Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball 2014 First Base Preview


Position Previews C 1B 2B 3B SS OF SP RP

First base is the deepest hitting position, once again this season. This is a position loaded with of power, with 19 first baseman hitting 20 or more home runs, but batting average will be all over the place, ranging from .219 to .319 of those same 19 players.

paul_goldschmidtThis years’ fantasy baseball draft, the position will be led by Paul Goldschmidt, who had a near MVP season last year. He would be a great player to have on any fantasy team and I will probably draft him early in the first round, just after Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, if given the chance. However this is the one position you can go down to the third tier and possibly even below and find plenty of production for your first base position, proven by the power numbers I mentioned before. In most leagues though you will have a utility spot, and in my opinion you really only want to start a first baseman or outfielder in that position. This means you will want to draft at least one of the top 10-12 first baseman and I would make sure your second is in the top 15.

1. Can Chris Davis be “Crush Davis” again?
The answer is actually yes and no, and I’ll tell you why. Chris Davis had a fantastic season last year, hitting a league leading 53 home runs. This came off a year in which he hit 33 home runs in just 139 games. The power is clearly there, he proved that back 2008 in Texas when he hit 17 home runs in 80 games, but what worries me is people are going to pay for him like he is a 50+ home run guy and that is just crazy to me. Now I’m not saying he won’t be good, but don’t be disappointed when he only his 42 home runs, drives in 105, and scored 90 times this year. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why.

2013 1st half: .315/.395/.717;  37HR, 93 RBI, 70 R (95 games)
2013 2nd half:  .245/.339/.515;  16HR, 45 RBI, 33 R (65 games)

That is a significant dip in the numbers, which says to me that his first half was a bit of a fluke. Actually if you dig deeper into his number from 2012 you’ll see the second half numbers are more likely to happen, with maybe a bit higher batting average. Over the course of a full season these project to be around 42 HRs, 110 RBI and 90R. Still a great season and worth a first round pick, but it is not 53 home runs.

2. How are Prince Fielder’s numbers going to change now that he is in Texas?prince-fielderLast season was the first time since 2006 he did not hit 30+ home runs. He still hit 25 and had a fine season, but a disappointing one after years of being over 30. His batting average dipped as well to .279, which isn’t too alarming, but what was is the dip in OBP and Slugging %. Those dipped from .412 to .362 and .528 to .457. This was just his second year in Detroit and was the second year of decline. I think the move to Texas is one that will help him get those numbers to go back up. The Rangers ball park has historically been a better home run hitting park than Comerica (Detroit), so this lends well to his style of hitting, an above average fly ball hitter. I expect his home runs total and average to increase this season to the range for 35 and .295.

3. Eric Hosmer bounced back after a bad 2012, can we expect more of the same?
Hosmer is one of the only first baseman, besides Paul Goldschmidt, to give you a healthy number of stolen bases. This increases his value a ton in fantasy leagues, and is a huge bonus for any of those who own him. You don’t get the super power numbers with him that you would with the other top first baseman, only 17 HR and 79 RBI in 2013, but he made up for that with steals and a good batting average.

With that said, there is a lot of risk with Hosmer. His 2012 was a disappointment after a successful 2011 rookie campaign. In 2012 his steals were actually higher at 16, but everything else dipped, including his batting average to a putrid .232. Some of his struggles in 2012 could be been attributed to an unlucky .255 BAIP. In fact, because his 2011 and 2013 BABIP were right at the league average, .293 and .302, I’m going to say unless he gets unlucky again we can expect more the same Eric Hosmer we saw last year. So draft him and enjoy a good batting average, high teen home runs and 10+ steals.

4. A lot of people wrote off Mike Napoli when he went to Boston, but had a great season. Do we write him off this year?
Naps had a huge year in Boston, hitting 23 home runs, 92 RBI and 79 R. The home runs were right on par with the rest of his career, but the RBI and runs were a career high. Now some of his success had to do with him playing in the second most number of games in his career, some was he was batting in the middle of the Boston lineup that scored the most runs last season by almost 60 runs. Without Jacoby Ellsbury that is going to be a hard thing to repeat.

I don’t think you completely write off Napoli this season, but he isn’t somebody I would want to rely on. As I mentioned above with Hosmer with his BABIP being low, Naps was extremely high at .367, and is due for regression back to the norm. Combine that with a .259 average last season and we could see a decline all around back so his numbers in 2012 of .227, 24 home runs, 56 RBI and 56 runs. Not bad, but not the 13th best first baseman that ESPN ranked him last year.

 Player(s) on the Rise
Matt Adams
(StL) – Adams looks to take over the everyday first base job for the Cardinals and could do great things with a full season. Last year with just 319 plate appearances he hit .284, 17 HR, 51 RBI and scored 46 runs. He has a lot of power, and could get near or over 30 home runs with a full season of plate appearances.

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – Rizzo has been on the rise for a couple of seasons now it seems, but last year he kind of stuttered a bit with a .233 batting average. The low average was him being a bit unlucky with a  .258 BABIP, but he was still able to produce 23 home runs, 80 RBI and 71 runs. If his BABIP normalizes I believe he’ll be a top 10 first baseman this season.

Player(s) on the Decline
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19)
Joey Votto
(CIN) – Don’t get me wrong, Votto is one of the best first baseman in the game and there is no doubt he should be one of the first few drafted. My problem with him is the number of walks he takes. In OBP leagues that’s fantastic, but in batting average leagues you don’t really care and also because of those walks it really hurts his RBI totals. For somebody who has the talent that he does and bats over .300 every season, he should be able to produce more than 73 RBI. If this trend of him walking more continues, and I don’t see any reason why it won’t, he’ll frustrate fantasy owners and not live up to his draft value.

Player(s) on the Horizon
Jose Abreu
(CWS) – Not going to lie here, I don’t know really anything about Abreu except what I’ve read about him. What I’ve learned is he has some serious power. If that is true, then he will be a great mid-round first baseman you can get in your draft after the top guys have been taken.

Jonathan Singleton (HOU) – A 50-game suspension for drug abuse derailed his trip to the majors last season. This season he has a good chance to make the major league team and get serious playing time at 1B/DH. Since last year was a bit of a bust for him, I’ll look at 2012 when he hit .284 with 21 home runs, 79 RBI and 94 runs and say he at least can be a source of power, for a team that is desperate for production.

Player(s) to Avoid
Mark Teixeira
(NYY) – He was on this list last season and we were 100% right on him. Last year it was due to an injury to his forearm that got us worried. This year it is a lingering wrist injury that just seems like it won’t go away. Another injury, mixed with his age and declining skills, i’ll pass.

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Ryan Howard (PHI) – Howard if he stays healthy is going to make me look bad here, since he proved last year he still has plenty of pop on his bat. That is the key with him though, staying healthy. In the last two seasons he has missed a total of 173 games. Not to mention his batting average is horrible, thanks to his 30% strikeout rate. He’ll probably be drafted late in leagues, based on his power potential, but it won’t be by me.

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About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the website. Joe is one of the Experts included in the FantasyPros Consensus Rankings for Football, Baseball and Basketball and finished well each year. You can find him on Twitter, @F6P_Joe, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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