Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 CBS NL-Only First Basemen

I knew going in to the CBS N.L.-Only Auction that first base would be a problem, at least at the top.  Here is Mike’s chart of the 10 most expensive first basemen in terms of salary in 2011:

Ten Most Expensive N.L. First Basemen, 2011
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
CBS
LABR
TW
PK
2010
1
$35
44
-8
49
40
42
44
$40
2
$34
40
-6
45
39
36
36
$40
3
$34
33
1
35
31
34
30
$22
4
$25
32
-7
32
33
30
30
$25
5
$21
20
1
20
20
21
19
$17
6
$19
20
-1
20
19
21
20
$20
7
$7
20
-13
22
16
21
16
$17
8
$11
19
-8
20
19
19
20
$27
9
$17
19
-2
21
17
18
16
$12
10
$0
16
-16
10
19
19
18
$20

Average
$20
26
-6
27
25
26
25
$24

Pujols, Fielder and Pena are in the American League now.  Howard is on the bench with a significant injury.  LaRoche is coming off of a significant injury, as is Ike Davis.  Huff is another year older, while Lee is trade bait.  Here, however, was the good news.  In terms of the top 10 earners, there were a number of first basemen not on this list:

Top 10 N.L. First Basemen, 2011
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
CBS
LABR
TW
PK
2010
1
$35
44
-8
49
40
42
44
$40
2
$34
40
-6
45
39
36
36
$40
3
$34
33
1
35
31
34
30
$22
4
$29
12
17
11
12
14
14
$11
5
$25
32
-7
32
33
30
30
$25
6
$22
13
8
12
13
15
11
$0
7
$21
20
1
20
20
21
19
$17
8
$19
20
-1
20
19
21
20
$20
9
$19
5
14
2
5
8
5
$8
10
$18
16
2
13
15
19
18
$18

Average
$26
24
2
24
23
24
23
$20

Add Michael Morse and Michael Cuddyer to this list, and at least there were some feasible first-base options.

(Writer’s Note: I am focusing on projected starters at first base, or significant first-base eligible players here.  If you do not see someone, for example Juan Rivera, Ty Wigginton, etc., look for them at another position).

The Gold Standard:

Joey Votto ($44)

As I predicted, Votto went well beyond my sheet price.  In fact, he outpaced every player bid on in the CBS auction, including Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, et al.  The question is: how can Votto earn these numbers?  He’s earned $40 once in 5x5, and that included 37 home runs, a .324 average and 16 SB.  I doubt we will see that speed again, and, because of that, it will be very difficult to turn anything close to a profit.

The Next Tier (Otherwise Known as “The Chase”)

Michael Morse $26, Michael Cuddyer $24, Ike Davis $24, Paul Goldschmidt $22, Lance Berkman $21, Freddie Freeman $20, Lucas Duda $20.

As you can see, there are a number of cross-over candidates in this tier, as Morse, Cuddyer, Berkman and Duda all qualify in the outfield as well.  When there is only one gold standard first basemen out there, some teams obviously felt compelled to get “the next best first baseman available.”  On my sheet, Morse and Freeman are the only arguable bargains here.  There are concerns about Morse, of course: late breakout, prior steroid use, injuries, etc.  The power, however, is real assuming health.  Cuddyer  is a steady producer moving to Colorado.  The OPS (in the high .700s to low .800s) is a little light, but overall, he is a good bet to continue to produce.  Davis is coming off a significant injury.  For that reason alone, I would not pay $24 for him.  A more reasonable expectation would be the $16 or $17 he earned in 2010, with an extra dollar or so for the fences moving in at Citi Field.  Berkman is a great story; his resurgence last year was clearly unexpected.  Can we expect the same this year?  Well, experience tells us likely not, though Berkman should still be a productive player if healthy.  Playing more first base will help the legs as well.  Freeman is an up and comer.  The subluxated knee cap is a problem; that will continue to recur throughout the year.  The K/9 and GB% are a little high as well, but I think a repeat of 2011 is reasonable to expect.

I saved Goldschmidt and Duda for the end.  I never understand the chasing of these types of players.  Goldschmidt put up some very nice stats in a very short period of time last year.  He did, however, strike out 29.9% of the time last year.  He hit the ball on the ground more than he hit it in the air.  Extrapolating last year’s earnings into a bid limit for the following year is usually a bad policy, particularly taking into account those other statistics.  As far as Duda goes, hey, I like him (despite being a Met).  There are things to like about him…the strikeout rate is better, he hits more balls in the air, etc.  He makes solid contact as well, but the bid takes away any potential upside value.

The Next Tier

Gaby Sanchez $17, James Loney $14, Carlos Lee $14, Adam LaRoche $14, Ryan Howard $14, Brandon Belt $12, Aubrey Huff $10

Gaby Sanchez is a constant earner.  We do not yet know how the new ballpark will affect him, but he is certainly in a better lineup as far as RBI chances go.  Loney started in a horrific fashion last year, yet outearned this $14 salary by several dollars before the end of the year.  He is a trade risk, and he conceivably could be put on the bench with another terrible start, but this is still a par purchase at worst.  Lee is 35 and is likely destined for the American League (this year or next for sure), but he is still a productive hitter.  This is a good price for Lee given weakness at the position.  LaRoche is coming off injury, and it strikes me that this is an area the Nationals would like to upgrade.  If LaRoche gets off to a slow start, it would be easy to see Mike Morse at first base and Bryce Harper in the outfield.  Howard is still not playing in spring training games with the infection set-back.  This price is a calculated gamble that he is back in June and is at full strength.  Belt is another speculation pick: the low average and poor K/BB, in combination with his park, do not bode well for his earnings potential.  Of course, no one paid $22 for him, so the level of disappointment is bound to be less.  Huff is likely to earn this salary at his worst.  He is clearly on the downside, but he can still hit some…you just need tempered expectations, and I think $10 is tempered expectation.

$10 and Under


Well, there are certainly some bargains to be had here in Helton and Jones.  Great bargains? No, but bargains nonetheless.  Helton is certainly on the downside of his career.  As he pointed out to all of us last year, however, his earning potential is still $10 or better.  Health, unfortunately, plays a huge factor in this, and it is harder and harder to count on that health at this stage of his career.  At $8, however, this is an acceptable investment.  Jones is a guy who just goes out and earns.  This salary is about $5-$6 less than his lowest earnings in a relatively full-time season.  There are rumors he will platoon with Casey McGehee at first base while Pedro Alvarez plays third; this does not make a lot of sense to me, and I expect it will not last long.  Guzman showed he can play at this level, but I am not sure where he plays this year, unless  Alonso falls flat on his face…he certainly should not be playing much outfield.  Rizzo is a reserve type of guy based on news coming out of Chicago, but in reserve list leagues, he certainly warrants  a bid, and should be up at some point later in the season.

2 comments:

5bc82556-71c5-11e1-9c71-000bcdcb471e said...

How does Heltons planned game limit affect his value in your opinion?

Toz said...

I had already discounted Helton to anywhere between 350-400 at-bats as is, so in terms of my bid limit, I think we're okay. I also assume the Rockies will play him at home a lot and against right-handers as much as possible (.311/.405/.488 triple-slash rates in his Coors games, and .307/.399/.480 rates versus right-handers). I think a repeat of last year, or something close, is not out of the question.