When assessing the first base position, you must adjust your expectations. First base differs from all other positions in that the deviation from the mean isn’t as severe. The fifth best first baseman will probably not be that much more spectacular by way of stats the the thirteenth best.
There is a surplus of quality at the position which is why you will always see first baseman outperform other positional players only to be drafted far later. Being judicious here is key. I’m not saying to bypass drafting first basemen early. In fact, I have three of these guys rated in my top nine overall. I’m just saying there are some positions worth the reach. First base is not one of them.
Guys I Like:
Allen Craig 1B/OF STL- Craig is a clutch performer, and I’m going to seriously miss that second base eligibility. I picture him improving this year on last year’s breakout performance. I liken him to Joey Votto. If he stays healthy and gets at bats, I would pencil him in for .300+ AVG/ 25+ HRs/ 100+ RBIs. I don’t mean to dismiss the fact that Craig had two DL stints in 2012 and only had 459 at bats, tops of his career. Penciling in at bats is no sure thing.
Fantasy baseball is about managing risk. For me, Craig is well worth a flier as his upside is immense. He hits line drives and can hit both lefties and righties well. If you are looking for a first baseman to return decent value for his salary in daily leagues, Craig has been given a modest 3500 dollar price tag by Fanduel. That puts him in the Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, and Justin Morneau range. All I have to say to that is, “Yes, please!”
Brandon Belt 1B SFO- If there has ever been a bugaboo for me in rankings, it’s guys like Brandon Belt. I absolutely love his left-handed swing. I love his potential to be great. Unfortunately due to Belt’s inconsistency and Bochy’s idiocy, we haven’t gotten to see a large enough sample size to accurately project. Belt has a stellar Minor League track record. AT&T Park is built for a line-drive lefty. I’m salivating thinking of what could eventually happen with Belt’s progression. Honestly, I believe he is capable of turning into a Votto one day.
I don’t think that will be in 2013, but he’s just young enough where we can all dream. Belt’s ceiling is .300/25/100/15 for 2013. However, I think we’ll see something closer to .280/20/80/15 which is still ridiculous considering where you’ll find him in drafts. Just pray that Bochy doesn’t have some epiphany that Posey needs to be moved to first or Brett Pill deserves more playing time.
Todd Frazier 1B/OF/(3B) CIN- Frazier is not insanely talented. He’s not going to hit for a great average or hit thirty-five home runs. He’s a little old to finally be reaching a breakout. You sold yet? I like Frazier because he’s a grinder. He plays baseball everyday with intensity.
I owned him all over the place, and after the Votto injury, he didn’t leave my corner infield slot. He’ll be seeing 500+ at bats and has no fear of a job loss. I foresee an expansion on 2012 with a Chase Headley-like ceiling. Frazier will gain third base eligibility which is a huge bonus for roster flexibility.
Chris Carter 1B/(OF) HOU- Although not yet listed as an outfielder, Carter figures to find most of his playing time there. As I have been watching a lot of the pre-season coverage, Carter has been inching up everybody’s sleeper lists. I, for one, have bought in for the most part. Carter has shown to be a better hitter than he has displayed so far as a Major Leaguer. He has really struggled with the strikeouts and contact rate which has stunted his batting average. He will not be a .280 hitter but .250 isn’t lunacy. That’s the bad news.
The good news is Carter has near elite power potential. He hit 16 homers in 218 ABs for Oakland. He is no longer playing for Oakland; instead, Carter will call Minute Maid home which is considered the most righty-power friendly park in baseball.
Throw in the opportunity for everyday playing time, and you see why everyone is getting excited. Keep an eye on how Houston handles the depth chart as the Spring progresses, but I don’t think they will let this former top prospect ride the pine. I would be shocked if he had a high price tag on any site, but keep in mind those strikeouts when assessing risk especially on sites like Draftstreet and Daily Joust.
Guys I don’t Like:
Albert Pujols 1B LAA- Keep reading. I know it sounds crazy, and I still have Pujols ranked as a top three first baseman. I worry about this guy. He’s getting older, and he may not play any games this Spring. He’s becoming a slow starter, and all signs indicate that will continue again this year. Sure, he will still get you the stats, but I don’t think he merits being ranked over more stable guys like Votto and Fielder.
I know that statement will draw the ire of all you Pujols apologists out there, but I’m probably not going to be rostering Prince Albert this year. I see a solid line though just not solid enough. Furthermore, I’m down on the Angels as a whole. They are a few injuries from finishing fourth in that division.
Logan Morrison 1B MIA- He’s always underachieving. He’s always hurt. In fact, the only thing I see worthwhile in Logan Morrison this season is his twitter feed. Oftentimes entertaining on the internet, doesn’t necessarily equate to success on the playing field. Funny how that works.
Here we are as “experts”, and we are forced to speculate and find diamonds-in-the-rough. I will tell you right now. Logan Morrison is not that diamond and shouldn’t be owned in anywhere except deep NL Only leagues. Wow, you’d think I hate the guy. Maybe I do. Draft Chris Carter instead.