Over here in the deep-league cubicle of Razzball, we’ve looked at late-round starting pitchers and outfielders, and now it’s time to move on to a group of gentlemen I like to call first basemen.  We’ll look at guys who, according to current NFBC ADP, are ranked outside the top 15 first basemen drafted and outside the top 150 overall.  What I’m going to begin with, though, is a quick public service announcement to anyone in an AL-only league:  in case you hadn’t noticed (and I hadn’t, until I wrote this post), there is as ridiculously steep a drop off from the top few guys to the next group as I ever remember seeing.  Based on NFBC ADP, your top 5 AL first basemen are D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Abreu, Vlad Guerrero, Luke Voit and Matt Olson (whose current ADP is #90).  Looking at the 1B list after that, you get a slew of national leaguers, and do not hit another AL name other than the first two on this list (both of whom also qualify at OF, for what it’s worth) until Miguel Sano at #191.  Yes, I said Miguel Sano at #191.

Bottom line is, I don’t want to draft any of the players listed below as a starting 1B in any size league — I’ve realized that I’m going to want a top 5 guy in an AL-only league, and a high-to mid-round option in NL-only or deeper mixed leagues.  What follows, then, in a best-case scenario is a list of corner infield, utility, and depth options (and at worst, some escape hatches in case you’re halfway through a draft or auction and realize you’re in trouble at the position).

Ryan Mountcastle.  As the 16th ranked first baseman (this includes anyone who has multi-position eligibility) based on ADP and at #151 overall, Mountcastle just squeaks by to make this list given our eligibility requirements.  I wasn’t afraid to draft Orioles in my deeper leagues last year (it paid off nicely, at least in the form of several shares of Anthony Santander), and I won’t be again this year.  I’m actually surprised that Mountcastle’s ADP is this high; you are probably paying more for quantity than for quality at this point since we’ll assume he’ll get plenty of playing time, and he also qualifies at outfield.  You may also be paying for an excellent run in a mere 35 games in 2020, as he hit .333 with 5 homers last year.  Looking at numbers like BABIP and xBA would lead one to expect some serious regression on that average, but if Mountcastle falls significantly below this price I’m willing to take a gamble.

Trey Mancini (#183 ADP).  Also an Oriole, also qualifies at OF as well.  Had a career year in 2019, missed 2020 due to colon cancer.  It’s hard to even guess what to expect in 2021, but at anywhere near #200 overall I’m interested in finding out.  I don’t think he has another year like 2019 in him regardless of his health, but any kind of a significant bounce back could make him a nice value.

Christian Walker (#195 ADP).  Walker was a fairly popular sleeper with many people (myself included) last year, but his utterly mediocre 2020 (he hit .271 with 7 homers and a steal in 57 games) has him even further down in the rankings than I would have guessed.  I was comfortable drafting him as a cheap starting 1B in NL-only last year, but don’t see him as more than a corner guy in any league heading into 2021.  That being said, I already have one share and expect I’ll grab a few more before April, in case the Diamondbacks as a team choose to come out of the group offensive slumber that afflicted them in 2020.

Jared Walsh (#196 ADP).  Walsh is the poster boy for how hard it is to judge the stats from a mini-season in the middle of a pandemic, as he had a bizarre couple of months.  He started the year going 0 for 10, got demoted the the pretend minor leagues as they existed in 2020, and then came back and ended the season on such an insane tear that he finished the year hitting .293 and had 9 homers in just 99 total at bats.  That average seems guaranteed to come down, and who knows if Walsh will be able to thrive at the major league level with an extended look.  But he did show decent plate discipline at the end of the summer, and few have doubted his ability to hit for power.  There’s also the seemingly never-ending presence of Albert Pujols in the mix, but when you roll all of that together I don’t mind Walsh as a low-risk flier.

