Fantasy Baseball first basemen: Draft strategy, sleepers, prospects and more
Fantasy Baseball first basemen: Draft strategy, sleepers, prospects and more
First base was one of the deepest positions last season in fantasy baseball, but the star power at the top was lacking.
First base was one of the deepest positions last season in fantasy baseball, but the star power at the top was lacking. Four players had an average draft position (ADP) inside the top 25, none of which actually finished in the top 25. Joey Votto, the highest ADP for first base in 2018, finished outside the top 100 after hitting just 12 home runs. Despite the lack of results at the top, 16 players finished between 16 and 100 in CBS' rankings. What will the position look like in 2019? Chris Mascaro and Tommy Stokke offer their opinions on draft strategy, sleepers and more. ADP is from [Fantasy Pros](https://www.fantasypros.com/mlb/adp/1b.php). __More fantasy baseball:__ [2019 catcher preview](https://www.betchicago.com/fantasy-baseball-catchers-draft-strategy-sleepers-prospects) ## Draft strategy __CM:__ What the heck happened to this position? Only one first-base eligible player finished in the top-25 of Yahoo fantasy scoring last season, and it was the Cards' Matt Carpenter, who played only 95 of his 156 games there last season. The days of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto dominating the position are gone. So this might be a spot to wait on because, like catcher, the statistical variance isn't very high. Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo and Jose Abreu are probably the safest options with Paul Goldschmidt maybe pressing in his first season in St. Louis. __TS:__ The position is deep, but there's a pretty decent gap between the top of the class and everyone else. For me, Goldschmidt is the best player at the position followed by Freddie Freeman. In a 12-team league, I'm considering Goldschmidt at the end of Round 1 and Freeman in Round 2. If I miss out on them and can't get Anthony Rizzo a couple of rounds later, I'm fine waiting until the 10th round or later to take someone like Matt Olson. __MORE:__ [Paul Goldschmidt a good bet to win NL MVP in 2019](https://www.betchicago.com/national-league-central-division-slugger-paul-goldschmidt-mvp) ## Auction strategy __CM:__ Again, I wouldn't splurge. I realize there's plenty of Rizzo fans reading this in Chicago, but there were six first-base eligible players with 395 at-bats or more last season with a higher OPS than Rizzo's .846. He'll give you production, but you're likely going to overpay. There's also more value in position-fluid players in auctions, so someone like Whit Merrifield of the Royals -- who is first-base eligible in Yahoo leagues despite playing only five games there last season -- could be a steal (pun intended) if you want to construct a high-average, speed team (he hit .304 and led the league with 45 steals). He won't be cheap, but he plays every day and you can fill him in pretty much anywhere on the diamond (1B, 2B, OF). Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers is another player like this: he's eligible at every position except third base, and he hit 21 homers and had an .806 OPS last year. __TS:__ While I'd look at Goldschmidt and Freeman as the second player on my team in a snake draft, I'd probably pass in an auction. Both players deserve a decent chunk of your salary, so I'd target someone like Joey Gallo whom I can pencil in for 40 home runs at a cheaper rate. There were 26 players 1B-eligible who hit at least 20 home runs last year. When I only have so much money to spend, I'm looking elsewhere to invest big and hoping to get value later in a Gallo, Justin Smoak or players of that ilk. ## Player going too high __CM: Daniel Murphy, Rockies (ADP: 10 1B, 75 OVR)__ I think people are overvaluing the effect Coors Field will have on him. He should pepper the gaps -- it's what he does -- but I'm worried about his health after microfracture surgery on his right knee last offseason. He had a .790 OPS in 91 games last year with the Nats and Cubs after .985 and .928 in his two full seasons in Washington. I think his better days are behind him and he might turn into a Joe Mauer-type singles hitter, which is more effective in real life than fantasy. __TS: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (ADP: 6 1B, 42 OVR):__ Bellinger hit 26 homers and drove in 76 runs in what was a down year from his rookie season. He can hit 40 home runs, but he coud find himself platooned and sitting against lefties. This is where I see not much drop off from Bellinger going 42nd to Travis Shaw going 97th or even Carlos Santana going 168th. Those two players don't have the ceilings, but I trust their floors enough to rely on them rather than taking Bellinger this early. ## Player going too low __CM: Eric Hosmer, Padres (ADP: 21 1B, 154 OVR):__ He struggled in his first season in San Diego, trying to carry a weak Padres lineup. With Manny Machado now there to take that mantle, expect the 29-year-old to get back to his production of two seasons ago with the Royals, when he had a career-high .882 OPS. He's also durable, playing at least 157 games each of the last four seasons. __TS: Ryan O'Hearn, Royals (ADP: 46, 304 OVR):__ Let's go real deep here. I already mentioned guys like Smoak and Santana with high floors. O'Hearn is barely on the radar and comes with what should be a decent ceiling. But he showed his power with 12 homers in 149 at-bats last season and will get plenty of playing time with the Royals. He'll be a cheap source of 20-plus homers and maybe even more depending how many times he gets to face White Sox pitching. ## Player I won't draft __CM: Max Muncy, Dodgers:__ Yes, the power is prodigious and I like that he took his walks (79 in 137 games), but there's a reason he didn't become a full-time starter in the majors until he was 27. There's plenty of holes in his swing, and his numbers dipped enough post-All-Star break to raise my eyebrows. __TS: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals:__ Maybe his power surge from low 20s to 36 is real, but I'm not counting on a hot stretch from Carpenter this year to vault him up boards. He's solid in OBP leagues, but for a .250 average and mid-20 homers, I'll count on the same numbers way down the board. ## Player I keep drafting __CM: Luke Voit, Yankees:__ I think he's undervalued right now because he's in a position battle with Greg Bird, but I think he'll win that and be on his way to a 25-home run season. __TS: Joey Gallo, Rangers:__ He's eligible at multiple positions and will carry my power categories. He kills my batting average, but with a little better luck (.250 BABIP the last two years) he can raise it enough where it makes it worth it. Lock me in for the power and positional flexibility. ## Prospect to watch __CM: Peter Alonso, Mets:__ He might not make the team out of camp with Dominic Smith hitting the ball well this spring. But there's always a possibility the 24-year-old, who hit 36 homers in 132 minor-league games last year, becomes trade bait if the Mets have injuries. It also wouldn't shock me if he eventually took Todd Frazier's roster spot. __TS: Alonso:__ The position is so deep, and top prospects generally aren't first basemen. Alonso has the power to make him the Mets' everyday guy at first, likely sooner rather than later. ## Bold prediction __CM:__ The top fantasy first baseman will be a player who predominantly plays another position. __TS:__ Ryan O'Hearn is a top-15 first baseman in 2019. __More fantasy baseball:__ [Catchers](https://www.betchicago.com/fantasy-baseball-catchers-draft-strategy-sleepers-prospects)2019-03-08T19:58:50.752Z2019-03-08T14:58-05:00