First Base Fantasy Tiers of a Rotoman

Tiers help us group players who are close enough alike in value so we can better see where the talent lies during our fantasy baseball drafts. They’re also a way to talk about player values without relying on draft dollars amounts, which vary depending on a league’s rules.

I’m going through the positions these days, one by one, looking for places where my rankings and prices can be improved. And I share them in hopes they help you, and that if you see something that you think looks wrong you write it up on that player’s page at

Or in the comments here. Thanks.

TOP TIER (The best players in the game)

D-backs_first_baseman_Paul_Goldschmidt_takes_batting_practice_on_Gatorade_All-Star_Workout_Day._(28042717673)Paul Goldschmidt is here because he’s always the most valuable first baseman in fantasy leagues. And always will be forever more, or until he gets older and stops running so much and someone better comes along. That’s what happens. A thirty year old can stop running at any time, almost certainly will stop running sometime soon, especially when he’s hauling around 225 pounds or so and some fair height, as Goldschmidt does. Which is a reason to try to lowball, as it were, on him. He’s dropped out of the Top 4 in draft leagues for that reason, which is not a reason to avoid him. But the quality that gives him extra value, the steals, can’t be counted on this year (though it can still be hoped for).

SECOND TIER (Solid players who in any given year might be the best at their position)

It’s very hard to downgrade Miguel Cabrera to the second tier, but that’s the goon squad calling. He’s a marvelous hitter, arguably the best we’ve ever seen, but he’s at an age where the bat has to start a little sooner, or will in short order, and his hitting smarts can only take him so far to offset that.

Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, and Freddie Freeman are all professional hitters with great on base skills, decent power and (except for Votto) primetime on their side. Votto is older, for sure, but he also has the most stable skill on the planet: He knows when to swing, or not, more often than not. Which makes him an OBP god, and first tier in leagues that use OBP instead of BA. These guys will all be expensive, because they’re reliable as well as good, and they’re most likely worth it. Um, because they’re reliable.

THIRD TIER (Solid, but not quite as accomplished as the tier above)

Most of these guys are boring, fairly reliable but not immune to the occasional bad year. Once upon a time Eric Hosmer looked like he might have the kind of career Freddie Freeman is having, but Hosmer hasn’t quite reached that height. He’s young enough to still have a big career-year type of season in the next few years.

Hanley Ramirez is coming off a fine season, one that followed a disaster, and another that followed what looked like a down year but turned out to be his cue to descend from the superstar stratosphere. He’s got a good high ceiling, but we know how slippery his floor can be.

Wil Myers has one good season under his belt in his so far disappointing career. Though not if you owned him last year. There’s ample reason to suspect that he’s going to have a hard time repeating that, but if he doesn’t there is good reason to think he’ll slot into this group easily.

Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis, and Carlos Santana are all solid veteran hitters. Gonzalez is getting old, Davis has a whole lot of whiff (and power), and Santana makes more contact than Davis but has a lot less power. I’ve got Brandon Belt in this group, too, though he could easily be in the next one. Injuries have made him unreliable, even if his power is real.

FOURTH TIER (If they’re solid, they’re flawed, if they’re less flawed they’re flaky)

Tommy Joseph is flaky. He was called up, played 101 games last year, and hit for power. As a prospect he was a hit-first catcher whose career as a backstop was derailed by shady defense and too many concussions, which cost him playing and development time. I think he’s going to hit for power and be able to make enough contact to be solid, but there is a decent chance he’s got a hole somewhere in his swing that ML pitchers are going to figure out how to exploit, and that could be a problem. But for right now, he’s the Phillies full-time power-hitting first baseman.

Chris Carter, and Lucas Duda are big guys with lumbering games and some dark clouds in their recent pasts. Solid enough, but not to pay up for. These are guys to settle for if the best first basemen are too expensive. This is assuming that Carter will play regularly, either for the Yankees or someone else this year. As the reigning home run champ he’s be a lock, but see, he’s flawed.

Josh Bell is also somewhat big and lumbering, but he’s young and coming instead of desperately trying to tread water. He showed last summer that he belongs in the major leagues as a hitter, but he is plagued by lack of defensive value, to say the least, and lack of a home run stroke, to hit the nail on the head. He should play this year, he’s a top prospect, and he should produce a fine batting average, but right now he looks a little like James Loney without the good glove. Hard to see how that plays in the long run.

