Earlier in the week, we published our Top 25 fantasy first baseman for 2013, along with player profiles for each, and today I will bring you some sleepers from the American League and National League. In this piece, I will address three National League first base sleepers for 2013. Included among them is one hitter who was in the running for the NL Rookie of the Year, another hitter who missed time due to injury in 2012, and a hitter who had the best season of his career in 2012.
Garrett Jones, PIT
Jones had his best season as a major leaguer in 2012, hitting .274-.317-.516 with 27 HRs, 68 runs and 86 RBI. Gone are his days of double digit steals, as he stole just two bases last season, but the power, as represented by ISO, improved from .189 to .242. His improvement in power came at the expense of a drop in his walk rate from 10.0% to 6.4%. Jones is a late round draft pick in mixed leagues, and a mid-round draft pick in NL only leagues, as he will hit for power, drive in runs and hit for a decent average. He has hit 20+ home runs in three of the last four years, and while he won't repeat his 17.1 HR/FB rate and 27 HR output, he should hit 20+ home runs again. That is assuming he gets regular playing time at first base in 2012. I don't see the Pirates signing a free agent first baseman, so the job should be his for 2013.
Todd Frazier, CIN
Frazier finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting this season, behind Bryce Harper and Wade Miley. He started the season in AAA and ended the season playing third base for the Reds, but where he really made an impression was filling in at first base for injured Joey Votto in July and August. Through the first half of the season, Frazier hit .260 with 7 HRs and 22 RBI, but once Votto went down, Frazier hit like the injured player he was replacing. Frazier hit .306 with 5 HRs, 15 runs and 15 RBI in July, and .330 with 6 HRs, 19 runs and 25 RBI in August. I am not sure if the Reds would have won the NL Central without the contributions from Frazier. He has been anointed as the Reds starting third baseman for 2013 by manager Dusty Baker, but has first base eligibility as well. Playing everyday in 2013, he has a chance to improve upon his 2012 season where he hit .273-.331-.498 with 19 HRs, 55 runs and 67 RBI in 128 games. Playing in hitter friendly Great American Ballpark can only help.
Michael Cuddyer, COL
Cuddyer was signed to play right field for the Rockies, which he did 74 times in 2012, but he also played 26 games at first base, so he will have first base eligibility once again in 2013. Cuddyer hit .260-.317-.489 with 16 HRs, 53 runs, 58 RBI and 8 stolen bases in just 101 games last season. Many predicted a big power season from Cuddyer with the move from Minnesota to Colorado, and he was on pace for about 25 HRs and 90 RBI before injuring his oblique. Heading into 2013, Cuddyer will be healthy, and I think he could pick up where he left off and hit .280 with 25 HRs and 85-90 RBI next season.
Bret, Jason, Craig and I did not rank any of these sleepers in our Top 25 rankings, but all three could easily be Top 25 fantasy first baseman in 2013, as all three can hit for power and an above league average batting average.