One of the most important elements of winning in fantasy baseball comes down to finding those players that take a step forward and outperform their draft positions by breaking out or having their career years. We will be reviewing certain players at each position and discussing whether their fantasy value will be on the rise or decline heading into the 2014 baseball season and if you should target or avoid them in your draft. The next position we will examine is first base, usually one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball. Now, let’s take a look at the first basemen that could improve or hurt their fantasy value in the upcoming baseball season.
Eric Hosmer – The young first basemen has been touted as the next big thing for years, and hasn’t yet lived up to the lofty expectations. But there are signs pointing in the right direction for Hosmer in 2014. The left-handed hitter was able to get his batting average over .300 for the first time in his career in 2013, a nice improvement after hitting for just a .232 BA in 2012. The power numbers have never been really noteworthy either, as he has yet to have a 20 HR season in his first 3 years in the big leagues. But Hosmer’s 17 HR’s in 2013 are deceiving, as he started the year off cold with just 1 HR in April and May total, then went on to hit 16 HR’s in the last 4 months of the season. If Hosmer can continue to hit like he did in the second half of last season and avoid the cold streaks that have plagued him early in his career, he should finally top the 20 HR mark in 2014.
Anthony Rizzo – The Cubs first baseman had a disappointing sophomore season in 2013. Rizzo has been a personal favorite of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer for years. The management duo drafted Rizzo in 2007 while with the Red Sox. Then in 2012, after Epstein and Hoyer moved to the Cubs front office, acquired the slugger in a trade with the Padres for Andrew Cashner. I believe in Theo and Jed, and if they like Rizzo enough to go out and get him twice, I take that as a very good sign. Rizzo saw his batting average fall to .233 in 2013, but this seems to be an outlier, as he has hit well at every stop in the minors and hit .285 during his rookie campaign in 2012. The entire Cubs line-up had down years in 2013, so hopefully the problem is correctable as things should begin to improve on the North-side in 2014. The 24 year-old could still develop into one of the top power hitters in baseball over the next few seasons, with a chance of delivering excellent value in 2014.
Brandon Moss – This powerful first baseman has been a platoon hitter over the past 2 years, playing against righties and sitting against lefties. But during the 2nd half of the 2013 season, Moss started to get a few more starts against left-handed pitchers. Over the past 2 seasons, Moss has hit 51 HR’s in 711 AB’s. If he can continue to make improvements against southpaws and come close to logging 550 AB’s in 2014, you might have one of the top power options that qualifies at 1B and OF and shouldn’t cost an early draft pick. Even if he is still in a platoon to start 2014, Moss is still very valuable in leagues that allow daily transactions, as you can sit him when the A’s face lefties and replace him with a bat from your bench. Adding a few extra counting stats on top of the 25-30 HR’s Moss should provide could give you one of the most valuable stat-lines at the first base position.
Albert Pujols – King Albert will turn 34 before the 2014 season begins. Although Pujols’ homerun total took a big hit in his first season with the Angels in 2012, no one expected the slugger to have such a poor year in 2013. Usually able to play through the injuries, Pujols couldn’t manage to stay on the field while dealing with his partially torn plantar fascia. As a long-time Cubs fan, I have a fantasy baseball philosophy that has worked out well over the years. It goes like this: Acquire Ex-Cubs players after they leave the Cubs, because they always seem to improve afterward (see: Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano in 2013), and the exact opposite can be said for players after they leave the Cardinals, as the management team in St. Louis seem to know exactly when to let their players go (see: Albert Pujols). King Albert could still provide us with one last swan song, but the risk is far too great for the investment, as someone in your league will reach for Pujols too early based on name value.
Ryan Howard – The Phillies still have Howard under contract for $100 million dollars over the next 4 years. He has looked like a shell of his former self over the past 2 years, dealing with injuries while failing to reach 300 AB’s in either season. The Phillies have Darin Ruf and John Mayberry already on the roster with nowhere to play, ready to take over as soon as the first Howard injury takes place. Even when healthy now, it pains me to watch this guy run to first base. Howard is going to have a difficult time staying on the field until the end of this contract. The end is near for the former fantasy 1st rounder. The next injury could be the one that officially makes this power bat hang it up for good.
Paul Konerko – The long-time White Sox first baseman was recently resigned by the ball club to a 1 year $2.5 million dollar contract. But the South-siders also signed Jose Abreu this off-season, and spent a lot more money to do so. And management believes the 26 year-old Abreu is ready to contribute in the majors right away. With Adam Dunn and his large contract still around to clog up the DH spot, there isn’t anywhere for Konerko to fit in regularly. Add that to the fact that Konerko’s numbers have been drastically declining over the past 3 seasons, and you can see why his fantasy value has disappeared. Once a staple of fantasy lineups, Konerko has now lost all appeal, and shouldn’t be drafted among the top 25 first basemen in fantasy leagues.
Which first basemen do you think could break-out next year?
Which first basemen will be over-drafted in 2014?
Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below...