Preseason Deep Leaguer Team: First Base

DeepLeaguer 1B Rankings: High School Mark Grace Approved

The Preseason Deep Leaguer Team features players that lurk just beyond the top of the rankings.  Guys that you can find later in drafts that have potential to give you "top ten" value at a position without spending a "top ten" price.

So by that logic, when considering players for the team, Rotofunk and myself will automatically exclude the guys at the top of the list.  We know Robinson Cano is great already, but have you met (insert lesser known second basemen here)?

Now it's time to focus on first base.  Usually the deepest infield position as far as fantasy talent goes, most managers look to first base as a source of power.  But what if you forego the position early in the draft?  What sort of value is out there?  Let's break down those possible gems whether you need a starter late or just a valuable bat to fill the UTIL slot in your lineup.

Once again, we'll go ahead and exclude the top 12 from consideration here.
  1. Albert Pujols, LAA
  2. Joey Votto, CIN
  3. Prince Fielder, DET
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD
  6. Billy Butler, KC
  7. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
  8. Buster Posey, SF
  9. Allen Craig, STL
  10. Mark Teixeira, NYY
  11. Freddie Freeman, ATL
  12. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
Jake's picks

David Ortiz, BOS - There's a chance that Ortiz doesn't qualify at 1B in your league.  If so, you can skip to further down the article.  However thanks to 7 starts at 1B last season, he qualifies there in Yahoo leagues.  First let's look at the cons.  Ortiz is old, and there's always going to be a concern of the 37-year old DH finally breaking down.  While a foot injury hampered the end of his season last year, when healthy Ortiz showed that he could still produce at a high level.  In just 90 games he managed to still hit 23 homers with 65 runs and 61 RBI.  He also walked more than he struck out which bodes excellent for OBP leagues.  His age and confusion on position eligibility may cause him to slide down the draft board.  If so, he'll could be a solid pick.  Just be aware of the risks involved.

Adam LaRoche, WAS - How often does a 30 homer, 100 RBI guy fall in your lap so late in the draft?  LaRoche ain't sexy by any means but he can certainly get the job done.  He's returning to what should be a solid Nationals lineup and with Mike Morse gone there's no doubt on his starting job at 1B.  Even if he doesn't match last year's numbers I think 25 HR and 80 RBI is a safe bet.

Rotofunk's picks

Ike Davis, NYM - For those of you in keeper leagues, this is probably the last time you'll get a chance to snag Ike Davis. Entering his 4th year, he's always had the ability, just never the luck to completely bust out. I predict that happens in 2013. After a solid 2010 debut, Davis was a hot target coming into 2011. And he did break out...for 36 games before he got Kendrys'd. And then he started 2012 with the strength-sapping (like your mother) Valley Fever (also your mom's high school nickname), which led to an absurdly slow start.  After hitting only 11 homers in the first half of the season, Davis regained his power and parked 21 in the seats the last 3 months of the season. With a walk rate over 10% in every stop of his career, he's especially useful in OBP leagues. The second half Davis, the one on the 42 homer pace, is the real Ike Davis. Expect a minimum of 30 bombs, with 35 pretty likely.

Kevin Youkillis , NYY - Do I want to go into 2013 with YOUUUUUUK as my starting 3B? Absolutely not. But for a guy going around pick 270 in standard leagues, there is some upside here. Youk has always had a great eye and taken a bunch of walks. That fits in pretty well with what the Yankees have historically liked to do. There should be ample opportunities for Youk to knock in runs in the Yankee lineup, and the change of scenery and playing for Girardi might make his hot-headedness and hard-nosed playing style a benefit instead of a burden. A guy in the late stages of the draft that can play 3B and 1B in a pinch? Take a shot.

Preseason Deep Leaguer Team: Catcher

The Preseason Deep Leaguer Team features players that lurk just beyond the top of the rankings.  Guys that you can find later in drafts that have potential to give you "top ten" value at a position without spending a "top ten" price.

So by that logic, when considering players for the team, Rotofunk and myself will automatically exclude the guys at the top of the list.  We know Robinson Cano is great already, but have you met (insert lesser known second basemen here)?

Today we kick things off with catcher.  Not the sexiest position by a long stretch but still one that warrants proper attention.  While some might think beyond the top three or four catchers it really doesn't matter, there's actually some wealth to be had if you look in the right spot.

First let's list the Top 12 catchers according to our most recent rankings.

1. Buster Posey, SF
2. Joe Mauer, MIN
3. Carlos Santana, CLE
4. Yadier Molina, STL
5. Matt Wieters, BAL
6. Wilin Rosario, COL
7. Mike Napoli, BOS
8. Miguel Montero, ARI
9. Jesus Montero, SEA
10. Salvador Perez, KC
11. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
12. Brian McCann, ATL

If Victor Martinez qualifies at catcher in your league I would probably say he's 12b right now, so we'll go ahead and exclude him as well.

