Today we look at one fantasy baseball’s most talent rich positions for our second set of consolidated ranks. There are seven players on this list who will be drafted within the first two rounds of most drafts and at least a half dozen more who are likely to be taken by the end of round six. There are plenty of fantasy relevant assets at the bottom of our list too, so this is a great place to shop for CI and Util bats. Here you will find a lot of thunder and a healthy dose of run production. If you are looking for speed, however, you might have come to the wrong place.
Note that there are a few catcher eligible players listed here. Keep in mind that these ranks assume you are using these players at 1B. The numbers for the elite catchers do not compare favorably to numbers from the high end first basemen. If you draft Posey or Santana early on, you need to use them at catcher where they give you an advantage. Click here for further analysis on the topic.
Before we get into the ranks, we need to go over a couple assumptions that we made in determining eligibility.
In order to be eligible, a player needs to meet 1 of the following criteria:
A) 10 appearances at the position in 2013
B) The expectation that the player will be used primarily at a given position in 2014 (example: Miguel Cabrera will appear on this list)
These rankings will focus on 2014 only and they are geared towards traditional 5×5 category leagues. Without further ado, here are the assembly’s rankings:
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET–
Jim: If you need to ask why he’s first, click here.
Peter: It doesn’t matter which corner position you are selecting him to play, Miggy is arguably the best player in fantasy baseball.
2. Paul Goldschmidt, ARZ-
Kevin: There’s a chance that Goldy hits 50 HR and outscores Miggy.
Peter: He produces across the board and is entering his 27-year old season.
3. Chris Davis, BAL-
Jeff: since September 2012, Davis has been one of the best hitters on the planet. No reason to believe that will change too much in 2014.
Jim: He won’t repeat last year, but is a great option once top 5 are gone.
4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR-
Jeff: He has been one of the best hitters in baseball the past two seasons. The scary thing is that he has been improving.
Tommy: When you look at Encarnacion’s batted ball profile along with his BB/K ratio, it is difficult to understand how he doesn’t hit well over .300. If he is a .300 hitter, he is a top 5 overall pick.
5. Joey Votto, CIN-
Jim: Top 3 first baseman for runs and average with 25 HR power.
Peter: Votto is a bounce back candidate in 2014. In a down year in 2013, he still slashed 24 HR/73 RBI/ 101 runs/ .305.
6. Prince Fielder, TEX-
Jeff: Arlington and the lineup around him will help offset some of his declining skill set.
Kevin: Texas helps his value, even though I don’t project 35+ HR anymore.
7. Freddie Freeman, ATL-
Jeff: I think the HR upside is only mid to high 20’s and I think the BA drops in ’14.
Paul: Just 24, Freeman has solidified himself amongst game’s elite 1B
8. Eric Hosmer, KC-
Paul: If he takes another big step, he could join the elite group. I’m betting on smaller steps.
Tommy: The key for Hosmer is his ability to hit to all fields. As long as he is spraying the ball around, he can repeat his second half success and maybe outproduce a couple of the players ranked ahead of him.
9. Albert Pujols, LAA-
Jeff: 2013 was the first time in his 13 year career that he played in less than 143 games.
Peter: The hardest guy to rank on this list is Pujols. He may prove to be a great value pick in 2014, but caveat emptor.
10. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD-
Jim: There is no upside or downside, just good solid numbers.
Kevin: The NL West hurts his power a bit now that he’s not hitting as many bombs as earlier in his career, but he’s solid and has a good lineup around him.
11. Mark Trumbo, ARZ-
Paul: Floor is lower than others, but I like the situation in Arizona for him
Tommy: Trumbo has the upside to hit 40+ HRs, but since he gives away about 40% of his ABs between Ks and popouts, the BA could really hurt you if he has a down year.
12. Allan Craig, STL-
Jeff: I’m not as high on him as others, but would be happy to plug him in at CI.
Tommy: 2013 power outage was due to a Votto like line drive rate, a corresponding decrease in fly ball rate and a decrease in average fly ball distance. Without a 2014 increase in the later 2, Craig will be unlikely to hit more than 15 HRs. He is still a serious asset though.
13. Buster Posey, SF-
Kevin: If he plays 1B a bit and nets a high AB total, he may move up in rankings on a 1B list, but it’s still not where you want to play him.
Peter: He looks a bit like Joey Votto lite at that point (solid average, 20 homer potential, runs and RBI production), and you are drafting him to catch in 2014 anyway.
