First Look Backby Paul Singman
September 13, 2008
In this time of the fantasy baseball season, there isn't much left to do. If you're in contention, you are pretty much stuck with the team you have now (it's worked well enough for you so far), but never be afraid to reach for that hot hitter and never ignore borderline guys like Vicente Padilla, who is a two-start pitcher facing the Mariners and A's this week. Articles like this can help you with that. If you're out of contention, there really isn't anything left to do and you're probably preoccupied with your football team anyway.
However, for a fantasy baseball addict like myself, the season never ends. It goes something like this:
As you can see, fantasy baseball is a year-round activity—the season never really ends. One season just leads to another, though you are certainly more active during the "regular season." Even though the fantasy season is in full swing for those lucky and skilled enough, it is not too early to take our first look back on the season. Appropriately, we'll start by reviewing this year's first basemen in our "first" look. However, before we can review what the slugging first basemen did this season, we must first revisit the expectations bestowed upon them in the preseason.
For this I will use Razzball's rankings because their archives are easier to negotiate than some of the bigger sites, they give concrete projects besides just rankings, and they are a good fantasy baseball site in my opinion. Here is how the guys at Razzball projected the first basemen back in early January:
pRank Actual Rank Player pR pHR pRBI pAvg 1 1 Albert Pujols 110 40 115 0.300 2 13 Prince Fielder 115 50 125 0.285 3 7 Ryan Howard 100 50 140 0.275 4 N/A Travis Hafner 100 40 110 0.300 5 4 Mark Teixeira 110 35 120 0.305 6 11 Derrek Lee 110 30 115 0.290 7 2 Lance Berkman 100 30 115 0.310 8 5 Justin Morneau 90 35 110 0.275 9 8 Adrian Gonzalez 90 33 105 0.280 10 N/A Paul Konerko 90 35 110 0.275 11 18 Carlos Pena 85 22 80 0.260 12 N/A Todd Helton 90 15 90 0.315 13 24 Carlos Guillen 95 15 75 0.300 14 6 Kevin Youkilis 115 21 90 0.290 15 23 Nick Swisher 95 30 100 0.275 16 21 Mike Jacobs 70 30 95 0.285 17 10 Carlos Delgado 70 28 95 0.260 18 N/A Adam LaRoche 70 27 100 0.265 19 20 James Loney 95 22 95 0.315 20 N/A Casey Kotchman 80 22 80 0.300
As you can see, the top projected first basemen did not perform very well as a whole. Of the players ranked in the top five, only two remain. And from the top ten, there are six. Only one of the four players that dropped out of the top ten because of injuries, and that was Travis Hafner. The other three—Prince Fielder, Derrek Lee, and Paul Konerko—have had disappointing seasons with the exception of Lee, who is currently ranked 11th. The most telling stat from the table is that only six of the 20 players held or increased their preseason ranking
There is no encompassing reason for this lack of success, but it should be noted that as a group, first basemen have not produced this season to their standards. My guess is that this decrease in production is especially noticeable in first basemen's home run totals. Here is a breakdown of each position's average home run output in 2007 and then 2008:
2007 Avg HR 2008 Avg HR 1B 20.88 1B 19.23 3B 18.00 3B 15.5 OF 16.70 OF 15.24 SS 12.03 C 10.22 2B 11.58 2B 8.98 C 11.57 SS 8.06
Much to my surprise and slightly to my disappointment, first basemen have actually pulled away from the other positions in terms of home run power. I was very surprised at the results of this. It is important to note that the numbers for 2008 are not projected to the end of the season, so don't compare between years per se.
Well, we found out that using a top pick on a first basemen this year was probably not a great investment. However, I have yet to run this type of analysis on the other positions, so for all I know more projected top 10 players could drop out ... we will see. Those articles will probably come out when the season ends and stats are finalized; it just makes things easier. I admit this article was a bit premature, but at least now you know some of what's to come in the offseason. Although as I mentioned before, the fantasy baseball season never really ends.
References and Resources
Thanks again to Razzball, I hope I didn't make their preseason rankings look too bad. And I also used FanGraphs to get the average home run production by position.
Paul has been managing fantasy baseball teams for many seasons and writing for THT Fantasy over the past three years. He is currently a student at UPenn welcomes readers' thoughts at his email here or in the comments below.
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