First Base: As Deep As It Gets

In 2009, the average first basemen hit .277/.362/.483 (.845 OPS) with 28 HR To put this in perspective, only three second basemen (Zobrist, Utley and Cano) posted higher OPS's last season, while the average hitter posted a triple slash line of .262/.333/.418 (.750 OPS).

Honestly, you can't go wrong at first base. Thirteen first basemen posted an OPS of .900 or higher (with Carlos Pena just missing the cut with an .893 OPS). The 19th and 20th overall first basemen in terms of wOBA were Russell Branyan and Paul Konerko, who combined for 59 HR. Konerko hit a quality .277/.353/.489 (.842 OPS) last season, right in line with the first base average. He did this with a .287 BABIP and .301 xBABIP. If we pessimistically assume that all of Konerko's additional hits (robbed in theory by bad luck) would have been singles, his triple slash line for 2009 would have looked like .292/.366/.504 (.871 OPS). Even James Loney, the 23rd overall first basemen in terms of wOBA last season, hit .281 with 90 RBI and a handful of stolen bases.

Even in a 12-team league, you can't go wrong drafting first basemen. If you're in a 10 team ESPN league with CI/MI positions, you should not even consider drafting either your 1B or CI position until round 20. Oh no, you're stuck with Paul Konerko and James Loney at first base! Boo hoo. According to xBABIP adjusted 2010 forecasts (based on 2009 peripherals), Konerko and Loney would earn you a composite .295 BA with ~40 HR, ~10 SB, ~150 RBI and ~180 RBI. Woe is you. According to Roto Authority's estimates, you can win a 14-hitter, 12-team league by averaging a .282 BA, ~12 SB, ~83 R, ~80 RBI and ~21 HR output per hitter. Go figure.

Holding: Do not draft first basement early. Lance Berkman (ADP of 59 on MDC as of today) may seem like a nice "value pick" in the fifth or six round, but its really not worth the top ten pick.

On a different note, did you know that Todd Helton, who posted an ISO of .200 or higher in each of his first 9 major league seasons, has the third lowest ISO amongst all qualifying first basemen on the Fangraphs default rankings over the past three seasons ? Only James Loney (.149) and Casey Kotchman (.142) have lower marks than Helton (.159). Age and a Humidor will do that to you, I suppose.

10 comments:

Cubsfan4evr said...

First base is really deep this year. Unless you can get Pujols I agree not to take any for the first few rounds. Personally I draft a first basemen in a yahoo draft around my 4th or 6th pick. I know that is too high, but if you can get a big bopper like Morales, Lee, or Morneau that has the potential to hit 30 homeruns, close to 100 runs, and over 100 rbi’s, those are solid numbers. The people you mention are good to draft later on for your utility spot, but not good enough to be anchor your team like the players I mention. Thus, you can get good value in first basemen much later, but you still won’t get the production you could get otherwise. Third base is very weak this year. Even though we disagree on that.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Look, I'd rather spend my #5 pick on youk than Berkman.

Paulie will hit .280 with 25-30 jacks and 85-95 RBI. He does it annually. Why reach by 200 picks for Berkman for less than 20 pts of BA, 5 (at most) HRs, and 10-15 RBIs?

Economics says dont bother

Cubsfan4evr said...

I wouldn't grab for Berkman either. I would bite on Morales, Lee, or Morneau though feeling their production is significantly y greater than you can get later. If you don't get them or any of the big boppers before them, then I agree to wait. I would still try and get Paulie later to fill out the rest of your bench and utility spots. He does have good value for how late he is going.

Sexy Rexy said...

I love what Paul Konerko has done for the Sox, but he is not good now. He's had under 30 HR the past two years, he has a career batting average of only .277 (BA last three years: .259, .244, .277), his RBI totals have decreased from his prime (RBI last 3 yrs: 90, 62, 88), his run totals aren't that far off, and he's not going to steal you any bases.

Paul Konerko will not be a top 12 1B next year, and considering, a few owners are going to have two 1B (for their Util spot), being forced to have Konerko means something went wrong in your draft or you want a back up.

I agree 1B is deep so you don't necessarily need to grab Fielder, Howard, or Cabrera as high as you'd have to, but going too low to get Konerko is not the way to go either.

Sexy Rexy said...

And if you can get Youk by the time the 5th round rolls around- of course ur gonna take him, because he's being mock drafted in the 3rd. And if you really wanted Berkman, I'd wait to the 8th- because nobody is taking him as high as their 5th pick anyway so this line "I'd rather spend my #5 pick of youk than Berkman" seems pretty silly

Also, I misread Cubsfan's comment when he said he'd take Paulie as his back up. Better, but why waste the pick to have a back up 1B at all?

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

I clearly labeled Konerko as the 20th best 1B overall and recommended him for the deepest of leagues

Sexy Rexy said...

OK fair enough, but he's obviously not a starter and it seems silly to me to draft a back up first baseman

Cubsfan4evr said...

I have not drafted Konerko in any of my mock drafts yet (I have done many of them) and don't know if I would take him at all in a real draft. I would consider taking him to round out my last utility spot or bench. Usually for my last few utility spots and bench I take the best possible player. If Konerko is still there and he is one of the most proven hitters left, I may take him to sub in at utility some days or first when my regular is off. I usually take a few bench spots, so one first basemen is fine as long as I think his production will be good enough and the best possible option with one of my last picks.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Look, there is no reason to draft konerko. Especially in a league like ours with 1 1B, no CI and 1 UTIL, you can probably find a better person than konerko to fill 1B and UTIL. However, even if you are forced to choose konerko, its not like he'll hurt you. .275+ BA will happen. 25-30 HR will happen. 80+ RBI will happen. The runs will be in the 70-80 range (most likely). What more do you want? Steals? ahaha. Not from a 1B, ill tell you that

Sexy Rexy said...

OK then, as long as no one is advocating drafting Paul Konerko, Im good