2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: First Base Over/Under
We continue the over and under series with the first basemen. Fantasy players typically use first basemen at both the first base and utility slots. Some leagues also add in a corner and middle infield slot as well. Therefore, we will evaluate the top 24 first basemen. We will include some traditional utility guys because some leagues also make them eligible as first basemen. Even if they don’t, they really don’t have a position to call home. The fifth category on the 150 game numbers will correspond with stolen bases.
Jose Abreu— Chicago White
150 Game Numbers: .317/37/83/111/3
150 Game First Base Rankings: 2
Abreu represents the ceiling that can be expected from foreign born players. He came in and dominated. He even missed some time due to some nagging injuries and still won the Rookie of the Year. It is likely that pitchers will catch up with him some and we will see the numbers above dip some. He’ll still be a good fantasy regular.
Matt Adams— St. Louis Cardinals
150 Game Numbers: .283/18/59/71/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 24
ESPN did a feature on Adams and how he reacted to the extreme shifts that teams often employ. He successfully hit the ball the other way, but that also neutralized his power. Power often develops later and he will learn how to pick his spots against those shifts. With that knowledge will come better power numbers across the board.
Miguel Cabrera— Detroit Tigers
150 Game Numbers: .329/36/100/123/3
150 Game First Base Rankings: 1
Don’t get me wrong, Cabrera is still the class of the position, but he’s lost third base eligibility and there is no way he can keep up the production that saw him win the 2012 and 2013 MVP awards. 2014 is likely more in line with what he will produce for the next few seasons. He is still a likely Hall of Fame player waiting for his time to be inducted.
Chris Carter— Houston Astros
150 Game Numbers: .227/34/71/87/3
150 Game First Base Rankings: 16
This is a really hard bet. On the surface, he shouldn’t be a top 15 first sacker. With 14 games played, he should be eligible in most leagues even though he is a full-time designated hitter. However, the Astros offense is improving and he seemed to find himself in the second half. If he produces like he did after the all-star break for a full season he will be a top ten fantasy first sacker.
Chris Davis— Baltimore Orioles
150 Game Numbers: .254/39/86/104/3
150 Game First Base Rankings: 6
The key with Davis is his third base eligibility. That makes him a fantasy stud even if his 2014 didn’t look too studly. Pile away his time lost to injury and you can see that he still has elite power even if the batting average isn’t there. With good health he is still likely to hit more than 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs. At first base, there are too many good hitters to rank him sixth.
Lucas Duda— New York Mets
150 Game Numbers: .241/24/64/73/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 22
Duda seemed to come alive last season and he is a part of an offense that will likely be better than what it looks. They added Michael Cuddyer and the development of d’Arnauld gives them more depth. That means there will be more run scoring and RBI opportunities for everyone. Meanwhile, Duda looked to come into his own last season.
Edwin Encarnacion— Toronto Blue Jays
150 Game Numbers: .274/40/92/111/8
150 Game First Base Rankings: 3
I really like Encarnacion. He would definitely be among my top five at the position, but I just can’t bet on anyone hitting 40 home runs these days, so I had to pick the under. He will come close to these numbers though if he remains healthy. Adding Josh Donaldson might also increase some run scoring and RBI opportunities.
Prince Fielder— Texas Rangers
150 Game Numbers: .290/24/75/94/1
150 Game First Base Rankings: 12
I’m not a doctor and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I would surmise that Fielder’s neck issues may have impacted his power over the past few seasons. I would expect him to bounce back to become the 30/100/100 guy that he had been in Milwaukee. Plus, Arlington is a hitter’s paradise.
Freddie Freeman— Atlanta Braves
150 Game Numbers: .289/21/90/92/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 8
Freddie Freeman is what I would call an accumulator. He isn’t a dominant first baseman. In sabermetric circles, he might not even be among the top half, but his extreme durability makes it likely that will he will accumulate more runs and RBIs than many players considered to be superior.
Paul Goldschmidt— Arizona Diamondbacks
150 Game Numbers: .296/27/94/100/15
150 Game First Base Rankings: 4
Baseball is largely an individual game, but it’s funny how most players tend to follow the fortunes of their team. The Dbacks were the worst team in baseball and Goldschmidt couldn’t help but he dragged down some. They will rebound next season and you can’t help but think he will rebound with them.
Adrian Gonzalez— Los Angeles Dodgers
150 Game Numbers: .290/21/72/102/1
150 Game First Base Rankings: 14
Every year he seems to lose a little power and yet every year he manages to drive in more than 100 runs. I’m not sure how he does it and eventually we might just ignore the trends and bank on it again. I just can’t do it though. That being said, he still will likely produce better than some of the guys ranked in front of him.
Ryan Howard— Philadelphia Phillies
150 Game Numbers: 233/24/63/96/0
150 Game First Base Rankings: 23
This was one of the more famous “told you so” stories in recent baseball history. The Phillies rewarded Howard with a huge contract that was a drastic overpay the moment the ink was dry. You could see signs of decay from a mile away and the rot is on. They may deal him to a team that can DH him some. Who knows, that might rejuvenate him some.
