Staff Post: First Baseman to Avoid in 2014

Brian Bahr

The Fake Teams fantasy baseball staff offer you some first baseman that you should avoid in your 2014 fantasy drafts, including Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman and Eric Hosmer, among others.

When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, Zack Smith broke things down for you to assist you in your fantasy first baseman draft strategy. We have also provided you with our Top 30 first baseman rankings for 2014:

Part 1

Part 2

Included in the rankings above, we provided 2014 projections for almost every first basemen ranked, courtesy of Daniel Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter.

In addition, Daniel Kelley provided you his first basemen breakdown using his new fantasy stat called Equivalent Fantasy Average, or EFA.

Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some first baseman to avoid, which we provide you today, and some first baseman to target, which published yesterday. We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the first baseman they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and below you will find the players to avoid, along with reasons why you should avoid said first baseman.

Albert Pujols, Angels - Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams)

It is well know to Fake Teams readers that I have been down on Pujols for several years. This year is no different, but that comes with a disclaimer. If I can draft Pujols in the 7th-8th rounds, I would give it strong consideration. Or, if in a mixed league auction draft, I would consider drafting him in the $20-24 range, but would go no higher.

As stated in part 1 of our Top 30 First Baseman Rankings for 2014 on Monday, Pujols statistics are in a five year downslide, and I don't see it stopping. Granted, he will probably play more this season than last, so his counting stats SHOULD be better than last season. But, he won't provide fantasy owners anything like his 2012 season where he hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs. Some are throwing his 2012 season as a projection for 2014. Don't be that guy that guys that projection and drafts him in the first 3-4 rounds of your draft. You will be disappointed.

Mike Napoli - Matt Mattingly (@mattmattingly81)

The Red Sox' first baseman is currently being ranked as a top 15 fantasy option at the position. Although the stats stayed relatively in line with previous seasons, there are signs pointing in the wrong direction here. Napoli will no longer qualify at catcher, which added to his value last year as fantasy managers could move him throughout their lineup. The career high 92 RBI's won't be helped by the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, and it is more realistic to expect that number back around 75-80 in 2014. Throughout his career, Napoli's batting average has been all over the place. Any projected batting average you see connected to this player should be taken with a grain of salt, as he has hit anywhere from .227 to .319 throughout his career. But, the way things have been trending, I would expect closer to the latter. There is way too much risk with too little certainty that comes with Mike Napoli to invest here as your starting first baseman.

Freddie Freeman, Braves - Joe Pytleski (@agape4argentina)

I'll be consistent here. I've already told you to avoid him once in my Deep League Drafting series, so you can read what I think there. His stock has done nothing but go higher since then--even more reason to pass on draft day.

Joe Mauer, Twins - Brian Creagh (@BrianCreagh)

I love Mauer at catcher, but could never justify playing him at 1B. His value is about to take a huge hit in keeper/dynasty leagues as he will likely lose C eligibility after the 2014 season. The power lags too far behind the rest of the 1B class and his lineup will not help generate elite counting stats to make up for it.

Brandon Moss, A's - Brian Creagh (@BrianCreagh)

I tend to shy away from players in well-defined platoon situations and Moss certainly qualifies here. Hitting almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers, Moss put up excellent numbers in 2013 and should be capable of doing so again in 2014. My problem is the number of plate appearances and the counting stats that come as a result are difficult to project. Moss was pulled early from a game 20 times last season, so it's not as simple as saying, ‘pair 130 games with Moss with 30 of a backup' since Moss won't always play all 9 innings of the 130 games. It's a nitpick to be sure, but something I just try to avoid if possible.

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks - Brian Creagh (@BrianCreagh)

The track record isn't great for low-OBP/high-SLG guys and I don't know how sustainable Trumbo's numbers truly are. I don't make much of the move to Arizona, other than a likely small bump in HR totals. There's a ton of risk with Trumbo to go with an equally high reward possibility. I wouldn't be shocked to see a massive HR total from Trumbo in a given year, but on average I think you want a much safer play out of your 1B. Avoid Trumbo and lock in a 1B before you have to make the decision to take him.

Freddie Freeman, Braves - Alex Kantecki (@rotodealer)

I traded Freeman last season. In fact, I traded many first basemen last season. It goes like this...I kept Paul Goldschmidt, I traded Matt Moore and Mike Minor for Freeman and Cole Hamels, I traded Goldschmidt for Albert Pujols and Felix Hernandez, I traded Freeman for Prince Fielder (plus something) and, finally, I traded Fielder (plus something) for Joey Votto. Phew. Got that? I probably missed a few pieces along the way, but that's what I can remember. It's pretty depressing looking back, but in the end I think I ended up with the second-best option (Votto). At the time I sent Freeman packing, my reasoning was the same as it remains today: I ultimately see a .285-hitter with 25-home run upside. While he didn't even need 25 homers to reach top-five status last year, he way out-produced that first number, hitting a major-league leading .319 at first base; Freeman did so, however, with a BABIP 37 points higher than his career mark. Personally, I'm projecting a .290 BA and something closer to 80 runs and 90 RBI, which is still very good, but I don't see him topping last year's numbers. His Fake Teams Consensus Ranking places him at No. 7, which gives me pause. I have him at No. 8, but I realize the chance of him falling to me isn't great; I'm not so much avoiding Freeman -- I just don't want to be the guy who reaches for him.

Eric Hosmer, Royals - Jason Hunt (@jasonsbaseball)

I think that Eric Hosmer is going to have a very good year in 2014, following up his strong first half in 2013 with an even better performance after the All-Star break. However, the question for me with Hosmer is one of value rather than production. We've seen glowing reviews on a number of first baseman this week, with Hosmer being no exception, but be careful not to pay extra for the hype. I view Hosmer as just outside the cusp of the top 10 at first base, and would be very careful not to draft him such that his production needs to line up with the top 5 at the position to make sense from a value stand point.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.

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