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Staff Post: First Baseman to Target in 2016

The Fake Teams staff offers you some first baseman they would target in drafts this season, including David Ortiz, Brandon Belt, Hanley Ramirez and others.

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When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a strategy before going into your draft. To assist you in your strategy, we have provided you with our Consensus Top 30 first base rankings for 2015, tiered rankings, and NL-only and AL-only rankings as well.

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 catchers to target and avoid, which we provide you today.

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 2016

David Ortiz, Red Sox (Ray Guilfoyle)

Yes. I know Ortiz doesn't play first base, but we had to rank him somewhere. And, more importantly, he (37) and drove in more runs (108) than Ortiz. He enters his final MLB season as the probably one of the top two designated hitters to play the game. He will get overlooked on draft day due to his age and that he can only be slotted in the utility spot on your fantasy roster. Don't get caught up on that. Draft him and slot him into your utility spot and sit back and enjoy another 30 home run, 100 RBI season in a stacked Red Sox lineup that features a healthy Dustin Pedroia, and Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts who both now have a full season of plate appearances under their belts and are ready to break out.

He average draft position over at NFBC is 112.81, which is after other first baseman I would not draft before Ortiz, including Eric Hosmer, Freddie Freeman, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

Brandon Belt, Giants (Daniel Kelley)

Perceptually, there's a difference between Belt and Eric Hosmer. Maybe it's because Hosmer was a bigger prospect, maybe it's because he's been a focal point of two straight World Series teams, maybe it's just because he's dreamy (that's just me calling him my favorite player). But in our first-base rankings, Hosmer came in 12th, with Belt 16th. Six of our seven writers had Hosmer higher, most of them significantly so. The order is probably right—Hosmer's younger, in a slightly better lineup, all that. But the amount of difference? Belt has outslugged Hosmer every year of their respective careers except their 2011 rookie campaigns. For three years running, he's had as many or more home runs. Hosmer runs a little more, maybe gets more run opportunities. But Belt is comparable across the board, but gets much less respect. Hosmer is a borderline fantasy starting first baseman. Belt should be as well.

Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox (Tim Finnegan)

Hanley was a monster last year until he crashed into the left field wall in Fenway and hurt his shoulder. He came into Red Sox camp with 25 lbs of new muscle to reflect his move off SS, a tangible change from previous seasons, and led MLB in exit velocity by a lot before deciding to play through the shoulder injury. I don't know exactly how healthy he will stay this year, but I'm sold he would have continued to hit at a very high level had he not crashed into the wall. Assuming his injuries have healed this offseason, I like him to rebound. I wrote in depth about Hanley here, go read that for more detail.

Jose Abreu, White Sox (Jack Cecil)

Abreu defines consistence, the 30 homer, 80 Run, 100 RBI man will be back in a stronger lineup than he had around him in 2015.  His NFBC draft position is presently pick 22.69, and to get a guy who is a virtual lock to be a stat producer like him as your second pick or a late round first to put with another stud is too much of a bargain for me to overlook.  This is a professional hitter, he's worth being your cornerstone bat you go into 2016 with.

Lucas Duda, Mets (Domenic Lanza)

In 2014, Duda slashed .253/.349/.481 with 74 R, 30 HR, and 92 RBI. In 2015, he batted .244/.352/.486, with 67 R, 27 HR, and 73 RBI. Those eerily similar numbers are demonstrative of the dependability and consistency that Duda offers, even though he missed 27 games with a back injury. And, as scary as back injuries are for power hitters, Duda showed no ill effects upon his return, hitting .227/.386/.576 with 10 R, 6 HR, and 17 RBI in the last 22 games of the season. He may not have the sexy, eye-popping resume that many crave for a first baseman, but he's posted middle of the pack numbers despite spending most of his career in shaky lineups. In 2016, however, the Mets stand to have their best offense in several years, with (hopefully) full seasons from Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d'Arnaud, and Michael Conforto, and new acquisitions Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Duda is a safe bet to hit around .250 with 25 to 30 HR, and doing so in this lineup should help boost his runs and RBI by a significant margin.

Kendrys Morales, Royals (Rob Parker)

Morales is a DH in most leagues, but since we are including DH in our rankings, I want to highlight him here. He had a great bounceback year in 2015 and is undervalued in most drafts. He has above average power, a great batting average, and should hit in the middle of the Royals lineup again. He's a near lock for 22+ HR (3 out of the last 4 years) and could get 80 runs and 90+ RBI again in a great lineup like the Royals have. He's not a target because he is young or has lots of upside, but because many players overlook him and don't appreciate the solid contribution he can make to their rosters.

Eric HosmerRoyals (Michael Schwarz)

At the end of the 2014 season I attempted to buy-low on Hosmer in my dynasty league.  I figured 9 HR, 58 RBI, and a .716 OPS qualified as "low."  To his credit, my would-be trading partner declined all of my offers.  "I think with Hosmer there's something more," he told me.  Sure enough, in 2015 the young first baseman posted .297/.363/.459 with 18 HR, 93 RBI, and 98 R.  These are not eye-popping numbers by any means, but they do signal an upward trajectory in Hosmer's offense that could lead to .300-25-100 or something very close to it this coming season.  He's a world champion who hits in the middle of a powerful lineup, and he's still only 26 years old.  I don't know what his ceiling is, and I certainly wouldn't do cartwheels over an .822 OPS (his career high).  All things considered, however, with Hosmer there does indeed appear to be something more, and I think it's coming soon.

Freddie Freeman, Braves (Heath Capps)

You are getting the injury discount with Freeman, who only played in 118 games last season. He still managed to belt 18 home runs with a three slash of .276/.370/.471 and an ISO of .195. He can hit for average and power, and almost always makes medium to hard contact, as he had only a 10.6% soft contact rate last season. I sorted for first baseman who had 350 or more plate appearances last season (mainly to include Freeman since he missed some time) and Freeman was 7th in OBP, 9th in wOBA, 12th in wRC+, and 11th in OPS. He also ranked 7th in hard hit percentage with a mark of 38.4 percent. In short, the man can rake. I know the team context isn't stellar but you can get Joey Votto numbers for a fraction of the price.

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