Hunter Dozier (#235 ADP).  Dozier is yet another player whose 2020 output is hard to decipher, given that he battled COVID early in the season and may have been dealing with lingering symptoms after he returned.  We don’t know whether or not they were to blame for his horrid .228 average and unimpressive hard-hit rate — as it turns out, that average is only one point off what he hit in 102 games in 2018, so maybe we shouldn’t hold our breath for a big rebound.  His more-valuable-to-fantasy-than-real-baseball counting stats (6 homers and 4 steals in 44 games) make me think he’s at least worth keeping an eye on, though, in case some version of that rebound materializes.

And now for a couple true deep-leaguers, outside the top 400 overall:

Garrett Cooper (#411).  Cooper had a solid season last year, especially considering that he too got hit with COVID and only played in 34 games for the Marlins.  He didn’t strike out a ton, he hit the ball hard, and showed great plate discipline, ending the year with a .283 average/.353 OBP and 6 homers in 120 at bats.  He’s been linked to multiple teams over the off-season and could very well end up on the short side of a platoon, since most are assuming his days in Miami are numbered between the lack of a universal DH and the acquisition of Adam Duvall.  It’s hard to envision a path to every day at bats in any scenario, but even limited playing time could be of some value in very deep leagues given his bargain price.

Colin Moran (#453).  Coming back full circle to the whole quantity over quality thing, we find Moran, who seems to be about the only Pittsburgh Pirate that no other teams have even a passing interest in.  His blistering hot start to 2020 made us all think for a moment that the Bucs might have uncovered a gem in the Gerritt Cole trade, as Moran hit 5 homers in the first week of the season.  He ended the year with 10 in 52 games, to go along with an undesirable .247 average.  He’ll likely play more than he should again this year given that the Pirates don’t exactly have a ton of options, which will likely lead to more trouble on the average front — but if he can manage a couple hot streaks he could provide better-than-nothing counting stats in a deep NL-only or Bestball style league.

 

 

 
  1. 183414 says:
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    C.J. Cron going to the Rockies should certainly be added to your list, especially with changing hitters on friday to sunday.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Yeah, I had Cron on the initial draft of these names with a question mark b/c he hadn’t signed, then didn’t have time to go back and edit my post as the Rockies news came through just after I’d written it. Anyway, agreed, I think he’ll be a popular late target now (and great point about the Fri – Sun leagues, which seem to be getting more common!) It’ll be interesting to see if he actually ends up getting overdrafted now that he’s a Rockie, though my guess is that he’s still low enough down the totem pole to potentially produce some nice value.

  2. Another Dan says:
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    Hey Laura,

    Thanks for all your deep league posts. I am in a 30 team dynasty where pretty much everyone is owned but your posts help me look for people who are perhaps undervalued.

    Bellinger is my 1B this year although he is also OF eligible in our league (fantrax). My backups at 1B are Nate Lowe, Lewin Diaz, Dalbec, Marmalejos. These guys worth holding or should I look at trading them away? (I have a salary cap issue looming in 2022)

    Many thanks,

    Another Dan

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Hey Dan, thanks for reading! Starting at the bottom of that list, I think Marmalejos is definitely expendable – not sure you’d get anything for him even in a league that deep but I wouldn’t bother holding him. Of the other 3, I’d probably be most likely to trade Dalbec since I think he has the most value now after the fairly ridiculous power show he put on in his call-up last year. I think it would extrapolate to something like a 56-HR season over a full year, so obviously that’s hard not to daydream about but I’m just too worried about the strikeouts (especially in a 25 year old) to be as high on him as some are. I think Lowe has a better chance at gaining trade value or developing into a solid player for your team and I would be more worried about selling low (no pun intended :) on him, unless you have another owner who is really excited about him and his move to Texas and you can really get some value in return. Diaz I feel the same about to a lesser extent – unless someone has specific interest in him, might be better to wait and see if he can boost his value somewhat after a very brief but still disappointing cup of coffee last year.

