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2015 Fantasy Landscape: First Base

Alex Kantecki opens first base week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL/NL-only leagues and draft strategy.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last season we witnessed a pair of first basemen from the Windy City move into the upper class of fantasy first basemen: Jose Abreu and Anthony Rizzo. The Chicago duo joins Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt and Edwin Encarnacion among the fantasy first base "elite," while Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Chris Davis all fell out.

First base has recently been a position of strength and depth, but the top tier of first-base boppers that are capable of giving you 30-plus bombs has thinned out. And others that can provide serious pop, such as Davis and Houston's Chris Carter, also come with severe batting average downside.

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

The biggest thump can be found in the American League. Miggy is no longer third-base eligible, but the future Hall of Famer is still this writer's preferred 1B choice. Cabrera underwent offseason surgery to remove bone spurs and replace a stress fracture in his right ankle. His power suffered, dropping from 44 home runs to 25, his lowest home run of any full season. Still, he managed to drive in 109 and score 101 runs.

There's a not-so-wild chance that Abreu and/or Encarnacion surpass Miggy as the No. 1 first baseman in the Junior Circuit in 2015. Both have legit 40-home run pop, which is a big advantage at first. Victor Martinez showed he still has it, even at age 35, while Albert Pujols was held under 30 home runs for the second straight season; he still put together a solid season with 28 dingers and 105 RBI in 159 games.

Then there are the question marks, which include Prince Fielder, who played in just 42 games after playing in a full 162 for three years running. Crush Davis also crashed down to earth, going from a .286 BA and 53 home runs to .196 and 26, respectively.

In the National League, Goldschmidt remains the top dog despite a down year. Rizzo isn't far behind after building on his 2013 season, slashing .286/.386/.527 with 32 boppers. Adrian Gonzalez re-found his power stroke with 27 home runs and 116 RBI, while Freddie Freeman was held under to 18 home runs and 78 RBI after mashing 23 and driving in 109 in 2013. Gonzalez's lineup is now stronger, while Freeman's lineup was gutted this offseason.

The bounce-back candidate to watch is Votto, who battled through injuries and hit just six dongs in 62 games with a .255 BA. Then there's Lucas Duda, who emerged from Ike Davis' shadow and blasted 30 home and drove in 92 in his first full season.

In the AL, Eric Hosmer's ADP is worth monitoring after a stellar postseason. Currently, he's going as the 17th first baseman off the board with a 12th-round grade.

Movers include Adam LaRoche (White Sox), Adam Lind (Brewers) and Brandon Moss (Indians), and other first-base eligible options to remember include former catchers' Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli and Joe Mauer. The NL is deeper, with Brandon Belt, Justin Morneau and Matt Adams all worthy of a corner infield spot.

The Draft Strategy

While value can be had waiting to choose your first baseman in 2015, the biggest bang for your buck will come in the first few rounds. It's possible that some order of Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Rizzo all go within the first 15 picks of your draft, so it's worth considering if you want to solidify first base from the start. I see real value in selecting one of the five previously mentioned.

Power is what you want from your starting first baseman, while your corner infield spot could be filled with a variety of first-base options from Adam LaRoche to Justin Morneau. At the least, you don't want to be without a strong starting option at first base, and those disappear after the first eight or 10 picks at the position. Chris Carter and Chris Davis both provide power, of course, but at what cost of batting average? That's why I want one of the first five.

Daniel Kelley will have more draft strategy for you on Wednesday.

The Newbies

The list of first-base prospects to make an impact on the 2015 season is short. Jon Singleton made the biggest impact in 2014 with 13 home runs, but a .168 BA made his other first-year accomplishments not worthy of a fantasy starter.

Minnesota's Kennys Vargas is the newest first-base option after the 24-year-old hit nine home runs and drove in 38 in 53 games. Steamer projects Vargas to hit .250 with 20 home runs, 60 runs and 69 RBI. C.J. Cron, who hit .256 with 11 home runs in 79 games with the Angels, won't get consistent playing time without an injury.

On the farm, the Fake Teams prospect staff will rank the top-15 first-base prospects on Tuesday, including a prospect profile on Josh Bell.

What's Next?

We have a lot of great first-base centric content (!) coming up this week from the talented group of writers at Fake Teams, including rankings, "sleepers," targets/avoids, player profiles and much, much more. Be sure to check back real soon as Ray releases Part 1 of the Fake Teams consensus ranks. Let's play two!

Time Slot/Day

Monday 2/02/2015

Tuesday 2/03/2015

Wednesday 2/04/2015

Thursday 2/05/2015

Friday 2/06/2015

7am

State of the Position (Alex)

Top 15 First Base Prospects (Jason)

Top 30 First Base Rankings, Part 2 (Ray)

First Baseman to Target (Staff)

First Baseman to Avoid (Staff)

10am

Top 30 First Base Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Prospect Profile: Josh Bell ()

2015 First Base Draft Strategy (Daniel)

First Base Profile: Adam Lind (Jack)

NL/AL-only Sleepers (Ray)

12pm

First Base Profile: Miguel Cabrera (Rob)

First Base Profile: Freddie Freeman (Nick)

First Base Profile: Joey Votto (Chris)

First Base Profile: Prince Fielder (Brandon)

First Base Profile: Anthony Rizzo (Alex)

2pm

First Base Profile: Lucas Duda (Jack)

First Base Profile: Profile: Eric Hosmer (Daniel)

First Base Profile: Justin Morneau (Timothy)

Rankings Rumble: Freddie Freeman (repost)

First Base Profile: Jose Abreu (Timothy)

4pm

First Base Profile: Profile: Brandon Belt (Daniel)

First Base Projections from Steamer (Ray)