Category Archives: Chris Davis

First Basemen: 2010 Fantasy Projections

Last year, I professed my unabashed man-crush on Pablo Sandoval. So it’s only fitting that he’s my “value pick” at first base according to my points-per-plate appearance calibration (using statistical projections from the 2010 Bill James Handbook). Displayed in the previous link is the point breakdown in a standard points league. My approach to deciphering value is based on draft position, depth, and potential for at-bats.

Last year, for example, Joey Votto‘s projected .91 fantasy points per plate-appearance put him above annual stars like Justin Morneau (.86), Kevin Youkilis (.85), and Carlos Pena (.87). However, as we all discovered, Joey Votto didn’t live up to his potential due to injury (for more on this projection, see last year’s article).
2010’s central difference is the influx of .90 pts/pa first base-eligible batters. Last year, only 7 players satisfied this requirement: Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Votto. This year, however, 13 players surpass this threshold, nearly doubling the list of “effective” first base options.
Joining the seven players from 2009 in this group are Mark Reynolds (.99), Pablo Sandoval (.90), David Ortiz (.90), Adam Dunn (.90), Justin Morneau (.90), and *surprise* Chris Davis (.90).
Of the 13 players projected to average the most points per plate-appearance, I’d absolutely stay away from Chris Davis. Last year he was hyped to an ADP between the 5th and 7th rounds, an atmosphere WAY too high for a rookie… I don’t care how much he looked like Shane Spencer in his initial September call-up. In points-based-leagues, the value at this position is coming by way of Pablo Sandoval, Joey Votto, and Adam Dunn (in leagues that do not penalize strikeouts!). Pujols, Howard, Cabrera, Teixeira, and Fielder will all be gone before round two is complete in most drafts (under-statement of the century) and Berkman’s name, Morneau’s ability, and Mark Reynolds’ 2009 will be the next 1B off the board. At this point, in a standard 12-team league, four teams will be without first basemen, leaving fantasy favorites Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, and Carlos Pena available.
My advice? Let them go. Fill in the rest of your roster while the other members of your league fill up on the position. While they grab 1B, fill in your OF or pitching staff. Some will value Votto a bit more than players like Pena and Morales, but unless your peers view Sandoval as a solid 3B option, he should slip into the later rounds. Other than a brief stint on the bench with a sore back in 2009, Sandoval was one of the most reliable 1B options available.
Now comes the bad news: players to avoid based on pts/pa. I think this is the point were everyone stops expecting anything from James Loney (.76/pa). Essentially, the calibration equates him to Lyle Overbay (.75/pa)… aka, he’s useless in a points league. If he’s a singles-hitter, he needs more RBI opportunities, and with Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp on his team… he’s not going to get many.
The same can be said for Nick Swisher (.82), Russell Branyan (.82), and Michael Cuddyer (.82). Rather than spend mid-round picks on each of these streaky batters, grab a younger potential-laden player like Garrett Jones (.85) in the later rounds… especially due to his multi-position eligibility (OF/1B).
In the end, if you take anything from this 2010 first base projection, let it be that you can wait this year. In 2009, if you didn’t grab an early 1B, you were in a bad place to start the year. In 2010, you can afford to wait. As always, let your opponents make your decisions for you, it’s easier that way.

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Filed under Adam Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez, Bill James, Carlos Pena, Chris Davis, Fantasy Baseball, first base, Garrett Jones, James Loney, Joey Votto, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, Pablo Sandoval

>Fantasy Baseball Prep: Third Base

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When looking over the field of third basemen in 2009 you have a large number of (close-to) sure things masking a, perhaps, even larger group of sleepers and deep-sleepers.  For anyone just joining in, feel free to read over my introductory post for the scoring break-down in a generic points-based fantasy baseball league as well as the subsequent posts centering on catchers, first basemen, and second basemen.

