Drafting Value – First Baseman
Another week, another position. This week we take on the first base position. First base is arguably the deepest position of all heading into the 2018 baseball season. Lets take a look at a few guys that may slide a little bit and allow you to attack some of the more shallow positions in fantasy baseball, providing the almighty value we all so deeply desire!
Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays : (ADP-132.83) – What a season this guy had in 2017! A top five finisher at the position in HR and top ten in RBI, SLG, ISO, wOBA and wRC+. A 132 ADP for a guy who just put up these numbers is insanity, showing no one believes he can replicate, or even come close to replicating that in 2018. Let’s dig in a little here. Smoak has an increased walk rate over 2014 and 2015 and is posting just over 11.5 BB% in 2016 and 2017 while thoroughly improving his K% in 2017 as well. He’s consistently struck out around 25% of the time in his career but lowered it to a respectable 20% last season. Add that to the fact that he has BABIP numbers between .270 and .295 for most of his pro career and stayed true to that with a .285 in 2017. Luck doesn’t seem to be a factor in his meteoric rise. What stands out was his ability to improve his plate discipline, thus selecting better pitches to unleash on. His current ADP has guys like Miggy and Ian Desmond going before him. Desmond has never had more than 25 home runs in his career and hasn’t had a BB% over 7.1%. The upside is considerably higher for Smoak and will receive every day at bats. Miggy, an OG in my book, has all the respect from me that I can possibly give a player. It’s just that he’s entering his age 35 season and has now missed 30+ games in two of the last three seasons. How much does he have left? Smoak should be well above these two players and will absolutely be a top 12 first baseman, well above his ADP that has him as the 16th first baseman taken on Fantrax.
Wil Myers, San Diego Padres : (ADP-66.23) – Let me start by saying that a 66 ADP is nothing to shrug at. That’s a fairly high pick. My issue is that he’s the ninth first baseman being taken, way lower than his abilities should attract. In 2017, Myers finished with more home runs(30) than Eric Hosmer, more steals(20) than any other first baseman, has played in 155+ games in consecutive seasons and has 168 RBI’s in the last two seasons combined. A 30/20 season from a first baseman that posted a 28/28 season in 2016 is Paul Goldschmidt without the average. Myers is an elite talent with a sky high ceiling in 2018. His ISO is always around .200 and his steals make up for his high K%. As 1B9, with his power and speed combo, he’s an absolute steal in every format.
Eric Hosmer, Free Agent : (ADP-78.82) – The tricky thing here is he is still unsigned but if you draft before he gets a contract you’re getting him at a little bit of a discount. In 2017 he had an ADP of around 72. After a career year his ADP has dropped to almost 79, showing a little hesitation to draft him so far in 2018. Where he ends up could have somewhat of an impact depending on where it is. Hosmer, however, is a player that hits line drives(22.2 LD%) and uses the whole field. A position leading 55.6 GB% is not only an extremely high rate for a hitter, it’s even more ridiculous for a first baseman. These rates give him a high average, OBP and higher chance to get those extra base hits. None of his rates, other than his GB%, have escalated enough to prove why he’s put up a career high 25 home runs in back to back years so we can likely attribute that to him just attacking pitches in the zone and hitting to all fields. That scenario is highly sustainable and is great news for his owners and whichever team signs him. This lessens the impact of ballpark ratings for him and with his ability to sustain what he’s been doing for 2+ years, at an ADP just below 80, is a safe and high floor first baseman that you can get for cheap. If you miss out on the Bellinger, Votto, Freeman tier, don’t panic. Eric Hosmer is still there with his 25 homers, 95+ rbis and 90 or so runs scored. Those aren’t statistics to scoff at.
Knowing how deep a position is gives you a leg up on the competition and allows for great value selections in the middle to late rounds. Mock draft like crazy, try different strategies and most importantly pay attention to who is typically being drafted and in what rounds. That last one will keep you from panicking when a position goes on a run and reaching for someone way ahead of where they should be drafted. First base is a position you could wait on if necessary, however that doesn’t mean you should pass on a Joey Votto or a Paul Goldschmidt. Be sure to come back next week when we attack the second base position and the surprising power numbers that it can and has certainly produced!
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