Friday, March 11, 2022

Advanced Fantasy Baseball: 2022 First Base Rankings

2022 First Base Rankings
  1. Vlad Guerrero Jr. - Blue Jays - Vlad is probably the best pure bat in the American League right now. He will not steal bases so he doesn't provide you with everything. But challenging .300 with 30-plus homers is an easy prediction. 
  2. Freddy Freeman - Free Agent - If he stays in Atlanta I expect his numbers to stay the same. He does everything you want in four categories and will toss in a half dozen steals just to make you feel better. 
  3. Peter Alonso - Mets He very nicely cut his strikeout rate. Most of his indicators look like the return of 2019. His batting average isn't nearly as low as was once expected and he only seems to be getting better. 
  4. Matt Olson - Athletics - Olson is the subject of many trade rumors and it is very in character for the Athletics for him to be on the block at this point. Last year he cut his strikeouts in half while walking as much as ever. It doesn't get much better than this. 
  5. Paul Goldschmidt - Cardinals Goldschmidt is as good as ever, it's just the park doesn't help him as much. He even got some stolen bases back. If you can live with 30 rather the 35 you get from the four guys ranked ahead of him, you can't go wrong with Goldy. 
  6. Joey Votto - Reds No one adjusts like Joey Votto. He sacrificed some contact for a huge increase in power. I have absolutely no doubt that Votto will produce again in 2022. Screw his age, some players are just special talents. 
  7. Ryan Mountcastle - Orioles The power is so real I'm not worried about the walls in Camden. He is streaky. A long slump could make his batting average painful. He should walk just enough to avoid a total disaster in OBP leagues.
  8. C.J. Cron - Rockies He looked ordinary in the first half but in the second half started to get his Coors boost. If he keeps it together he could have a prime Arenado type season. 
  9. Jared Walsh - Angels He still can't hit lefties but his numbers seem pretty stable. He probably isn't cheap enough to be a league-winning value but he should be a safe bet for .26 with 25-plus homers.
  10. Brandon Belt - Giants If we could count on 150 games of complete health, Belt would be top five worthy - easily. I would not blame you if you moved him ahead of Cron, Mountcastle and Walsh even now if your league allows easy replacements.   
  11. Jose Abreu - White Sox In general I think most analysts over-state age as a factor in a player's performance. But his slow start in 2021 had me doubting him. But he blew up July and August making his season look pretty stable. 
  12. Josh Bell - Nationals He hits too many groundballs to expect more than 30 homers. His batting averages won't kill you but they also won't help. I'd rather have him as a corner infielder than my first baseman. 
  13. Nate Lowe - Rangers - He hits the ball hard and if he pulled it more often his homer total could explode with a slight reversal in launch angle. He endured a long slump from mid-May to late July that makes his overall numbers look worse than they should (launch angle was just four percent for this stretch). As is, he hits too many on the ground to hit much more than 20 homers per season in Texas. But the lineup is better than most are predicting if everyone stays healthy, so 100 RBI is not far-fetched. If he truly learned something during his slump, as I suspect he did, he could seriously breakout in 2022.
  14. Anthony Rizzo - Free Agent - He looked to be in serious decline as he finished his last season with the Cubs. If he receives a contract from the Yankees he earns this spot. In most other parks he drops a few spots. 
  15. Bobby Dalbec - Red Sox -  He was awful most of the season but was so great down the stretch with barrels, and improved discipline that anyone holding him on the cheap in AL-only leagues is salivating at the idea he is for real. It was probably just a nice streak but it demonstrates what he might be capable of given regular at-bats for the whole season. 
  16. Josh Bell - Nationals
  17. Ryan Hoskins - Phillies He should have been better last season. Bad luck and poor health have killed expectations but a few breaks going his way and 35 homers is not out of the realm of possibilities. 
  18. Spencer Torkelson - Tigers The bat the Tigers have been waiting for will arrive in 2022. This may seem high to some but there isn't a player ranked after him I would rather have even if I lose four weeks to system manipulation. 
  19. Tyler Stephenson - Reds Stephenson has no one in front of him as the Reds starting catcher this year. With any luck, he should reach his early career-high plate appearances this season. He walks and doesn’t strike out and is showing signs of reaching his raw power levels in games. He could top the catcher rankings while being CI-worthy in 12 team leagues. 
  20. Nick Pratto - Royals Has great bat speed and drank the kool-aid the Royals were pouring as far as plate approach. He showed a new ability to hit high velocity at higher levels. He won't hit .300 or even .270 just yet, but 30 homers is within reach in 2022.
  21. Max Muncy - Dodgers If we knew where he was with his injury he might move up ten spots or fall off the list entirely. I'd probably take the chance if I was drafting today. 
  22. Jake Cronenworth - Padres The younger version of D.J. Lemahieu. Eventually, he'll be a super-utility player but not this season. 15/15 upside is fine at second but it would be unusual at first base.
  23. Luke Voit - Yankees The Yankees seem determined to upgrade their first base position. If they get stuck with Voit they shouldn't suffer too much. .240 with 30 homers in a full season is reasonable if a bit optimistic. 
  24. D.J. Lemahieu - Yankees With health he should be much better than last season but I wouldn't go paying for 2019 stats. 
  25. Trey Manicini - Orioles He was worn out in the second half after his long layoff due to cancer. I still see a 30-homer guy with a strong if not elite batting average. 