Obviously, the third base position takes a hit with the loss of Ryan Braun, who played zero games at the hot corner in 2008, from the 2009 eligibility roster.  However, with the loss of one player comes the advent of another, as Evan Longoria joins Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, and Aramis Ramirez as the “powerhouses” of the position.  Aside from these four no-brainers, there are a smorgasbord of alternative options for teams looking to drafts batters for this power position later in their respective fantasy drafts.
Beginning with the points-per-opportunity (pts/opp.) slugging break-down, Chone Figgins (not surprisingly at 2.1 pts/opp.) and Twins probable third baseman, Brian Buscher (2.0) round out the bottom of the list with Texas’ Chris Davis (2.9) taking the top-spot nearly a full-point higher.
Now, when I first crunched these numbers and saw the mashing potential of Chris Davis I got giddy, no lie.  I couldn’t believe that this virtual rookie was ranked ahead of guys like A-Rod, D. Wright, and notorious mashers like Troy Glaus.  Combine the numbers with the Rangers’ history of cultivating young, slugging position players (thanks in large part to Rudy Jaramillo) and I was sold that I found the sleeper of the year!
…that is… until I noticed everyone coming to the same conclusion.
So, there we have it.  Chris Davis is 2009’s Josh Hamilton, someone who could be a sleeper, but, due to a huge amount of hype, won’t be come fantasy-draft season.  If you remember back to last season, Hamilton was getting so much love from a variety of fantasy baseball sources that he was being insanely overvalued in drafts everywhere.  Obviously, the fantasy talking-heads earned their paychecks with this prediction, as Hamilton was a first-half fantasy MVP.
Just below Davis’ 2.9 pts/opp. are Alex Rodriguez and Mark Reynolds who tie for second 2.67 pts/opp.  We all know A-Rod’s deal, so it’s silly to waste space talking about how great he is, so I want to shift my attention to Mark Reynolds.
Last year, Reynolds was about as all-or-nothing as someone not-named Jack Cust can get.  He batted a horrific .239 for the year, all the while knocking in 97 RBI with 28 long-balls.  The reason for this drastic difference was essentially strike-outs.  If Reynolds can just down on blindly hacking at anything thrown in the direction of home plate he’s be an awesome option for 2009.  Bill James anticipates a .270 BA with a near-.350 OBP, which is a huge improvement from both categories in 2008.  However, before I decide to endorse Mark Reynolds in 2009, let’s shift our attention from pts/opp. to points-per-plate-appearance (pts./pa), which (as you all know) is an indication of OPS in points-based fantasy leagues.
We return to a bit of normalcy in this category with Alex Rodriguez topping the position once again with a ridiculous 1.03 pts/pa.  However, our good friend, the unfortunately overhyped Chris Davis places second with a 1.02 pts/pa (also ridiculous).  Our “average” player(s) in this position are Edwin Encarnacion (.83), Alex Gordon (.82), and Scott Rolen (.81).  This should answer any break-out questions surrounding Encarnacion and Gordon.  Unless you’re satisfied with an “average” player in a “power position,” I’d let another owner take a risk on one of these young players in 2009.
Interestingly, Garrett Atkins (.80) falls BELOW average in 2009.  This might be a player to rank a bit lower on your draft list this season, especially with younger players like Davis (1.02), Reynolds (.93), and the Brewers’ Mat Gamel (.85).
A few more notables who fell well below average in the points-per-plate appearance category were Joe Crede (.74), Mike Lowell (.76), Jorge Cantu (.77), Chone Figgins (.77), and Kevin Kouzmanof (.77).
It’s important to remember not to overrate players based purely on name.  So far, of all the positions I’ve analyzed, there’s a huge risk of this at the third base position.  Don’t be the owner who’s pointed and laughed at for thinking Mike Lowell deserves a spot on your roster… please.

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Filed under Alex Gordon, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Davis, David Wright, Edwin Encarnacion, Evan Longoria, Fantasy Baseball, Garrett Atkins, Joe Crede, Jorge Cantu, Mat Gamel, Mike Lowell, third basemen