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Fake Teams Staff Post: I Think I'll Pass - First Basemen

Each of your favorite FT writers let you in on who the first baseman they will be avoiding at their current values.

Kevin C. Cox

Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Yesterday we shared the optimistic side of this equation, but today is a day of reckoning. These are the players who we are weary of at their projected draft day values.

So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their least favorite first base targets for 2013:

"I'm a big fan of consistency when it comes to choosing my fantasy team's stalwarts, so it brings me no pleasure to throw Paul Konerko into the mix here. Konerko has been an underrated asset over the better part of the last decade, but 2013 will be the first year I'm genuinely concerned about his production. On the surface, his 2012 stats don't seem that bad (of course, he hit .298 with 26 HR) -- but that doesn't tell the whole story. First of all, there's the counting stats problem. Konerko's never been a big run scorer, as he's both never scored 100 runs in a season and even from 2009 to 2011, he only averaged 78 runs per year. That number dropped to 66 this year. And his 75 RBI total in 2012 was way under his 2009-2011 average of 101. On top of that, Konerko's performance was weighted extremely heavily towards April and May. As in, from Memorial Day to the end of the season, he hit .254/.324/.400 with 15 HR and 42 RBI in 370 AB (prior to Memorial Day, he hit .399/.476/.681 with 11 HR and 33 RBI in 163 AB). The soon-to-be 37-year old Konerko is staring down the decline phase of his career, and I don't want to be the one holding the bag when the bottom falls out -- especially when it looks like it may have started already. --Bret Sayre

"Let's get this out of the way first: I don't have anything against Freddie Freeman. The reasons I left him off my top 25 first baseman are the same reasons that people love him. He's safe as can be. But at a position like first base - where we saw Chris Davis and Garrett Jones pop up to hit 30 home runs, I'll chase upside. I do appreciate security in what you get, but given the depth at which you can get a Davis, Jones or even Rizzo or Hart, springing for Freeman confounds me. A .260 average is...bland. 23 home runs is nice, but certainly not something you couldn't cobble together. Sure, he racks up some counting stats, but those are context dependent and I'd rather not count on other players to create value for the guy I draft. My passing on Freeman is more about what you can get later in the draft, or even on the waiver wire than it is about Freeman himself. You know what you can get with Freeman, and there is security in that. I happen to think there's security in the depth at the position, and would rather pay for security at somewhere with more position scarcity. If you have reasons you like Freeman, I'm sure I'll agree with them - my guess is that we'd disagree on our approaches to building a team." --Craig Goldstein

"Adrian Gonzalez will likely still go pretty high in fantasy drafts just because of name value and because he's only coming off one truly down season, but I'm staying far, far away. His home run total dropped for the third straight season, and his .806 OPS was the worst, by far, of his career. Those are not good trends for a slow-footed slugger entering his 30s. I'm sure he'll still hit for a high average but he's sort of the prototypical "old player's skills" guy and it looks like it's starting to show. He should be a reasonably productive first baseman even if he follows the Bobby Abreu aging curve, but I can't imagine he'll justify his draft position this year." --Paul Rice

"You don't get a nickname like E5 for no reason. Defense aside, Edwin Encarnacion has been a gamble more often that not. You're not likely to find many 40-homer guys anymore, but prior to Encarnacion's 42-homer outburst in 2012, his previous high was 26 back in 2008. Last year was also his first season with over 600 at-bats, and I'd certainly bet the under on that number in 2013. There's simply not enough evidence to justify drafting him as the fourth first baseman off the board in 2013. He's going to be on a lot of preseason "bust" lists, including this writer's." --Alex Kantecki

"I am not as low on Freddie Freeman as Craig is, but I can see why he did not rank him in our Top 25 first base rankings earlier in the week. Freeman hit .259/.340/.456 with 23 HRs, 91 runs and 94 RBI. Pretty good on the surface, but I question how much power we can expect from him going forward. His fly ball ratio increased slightly from 34.6% to 36.9% last season, and his HR/FB% increased a bit to 14.8%, but all that resulted in was two more home runs from him. His .295 BABIP resulted in a .259 BA, and with the league average BABIP around .300, I would be surprised if he will hit any higher than .270 in 2013. I think Freeman will struggle to be a 30 HR hitting first baseman and will settle in to be a 25 HR guy. That's good, but we expect more power from our first baseman. Add in the fact that the Braves will lose the services of Michael Bourn to free agency and Chipper Jones to retirement, along with catcher Brian McCann coming off shoulder surgery (I expect him to not be the Brian McCann we have all come to expect over the years). Add all that, and I see Freeman's numbers dropping across the board in 2013." --Ray Guilfoyle

"When I think of a first baseman, I think of power, and when I think of power, I think of Joe Mauer's 2009 season in which he slammed 28 home runs, drove in 96 base runners, and batted an insane .365. The only difficulty I have with this stat line is that 2009 provides the only hint of power in Joe's career. He has 400+ at-bats in seven of his nine major league seasons, and 2009 is the only season his underlying power numbers are above league average. Joe will hit for average. His career .323 batting average is maintained in large part because he has the unusual ability to walk more than he strikes out, taking a base on balls 12.2% of the time versus striking out 10.4% of the time. Mr. Mauer can help a fantasy team. He is eligible at catcher and first base; he will probably bat .315, and will get more than his share of runs and RBI. However, from your starting 1B slot, you need power, and you cannot use 2009 stats in a 2013 5X5 roto league. I have Mauer hitting about 12 home runs in 2013, and, more than likely, if you want him on your team, you will need to draft him as one of the top 10-12 1B off the board. Anyone who thinks he is in that tier is counting on power that has only shown itself to any serious extent, in one of his nine seasons. I am not one of the owners who will be counting on that power." --Brad Dengler

"Mark Teixeira is that guy every single year I look at and think 'He plays for the Yankees, hits in the middle of their order, and should provide a ton of power and RBI if I own him'. And while that is likely to be the case again from Teixeira, I don't like the value he provides at all. Our consensus rankings have him as the #13 1B off the board, but for a player who is likely to provide power and RBIs at the cost of batting average, I would either wait for one of the later players in our ranks (Davis, Rizzo, and Freeman all come to mind), or go with one of the huge names at the top. Teixeira seems like he will get drafted like he is a top performer based on name recognition, and I just don't see the batting average ever coming back." --Jason Hunt