  26. Alex Kirilloff - Twins - He really hits the ball hard and barrels it. With a little better luck he could hit  .280 with 25 homers and move ten spots up this list. 
  27. Jonathan Schoop - Tigers His batting average is nothing to sing about but 20-25 homers is a lock. 
  28. Yuli Gueriel - Astros: El PiƱa only qualifies at first base in most leagues but is likely to get games at third and DH during the season. He hits the ball hard but on the ground too often to impact the Homerun category. 
  29. Frank Schwindel - Cubs - His statcast numbers alone make him look like a much better hitter. He is 29 years old and on a team that doesn't have many better options just now. He might be the Mid-West version of Mike Yastrzemski, maybe better.
  30. Seth Beer - Diamondbacks If the designated hitter in the NL is real I think 30 homers is close to a lock. If there isn't a DH he is too high on this list with Christian Walker and Pavin Smith ahead of him at first and much better defensively. 
  31. Yoshi Tsutsugo - Pirates Tsutsugo dramatically improved his performance with the Pirates improving his line drive and flyball percentages while cutting his strikeouts from 33 percent to 23 percent. If he keeps it up he'll be the player we expected a couple years ago. 
  32. LaMonte Wade - Giants The Giants will spread the at-bats around and probable make Wade a utility corner player. He  looks like a real above-average player by most indicators. 
  33. Rowdy Tellez - Brewers Barrels, Exit Velocity and a reasonable strikeout rate for a power hitter go a long way with fantasy owners these days. He has an opportunity to win a starting role in Milwaukee. 
  34. Miguel Sano - Twins He only qualifies at first base this season. He might gain eligibility at DH this season but third is unlikely given his lackluster defense and both Josh Donaldson and Jose Miranda on the roster. 
  35. Eric Hosmer - Padres - This is his rank for 450 cost you. If he loses any more at-bats his power caps at 15 and his .260 average is only a slight bonus considering the lack of power his spot in the lineup will cost you. 
  36. Jesus Aguilar - Marlins Aguilar is probably underrated as a  hitter but with Lewin Diaz and Garrett Cooper both on the roster, I can't see him getting enough at-bats to challenge his career highs. 
  37. Lewin Diaz - Marlins I believe the Marlins will give Diaz plenty of at-bats to prove himself. Unfortunately, his approach needs enough work that anything better than an average MLB hitter would be unlikely.  
  38. Yandy Diaz - Rays As his launch angle improves his average exit velocity goes down. This doesn't mean much I just think it makes him less likely to have that huge breakout that folks have predicted. He has average power numbers which is fine for the Rays but won't help your fantasy roster much. 
  39. Ty France - Mariners - His great second half is fueling higher expectations though he is still a better fit at second base. He boosted the contact rate but it was all groundballs, not the end of the world but there's no speed to make up for the mediocre power. 
  40. Juan Yepez - Cardinals  The National League Designated Hitter could be the key for him. He hits the ball very hard and has superb statcast power metrics. I like him quite a bit, I'll pay the extra buck.
  41. Darin Ruf - Giants Ruf is another who could benefit from the NL DH. Te early reports claim the Giants are looking for offense and not to rotate off days. Just a shot at 400 at-bats will be huge for him, .260 with 25 homers seems like a safe bet. 
  42. Triston Casas - Red Sox Casas is still growing into his power despite his Lou Ferrigno like appearance! But make no mistake this is the future at first base for the Red Sox and he is already a great bat. I expect him up by mid-season I just don't know the whereabouts of J.D. Martinez and Dalbec when that happens. 
  43. Mason Martin - Pirates He has crazy power but his 30 percent strikeout rate is killing him right now. Some of that may be 2020 rust. He is clearly the best first base  prospect on the Pirates.
  44. Colin Moran - Free Agent He's not what you want for your fantasy team under most circumstances but he's a solid bat that can fill in for injuries on better fantasy teams.
  45. Keston Hiura - Brewers I think the NL DH could be the key to Hiura hitting his ceiling as a hitter. If he is there in the dollar days Pounce!
  46. Vinnie Pasquantino - Royals He looks a lot like young Eric Hosmer to me. I'd have him higher if there were not so many bodies fighting for at-bats ahead of him.
  47. Miguel Cabrera - Tigers If he doesn't lose at-bats to Torkelson (probably after he hits 3000) he's still good for 20 homers. 
  48. Christian Walker - Diamondbacks He's coming off a strange year where his flyballs went up and struck out less but lost his impact with the bat. The D'backs don't currently have a strong alternative unless you count Beer who is more of a designated hitter.
  49. Pavin Smith - Diamondbacks He has a small opportunity to show something but is likely to be replaced soon by one of the dozen outfield prospects this team is hoarding.
  50. Josh Naylor - Guardians He only had 15 games at first last year but this is his natural position and while he hasn't demonstrated it to date - I fervently believe he is a far superior bat to Bobby Bradley. 
  51. Bobby Bradley - Guardians He can't hit. He has great raw power but you have to make contact to hit homeruns.
  52. Colton Welker - Rockies He walks at a very nice rate and is a strong contact hitter which is a great place to start. His power is pretty mediocre but Coors can help that play a tiny bit better. 
  53. Ji-Man Choi - Rays If you're stuck and need a first baseman I get it. But don't expect him to get any Rays magic on him. He seems immune. 
  54. Carlos Santana - Royals - He is done. His batting average is now so bad that his walks can't even save you in OBP leagues. He is only on this list for emergency purposes in deep leagues. 

