2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Generation Next — First Basemen

Last time, we took a look at the top four rookie catchers and their prospects for becoming regulars in 2016. We are continuing that series with first basemen. First base is a tough position to break in at. There are more quality first baseman in the big leagues than at any other position. However, we did see some new faces in 2015 and some of them may make some noise in 2016.

Travis Shaw— Boston Red Sox

Key Numbers: .274/.331/.491, 13 HR, 31 Runs, 36 RBI, 18 BB

Overview

All of those millions going to the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Mike Napoli and the Red Sox were at their best with Brock Holt, Travis Shaw, and a group of young outfielders. Shaw did most of this damage in the span of two months. If you extrapolated the numbers over 162 games and you would get 30+ home runs and nearly 90 RBIs. The question is whether he’s going to get the opportunity to produce those numbers.

Barriers to Launch

Hanley Ramirez has been penciled in as the first baseman in 2016. In their heart of hearts, I think the Red Sox would prefer trading Ramirez, but that is easier said than done. They may also trade Pablo Sandoval and move Ramirez to third base. Either way, you have to know they regret signing both of those players. Now, there’s a new front office in Boston and they only saw Shaw come up big down the stretch.

Gregory Bird— New York Yankees

Key Numbers: .261/.343/.529, 11 HR, 26 Runs, 31 RBI, 19 BB

Overview

About 90 years ago, a New York Yankee first baseman decided to take the day off. He had led the league in RBIs a few times, so he felt entitled. A young first baseman from the Columbia University took his slot and the rest is history. Bird is no Lou Gehrig, but the Yankees are trying to get younger. Mark Teixeira was enjoying a good season before he went down with a leg injury. In theory, Bird showed enough to get an opportunity to take his slot. Theory doesn’t always work out in reality.

Barriers to Launch

Mark Teixeira has one more year on his contract at 23.5 million dollars. That’s an awful amount of money to swallow. Usually, you could move him to designated hitter, but you have Alex Rodriguez there and he is making similar money. He’s going to have to wait until after next year or for Teixeira to get hurt before he will get in. It’s a shame because he’s probably earned himself a shot.

Mark Canha— Oakland Athletics

Key Numbers: .254/.315/.426, 16 HR, 61 Runs, 60 RBI, 33 BB

Overview

Ironically, Canha has more of a chance to stick than the two guys above him, but he’s not nearly as good. His ceiling is probably 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. The difference is that the Oakland needs to save money wherever they can, so guys like Canha, Billy Burns, and Marcus Semien will occupy spots even if they are flawed. If you are playing in an AL-only league next season, Canha could be worth a look.

Barriers to Launch

There are no barriers to Canha playing regularly. The difference in Oakland is that playing regularly and playing everyday are two entirely different things. Bob Melvin (and likely the front office) love to utilize platoons to minimize disadvantages. So, Canha may be the de facto starting first baseman but will still only get around 500 plate appearances for the season.

Justin Bour— Miami Marlins 

Key Numbers: .262/.321/.479, 23 HR, 42 Runs, 73 RBI, 34 BB

Overview

We often have to adjust our expectations of hitters in the current era. This isn’t your older brother’s game. Many of us still remember the days of 1.000 OPS’s with great fondness. Seeing a first baseman with an .800 OPS may not blow your skirt up, but it’s better than you think. The Marlins love cheap labor, so Bour was a godsend this season. If they could ever keep Giancarlo Stanton healthy then they could start to make some noise in the NL East. As it stands, Bour will have to suffice as a positive story in an otherwise disappointing season.

Barriers to Launch

Young player development is never as smooth as we think it should be. Christian Yelich was supposed to become a star this season, but it didn’t happen. He didn’t play poorly, but we just didn’t see development. Marcell Ozuna was also supposed to evolve, but he moved backwards instead. We could easily envision Bour taking the next step and becoming a 30+ home run guy. History shows that he might take a step back or a step sideways before he takes a step forward. The Marlins have demonstrated a lack of patience in the past.

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