When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, 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 earlier in the week:
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 you can find them along with their reasoning below.
First Baseman to Avoid in 2015
Freddie Freeman, Braves - Ray Guilfoyle
Freeman hit .288-.386-.461 with 18 home runs, 93 runs scored and 78 RBI last season, in a lineup that included recently traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. He is currently coming of draft board as the 6th ranked fantasy first baseman in early drafts thus far, and I am banging my head to explain why this is the case. He hit 23 home runs in 2012 and 2013, and I think we will look back and see that those were his career high home run total. He is an extreme line drive hitter:
2012: 26.0 LD%
2013: 26.7 LD%
2014: 31.0 LD%
If you check out his fly ball rates over the same period, you will see that he is hitting fewer fly balls and more line drives, so that doesn't bode well if you are looking for more power from Freeman in 2015. He will hit for average, but I see his home runs, runs scored and RBI totals dropping in 2015. He will underperform his ADP and disappoint owners this season.
Victor Martinez, Tigers - Brandon Decker
I'm going out on a limb with this one, but I'm avoiding Victor Martinez in all drafts this season. Yes, the same Victor Martinez who had the lowest strikeout rate in all of baseball and only struck out 10 more times than he homered. Yes, the same Victor Martinez who had the second highest batting average in all of baseball last season. There's no doubt Victor Martinez is coming off the greatest season of his career, but I just don't see it happening again. He's a career .306 hitter, so I don't doubt that he'll hit around that in 2015, but what I do doubt is his power numbers being close to what they were last season. Prior to 2014, Martinez never had a season where he hit more than 25 homeruns. In 2014, he hit 21 HR in the first half of the season alone, and only 11 HR in the second half of the season. He'll be 36 this season if that counts for much, considering he was 35 last season and had the best season of his career. Steamer projects Martinez to hit .309 with 20 HR and 83 RBI. That's exactly what I see from him and those aren't the kind of power numbers you look for in a first baseman that you draft around the 3rd round.
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers - Daniel Kelley
Let's see. Miguel Cabrera is still hurt, and might not be ready for the start of the season. He turns 32 in May, off the worst power season of his career, on an offense that is only getting worse. His body type is not one that inspires confidence in aging. His walk rate was near its lowest point ever; his strikeout rate was near its highest. His ISO was a full-season low. And all of that while his BABIP was exactly at career levels. Look, you can do whatever you want, and he's still likely to be good, but I wouldn't touch Cabrera in the first round this season, and that means I won't be owning him anywhere.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs - Timothy Finnegan
I've got an article detailing why I would avoid Rizzo in 2015 coming out later today. Look out for it, it's an interesting read. The short version is that Rizzo's quality of contact in 2014 (hard hit%, medium hit% and soft hit%) aligns closely with the MLB average hitter. His hard hit% is below MLB average. His medium hit% is below MLB average. His soft hit% is about MLB average. It doesn't add up to a 153 wRC+. I'm not saying Rizzo is a bad player; what I'm saying is that unless his quality of contact significantly improves in 2015, I cannot see him coming close to repeating his 2014 production.
Buster Posey, Giants - Jack Cecil
I have already written an article about avoiding Posey as a catcher, but anyone who is drafting Posey as their first basemen is popping crazy pills (friends don't let friends start Posey at 1B). Not only is he being overdrafted at the catcher position, but all of those issues I had with him will be amplified by anyone who takes him as a 1B. His counting stats simply aren't enough to justify playing him at 1B for even a single game during fantasy next season. Any argument I have for not playing Posey at 1B goes for any other catcher that is eligible at other positions, just let them catch.
Honorable Mention: Joey Votto
Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks - Rob Parker
Mark Trumbo definitely had a bad year in 2014. He struggled with major injuries and poor performance in his first year in the desert. I think there is a contingent of fantasy players that are predicting a bounceback for Trumbo to his 2012-2013 days of hitting 30+ homers and 100 RBI. I just can't buy into that. He is 29 this year and past the typical power peak age of 27. He doesn't walk much, he's a .230ish average guy, he swings and misses at a 13.7% clip (top 50 in baseball), he swings at lots of outside pitches, hits too many popups, has had a consistently low line drive percentage, and simply relies too much on fly balls turning into homers at a well above league average rate. For those reasons, he has too many red flags for me and I will let someone else who has visions of 30 dingers snag him late in drafts for an outfield or corner infield spot. Also, for keeper leagues, note that he will lose first base eligibility this year unless Goldschmidt goes down again.
Joe Mauer. Twins - Chris Meyers
As a Twins fan I have always held out hope for the Mauer of old to return, however last year injuries once again plagued him, and his full-time move to First Base didn't really improve anything for his stat line. In fact his BB% plummeted and his K% rose. The patient and career .300 hitter fell shy in 2014, and his power which is most definitely a flash in the pan will likely never surpass 10 Home Runs again. Disapointing to say the least. Mauer's Catcher position eligibility was his main strength. with that now gone, a .300/50/8/55 first baseman is nothing special, no matter where his ADP is currently. His numbers could certainly improve in 2015, but not enough for me to take the plunge on Mauer this season.
Eric Hosmer, Royals - Nick Doran
Hosmer always seems to do just enough to tantalize us into believing "this is the year he breaks out into a superstar". He has had several spurts of greatness in his young career, but each was followed by an extended drought. The former elite prospect put up some gaudy stats in the minor leagues but if you take a hard look at his slash line you will see it was mostly fueled by batting average. AVG is a good thing, but it doesn't always translate into a good all-around fantasy player. Hosmer has never been much of a power hitter (19 homers is his career high), but he managed only 9 home runs, 54 runs and 58 RBI last year. That is simply not nearly enough to justify putting him in your lineup as your starting first baseman. Those are middle infielder numbers, not slugger numbers. Maybe it was just a down season and he will rebound to the 16 homers, 70 runs and 70 RBI that he averaged in the three years prior to last year. But that still isn't good enough to justify his draft slot, which is likely to be boosted too high by his post-season exploits during the Royals' run to the World Series last year. Maybe Hosmer will have a true breakout season eventually, but don't risk your season by relying on him to do it this year.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball rankings, and players to avoid, to get you ready for your fantasy baseball drafts, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, the one spot on the internet for all things fantasy.