Sunday, March 06, 2022

2022 Draft Preparation

The last three years have been a bitch of a time. I feel like this is the third time I've written this post (because it is). Health Issues took me down in 2019 and re-occurred twice in 2020. 2021 was an attempt to get my life back which is hard to say has happened given the state of the world and my place in it. My health condition has pretty much been solved but still caps the time and energy I have to get things done. It has made my day job much more difficult than it used to be and I have had to dramatically cut back on my hours and work. Fortunately, sitting at my desk at home writing about fantasy sports and baseball is still within my present capacity. I was gonna wait for Spring Training to start rolling out new posts for the 2022 season but...yeah.  

I have started putting together my rankings and some other items I think you may appreciate. My rankings and articles will appear here in the new domain since I lost my former site while hospitalized. To avoid a re-occurrence of domain loss I have started a Patreon site that has just gotten started with a few articles. Everything that appears here will also appear there if not in exactly the same form. So far everything is free. I hope if you've ever gotten anything from what I write and share you will consider supporting me at whatever level suits you for whatever period of time serves you. There will be bonus prizes for support of different levels including the return of the Advanced Fantasy Baseball Pens, stickers, notepads, T-shirts and maybe more when the support kicks in (if it does). 

I am not the most famous fantasy writer out there obviously. But I have been around a while. I was a writer on The Fabulous Mr. Roto before Matt Berry moved on to ESPN. I was on of the original writers for and have contributed to various print and online magazines in varied capacities. I would really like to get an updated design to the site on a better platform (blogger) but these things can be costly unless you do the work yourself. Your support would be greatly appreciated. 

Support Advanced Fantasy Baseball in whatever way you can. You can become a Patreon or just share the articles that you find interesting. I'd love to start hearing back from readers again regardless of your level of support. 

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The future of the sport requires the owners to truly like baseball for the players, and for the game itself, and not to see each player like a number on Nasdaq. Jim Fregosi told young scouts, “it doesn’t matter what role you aspire to, if you don’t love the game and players, go into another business.”
- Peter Gammons The Owners and Players never made a real attempt to start the 2022 season on time. The players asked for the moon and stars and the Owners responded with the financial equivalent of a child's night light. They spent three months essentially re-stating their initial positions and refusing to compromise. Two fifth graders could have successfully negotiated a fair CBT that is both fair to the players and keeps the owners rolling in dough. What sucks the most is that the fans baseball has left were ready for baseball to begin. It has been a long two years for baseball fans (let alone the rest of the planet). The pandemic they claimed would be over in a few months is finally looking manageable. But now a new war has broken out. We need baseball. “The best or highest-paid player isn’t important here. It’s about jobs, and every one of the players in our league, every Flyer, every Canadien, every Baron. It’s about jobs. It’s about hockey, the game we’ve loved growing up.” - Bobby Clarke (from Peter Gammons article)

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

2020's Tragically Slow Starts (Batters)

So, it turns out some guys really do need  all those Spring Training at-bats. I am going to do my best not to hold 2020 against any player or credit any too much either. These slow starting batters will definitely get my bid next year:

1. Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers - The Rangers considered trading their best hitter before the deadline but wisely kept the price high and did not bite on any offers. Gallo has never been a great hitter for average but before this atrocity of a season I was predicting he would see a batting average uptick. I think I'll make a slight bet that that uptick is there for the 2021 season, given a full Spring Training at least.

