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2019 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Sleepers

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Peter O’Brien has tremendous power and finally has a path to everyday at-bats with the Marlins in 2019.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

First base has become a lot shallower than in years past, but there are still a lot of quality bats you can get late in your draft. My plan will likely be to wait on the position unless I get one of Anthony Rizzo or Matt Olson in the earlier rounds. These are some of the guys I am targeting in the later rounds.

Luke Voit, New York Yankees (ADP: 192.9)

The case for Voit is an easy one. Among batters with the same amount of plate appearances and batted ball events, he led in hard contact rate, barrels per plate appearance, xSLG, and xwOBA. The scariest part about these stats is that they don’t even take park factor into account, which would give his numbers an excellent boost playing in one of the best hitter’s parks in New York. While his peripherals are quite promising, I do expect some regression, and I have my concerns surrounding the soon to be 27-year-old. With a contact rate below 70.0%, his strikeout rate will likely be around 25.0%. This would likely cause his batting average to drop around the .260 range, which is good but not great. Even if that happens, he is still worth his ADP as he has 35+ home run potential as long as the playing time is there.

Tyler White, Houston Astros (ADP: 247.4)

The debate late last season seemed to be Tyler White or Luke Voit, and I think the answer is I do like Voit a little more, but White seems to have a higher floor to fall back on. Throughout the minor leagues, White has always shown the ability to make consistent contact. He only showed moderate contact ability at the Major League level, however, until his breakout 2018. His contact rate went from 76.6% in 2017 to a well above-average 82.9% in 2018. This ability to make consistent contact comes with good plate discipline, a 35.8% hard contact rate and a healthy fly ball rate. These attributes give him the potential to become a .270 hitter with complementary 30+ home run power. It is still unseen what the Astros plan to do with their lineup after the Brantley signing, but I still see White slotting into the lineup enough to be fantasy-relevant in 2019.

Jake Bauers, Cleveland Indians (ADP: 259.5)

Bauers easily has the most potential out of anyone on this list due to his power-speed potential. With a 31.3% hard contact and decent fly ball rate, it doesn’t look like he is more than a 20-homer threat, but he is only 23 years old so as he grows he could continue to add more power to his game. He does have some swing and miss concerns which is evidenced by his 26.8% strikeout rate and 72.7% Contact%. This makes his batting average a concern, and it is quite likely that Bauers has a batting average below .250 in 2019. Even if this is true, I see Bauers having similar numbers to Ian Desmond in 2019, and it comes at a 116.3 pick difference in ADP.

Peter O’Brien, Miami Marlins (ADP: 575.6)

O’Brien is severely underrated, as his peripherals over his short stint in the Majors last season are quite similar to that of one Aaron Judge—and he is being taken 467.2 picks later than Joey Gallo. O’Brien is one of the few players who I genuinely believe can maintain a hard contact rate above 50.0% throughout a full season. After his promotion to Triple-A last season, he had a line drive rate of 29.0%, which if maintained onto 2019, could offset the high strikeout rate like it has for Aaron Judge. I am all in on O’Brien this season, and honestly believe he could be a Top 100 fantasy option by the end of 2019.

Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 665.8)

Vogelbach continues to get pushed out of the lineup in Seattle, and 2019 looks no different. This is outrageous as he could be a Top 25 player from the offensive side of the game. His disciplined approach at the plate with the ability to make consistent contact reminds me a lot of Matt Carpenter and Max Muncy, but that is not all he offers. Over the past three seasons, it seems like I have continued to read about Vogelbach’s experiments to increase his power, and it looks like it all came together last season. He hit 20 home runs over 378 plate appearances and had more fly balls than ground balls at Triple-A, but the most impressive stat from last season may be the 52.5% hard contact rate he had over his 61 batted ball events. Now it was a small sample size, but it shows that Vogelbach has made tremendous strides in the power department and is ready for a breakout. He is out of options, so hopefully we will see him moved to a team that will actually utilize his skill set in 2019.