These rankings are based on projected cumulative value over the next 3 years. Minor league players have been excluded.
With Miguel Cabrera sliding over to 3B and Pujols seemingly starting to decline, Votto takes over the top spot in the 1B rankings. Despite missing time in 2H with a torn meniscus, Votto displayed elite offensive skills when he was on the field. His BB% is beyond elite and earns him a positive BB/K ratio, despite a strikeout rate higher than league average. Votto’s power is also elite and at age 29 he looks primed to put up another MVP-caliber season, similar to what he did in 2010. Although his days of double-digit SB may be behind him, he could end up topping the 40 HR plateau for the first time this year.
Fielder has recorded a positive BB/K ratio each of the last two years due to an above average BB% and ever improving K%. Although his power output is inconsistent from season to season, he’s a safe bet for a good batting average and at least 30 HRs. If you pay for that level of production there is built-in profit potential since he’s capable of 45+ HRs and an elite .330+ BA if everything breaks right.
Although Pujols’ production has certainly declined over the last couple years and I have absolutely no explanation for the degree to which his BB% has plummeted, I’m cautiously optimistic that Pujols will recapture some of his old self during the next 3 seasons. His enormous contract guarantees him ABs and a spot in the everyday lineup. Moving from the NL to the AL allows him to DH on occasion and rest his aging body, while still allowing him to keep his pride intact since he’s playing virtually every day. Despite the downturn in production, and specifically BA, he has been able to maintain a very good K%, which has enabled him to take better advantage of the massive hot-streaks he is known for. Also on Pujols’ side are the recent mid 30’s resurgences by fellow power hitters David Ortiz and Konerko and the fact that Pujols’ swoon hasn’t been nearly as low as either of theirs (both had sub .250 seasons at their worst).
Freeman’s high ranking is based more on where I think he will be in 2014 and 2015 than on him breaking out in 2013, although the possibility of a mini-breakout right now is possible. I believe Freeman will eventually be a 35+ HR guy with one or two 40+ seasons during his prime. This is a premium growth stock and anyone that is building a keeper team with an eye toward 2015-2020 should consider “overpaying” (i.e. paying more than his 2012 stats should cost) now for what will look like a bargain in a few years.
While Encarnacion had a much better 2012 season than Teixeira, it’s hard for me to ignore their respective bodies of work prior to 2012 when projecting the future. Teixeira’s BABIP has dipped noticeably the last 3 years, right in line with the significant decline of his SLG%. It would be strange for a power hitter of his ilk to lose power so significantly at such a young age (power decline started in his age 29 season), but after three straight years … I’m stubborn and will give him one more year before I buy in on the early decline. EE’s 2012 was a career year and he will regress in 2013. That said, the seeds of this have always been there and if he can stay healthy he will remain productive going forward as his bat will keep him in the lineup.
Goldschmidt is not a 20/20 candidate as his 2012 numbers might seem to indicate. He’s a large man with a lot of power in his bat, who cut down on his strikeouts significantly in 2012, providing hope that he can be more than an Adam Dunn-type player in his prime. Goldschmidt’s upside now is a .270-.280 hitter with 30-35 HR power, but speed is not part of his game.
Davis has been compared to LaRoche throughout his career as a lefty 1B with power, patience, and propensity to swing-and-miss. The comp, while fair, limits Davis’ power potential in people’s minds to the 25-30 range. However, Davis has a significantly larger frame than LaRoche and I believe that bulk will allow him to be a better power hitter (think 35+ in his prime). Davis is coming off of a season where he finished with a .227 BA, despite a 20%+ LD rate and 20%+ HR/FB. You won’t find a LD and HR/FB associated with a ~.250 BABIP very often, making Davis’ poor average look very unfortunate and due for positive regression in 2013. It’s a good time to kick the tires …
It won’t take much more than $1 or a late-round pick to acquire Duda in most drafts. Read what I wrote about him last year and take a flyer. Same for Belt.