2. Peter Alonso, 1B New York Mets - He was dreadful the first month of the season but has cranked it up the last couple of weeks. The power hasn't gone anywhere and Alonso admits his approach was screwed up earlier in the season. I will give Alonso a full price bid in 2021.

On the other hand, I'll only touch these slow starting "bats" as a last resort:

1. Khris Davis, DH, Oakland Athletics - I wrote off his disappointing 2019 season as injuries and the resultant lack of timing that results. I am certain that the short ramp up to the shortened season didn't help but the Athletics have also dramatically reduced his at-bats so his chances of fighting out of it and making a fantasy impact this year is almost dead. You can probably drop him and his one homer.  He would a significant discount to convince me to buy in 2021.

2. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees - Like Davis he showed some signs of weakness last year. This season has reached new levels of futility and the Yankees are starting to lose faith. Sanchez is usually over-priced in any case, in 2021 he will need to come cheap to wind up on one of my teams.

On the other-other hand, this guy is in a weird category all his own and I have no clue at this point how I want to approach him:

1. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees - Judge has been awesome this season when he has been on the field. However, despite the extra two months of rehab and alll the coddling the Yankees can provide, he just hasn't been out there much. I love the guy but unless he comes dirt cheap I will probably stay away.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Current and Future King of Fantasy Baseball

Fernando Tatis, Jr. is quickly winning the hearts of MLB and Fantasy Baseball fans alike. He has tossed away the old school book of unwritten rules in favor of far more exciting brand of play. Yes, he swings at 3-0 pitches when his team is up late in the game. Yes, he steals third with two outs while his team is up by six runs. He flips his bat. His emotions are on full display on the field. He is currently doing what few other players have ever done. He has entered a very small class with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and George Sisler. He is leading baseball in Runs, RBI, Homers and Stolen Bases.

Please, make no mistake when examining Tatis. His attitude toward the old unwritten rules is exactly why he is the most exciting player in MLB and the most valuable to fantasy baseball owners. As of last night he was slashing .310/.384/.710 with 11 homers, 23 Runs Scored, 28 RBI and six Stolen Bases. If you did not draft him this year you blew your last best chance to get him for a decent price. Baring a disastrous event (fingers crossed) He will knock Mike Trout off the top of most drafts lists and become the new consensus number one overall pick for Fantasy Baseball.

Are the Red Sox Trading Another Stud?

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletics has suggested that the this may be the last chance for the Red Sox to trade Xander Bogaerts. He has language in his contract that gives him No-Trade Rights when he reaches seven years of service time. Bogaerts also has a potential opt-out after the 2022 season which only adds to the reasons to trade him now. Despite this I doubt he will be moved. I just think such a trade would result in a PR disaster for a Red Sox team that already traded away a team favorite and perennial MVP candidate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Advanced Fantasy Baseball Daily

R.I.P. Kamala a.k.a. James Harris

Ramon Laureano Suspended For Brawl

Laureano was suspended for the Brawl (you can see it in the attached video) that ensued when he could no longer take the antagonist Alex Cintron's (Oakland's Hitting Coach) taunts and threats. Considering he never landed a punch or really even got the opportunity to try before being tackled, his punishment (especially in the short season) seems severe. That is why we have appeals.
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Don't Call It A Comeback

Charlie Blackmon cannot be stopped this season. Last night he collected another three hits to bring his batting average to .500 in 68 At-Bats. Blackmon is the first to achieve this feat since Barry Bonds in 2004. If he starts stealing bases again I would vote for Blackmon as Fantasy MVP! If nothing else his performance is fun to watch in a season with all sorts of unpredictabilities (and some sort of obvious) making the sport difficult to manage. Not to mention he makes the Rockies look good which is incredibly difficult given their tendency to do weird stuff to build their team.
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Unwritten Praise

