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After publishing our Top 25 Fantasy First Baseman for 2013 earlier in the week, here are some first base sleepers to grab late in your 2013 drafts. Here are three American League first baseman to keep your eye on.
Eerlier today, I listed three first base sleepers to keep your eye on in the National League, and now I will give you three first base sleepers from the American League who will be available late in mixed league drafts in 2013. These guys may or may not be rosterable depending on the size of your mixed leagues, but they are rosterable in AL-only leagues. One guy took three years to get out of AAA, another is a free agent looking for work this offseason, and the third may not get another chance as an every day player if he doesn't make some adjustments at the plate.
Chris Carter, OAK
Yes, it is true. Carter is a career .283-.378-.535 hitter in his 8 minor league seasons with 182 home runs and 639 RBI. He has hit 20 or more home runs in six of his eight minor league seasons, but is prone to the strikeout. He cut his K rate in the minors from 26.2% in 2008 to 22.8% last year, and was called up in late June last year, earning every day playing time. Carter hit just .239-.350-.514 with 16 HRs, 38 runs and 39 RBI in 67 games in 2012, and hit 4 or more home runs in each of the final three months of the season. He struck out a good deal after his call up, so his 31.9% strikeout rate will have to come down for him to earn regular playing time in 2013. But, what could keep him in the A's lineup next year is his power and his ability to take a walk, two things that A's GM Billy Beane seems to be focusing on with his recent acquisitions. Carter is the definition of a three true outcome hitter, but should be able to hit 20-25 home runs and put up a .350 or higher OBP for those of you in OBP leagues in 2013.
Mike Napoli, FA
Napoli is a free agent this offseason and is garnering attention from teams looking for a first baseman. Napoli played 28 games at first base in 2012, so he once again has first base eligibility heading into 2013 drafts. He, like Carter and a few others, is a three true outcome hitter who strikes out a ton, walks at a 13.0% and hits for power. Napoli teased fantasy owners with his MVP like 2011 season, where he hit .320-.414-.631 with 30 HRs, 72 runs and 75 RBI in 113 games. His 2012 season shows that 2011 was a career year for Napoli, as his triple slash line fell to .227-.343-.469 with 24 HRs, 53 runs and 56 RBI in 108 games. Napoli has put up 5 straight 20+ HR seasons, and two straight 25% HR/FB rates, so the power is real. He will most likely be drafted as a catcher in 2013 drafts, but offers you the flexibility to put him at first base if need be.
Justin Smoak, SEA
Smoak was one of my sleepers heading into the 2012 season, and we all know how that turned out. The issue with Smoak is he needs to make some adjustments at the plate, as scouts say he can't hit a breaking ball, and has trouble catching up to major league fastballs. But, one thing that could help Smoak in 2013 is the fact that the Mariners are bringing in the fences at Safeco Park, so his power could see a boost. Once a top 10 prospect, Smoak may be on his last legs as a starting first baseman in 2013, so he will have to get off to a fast start to keep the starting job in Seattle. Last season, Smoak hit just .217-.290-.364 with 19 HRs, 49 runs and 51 RBI in 132 games. He doesn't strike out a ton and he can take a walk, so if he can make more hard contact, and have a few more balls fall in for hits, he could offer fantasy owners in deeper mixed and AL-only leagues with a rosterable alternative at first base in 2013. I think he will hit for more power with the change in dimensions at Safeco Park, but it is time for him to make some adjustments at the plate to reach the potential many thought he had a few years ago.