Trust or Bust? – 1B Edition

Jon Tomevi, the author at BalkTalkBaseball.com puts on his sabermatrician hat and joins us for a guest blog post where he forecasts the rest of the season as the 1st base position. Given his perfect, twelve for twelve prediction of Clemson’s 2012 football season read closely, he may just own a crystal ball.

Paul Konerko 

2013 Statistics: .228, 17 Runs, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs, 0 SBs
For the past few seasons, Konerko has been an excellent under-the-radar first baseman in fantasy. 2013 has definitely been a disappointing season for Konerko owners, but there should be brighter days ahead as the weather keeps warming up. Konerko’s BABIP is .252 (it has been over .300 the past three seasons) which suggests that there is no way his batting average sits below .250 when the season is over. His ISO is also about .100 below his career mark, so his power should see a return too. I can see Konerko with a .270/35/15/50 stat line for the rest of the season. It isn’t anything that is going to blow you away, but he could provide some sneaky value for owners this summer.
Verdict: Trust

Billy Butler
2013 Statistics: .272, 21 Runs, 5 HRs, 33 RBIs, 0 SBs
Butler has had a very slow start to the season (29th ranked 1B on ESPN) and there is no doubt that owners are losing patience. His 29 HRs from 2012 seem like a decade ago, but his .197 ISO was well above his career average so there was regression expected. Still, his BABIP is extremely low in 2013, so Butler will start to provide owners the batting average they expected on draft day. His ISO is only .136 this year, so the power should jump too. I am not sure if he is one of the ten best first base options for the rest of the year, but he is a good buy-low candidate if an owner is ready to move him out of frustration.
Verdict: Trust

Albert Pujols
2013 Statistics: .243, 31 Runs, 9 HRs, 35 RBIs, 0 SBs
A lot of owners are ready to give up on Albert after not living up to the Top 10 pick it took to draft him in March and it could be the perfect buy-low opportunity if you’re willing to take a little risk. Although there are concerns about his planter fasciitis and age, all the sabermetric numbers point to a much stronger rest of the season for Pujols. His BABIP (.245) and ISO (.165) are well below his career averages (.307 and .280 respectively) and 2012 marks (.282 and .231 respectively). Don’t forget the great second half he had in Los Angeles last year either. Even if he doesn’t quite make it back to what he did last season, if he can stay on the field (he can always be used as a DH as well), Albert should be one of the better first base options to own for the rest of 2013.
Verdict: Trust

James Loney
2013 Statistics: .328, 27 Runs, 7 HRs, 32 RBIs, 2 SBs
Although he wasn’t drafted in most leagues this season, Loney owners have been able to ride his nice batting average and surprising power so far. Aside from the fact that he has never his more than 15 HRs in a season, Loney’s ISO (.188) is much higher than his career ISO (.140) and his ISO the past three seasons (.115). It would shock me if Loney was able to break the 15 HR total this season and a 1B that doesn’t hit for power can cost owners more than it can help them. Loney’s BABIP is also incredibly high compared to what he has done before so it is difficult for me to see him being more than a .275 hitter for the rest of the season.
Verdict: Bust

Matt Carpenter
2013 Statistics: .335, 49 Runs, 5 HRs, 20 RBIs, 1 SBs
I’ll try to hide my St. Louis Cardinals bias, but I am a huge Matt Carpenter fan. I think his transition to 2B (plus backing up every other position on the field) has been a huge sparkplug for St. Louis this season. Carpenter’s numbers have been great this season and he has benefited from hitting at the top of a good lineup. He should definitely push 100 runs scored this year, but I am not sure what else he can provide owners. His ISO suggests his power is right in line with his career average but his high BABIP would make me think he is going to be closer to a .285 hitter for the rest of the season. Still, .300/100/10/35 would be a good stat line for a middle infielder, and I think that is where he should be played.
Verdict: Bust at 1B, Trust at 2B

Kendrys Morales
2013 Statistics: .306, 26 Runs, 8 HRs, 35 RBIs, 0 SBs
Kendrys has had a smooth transition to the Pacific Northwest and fantasy owners have been pleased with his 2013 start. Morales is currently the 15th ranked 1B on ESPN, but he is going to have a difficult time staying in that group. Even though he has cut down his K% this season, based on a higher-than-normal BABIP I project him to finish the season with a state line around .290/60/18/75 (meaning roughly a .275/35/10/40 stat line from now on). This is by no means a bad player to own, but unless you’re in a deep league you should be looking for another 1B to go with this summer.
Verdict: Bust

Please check out my “Two Down, Four To Go” 1B Rankings for a complete list and analysis of the Top 20 1B for the reason of the season! 

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Facebook “Like” button on the right sidebar. You can share your opinions in the comment section below or by tweeting to@Ryan_Kantor. Thanks for reading!

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