TIER FIVE (Limited expectations from platoonists, the contact challenged, the unknown)

In a 12-team mixed league, these guys don’t get rostered. In a 15-team mixed you hope to get your choice for a buck. But in an AL or NL only league, these guys can be gold, because they don’t cost much and they might earn a profit. In order of slight preference:

Justin Bour, Eric Thames, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer, CJ Cron, and Mitch Moreland are professional hitters with successes in their past (though Thames’ were mostly in Korea), who will help in a deep league if they’re not paid too much. And have little chance of a big season, which should motivate you to stay cheap. Cron would be a Tier Four guy, if he wasn’t blocked by Luis Valbuena at first base and Albert Pujols at DH. Napoli had his huge season last year. Thames is intriguing because of the giant numbers he put up in Korea.

TIER SIX (The crummy and the unproven)

Matt Adams, John Jaso, Kennys Vargas, Marwin Gonzalez, Yonder Alonso, Adam Lind, Ryan Zimmerman, Sean Rodriguez, Steve Pearce, Logan Morrison, Mark Reynolds, James Loney, Justin Smoak. These guys are crummy. They occasionally have a good year, as Mark Reynolds did last year, but generally they struggle for playing time, they pop an occasional homer, and then struggle for playing time anew. Even when they’re decent, as Marwin Gonzalez has been the last two seasons, they are always in danger of being replaced, have to scrap for playing time, and may not get it. Sean Rodriguez is out for the season after labrum surgery.

AJ Reed, Greg Bird, Jefry Marte, Dae-ho Lee, Dan Vogelbach. These guys are unproven. Each has a story.

Reed was supposed to break out last year and win a regular job, but was instead superseded by Alex Bregman and struggled in the chance he got. The Astros now have Yulieski Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez at first, as well as Tyler White. I’m still a believer, but at least some of that thinking is magical.

Bird missed all of last year after shoulder surgery, and struggled in the AFL, which is understandable given his rust. The Yankees have now signed Chris Carter, who would seem to slot in ahead of Bird at first this year, probably, and may mean Bird will start the year in Triple-A working to regain his game. He will be a major league regular, eventually, with some chance that he’ll be a contributor this year.

Marte did a good job last season hitting for power in limited at bats, but starts this year behind Yunel Escobar at third base. Even if Escobar were to go down, Luis Valbuena might move across to third from first, and block Marte again. He could conceivable see few at bats, or spend time in the minors, but still, I sense deep sleeper potential here on a bad team that has no reason not to try to develop their future.

Lee is old, and is looking for a job in his second major league season. The Korean import seemed to show excellent platoon power and contact abilities, on the short side, but the Mariners kept finding ways to bench him. He’s here so that we don’t forget him, in case he does sign with a team that really has a need for a good bat against lefties.

Vogelbach is the guy who pushed Lee to the curb in Seattle. He has the terrific ability to draw walks and the corresponding ability to strike out. Alas, he doesn’t have a big power stroke, though some believe that will develop. A good spring could drive his price up, a bad one could knock him from the board.

Names for reserve lists, or guys you might like to move ahead of some listed above are Mark Canha, Tyler Austin, Chris Parmelee. Or not.

You can read about Catchers here.



Find out about Rotoman on Scott Engel’s Fantasy Hall of Fame Hour Radio Show.

35A couple of weeks ago Scott Engel invited me onto his show, which comes out each week. He talks to someone about their love of sports and fantasy sports. You can hear all the programs here.

I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, but I neglected to post about it here. Scott is a good interviewer and he asked Rotoman a lot of questions. I had a fun time talking about my life for about 20 minutes. Friends said I did well and I thought I came across decently, so here’s link to the MP3.

And thanks to Scott for having me on.

The April Leaders: The best and worst of April

I’m still working on getting the month report formatted properly, but this seems as good a time as any for some April Top 10s. This is for 5×5 BA for only leagues, thru April 30.

One thing to remember is that these prices are scaled to full season prices. If you wanted to judge them in terms of actual one-month production (or lack thereof) you would divide them by 6.25. So, Charlie Blackmon at this point has actually earned $43/6.25, or about $7.  That’s roughly what his end of year earnings would be if he stopped playing after Wednesday’s games.

More April Roto $ Reports will come out of the weekend.


Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $43
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, $39
Jose Abreu, White Sox, $37
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, $37
Mike Trout, Angels, $37
Justin Upton, Braves, $36
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays, $36
Troy Tulowitski, Rockies, $36
Justin Morneau, Rockies, $35
Giancarlo Stanton, $35


Freddy Galvis, Phillies, -$8
Moises Sierra, Blue Jays, -$7
Tim Federowicz, Dodgers, -$6
JP Arencibia, Rangers, -$6
Jeff Baker, Marlins, -$5
John Baker, Cubs, -$5
Cody Ross, Diamondbacks, -$5
Juan Perez, Giants, -$5
Shane Robinson, Cardinals, -$4
Charlie Culberson, Rockies, -$4


Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, $49
Johnny Cueto, Reds, $47
Tim Hudson, Giants, $42
Jose Fernandez, Marlins, $39
Jason Hammel, Cubs, $35
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers, $33
Julio Teheran, Braves, $33
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, $30
James Shields, Royals, $29
Scott Kazmir, Athletics, $29


Felipe Paulino, White Sox, -$46
Carlos Villanueva, Cubs, -$37
Tanner Scheppers, Rangers, -$30
Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks, -$27
Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles, -$27
Kevin Correia, Twins, -$26
Ricky Nolasco, Twins, -$25
Lucas Harrell, Astros, -$25
Mike Pelfrey, Twins, -$24
Ivan Nova, Yankees, -$24

I Am NOT A Fantasy Baseball Player.

I have to admit it. After reading Don Drooker’s latest roto love letter, a chuckle-filled confection that will test anyone’s baseball mettle, I’ve come up short.

I don’t know why the Mexican restaurants in Kansas City don’t serve Moose tacos. Unless they have an aversion to horrible puns! Maybe I am a player.

I do know that here in New York we pronounce Houston St. HOW-stun Street, neutering one of these quiz questions.

But after all this what I can say is that if you don’t know that the best duck is cooked on the rotisserie, you’re not a fantasy baseball player.

Enjoy! Thanks Don!

ASK ROTOMAN: A Pain in the Astros

I am in AL only auction leagues. We use the $260 salary cap for a 5×5 league with 9 pitchers and 14 hitters. With the Houston Astros coming the AL, I am wonder what changes you might suggest. Do we add one more pitcher? Add another DH? How do we handle the minimum IP and AB requirements? Thanks for your thoughtful response.

“Honey, I Blew Up the American League”

Dear Honey:

Adding the Astros to the American League means that there will be about 5,500 more at bats available for a 12 team AL only fantasy league, and about 1,425 additional innings. This is a lot. These at bats and innings pitched dilute the pool by about 15 percent, so it’s going to make a difference. But how much of one?

A different way to look at it is to consider that the AL is adding one regular catcher, one regular first baseman, one regular second baseman, etc. etc. I’ll stop, I think you get the point. So the practical difference is that instead of 12 roto teams selecting 24 catchers out of a pool of (roughly) 28 AL catchers, the roto teams are taking 28 catchers out of a pool of 30. Two catchers don’t make the cut and are part of six undrafted catchers, rather than four. Since these two additions to the free agent pool are the worst available players, the total difference on your game will be negligible.

The same is true at every position. The number of quality players goes up a little, the amount of available stats goes up 15 percent, the improvement in the replacement pool is very small.

What rules changes should you make because of this? I think it’s a fair guess that if you don’t make any changes to your game it will be fine. You will have some additional players in the free agent pool, at least at the start of the season, but depending on your reserve rules I doubt this will make much difference (or that they’ll stay in the pool if they’re any help at all).

The increase in available stats will make it easier for teams to get to the minimum at bats and innings pitched. You don’t say what level you have for these, but in a 5×5 league they should be pretty irrelevant. The only reason to have them is to keep teams that are suffering from bad luck from desperately adopting a Sweeny-type plan on the fly during the season. It should be every team’s goal in 5×5 to collect as many AB and IP as possible, so raise these minimums if you think it might help, but it probably isn’t necessary.

In terms of roster configuration, I can report that in the American Dream League (AL, 4×4) last year we added a 10th pitcher as an experiment, and I don’t think anyone thought it made the game much better or much worse. It was fine. There’s every reason to go that way this year, but you probably won’t notice much of a difference.

