**Please, if you have not done so already, READ THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH. This will help you understand the methodology behind the rankings.
Most fantasy rankings are forged on “gut calls” and the whimsical notions of whoever is compiling the list. Some experts don’t pay for saves, some don’t pay for steals, some wait on pitching, some value upside, some value reliability, and so on. While it might be nice to see plenty of different opinions, it probably doesn’t truly help unless you understand the biases of each individual ranker. This is why some of the writers here at The Hardball Times have created their own, objective valuation methods, outlined here and here (reading, or at least skimming, these introductory articles will give you a much better understanding of the rankings that follow and should help to answer most potential questions).
In accompaniment with Oliver’s rest-of-season forecasts, we will use these objective formulas to create objective rankings. You may not agree with a particular rank, but you will know how the ranking was calculated and you won’t have to guess what the ranker was thinking. This should make adding your own personal adjustments and biases much easier. And perhaps this type of ranking will introduce some potential buys and sells that you may have otherwise overlooked.
These rankings will assume a 12-team league in adjusting for league average. The ordering of players, however, is unaffected; players will rank in identical order for leagues of all sizes.
|Num||Name||AB||R||HR||RBI||SB||BA||rPAA (ROS)||EYES (ROS)||Full Season*|
*Full season = the raw (non-adjusted) full season pace roto score using the roto points-above-replacement method. This is, essentially, the amount of expected roto points each catcher would score above an empty spot in a lineup over a full season.
Adrian Gonzalez – I can buy into the counting numbers Oliver projects for Gonzalez, but I cannot say I would endorse paying for a .323 average. Gonzalez hit .338 last season with a .380 BABIP (57 points higher than his career average). He also hit for more power last year than he is thus far in 2012, which gave his average a boost, too.
This year, his BABIP is fine at .334, and Gonzalez is striking out just as often as he did in 2011, but he is hitting just .298. Even with a small uptick in power, Gonzalez is going to need some serious BABIP love to hit .323 the rest of the way. Could he do it? Yes. Should fantasy owners pay for that as a baseline batting average? No.
Arbitrary Adjustment: Even with the slight uptick in power Oliver forecasts, I’d expect marginal regression in strikeout rate and BABIP. Giving him a 16.5 percent strikeout rate and a .330 BABIP, the new projected average of .305 seems appropriate. This would bring his roto value to 0.47 (rPAA) and 0.89 (EYES).
Paul Goldschmidt – Really? Paul Goldschmidt? I was surprised when I saw it, too. I know he has good power, and the low-teens stolen base total that he will end up providing is sneaky value, but does that justify a ranking one spot ahead of Prince Fielder?
Well, I am fine with the power and speed projections. And while a .280 average might seem high, Goldschmidt has cut down on the whiffs and has produced a high BABIP at every level, so I am going to defer to Oliver here, too.
Where I do disagree with Oliver, though, is in the run and RBI totals. In 471 career at-bats, Goldschmidt has averaged 0.163 RBI (0.161 in 2012) per at-bat. Oliver believes that Goldschmidt will produce 0.18 RBI per at-bat from this point forward. Maybe he will, as RBI are unpredictable, but that’s not the point. The point is that we shouldn’t be paying for things that probably won’t happen.
Arbitrary Adjustment: With an adjusted RBI rate of 0.163 (his career rate), Goldschmidt projects to drive in 33 more runs this year. Do the same with runs scored and we get 30, for new valuations of 0.34 (rPAA) and 0.44 (EYES), which moves him behind Fielder but still keeps him fifth overall among first basemen, a spot that I still wouldn’t value him at.
Ryan Howard – Since returning from a lengthy stint on the disabled list, Howard has shown good power—a .250 ISO, his best mark since 2009—but also has struck out a ton (35.4 percent). Strangely, Howard’s swinging strike rate is at the lowest of his career, and his contact percentage is at a career best, so the strikeout issues are probably the result of a small 65-plate appearance sample.
The whiffs should come down, and his .214 average should come up, but ranking Howard sixth among first basemen would be extremely aggressive due to the injury risk, the uncertainty of performance, and the departures of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, two of the cogs that made the Phillies lineup … uh, respectable? They are two of the Phillies’ best hitters; let’s go with that. Considering all of these factors, it would seem that cautiously undervaluing Howard would be more desirable than bullishly overvaluing him.
I am not going to make any arbitrary adjustments, but I will note that Ryan Howard is 32, a health risk, his skills have already been in decline, and the last vestiges of what was once a quality offense are being removed from around him. What’s more, he hasn’t exactly set the world ablaze since his return, hitting .214/.323/.464. I would devalue him significantly.
Chris Davis, Justin Morneau and Bryan LaHair – I will make it quick here. I don’t agree with any of these three players’ high run and RBI projections because their traditional rates simply don’t warrant it. I also think Davis’ batting average will be about 20 points lower than his projected .274. He has struck out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances, which is actually lower than what he usually does. Both Morneau’s and Davis’ projected at-bat totals of 217 and 210, respectively, are a bit steep, as well.
Arbitrary Adjustments: Davis’ fantasy line changes to 24/9/28/0/.253 in 190 at-bats, moving him down to around 25th among first basemen. Morneau’s line dips to 23/8/27/0/.274 in 180 at-bats, 23rd at first base. And LaHair’s adjusted line of 21/10/24/0/.278 drops him to 24th.
Mark Teixeira – This ranking is more a function of playing time than anything else. Adjusting Teixeria’s line to reflect 215 at-bats, rather than 178, gives him new scores of 0.31 (rPAA) and 0.36 (EYES), and a new ranking of 6th. Of course, his potential wrist injury could significantly impact Teixeira’s playing time, so keep an eye on those MRI results.
Adam Lind – Blarg! Runs and RBI projections seem a bit high, once again. I am adjusting his projection to 21 runs and 25 RBI. New rank: 27th.
Ike Davis – Davis has been playing every day for a while now, so a projection of 129 at-bats is probably low. Giving him 180 at-bats and a bit more power moves him up to 16th at the position.
Here is how the ZiPS projection system ranks the top-30 first basemen for the rest of the 2012 season.
|Num||Name||AB||R||HR||RBI||SB||AVG||rPAA (ROS)||EYES (ROS)||Full Season|