Eric Hosmer— Kansas City Royals
150 Game Numbers: .270/14/70/67/11
150 Game First Base Rankings: 21
When I say over I don’t mean drastically over. Beware the World Series bump that Hosmer will get. He did perform well in the playoffs last year, but we shouldn’t read much into that. He will likely return to a .280/15/80/80 type of player. That’s nice as a backup, but we shouldn’t expect much more than that.
Adam Laroche— Chicago White Sox
150 Game Numbers: .256/27/74/85/3
150 Game First Base Rankings: 19
This is one of those cases where I would vote push if I could. These numbers look pretty close to where he should end up if he is healthy. In some leagues, this will be good enough to put somewhere in your starting lineup. The key for him will be the performance of the rest of his teammates.
Victor Martinez— Detroit Tigers
150 Game Numbers: .321/19/76/95/1
150 Game First Base Rankings: 10
The average will likely be worse, but the rest of the numbers should see a bump over what you see there. The problem with Martinez is that he will likely be eligible only at utility in most leagues. That obviously limits his value because he falls just short of being an elite hitter. I still would expect him to eclipse 100 RBI if he is healthy.
Joe Mauer— Minnesota Twins
150 Game Numbers: .307/10/80/74/4
150 Game First Base Rankings: 15
A few short years ago, Mauer was easily a top three offensive catcher. Now, he is a marginal fantasy prospect as a first baseman. The Twins had the ultimate pickle of when to convert the star catcher into a first baseman. If you do it too quickly you end up killing the value he has as a catcher. If you do it too late then you suck all of the hitting potential out of him. It looks like they may have waited too long.
Brandon Moss— Cleveland Indians
150 Game Numbers: .254/30/76/88/2
150 Game First Base Ranking: 11
The Indians have penciled Moss into the outfield for now, but he has the flexibility to play first base as well. The Athletics protected Moss by limiting his exposure in bad platoon situations. If he plays every day it is likely that he will be exposed as a hitter with some serious holes. The power should remain, but it might not be worth it.
Justin Morneau— Colorado Rockies
150 Game Numbers: .281/20/71/89/0
150 Game First Base Rankings: 20
The over is predicated entirely on playing another season at Coors Field. The home field advantage is likely enough to bump him up to a .300 average and as many as 25 home runs. In year past that wouldn’t be good enough to start, but in this age of depressed offensive numbers it is more than good enough to start.
Mike Napoli— Boston Red Sox
150 Game Numbers: .247/26/74/83/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 18
Napoli is a few seasons removed from his dominant season in Texas. Since then, he has returned to the player he has been in every other season. The standard numbers don’t overwhelm you, but when you add in on base percentage you see a fairly productive offensive player. He’s just not quite good enough to start as a fantasy first baseman.
David Ortiz— Boston Red Sox
150 Game Numbers: .293/36/85/109/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 5
I would never bet against Big Papi, but the 150 game numbers look a little north of what he can do at this point. We should keep in mind that he sits every time they play in a National League stadium and he is only eligible at utility in most leagues. Still, I wouldn’t bet against him and I wouldn’t let him slip too far down the board.
Albert Pujols— Los Angeles Angels
150 Game Numbers: .273/27/81/100/5
150 Game First Base Rankings: 7
The numbers are actually pretty close to what he can do. He should be healthy this year and you couldn’t say that the last couple of seasons. Still, there has been so much decay that you can hardly recognize the guy that dominated fantasy baseball for more than a decade. Enough people will look at the 100 RBI season a year ago and think he’s coming back. Don’t buy into that.
Anthony Rizzo— Chicago Cubs
150 Game Numbers: .264/27/79/80/5
150 Game First Base Rankings: 9
Last season he busted out. The problem was that the rest of his team didn’t join him. His runs and RBI numbers were ridiculous given how good he produced across the board. He should have more support this season, so we should see improvement in all of the numbers across the board.
Mark Teixeira— New York Yankees
150 Game Numbers: .229/28/72/91/2
150 Game First Base Rankings: 17
Remember when Mark Teixeira signed an eight year/180 million dollar contract? It was a kinder and gentler time. Believe it or not, 2016 will be the end of that contract. There’s always a feeling of euphoria that comes with signing an all-star to such a contract. The last few years have represented the ensuing hangover.
Joey Votto— Cincinnati Reds
150 Game Numbers: .306/20/86/68/5
150 Game First Base Rankings: 13
Joey Votto has drawn 276 walks the past three seasons. That’s 276 walks in 335 games. That translates to a little over 120 walks over 150 games. Unfortunately, most leagues won’t count that and therefore Votto is usually overvalued in most drafts. Still, I can’t see how a healthy Votto drives in only 70 runs in a season.