In Tout Wars last year, we converted the fifth OF to a Swingman, essentially a second DH or a Pitcher. Team managers liked having the option to play a 10th pitcher when there wasn’t a worthwhile hitter available in the FA pool. There aren’t many leagues playing with this rule yet, but I think it’s a very natural progression. One alternative in your league might be to continue to roster five outfielders, and add a Utility Swingman, who could qualify at any position or be a pitcher, increasing your overall roster from 23 to 24 players.

I’m sure that would work, but I’m equally sure that if you do nothing no catastrophe will ensue.


Fan Projections Engine Live at Fangraphs

You can enter your own player projections at Fangraphs now, and join the crowd sourced set. The link takes you to Ben Zobrist, but you can project any player once you register.

Jason Collette has made a list of links to the Tampa Bay Rays players you’ll want to be projecting this year.

The Rotoman Teams

The season is done. Here’s what happened to my teams in capsule form:

American Dream League (AL-keeper): The Bad K were in last place in late May, but I knew this was a better team than that. I traded Adrian Beltre for Felix Hernandez, to shore up what had been a dicey pitching staff. The team roared forward in July and played cat and mouse between fifth and second into September, finishing with 66 points behind Alex Patton’s perfect Sweeney of 74.

Tout Wars (NL): An incredibly frustrating team full of amazing successes (Buster Posey, Tyler Colvin) and agonizing failures (Aramis Ramirez, for example), mired deep in the second division as late as the end of June, had an incredible three week run in July that got it as high as fourth place. Trades for Ryan Dempster and Roy Oswalt helped, but I was never able to crack the BA problem and ended up in fifth place, behind Nate Ravitz, Brian Walton, and a tie between Mike Gianella and the Lenny Melnick/Paul Grecco team.

Cardrunners (AL): I spent much of the year in third place, but here too I wasn’t able to escape the BA yoke from the likes of Aaron Hill and many others, like Justin Smoak, who sucked me in with their power and then left me gasping for hits. This was a 10 team league, which changes the dynamic quite a bit. I ended up in fifth because, take your pick, Jon Rauch lost the closer job, or the first two weeks I had Danny Valencia he didn’t play as I expected, and I threw him back, causing me to hold onto Smoak for even longer, crushing my BA. I acquired Aaron Hill and Ichiro for Nick Markakis and Chone Figgins, and it didn’t help me! In the end, I finished last in BA and SB and slipped to sixth in Saves, but the real killer was Jon Lester’s last start, which cost me an ERA and two WHIP points, which allowed Jason Grey to sneak past me. Depressing for me, happy for Eric Kesselman, the leaguerunner, who parlayed his boundless energy into a big win over Chris Liss and Andrew Wiggins.

XFL (Mixed 15 team keeper)–Slow starts from Hanley Ramirez, Danny Haren and Wandy Rodriguez, made it clear this was a team that might fight for fourth but wasn’t going to win this year. Rather than grasp, as we have in recent years, usually finishing in the Top 4 or so, we decided to rebuild. Many trades later we have some attractive farm players, and Haren, Hanley and a few other core keepers. Meanwhile, Jeff Winick won the league for the third time. Congratulations! The draft is in one month!

Rotoman’s Regulars (Mixed 20 team Yahoo)--Taking Brian Roberts early hurt. A slight reach for Jair Jurrjens sealed the deal. I haven’t figured out how to crawl out of adversity in this oddball format, so despite fine seasons from picks like Drew Stubbs, Delmon Young and Colby Rasmus, and a big season from Miguel Cabrera, I finished in the second division yet again. Kudos to leaguerunner Steve Parsons for his victory over Razzball, who came on strong late but fell short.

Top 200 Fantasy Team Names

CBSsports hosts more than 100,000 fantasy leagues and have compiled a list of the Top 200 team names, which is heavily studded with references to movie teams (Chico’s Bail Bonds, Kobra Kai) and, disappointingly, real team names (Yankees? Red Sox? I thought we played to make up our own teams.). In the public so-called experts leagues I play in I go under my own name, which is its own kind of boring, but in my home leagues I have made up names:

American Dream League: Bad Kreuznachs, a nod to my ancestral home town across the water and, I guess, either George Thoroughgood or Jim Croce.

Rotoman’s Regulars: Jorge Regulas, a pun off the Regulars league name and nod to the old Moldy Peaches song.

Neither of these names made the Top 200 this year.

Patton $ Online Software and Text/Excel Packages Out Now!

This year’s Patton $ software and the text/Excel versions are available now.

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    The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2010 is OUT NOW!

    The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2010 cover

    On newstands everywhere!