on the website. I am proud to say he was not on any of my teams this year. The questions surrounding his age and health will either make him a great buy low next year or a disappointment once again. Pujols may decide many fantasy titles or busts in 2014.
The Butler did it, or rather he didn’t. I was in the right city with a Royal first baseman ranked seventh preseason, but I chose the wrong one. Eric Hosmer finally made good on the season that owners drafted him for in 2012. I bought in to Mark Trumbo’s collapse in the second half of 2012 but it seems that he is consistent, a high power bat that is streaky but has value in light of the batting average risk. Adrian Gonzalez’s days in the top 5 are probably over as well. Los Angeles helped him, but not to the point I was hoping for. I was right on one Davis (Crush) but way off on another, Ike. As a review, I advised owners to take Chris Davis three rounds after Teixeira was selected, and if you were fortunate to do so, applause. But I also recommended Ike Davis’ power bat and that was a mistake. If you followed, I apologize.
Predicting first base going forward will be difficult. I am sure there are people who will not trust Chris Davis’ season, much like Encarnacion in 2012. Players seem to be emerging such as Hosmer and Brandon Belt (who I called a poor man’s Hosmer preseason) and those who embrace the change will prosper. But if you plan on first base just being a position that provides fantasy teams power numbers only, will struggle moving forward. Change is happening at first base and savvy owners will need to adapt to prosper as 2014 approaches.
Greg Jewett is a staff writer for RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @GJewett9!