Jake's picks

Carlos Ruiz, PHI - CHOOCH!  Honestly, if Ruiz had finished the season healthy as well as not been handed a 25 game suspension for a failed drug test, he would most likely be in the top ten right now.  But his misfortune is your gain.  Mark April 28th on your calendar.  That's the first day Ruiz will be eligible to return. Let's keep in mind, the fantasy season is a long hard grind and that first month will seem like a distant memory come August.  Ruiz is well worth stashing away for the first few weeks if you can nab him late in your draft.  Despite playing only 114 games last year, Ruiz managed to post the 10th most runs and RBI totals among catchers.  He also batted .325, which to find a catcher outside of the top 5 that can hit for AVG let alone hit well above .300, is like spotting a 'Squatch at your local Qdoba.  Do you play OBP instead of AVG?  Even better!  Ruiz can easily flirt with .400.  If he's still available after a dozen catchers are off the board, he's well worth waiting a month and starting a John Jaso in his spot for the interim.

Travis d'Arnaud, NYM - One of the prized pieces the Mets received in the R.A. Dickey trade, d'Arnaud is the best catching prospect in baseball right now.  Free of the positional logjam in Toronto and hopefully free of injuries that plagued him the last couple years, d'Arnaud brings a promising power bat to the Mets lineup.  In just 67 games with AAA Las Vegas last season, d'Arnaud hit 16 home runs with 52 RBI and posted a .333/.380/.595.  He may be stuck initially behind veteran John Buck who is one of the top catchers defensively. But if the Mets need offense, and there's a good chance they will, then look for d'Arnaud to finally get his chance to shine in the big leagues.

Rotofunk's picks

A.J. Ellis, LAD - I'm just going to come out and say that A.J. Ellis will not be as good as he was last year. He clubbed 13 homers in 2012, which is 3 shy of the total homers he hit in his entire minor/major league career COMBINED. And in the Dodger's star-studded lineup, he's probably going to hit 8th. Hitting with a pitcher protecting you in the lineup is never ideal. So why do I like Ellis this year? To put it simply, he can get his ass to first base. His OBP in 2012 (.373) was a full .103 higher than his AVG. In leagues that count OBP, Ellis is gold. And even in regular AVG leagues, he's still valuable. If you've got a 15-20 team league, or you're stupid and play 2 catchers (NOTE: Why the hell does anyone do this?), sometimes you need someone that can just get by. Ellis is your guy. He'll only cost you a late round pick, which is usually the point in the draft where if someone can help you in any category, you draft them.

Yasmani Grandal. SD: The date was June 30, 2012. Lizzy Caplan, Mike Tyson, David Alan Grier and Yngwie Malmsteen were all celebrating their birthdays (Hopefully all together. God, how much would that party fucking ROCK???). A "leap second" was added to our clocks (Sadly, this is a thing that happened). And Yasmani Grandal got his first career start for the San Diego Padres. Grandal smacked two homers that day and finished the season with 8 homers in just 226 plate appearances. On November 7th, Grandal was slapped with a 50 game suspension for failing a drug test and will miss the first 30% of the 2013 season. Now he's going 26th overall for catchers because people think missing that much time is the end of the world. But remember last year, when Salvador Perez missed a big chunk of the season too? He came back and rewarded all the owners that drafted or picked him up with great stats when he came back. I could see him hitting 12-13 homers in 100 games.

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Are Now Available

The first official round of positional rankings have now been published.  Enjoy them at your leisure.

Updates will be published periodically now until the end of March.

Carlos Gonzalez Makes Me Go Soft

No one was higher on Carlos Gonzalez going into last year than me. Why? Because I owned him in our 20 team keeper league. He was coming off a 26 homer, 20 steal season. And because those stats came in just 127 games, it was pretty much on pace with his MVP-caliber 2010 season.

After a blistering May pushed CarGo into the top 5 rated players, I flipped him straight up for Joey Votto and, like I usually do with players I don't own in fantasy, completely forgot about him.

So what happened to Mr. Gonzalez the rest of the way? He finished 2012 with 89 runs, 22 homers, 85 RBI, 20 steals and a .303/.371/.510 triple slash line. While not necessarily a bad season overall, it probably didn't satisfy the owners who picked him at the end of the first round in last season's drafts.

