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Fantasy Baseball: Early 2015 1B Rankings

RotoExperts Staff January 7, 2015 3:46PM EST

FANTASY BASEBALL: 2015 1B Rankings Debate

FNTSY Sports Network’s Pat Mayo welcomes Garion Thorne on to the Pat Mayo Hour to catch him up on the MLB offseason movement & news at first base and reveal his 2015 1B rankings, sleepers and busts.

2015 Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP/RP | Strategy/Projection Models

*Recorded December 17th – Rankings have been updated since*

Subscribe to The Pat Mayo Hour on YouTube

THORNE’S 2015 1B RANKINGS

  1. Miguel Cabrera (DET)
  2. Jose Abreu (CWS)
  3. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)
  4. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
  5. Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
  6. Freddie Freeman (ATL)
  7. Joey Votto (CIN)
  8. Chris Davis (BAL)
  9. David Ortiz (BOS)
  10. Albert Pujols (LAA)
  11. Victor Matrinez (DET)
  12. Mark Trumbo (ARI)
  13. Todd Frazier (CIN)
  14. Carlos Santana (CLE)
  15. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)
  16. Lucas Duda (NYM)
  17. Prince Fielder (TEX)
  18. Ryan Zimmerman (WSH)
  19. Justin Morneau (COL)
  20. Brandon Moss (CLE)
  21. Matt Adams (STL)
  22. Chris Carter (HOU)
  23. Adam LaRoche (CWS)
  24. Mark Teixeira (NYY)
  25. Mike Napoli (BOS)
  26. Brandon Belt (SF)
  27. Eric Hosmer (KC)
  28. Joe Mauer (MIN)
  29. Kendrys Morales (KC)
  30. Ryan Howard (PHI)
  31. Kennys Vargas (MIN)
  32. Adam Lind (MIL)
  33. Steve Pearce (BAL)
  34. Michael Morse (SF)
  35. Justin Smoak (TOR)
  36. Billy Butler (OAK)
  37. James Loney (TB)
  38. Jon Singleton (HOU)
  39. C.J. Cron (LAA)
  40. Casey McGehee (SF)

Thorne on Lucas Duda

Well, time to break in my “Be More Willing to Admit Your Faults” New Year’s resolution. In the video above I may or may not, depending on how well you’re paying attention, mention Lucas Duda and Edwin Encarnacion in the same breath. Now, I will contend that they do in fact share some similarities. Duda’s 49% fly ball rate in 2014 was second to just Chris Carter and a mere 1.8-percentage points higher than sixth place Encarnacion, leading to both men registering 30+ HR seasons with fewer than 600 plate appearances and sub-20% HR/FB ratios. Sure, the propensity to uppercut was never going to transfer well to batting average, but it makes both elite power threats in an era where home runs are about as scarce as stolen bases. However Lucas Duda suffers from an incurable case of left-handedness, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Ned Flanders. Where Encarnacion’s career average splits are just nine points off each other (.272 vs. LHP and .263 vs. RHP), Duda’s are far more severe, culminating in a disgusting .180 mark in 125 plate appearances last year versus southpaws – so bad it might cost him those opportunities in 2015. New York signed journeyman 1B/OF John Mayberry Jr. this winter, a man who owns a career .269 average and .263 ISO (the sixth highest of any active player with 500 career plate appearances against LHP) within his platoon. In fact, Mayberry’s .329 ISO specific to 2014 came in tandem with a .214 BABIP. That’s incredibly scary for left-handed pitchers in the NL East when normalization hits. Anyway, you’d assume that Mayberry will be taking 150-200 of Duda’s at bats this season, though, that is dependent on the Mets doing something conductive to, well, winning.

That’s not to say Duda has no value. When facing right-handers the 28 year-old sported the fourth highest ISO (.270) and the sixth highest wOBA (.394) of anyone in baseball. His 28 home runs against RHPs were also fourth most in the league, but again, the problem is not so much the power, but the fact that figure represents an insane 93% of the slugger’s long balls. Even the strikeout rate, which almost dropped a full 4-percentage points from 26.6% in 2013 to 22.7% last year, is sullied when factoring lefties. Overall, Duda is actually a pretty selective hitter. His 25.9% O-Swing was one of the 30 lowest in baseball in 2014 and was tied with the ever-patient Jose Bautista. Yet that all goes out the window against southpaw pitchers. Duda had a 32.8% strikeout rate in his 111 at-bats versus lefties last season, getting set down 41 times. Like most power hitters, real or fictional, the downfall is truly based upon not being able to hit breaking pitches. Left-handed pitchers threw 235 curveballs and sliders to Duda in 2014 – he came up empty on 53% of his swings on the offerings. Just like the aforementioned Carter, it’s one thing to be unlucky on balls in play, but it’s another entirely to not even give yourself a chance by making contact. Really, the red flags aren’t solely based in splits. Consider that in the prior year Duda hit .303 with RISP and .228 with the bases empty. Granted, this came after posting a .147 average in 2013 with a staggering .204 BABIP with runners on second or third, but this is an example of diametric extremes, not normalization. Even with the argument that a better Mets lineup could lead to more situational quantity with less quality, the numbers aren’t trending well.

I still have Lucas Duda as my #16 first baseman going into 2015, slightly below the early, early ADP returns we’ve seen so far. I once, on camera, incorrectly compared him to Edwin Encarnacion, when honestly he’s closer to Brandon Moss on the power hitter spectrum (seriously, go look at their ground ball/fly ball rates from 2014 – it’s eerie). Duda is a platoon hitter, but he’s probably the best one on the board. However, going at his current draft position, he just simply won’t have any value. Split issues have left him in the cold. Pun intended.

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