Last week we struggled through the state of the catcher position, and I managed 1,000+ words on why not to draft a catcher unless absolutely necessary. This week we have a little more interesting analysis and alternative strategies looking at the 1B position. The composition of elite options and young up-and-comers make this arguably the fantasy sport's deepest position.
The top spot indisputably goes Paul Goldschmidt who even has an argument for the number 1 overall pick in re-draft formats. There isn't a ton of analysis that isn't obvious for Goldy. He should have a better lineup around him and there's no reason to expect at the very least a similar output to 2015. He's probably in his own tier at the position, but the second tier is deep and not far behind the Dbacks slugger.
This second tier includes a host of sluggers each with very small warts that prevent them from being in the same tier as Goldschmidt. Miguel Cabrera (injury), Edwin Encarnacion (age), Rizzo (AVG), Votto (HR inconsistency), and I'd even include Chris Davis (AVG) in this group. These guys are all Round 1 or Round 2 options for me, and I'm going to end up with someone in this tier on about 90% of my teams. This group gives any team a solid foundation at the hardest category to acquire (Home Run) and won't give value back anywhere else.
Buster Posey, Jose Abreu, Freddie Freeman, and Adrian Gonzalez are the top options in the third tier. What excludes them from the group above is a lack of upside, especially in home runs. They're all 4-category contributors but not to the extent of the others. Freeman is in a really interesting position where his Atlanta lineup looks to be abysmal. We learned with Giancarlo Stanton a few years ago that the notion of "lineup protection" tends be overstated in fantasy analysis, but it still will have a negative impact on his counting stats. Posey's HR total leaves a little value on the table, but I can't imagine any scenario where you own Posey and roster him at 1B.
Outside of this Top 10 group there is a lot of talent left and a few names who are likely to break into the Top 10 next year. Maikel Franco and Eric Hosmer are two of my favorite picks. Both players have a lot of items working in their favor (age, power, etc), and each have the upside to reach the Tier 2 mentioned above. If we go a little deeper, I'd also note A.J. Reed as a sleeper. He'll get a chance at Houston this year and I fully expect him to be ultra-productive. Greg Bird and Josh Bell are two other attractive options to consider.
The prospect landscape is meek, but it's a natural progression of the defense. The future stars at 1B are players currently attempting to make it work at other positions. Once defensive flaws are surfaced, or the need to get the bat into the lineup is so dire, a move to 1B will occur. Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, and maybe Aaron Judge are a few players who could make the move in a few years. As mentioned earlier, A.J. Reed is the top 1B prospect who is currently playing the position and could make an impact in 2016.