14. Anthony Rizzo, CHC-
Paul: Lots of warning signs, but I like the power potential. Walk rate is nice too.
Tommy: Until he learns to hit lefties at the MLB level, his upside will be capped.
15. Brandon Belt, SF-
Jeff: I am buying the .326/.390/.525 he put up in the second half of 2013.
Jim: I think he could be a worthy player to own if he were traded to a team whose home park did not suppress left handed home run hitters.
16. Mike Napoli, BOS-
Jeff: Just because he was healthy last season, does not mean we should overlook him as an injury risk.
Kevin: The power will play well again, but his BA is suspect.
17. Matt Adams, STL-
Jeff: If he can get 500 AB (and I’m betting he does), he will be a better version of the Brandon Moss we have seen the past two seasons.
Paul: Power is real, but playing time concern and contact rates make me wonder who would give him anything to hit.
18. Carlos Santana, CLE-
Jim: If you want 20 home runs and a mediocre average for your CI slot, you could do worse.
Peter: You should be drafting Santana as one of the top catchers in fantasy, but the position flexibility is a nice bonus.
19. Jose Abreu, CHW-
Jim: He’ll either burst out or be a bust, but he’s a better gamble than some of the usual retreads.
Kevin: He could have the highest risk and/or reward based on where he goes in your draft. For 2014 in shallower leagues, I wouldn’t rely on him as my primary 1B, but I’d take him as my CI/DH.
20. Kendrys Morales, Free Agent-
Paul: Not a ton of upside here, but depending on where he lands, he could move up a few spots.
Tommy: Morales is a solid player, but where will he play? Some speculate that he may not get signed until mid-season when the draft pick compensation goes away. There are not many teams who need a DH and would be willing to pay the price to get Morales.
21. Joe Mauer, MIN-
Kevin: High BA and not much power puts him on the same level as a post-peak Helton at 1B. Hopefully he nets a high AB total, helping his R and RBI.
Peter: Mauer was named the starting 1B in Minnesota, and moving out from behind the plate may ease the wear-and-tear and help him recover some of his offensive potential. He probably won’t sniff 28 homers again, and you are really drafting him as a catcher this year.
22. Brandon Moss, OAK-
Jim: A low average plus 25 home run power equals a younger version of the current Ryan Howard, except he won’t get any better than he is now.
Tommy: He can’t hit lefties, but he murders RHPs. He is capable of hitting 30+ HRs as long as he gets enough ABs. Moss’ value may be even higher in daily leagues where you can sit him vs. lefties.
23. Corey Hart, SEA-
Jim: If he can stay healthy he could produce good numbers with Cano protecting him.
Paul: Quietly hit 30 HRs 2 of his last 3 seasons. 25 HR 80 RBI is in reach at Safeco.
24. Victor Martinez, DET-
Kevin: He should be good for another season of good production, but there are plenty of other options at 1B.
Paul: Low power, but can give AVG and RBI.
25. Jonathan Singleton, HOU-
Paul: With Abreu, the next 2 to break into the top 10
Peter: Off-field issues aside, Singleton took a step back in 2013 and should be sliding down rankings. He has batting practice power, but strikes out way too much (30% in AAA).
26. Mark Teixeira, NYY-
Jeff: There’s a chance that he gets back to 30 HR, but those odds decline each season.
Kevin: He could bounce back and be a solid producer, but beware the rust.
27. Michael Cuddyer, COL-
Jim: He’s 35 coming off a career year, don’t believe the hype.
Tommy: A lucky BABIP of .382 and a second half power outage raise some concern here. Still, Cuddyer should hit near .300 with about 15 HRs if he can stay healthy.
28. Nick Swisher, CLE-
Kevin: Consistently productive, always undervalued.
Tommy: Swisher is a low end UTIL guy. I would rather roll the dice on somebody with more upside.
29. Justin Morneau, COL-
Paul: He could hit 20-25 HR in Coors. One last hurrah!
Peter: Morneau is a great draft day deal, especially in leagues with CI and multiple UTIL slots.
30. Chris Carter, HOU-
Peter: If Carter can get a better lock on the strike zone (he struck out an eye-popping 212 times in 2013) he will be a beast. 29 homers and 82 RBI’s scream out upside.
Tommy: If you are looking for a late round flier with power, you can take a guy like Carter who might do better next year, or a guy like Adam Dunn who might do worse. I take Carter.
Check out the rest of our 2014 rankings.