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 first baseman 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 avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
First Baseman to Avoid in 2016
Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox (Ray Guilfoyle)
Here is what I wrote about Hanley on Monday in our Consensus Top 15 First Base Rankings:
Ramirez is the one guy who could end the season as a top 5 hitter at the position, or fall out of the top 20, as he just can't stay healthy anymore. The 32 year old has played more than 130 games just once since 2010, and is coming off a season where he battled all sorts of injuries and will now have to learn a new position for the second consecutive season. Ramirez is coming off a season where he hit .249-.291-.426 with 19 home runs, 59 runs scored, 56 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 105 games. I think we have seen the best from Hanley as he may struggle to hit 20 home runs going forward.
His current ADP over at NFBC is 138.15, which means he is being drafted in the ninth round in 15 team leagues. That means he is being drafted ahead of some first baseman I would prefer for 2016, including Lucas Duda, Brandon Belt, Byung-ho Park and a few others.
Prince Fielder, Rangers (Daniel Kelley)
We want to say Fielder had a great bounceback year in 2015. It was ... fine. It was certainly an upgrade on his injury-plagued disappointment in 2014. But it was also a lot of illusion. His .305 batting average was buoyed by a full-season career-high BABIP, while his ISO was a full-season career low. The .400/.500 OBP/SLG guy of his prime is now a .350/.450 guy. Add in a big second-half decline (.340/.403/.519, 14 home runs before the All-Star Game; .261/.347/.393 with nine after), and a soon-to-be 32-year-old who isn't exactly the paragon of impressive body types, and Fielder is a very dodgy choice as a starting fantasy first baseman.
Brandon Belt , Giants (Tim Finnegan)
I love Belt's talent and swing, but the frequent concussions have me a little concerned. Belt's season ended early last year when he was kneed in the head and diagnosed with his third concussion, and it's his second in back to back years. As recently as November, Belt said he still had some lingering concussion symptoms, including dizziness and light headedness. Belt feels he will be 100% come this spring, and maybe he will be in terms of living a regular life, but squaring up major league pitching after suffering two brain injuries in back to back seasons is a whole different animal. I hope he does well, but unless something really jumps out this spring, I'm probably going in a different direction in fantasy drafts.
Freddie Freeman, Braves (Domenic Lanza)
I feel somewhat bad for designating Freeman as a player to avoid, as he is still just 26 years old, and has played at a high-level for three straight seasons. There is little reason to question that he will be a productive member of the Braves on an individual, real world basis. That being said, there are several reasons to be leery of Freeman's fantasy potential in 2016. Freeman missed forty-plus games with a wrist injury last season, and his performance sagged upon his return (he hit .241/.374/.395 after his DL stint). He wasn't pain free until the end of January, either. Wrist injuries tend to linger, sapping power, so there is still risk. Most importantly, though, the Braves lineup is not very good. Erick Aybar and Ender Inciarte may represent marginal upgrades, but Freeman stands to be the anchor of one of the worst lineups in baseball. How bad is it? In 2015, Freeman had only 62 R and 66 RBI - and he overperformed. He may be completely healthy, but the lineup will not afford him many opportunities to score and drive in runs.
Byung-Ho Park, Twins (Jack Cecil)
Park did well in Korea, very well. But this the MLB, and in the MLB hitters need to make contact to let their power play. Wily Mo Pena was cool, but he never ever hit the ball. Park was striking out a lot in the KBO (25.9% of his ABs) in the MLB that will likely bump up even higher. The Twins aren't a team I expect to be crushing the baseball next year, so Park's value will totally hinge on him being able to launch as many homers as possible in the pitching friendly Target Field. His 52 homers were great, but by comparison MLB flops Yamaico Navarro and Eric Thames both managed to hit over 40 bombs last year, that alone really caps my ability to believe that he's going to be an impactful player in fantasy.
Adam Lind, Mariners (Rob Parker)
Despite a very good 2015 season, I'm avoiding this guy. He moves to an extreme pitcher's park, will now be locked into a platoon at first base, and won't be hitting third or fourth at all like he did for much of the 2015 season when Braun was on the DL. That means a drop in power, a drop in runs, and a drop in RBI. There are too many good first basemen out there to take a chance that he can overcome all those barriers.
Joey Votto, Reds (Michael Schwarz)
This "avoid" warning comes with a gargantuan caveat: my advice is not to avoid Votto at all costs but simply to think about it before you invest one of your top picks in him. I don't expect Votto to hit 30 homers (a number he has reached only once in his career), or drive in 100 runs (twice), or even to score 100 runs (3 times). I do expect that for the fifth time in six years he'll lead the NL in walks, and for the fifth time in seven years he'll post the league's top OBP, only this season he'll do it primarily because opposing pitchers have no reason to pitch to him. Todd Frazier is gone, and Brandon Phillips might not be far behind him. In short, Votto's percentages will be fine, as always. His counting numbers, however, likely will not justify a top draft pick. Let someone else experience the frustration of "two out, nobody on, and here's Votto."
Chris Davis, Orioles (Heath Capps)
Man, it sounds terrible to follow up avoiding Joey Votto with an "avoid" of Chris Davis. For my part, this is a simple matter of preference. I don't like to pay up for players who can go through prolonged slumps if they are swinging and missing a bunch like Davis can. I know in 2016 we don't care as much about the strikeout, but I mostly play in head-to-head leagues and I enjoy steadiness as much as I can procure it. If you want prodigious power at first base, by all means pay up for his services. Just be prepared to make up the loss in average elsewhere.
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