Had I written the sleeper/breakout reports I used to write every pre-season this year, I would have spent a good amount of inches on Nick Solak. I love the guy. I tried to trade for him in my AL-Only league only to be rejected multiple times. If I had written about him I could be bragging about my level of fantasy genius. He looks like the Rangers new center fielder and plays just about every day.
From Baseball Prospectus:
The Rangers’ answer to that conundrum appears to be: everywhere. In 15 games, Solak has seen time in left field, center field, second base, first base, and at DH. The latter is probably his ultimate home, but the important thing for Texas is that he’s starting to do what they’re counting on him for: hit. And he’s about the only Ranger doing so. Even before Tuesday’s three-hit outing, Solak led the Rangers with a 121 DRC+. The power hasn’t been there (no homers and just three extra-base hits) but his BABIP (.293) doesn’t suggest he’s been getting lucky; he’s shown a keen recognition of the strike zone, too, with just seven strikeouts against six walks.

And In Completely Unrelated...

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate. I think this is a solid choice especially given his previous promise to select a woman and POC. Some in the Black Community blame her for the incarceration and long prison sentences of POC during her time as a State Attorney in California. This is ridiculous. She was doing the job she was hired to do putting away drug dealers and the like. She did not arrest anyone. She did not write the laws she was enforcing. She did not invent the sentences. She only did her job to the best of her ability. It should be a plus not a mark against her. If she does her job as VP half as well we will all be better off for it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Fantasy Baseball Bats Disappear in Odd 2020 Season

Baseball Bats Slump Hard

 This has definitely been an odd season. 2019 featured a juiced ball that sent baseball's offense soaring to new heights. Even little middle infielders were contributing to the onslaught against starting pitchers. The 2020 season seems to be providing the pitchers with a bit of revenge, though maybe not quite as much as the slumpers on your fantasy team would lead you to believe. Check out this piece from Eno Saris of the Athletic:

The Giants had just four batters projected to be better than league average before the season, and one of them was Buster Posey. The Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain was one of only 12 center fielders projected to have an above-average bat across baseball this year. In Yordan Alvarez, the Astros had a player that was projected to have the 10th-highest OPS in baseball this year. These teams all lost vital cogs when these players opted out or were unable to join their teams.

But is there any evidence that this missing talent skews more toward the hitters? When it comes to non-COVID IL visits, the evidence is clear that pitchers are actually suffering more. Even when you look at the two teams most affected by the virus so far — the Cardinals and Marlins — though they are missing a lot of players, neither team was projected to be above league average with the bat. Friends, family, and fans of course are rooting for their recovery and return, but their absence does not explain the drop in league-wide offense.

A subscription to the Athletic is well worth a few dollars per month or the discounted annual rate. Eno goes on to give several reasons for the hitters slow start to the season - The Hitters Being Ahead of the Pitchers, The Ball is Less Lively, Pitching Strategies are Optimized, Even More Shifting, A Bigger Strike Zone and A Lot of Missing Talent. 

I have certainly experienced the missing talent. From my three teams alone I've lost Lorenzo Cain, Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Markakis (I traded him before he came back) to opt outs. I have had to do without Jorge Mateo, Mike Moustakas, Miguel Rojas, Drew Smiley, Tim Anderson, Justin Verlander, Ken Giles and Roberto Osuna! I am not the only one suffering. The fact that I have managed to stay near the top in these leagues is testament to that. 

The good news is if you managed to draft a good pitching staff you are probably doing pretty well. The current league average hitter is a new level of pathetic. If your guys are batting .220 or better, getting on base at .300 or better and hitting a few homers - that with solid pitching has been a winning combination in a lot of leagues. 

Not All Bad News:

MLBTR went through a few of the potential breakout batters for 2020. These guys are all off to strong starts and if by chance they are available in your league you should grab them post-haste!

JaCoby Jones, OF, Tigers: .333/.391/.786

Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners: .373/.440/.567

Dylan Moore, OF, Mariners: .333/.388/.689 

Austin Slater, OF, Giants: .333/.450/.667

Donovan Solano, INF, Giants: .458/.476/.661

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Giants: .306/.442/.629

The Giants (and Mariners) should be rocking with this news but instead they loss Buster Posey to an opt out, Brandon Belt to injury and poor performance, and a gang of guys getting old really fast! But back to the good news - these underrated guys are also doing great so far:

David Fletcher, INF, Angels: .313/.400/.493

James McCann, C, White Sox: .345/.387/.655

Giovanny Urshela, INF, Yankees: .312/.393/.583

Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Blue Jays: .300/.321/.620

(I wouldn't call it a comeback but...)

Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies: .484/.514/.703

I wonder why so many more breakouts are in the American League...