Fantasy Baseball 2013: 10 Best Picks at First Base
There isn’t a position in fantasy baseball with more depth than first base. Last season, there were 16 first baseman who hit at least 20 homers and 15 who drove in over 80 runs. That type of production is littered throughout every draft.
Let me be the first to tell you that I personally tend to wait on taking a first baseman unless the value dictates otherwise. What I mean is, if I have the last pick in a 12-team league, and Joey Votto is still on the board when my turn comes around I just can’t say no. I suggest others do the same. Allow one of these guys may fall to you at the right price. No need to reach here.
Here are the best fantasy baseball options at first base.
Last season, Freeman finished ranked 17th among second baseman as a 22 year-old. In the process of doing so he also managed to score more runs (91), drive in more runs (94), walk more (10.3%) and strike out less (20.8%) than the previous season. Oh and just in case you weren’t aware, he did this while suffering through vision problems for a good portion of the season. Love this kids potential, he will make his owners very happy this season.
Butler set career highs in homeruns (29) and RBIs (107) in his fifth season. While he has always been a solid source of batting average and run production his power output was a bit of a surprise. Heading into last year he broke the 20 homer plateau just once. As a matter of fact he just hit 66 long balls over his first 2,501 plate appearances heading into last year. Needless to say I think he ends up seeing a drop towards the 20 range in homers, making him a solid option, but not a stud.
The sample size isn’t all that big and he has trouble staying healthy but when he’s on the field the dude mashes. Over 783 career at-bats he has posted a .300-121-37-150-7 line. If he manages to play 155 games this year, it’s feasible he sees 600 at-bats. That would be roughly 77 percent of his career total. Extrapolate those numbers out and you have a guy who puts up a .300-93-28-119-5 line.. The only thing I think that can stop him is another injury, and that is the only reason he isn’t higher on my list.
Getting your hands on a first baseman with legitimate 20-20 potential isn’t something normally feasible. Goldschmidt would have accomplished the feat had he not been limited to just 145 games last season. His 20 homers last year were honestly a bit disappointing considering this kid has Top-10 power potential. Expect him to improve on that, with 30-plus a strong possibility. The extra power will come at the expense of his batting average, but his improved plate presence makes a dip below .250 unlikely.
There were two causes for concern when it came to Gonzalez, the first of which being the fact that his walk rate dropped to a career low 6.1 percent. I believe those struggles came hand in hand with his non-existent power over the first half of the season. Even the best hitters can hit a cold patch, and that results in poor discipline at the plate. Now that he is out of Boston (where the media can be brutal) expect him to relax and bounce-back to the level of play we have come to expect from him over years.
Encarncacion showed glimpses of power throughout his career but he truly blossomed last year with a full compliment of at-bats. He led all first basemen in homers (42) and RBIs (110) while hitting .280 in the process. While some type of regression is to be expected after his huge season, there are signs that it won’t be all that drastic. He walked 84 times last season while only striking out 94 times. That selectivity will help him post another big season.
For starters Posey has posted a career .314/.380/.503 triple slash. Those are absolutely absurd numbers for any player, but especially for a guy that spends a majority of his time behind the plate. His ability to play first base allows the Giants to keep his bat in the lineup just about every day. He is just 25 and heading into the prime years of his career, so his uptick in power should be maintained. You are looking at a lock for .300-80-25-100 season from a player with dual eligibility. That is some serious goodness there folks.
His move to Detroit brought with it a drop in power. The 30 home runs he hit where his fewest since his rookie season back in ’06. Everything else though was sweet, sweet goodness. He posted a career best .313 batting average while managing to walk more than he struck out. He is improving as a hitter, and that is just scary. It feels like Fielder has been around forever but he is still just 28 years old. His average will likely drop a tad but he will make up for that with a few more long balls. All-in-all expect another elite campaign.
After struggling through adjusting to AL pitching to start last season, Pujols settled in and managed to post a .285-85-30-105-8 season. At 33 there are lingering questions about whether his regression has started. His home run total has dropped for four consecutive seasons while his batting average has dropped for five straight years. Optimists will point out he now has Josh Hamilton for lineup protection and he is in line for a bump in production. I think we get exactly what we got last year.
Pujols tops most rankings, but the fact that I don’t think we’ll see anything additional to last season’s output makes Votto my pick top pick. Two knee surgeries limited him to only 111 games and completely sapped his power. He still managed to hit a career best .337 though. A return to health brings us a guy fully capable of not only leading the NL in batting average but also finishing in the Top 10 in both homers and RBIs.