Greetings, friends! Football season is officially over, pitchers and catchers are reporting, and draft season is in full swing. Speaking of drafting, I hope you’ve signed up for an RCL or three… tons of free leagues, cheap leagues, try-to-beat-the-writer leagues, and then there’s my $100 league which still has a few openings left as I write this. The site may call it RCL #18, but I call it the Young Guns league because last year reader Young Guns (who’s back this season) wiped the floor with me and every other owner to cruise to a resounding victory after a long, hard-fought season (taking home both a little cash and a lot of bragging rights). Truss told you on Tuesday (sign up sheet at the bottom of this article) why you should play, so now all you have to do is sign up, anticipate your draft day like it’s gonna be the best Christmas morning ever, and then proceed to have six months of thrills, spills, and challenging yet friendly competition.
Now, we move on to this week’s state of the position chat, as we land on (a slightly bigger than last year’s) first base. Like third base, first base is very top heavy, but I for one am actually finding several options I don’t mind later in drafts. If you want to anchor your team with an early pick of Vlad, Freddie, or Pete it’s certainly not a bad plan, but in most standard draft situations I’ll be taking an outfielder or a third baseman at that point, addressing first base a few rounds later. Now, one’s got to be careful of course, as this method led to one league where I have Luis Arraez as my starting first baseman, and it’s not even AL-only. This brings me to my weekly plea to suggest we all take a moment to familiarize ourselves with each position’s options, and how they are being valued by the fantasy baseball community, so that we know when and where to pounce to put together the best roster possible based on the league format and specifics of each individual draft or auction. (By the way, don’t feel too bad for me; the rest of the Arraez team is stacked, I swear).
There are so many players I don’t mind at first base, that I already have at least one share each of Goldy, Olson, Christian Walker, Pasquantino, and Hoskins. I have multiple shares of Nate Lowe (loved him last year at his price, still love him this year even as his cost has risen — he currently ranks 8th for first basemen in terms of NFBC ADP. He may break my heart a little, but I hope he’ll be a decent value here even if there’s some regression). I was out on Jose Abreu (ranked 9th just behind Lowe, and gaining more and more steam since signing with the Astros) last year but am back in this year… even if he doesn’t manage a big power surge/improvement from the mere 15 HRs he hit last year, I have to think/hope the counting stats will flow all season, and the average will help buoy a team in that category.
A little later, I like Rowdy Tellez (overall ADP #171) a lot; yes, the potential average drain is a little scary, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that he was one of only ten players to hit 35 or more homers last year. Plus, the average may improve, perhaps significantly, from last year’s .219 — at least that’s what both my gut and a lot of different analytical projections (Steamer puts him at .245) tell me. I’ve drafted Seth Brown (ADP #205), who conveniently qualifies at outfield in addition to first, a few times… he had 25 homers and 11 steals last year if you’ll recall, and I don’t see why something similar couldn’t happen again, regardless of how long he remains in Oakland. Not a bad time to review Grey’s first base rankings if you haven’t done so recently; I’m realizing now that he wrote sleeper posts on both Tellez and Brown if you want to dive a little deeper into more numbers and such.
Okay, now that we’ve touched on some of the lovely options in the top 200 or so, it’s time to deep-league it up and drop down to see what’s available at the position outside the top 400. Well, turns out not too much. Wil Myers has been rocketing up draft boards since landing with a presumed full-time job and an excellent hitters’ park in Cincinnati, and now checks in with an ADP of 390. I’m not sure the new situation is suddenly going to make him good again, but if he falls to me I can see taking a chance here, especially since he also qualifies at OF. There are only four total 1B options with an NFBC ADP between 400-500: Jared Walsh, Harold Ramirez, Luke Voit, and Joey Votto. I can’t get too excited about any of them, though Walsh says he’s healthy (after thoracic outlet surgery) and the Angels say he’s going to get reps in the outfield to increase his versatility. I’m not targeting him, but I suppose this late there’s not much risk to hope for a bounce back. I would watch Votto analyze a game or talk about baseball all day long, but am much less optimistic about his chances to get back to full health and overcome Father Time to become a productive major leaguer, let alone a fantasy player. And I actually drafted Voit at the end of one NL-only redraft league where we could draft free agents… not sure how well that’s going to work out and it’s a little unsettling that he remains unsigned, but the 22 homers alone last year are just enough to keep him on my (very) deep-league radar.
Continuing to drop down and heading outside of the overall top 500, let’s see if we can find a few more options for mono or deep draft and hold type leagues. Brandon Belt‘s ADP is at #527; it’s (not surprisingly) risen with his move to Toronto and (so far) no scary health news. He’s suddenly entering his age-36 season, but if he manages to stay on the field, even as a part-time DH he could provide some value if you’re looking for power in an AL-only league. I have a couple deep league shares of Carlos Santana, which already seems like a much worse idea now than it did a couple months ago when I drafted him, but we’re talking an ADP of #555, so beggars can’t really be choosers and all. More than one pundit has suggested that he could be a player who actually benefits from the shift ban (though even giving him 27 points on last year’s average, Steamer puts him at .229, which is obviously not encouraging). Personally, I’m combining his batted ball data with the good old-fashioned hope that his latest change of scenery will do him good… even though Pittsburgh is obviously not an ideal landing spot in terms of lineup strength, perhaps he’ll feel settled in nicely on a rebuilding team where he can impart wisdom to the youngsters without feeling a ton of pressure on himself.
We’ll close it out with Jesus Aguilar, another player I’ve already drafted more than once (did I mention some of my leagues are really, really deep?) I first grabbed him at the end of a 50-round draft and hold before he’d signed with Oakland, which is somewhat of a good news/bad news situation for my money… the A’s may well be the worst offensive team in baseball, but the playing time should certainly be there. (And along with it, perhaps the desperation to impress a contending team to pluck him away before the trade deadline?) Of course, another downside to more at bats (word is that he’ll play almost every day between first base and DH) is that they may drag your average down that much more, but the potential of 15 or so home runs for the power-starved may be worth it this late (current ADP #649).
As always, let me know if you have any thoughts, questions, or other comments, and happy drafting!