Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010 A.L. First Basemen

I don't know why Rotisserie owners insist on spending so much on first basemen, but every year I drag these charts out and every year they overspend.

Ten Most Expensive A.L. First Basemen 2010

1Miguel Cabrera$38$370$36$32$31
2Mark Teixeira
3Kevin Youkilis
4Justin Morneau$19$29-10
5Kendry Morales$9$27-18$24$19$27
6Billy Butler
7Carlos Pena$12$25-13$18$21$18
8Chris Davis$0$16-16$13$17$9
9Paul Konerko$32$15+17$12$17$18
10Nick Johnson$0$12-12$9$11$15


It's rare that a group of 10 hitters gets a $4 pay raise on average from what they earned the previous year, but that's exactly what happened here. (In case you're wondering, the only other time it has happened in the last three years was last year in the N.L. at shortstop). If this were a one year fluke, it would barely raise an eyebrow, but this is the third year in a row where the top American League first basemen have been significantly overpaid; the market overpaid by $2 per hitter in 2009 and $3 per hitter in 2008.

Even though the market paid more on average in 2009 ($26 per hitter), relative to what they earned in 2008 there wasn't as much reaching as there was in 2010. Johnson and Konerko got pay cuts and Morales stayed flat. The other seven hitters here got raises, and with the exception of Butler they got $5 or greater raises apiece. Some of the raises are based on realistic expectations in the case of a player returning from injury (Morneau) or on the hopes of a young player establishing a new career norm (Butler). Most of the raises, though, seem to be a matter of positional expectation. First base is a traditional power position, and I am going to get a big bopper even if I have to pay too much to do so.

Rotoman's bids and ZIPS' conservative forecasts are far better guides here. Obviously, everyone wants big time power from his corners. Pushing past where that player probably will earn (or, in the case of someone like Teixeira, is probably even capable of earning) is a mistake. You don't have to get your power at first base.

If the market goes too high, the logical expectation is that some bargains should fall in to your lap later in the auction.

Top 10 A.L. First Basemen 2010

1Miguel Cabrera$38$370$36$32$31
2Paul Konerko $32$15+17$12$17$18
3Mark Teixeira
4Billy Butler$23$25-2
5Kevin Youkilis
6Justin Morneau$19$29-10
7Daric Barton$16$2+14$7$16$4
8Ty Wigginton $14$6+8$4$15$9
9Lyle Overbay$14$11+3$8$11$11
10Russ Branyan$12$8+4$4$11$15


And they do.

I am certain that owners - particularly expert owners - don't budget for their teams position by position. But doesn't it seem that this is the case here? 

"Look at the detritus after Pena! I'd better get one of the big bats. Doesn't matter how much it costs. I don't want Daric Barton...he sucks. Wigginton? He'll be gone by May. Overbay? Really? Do I have to?

I cannot read the experts' minds, but doesn't it seem like this is what they're thinking? They're afraid of the underclass. Should they be? Everyone from Barton on down looks like success (to varying degrees). What if I expand the list?

Next Ten (11-20) Most Expensive A.L. First Basemen 2010

11Lyle Overbay$14$11+3$8$11$11
12Casey Kotchman
13Russ Branyan
14Ty Wigginton$14$6+8
15Daric Barton$16$2+14$7$16$4
16Ryan Garko
17Chris Carter$1$1-1R2$14
18Willy Aybar$4$1+3$2$9$7
19Andy Marte$3$1+2
20Justin Smoak$6$1+6R1$6


There are certainly some useless hitters here. But the everyday or mostly everyday players succeed wildly here, while the guys like Aybar and Marte aren't completely worthless either. Granted, you probably didn't want to drag Marte around on your roster all year, but getting $3 of stats for $1 certainly isn't horrible.

I must admit I feel a little sheepish because this is a course correction from what I wrote about Tout Wars last March. I thought some of the prices in the $20s were too low, but perhaps they were just right and the Tout Warriors later prices made more sense. Better to push on Barton than let him go for $2.

I'm curious to see where Rotoman is going to spend his money. He was down $3 on average for the catchers and now $4 on average for the first basemen. As an owner, only 23 of your prices have to be higher than the rest of the room's. As a pricer, you have to spend your $3,120 somewhere.

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