When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach first baseman on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 30 first base rankings for 2015:
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 target, which we provide you today, and some first baseman to avoid, which publishes tomorrow.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the first baseman they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
First Baseman to Target in 2015
Adam LaRoche, White Sox - Ray Guilfoyle
LaRoche leaves Nationals Park, which benefits pitchers more than hitters, to US Cellular Field in Chicago, which helps hitters more than pitchers, so we could see LaRoche put up a top 10 performance at the first base position in 2015. He is one of the more consistent hitters in baseball, as he has hit 20 or more home runs in 9 of his 10 seasons in the big leagues, and drove in 80 or more runs in 8 of those 10 seasons. He was one of 33 hitters to hit 20+ home runs and drive in 80 or more runs last season, and one of 11 first baseman to accomplish the same feat. His ADP according to NFBC is 147.60, and he is currently the 15th first baseman off the boards in those drafts, so he represents excellent value in the 9th round of 15 team leagues, and even better value in the 13th round of 12 team leagues.
Prince Fielder, Rangers - Brandon Decker
2014 was a complete disappointment for Prince Fielder. Prior to 2014, Fielder played in at least 157 games each season from 2006-2013. He hadn't missed a single game from 2011-2013, so durability was never a question with Fielder. Sure, he had a rough start to 2014, only hitting 2 HR through April, but he was only able to accumulate 150 AB's which doesn't come close to being able to predict his season numbers. In 2010, he only had 2 HR through April, and finished with 32 HR. In 2012, he only had 3 HR through April, and finished the season with 30. So, I'm not going to use his slow start in 2014 against him. Obviously, the main concern when drafting Fielder is how he will respond from neck surgery. It's not a typical baseball injury, so there's not much to go on in terms of speculating what to expect the following season. His neck surgery has been compared to the surgery undergone by Ryan Kalish, when he was with the Red Sox, but Kalish isn't remotely close to the type of player Fielder is, so we can't speculate much from that. The other player is Peyton Manning, but oh yeah, he plays football, so make of that what you like. Fielder claims to be at 100 percent right now, and if he truly is, what a steal he would be. Fielder has drastically fallen in the rankings, but if you're willing to wait on a first baseman, Fielder is a guy you can grab in the middle rounds, with the upside of being a top 5 first baseman.
Chris Davis, Orioles - Daniel Kelley
I don't believe steroids/PEDs/HGH/whatever-term-you-want-to-use have nearly the effect people have ascribed to them. I do whole-heartedly believe in the effect of amphetamines (next time you have a minute, go check when the various bans took place, and how those coincide with the offensive decline). Well, after a legendary season on Adderall in 2013, Chris Davis lost his therapeutic use exemption last season and tanked. This year, though, he gets the exemption back, and god help me, I think his mojo comes back with it. Bargain candidate like crazy.
Paul Goldschmidt was our #1 ranked 1B, so I'm not exactly shedding light on an undervalued asset here, but Goldschmidt is rock solid. Goldschmidt will play 90 games in Chase Field and Coors Field in 2015. He will steal double digit bases, hit around 30 HR, and have an excellent AVG/OBP/SLG line. I love the fact that he doesn't drain any categories. And he hit the ball hard in nearly 24% of his at bats in 2014, second to only Troy Tulowitzki. I don't think his hand injury will be an issue as he's going to have over 6 months to heal from it and a full spring to shake any rust off.
Adam Lind, Brewers - Jack Cecil
I will be targeting Adam Lind for a multitude of reasons.
1) He will be cheap coming off of an injury shortened season
2) He has an excellent approach, which is has refined in recent years
3) He is moving to an even better ball park
4) His splits, while startling, are excellent against righties, which will be the majority of his at bats in 2015.
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals - Rob Parker
Zimmerman is younger than you think at only 30 years old. It seems like he has been around forever. I ranked him 11th among first basemen, while our consensus rankings have him at 22 because I believe last year was just an aberration and not a sign of significant decline. Last year's drop in power may have been from a thumb injury that plagued him for at least two months. He was somewhat unlucky based on his career-low HR/FB ratio (his HR/FB% was 7.8, while his expected HR/FB% was 14.6) and his strikeouts actually went down along with his SwStr%. The last time his batted ball distance fell like it did in 2014, he added 14 feet the next season and got his power right back. His injuries in 2008, 2011, and 2014 coincide perfectly with drops in power. When healthy, he has shown good power and has been remarkably consistent, which is rare in fantasy. His consistency usually causes him to be very expensive on draft day, but after last year his price may be down, so take advantage and grab him wherever you can. Even though he will have one more year of third base eligibility, he is still a good choice for your first base slot too.
Joey Votto, Reds - Chris Meyers
As I focused on in Votto's First Base profile I think this is as good of a year as any to target him. He lost 2014 due to injury, and since his numbers took a significant hit, his career numbers simply don't validate a legitimate decline in performance. I can envision a healthy Votto returning to form and either approaching, or falling a tad shy of 20 HR, along with 80 RBI. His batting average should level out and return to his career numbers and approach .310 again. He may not be a top 5 position candidate, but he has potential to certainly be once again. His current ADP of 76 in NFBC drafts has me excited and ready to snag him in the 5th or 6th round in 2015.
Justin Smoak, Blue Jays - Nick Doran
Smoak was terrible in 2014. There is no sugar-coating that fact. He hit a woeful .202 with only 7 home runs, 28 runs and 30 RBI in half a season's worth of at-bats. That doesn't really look like the type of guy who should be on anybody's target list, right? True. But Safeco Field in Seattle has a habit of turning sluggers into sissies. Now that Smoak is moving from a strong pitchers' park to a strong hitters' park in Toronto perhaps the former elite prospect can regain his mojo. The Blue Jays' grip it and rip it hitting philosophy transformed Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion into totally unexpected superstars. Can Smoak be the next disappointing hitter to revitalize his career in Toronto? All it will cost you is a last-round draft pick to find out.
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