  3. Lower the Jolly Roger says:
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    Hi Laura! I look forward to all your posts.. I’m in a 12 team 5×5 roto.. keep 10 & 10 more farm/stash.. my team is good enough to finish as high as 2nd for a while (1st place team is utterly ridiculous)… anyways I’m looking to keep chipping away at first while still competing….

    I am keeping (among others)

    Abreu (my oldest player by far)
    K Marte
    Lamet
    Royce Lewis (on my farm)
    Yoelkis Cespedes (farm)

    I am looking to trade these 5 guys to make my team (and future) better .. I guess just curious on your thoughts on my strategy there .. thank you as always! Can’t wait for the next post!

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Hey LTJR, thanks for the kind words! I’m not sure if it’s just a lack of patience on my part, but in the 2 keeper leagues with extensive farm teams that I’m in, I just can’t resist going for it every single year without worrying about the future, even when I really probably should go for more of a re-build… but without knowing more about your league, I think you probably have the right idea in your situation. As hard as it would be for me to let go of Abreu, his value will probably never be higher than it is right now and if you can get a solid return for him I’d say go for it. I’d be worried about getting fair value back for Marte after his meh season last year and similarly would be worried about selling low on Lamet if people are worried about his health, but certainly worth exploring on both fronts. And I am always in favor of selling high on prospects if you can swing a nice deal for either or both of your farm guys!

  4. Harley Earl says:
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    Hey Laura,

    You wanna know who’s a steal at 1B this year? Wil Myers. He’s got 1B eligibility to go along with all three outfield spots for Yahoo and CBS leagues this year.

    Well, maybe he’s not the bargain he used to be. His ADP is 131. It used to be like 240. Still, he’s there for 1B if you find yourself in trouble without one!

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Hey Harley, I couldn’t agree with you more! Myers is definitely being drafted higher than he was last year, but I still like his current value; in fact I grabbed him in the last draft I did (15 team standard mixed league… just looked it up and I took him at #130). What’s not to love about that lineup this year, and the other interesting thing to me is how valuable he was in fantasy last year even with only 2 steals. Even if the power and average aren’t where they were last year, which they likely won’t be, if Myers starts running again I really think he could provide solid value in 2021.

      • Harley Earl says:
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        When Myers is healthy, and given freedom to play his way, he’s a special player. Definitely some value to be had there. And in that lineup? Whether he bats fifth or sixth, he’s going to have lots of opportunities to drive in runs and then steal bases. He couldn’t be in a more perfect situation!

  5. bill says:
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    Nailed it! Laura, what are your thoughts on Santana moving to KC?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Well, I guess I’d completely written him off — seeing that average under the Mendoza line from last year just makes me shudder — but I suppose there’s no reason that what Is really just a 60-game sample size should be quite so scary. Anyway, now that I’m really thinking about it, I think he could actually be a decent fallback option (281 ADP so he’s practically free) as long as you’re not counting on him for too much. I think I’ve been underestimating the Royals lineup overall (and it’ll definitely be interesting to see what Benintendi does in KC) and if they can put things together as a group I think there could be more fantasy value on that team than folks realize.

  6. JB says:
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    Would you trade Laureano for J Bell?

  7. JB says:
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    Would you send Laureano for J Bell?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      I’m not sure I would, but I’m probably overvaluing Laureano as a guy who was a 5-category contributor only a year ago and perhaps am too optimistic about a bounce back (and I don’t think it’s likely Laureano has a helpful average/OBP this year even if he rebounds somewhat overall). I really don’t trust Bell to get back to anywhere close to what he did in 2019… but all that being said, I think this is a fair trade on paper and depending on your league could make sense for you if you have a serious need at 1B and can spare an OF. I don’t know if the change if scenery is enough to suddenly turn Bell into an elite power hitter again, but getting out of Pittsburgh to a (MUCH) better lineup, new coaching staff, and away from the pressure of shouldering the hitting load for pretty much the whole team certainly can’t hurt!

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