With Carlos again going pretty high in early mock drafts (we'll get more into that later), I decided to take a closer look. Prepare yourself, because some of Gonzalez's splits are terrifying.
"Road trip? Ahhhh...shit."
We all know about the "Coors Effect" and how a lot of Rockies players have much better home splits than road splits. Guys like Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki are the kind of Rockies that you want on your team: they destroy the ball at home, and still put up respectable numbers on the road.

Helton (Career Home): .350/.447/.613
Helton (Career Away): .289/.389/.475

Tulowitzki (Career Home): .309/.380/.541
Tulowitzki (Career Away): .275/.347/.467

Sure, there's a drop between the home and away stats, but the away stats are pretty damn solid too. In other words, there's no need for you to platoon them with another player and bench them on the road. And surely, you wouldn't platoon the great Carlos Gonzalez, would you? Even on the road? Sounds like lunacy...but I used to do it. Unlike Helton and Tulo, who can hold their own away from Denver, Carlos Gonzalez turns into a big puddle of suck. Let's do a blind test:

Player A: .258/.313/.422
Player B: .259/.316/.423

Player A is Carlos Gonzalez's career away splits. Player B is 2012 Kyle Seager, who went undrafted last year and is going around pick 230 this season in early mocks. I'm not saying that Kyle Seager has no value. I'm just saying that taking someone in the very early part of the draft that hits like him half the time probably isn't the guy you want to count on to be a big part of your team.

And yeah, I get that a huge part of CarGo's value comes from the games he plays at home, and THAT is why you draft him. But we've already made a pretty good case for sitting him when he's away from Coors. Do you really want to spend an early draft pick on someone that you're only going to get maximum value out of half the time? Is the home version of Gonzalez THAT good?

No. Well yes...but no.

Yes, Carlos Gonzalez's home splits are off the charts good. But you don't need to waste an early draft pick to reap the benefits of that kind of home batting line. Let's take a look at another blind test:

Player A: .368/.437/.609, 58 runs, 13 homers, 58 RBI
Player B: .332/.431/.553, 51 runs, 10 homers, 39 RBI

Player A is Carlos Gonzalez at home last season. Player B was...Dexter Fowler at Coors in 2012. Dexter Fowler is going somewhere around the 13th round. See? That Coors value can be had WAY later in the draft if you're going the route of benching CarGo on the road.

Another red flag that I noticed when looking at his splits has to do with his home runs by month. 22 is a pretty respectable homer total for the year, but look when those homers were hit:

April: 4
May: 10
June: 3
July: 3
August: 1
September: 1

Which of those months is not like the other?

I don't really know what to make of this. Looking back at the rest of his career, CarGo doesn't have a history of falling off as terribly as he did in August and September, but it's still a little concerning that a guy, even playing half his games in an offensive paradise, only went deep 5 times in the second half, and only ONCE EACH in the last 2 months of the season. It could be just a fluke. Then again, if he didn't hit that insane power hot streak in May, things would have been real ugly last year.

Again, I'm not saying he sucks. I would take Carlos Gonzalez on my team any year if he fell to me in the right spot of the draft. According to Mock Draft Central, CarGo is going somewhere in the late first, early second round, which I completely disagree with. I wouldn't even think about touching him while guys like Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are still on the board. Just typing those names out gets the blood flowing in the nether regions. And getting CarGo in the 4th or 5th round would do the same.

But having to draft him where he's probably going to go? That makes me go completely soft.

Welcome To Deep Leaguer (Again?)

Deep Leaguer has been around since 2010. So why are you just now seeing it for the first time?

Because we're awful. Really bad. We get distracted easily and binge drink. We say we "don't have time for this shit", even though we have nothing but time. And we have attention spans that can only be measured in nanoseconds.

Captain Beefjuice and I have had a history of being involved with websites that start off with a bang and quickly flame out, never to be heard from again. And most of the time, the bang isn't very big. After first teaming up on a slightly-respectable Cubs blog, we were never able to repeat the successes of our early career. Sure, we've hung around in one form or another for years, but things haven't been the same.

So yes, we're kind of the Eric Hinske of bloggers. Ironically, Eric Hinske is kind of the reason we're here.

See, the main league the Captain and I are obsessed involved with is a 20 team baseball league (5 keepers, OBP instead of AVG). Back in 2010, we were complaining about a lack of fantasy baseball/football sites for leagues that are bigger than the standard 10-12 teams. 2 years later, we're finally(?) motivated enough to do something about it.

So what can you expect from us? Fantasy baseball advice/opinions on everything you can think of, with a lot of content geared toward those of us who play in leagues deep enough where, yes, even Eric Hinske is someone that needs to be owned from time to time.

Podcasts are also coming, so we'll be all up in that earhole soon enough.

Have any fantasy baseball questions? I'm sure Captain Beefjuice will set up an email address soon.