Fantasy Baseball Draft Targets – First Base

The MLB season is right around the corner. Although not the most popular fantasy sport, baseball can be the most fun as a GM. There are many stats to break down. While most leagues run a standard 5×5 scoring system, there are hundreds of advanced statistics to dissect.

This specific article will look at the three different tiers of first base eligible players to target throughout your draft. We will discuss the best options in the top tier, mid tier, and late tier, based on consensus ADP. As the week progresses, we will release different positions. You can find all of our player rankings here which compares the Fantasy Marksmen 2021 rankings, to the industry average. Let’s dive into it!

Top Tier:

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 14: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two run home run in the 1st inning against the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Freddie Freeman (ATL) – ADP 13
Cody Bellinger (LAD) – ADP 15
DJ LeMahieu (NYY) – ADP 25
Jose Abreu (CWS) – 37

To start, there is no wrong answer with these studs. All are fantastic options to roster at first base. That being said, DJ LeMahieu has multiple position eligibility and should be drafted at second base, should you choose that route.
Although a historically deep position, 1B is one that is top heavy with talent and drops off significantly. While there are great options later in the draft, you will be sacrificing a category that one of the “big three” (Freeman, Bellinger, Abreu) would otherwise contribute strong numbers for.
Given the ADP, targeting Jose Abreu at the end of the second round or beginning of the third, is a steal. The Chicago first base slugger has been nothing but consistent over the years, producing in 4/5 hitting categories. Last season was a glimpse of what hitting clean-up in this loaded roster could look like. All one year older, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Robert will help make this one of the most offensive lineups in baseball. Outside of his rookie season, Abreu is coming off his best numbers in ISO, wRC+, and wOBA. He has more protection in the lineup than ever before and will have plenty of guys on base in front of him to be driven in.

Source: rotochamp.com

Mid Tier:

Pete Alonso (NYM) – ADP 52
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) – ADP 54
Luke Voit (NYY) – ADP 57
Paul Goldschmidt (STL) – ADP 75
Matt Olson (OAK) – ADP 84
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – ADP 98

In the mid-tier, as mentioned, there are good options. But nearly all of them will lack at least one statistical category. Usually batting average. It is nearly impossible to find anyone at the position who will hit for power and steal bases (Cody Bellinger had 11 SB last year which is why he is ranked so high). In this group, there is one player who stands out above the rest.
Paul Goldschmidt. Since leaving the dessert for St. Louis, Goldy has seen a decline in his historically elite offensive production. However, there are a few contributing factors. In his first season with the Cards, he faced a lot of new pitchers in new ballparks (not hitting in Coors as often hurts – and Chase field for that matter). This led to a steep decline in batting average with a .260 average in 2019. In 2020, the average increased to .304, however the HR’s and RBI’s dipped. This was a result of being pitched around. The Cardinals offense lacked any real power threat in the lineup. This is evident with his 16% BB rate and.417 OBP. Both second highest in his career (next to 2015, when he was in a similar situation). In addition, Goldschmidt owned an 18.6% K rate – by far his lowest ever.
Looking ahead to 2021, the Cardinals invested in, arguably the best hitting third baseman, Nolan Arenado. This is arguable because he has hit in Coors Field his entire career which inflates anyone’s stats. Regardless, opposing pitchers will not have the luxury of putting Goldschmidt on base as often with the threat of another slugger coming up.
Expect a massive bounce back in offensive production for Paul Goldschmidt, who was considered a consensus first round draft pick, just three years ago.

Low Tier:

DETROIT, MI – JULY 31: C.J. Cron #26 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Comerica Park on July 31, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Reds 7-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Dominic Smith (NYM) – ADP 113
Josh Bell (PIT) – ADP 132
Rhys Hoskins (PHI) – ADP 142
Trey Mancini (BAL) – ADP 157
Eric Hosmer (SDP) – ADP 148
Hunter Dozier (KC) – ADP 226
C.J. Cron (COL) – ADP 310

This is the easiest tier to breakdown. If you decide to wait for your first baseman until the later stages in the draft, C.J. Cron must be rostered. His 310 ADP is criminal and I predict this to rise as we get closer to Opening Day.
The most obvious reasoning for the helium of Cron’s projections is the massive park upgrade. For those who don’t know, Coors Field, is by far the best ballpark in the MLB for hitters. The high altitude and park dimensions are a dream for sluggers and a nightmare for pitchers. At a mile in elevation, the air is significantly thinner than sea level. This does two things; First, when the ball is hit, it travels further. Second, when a pitcher throws a breaking ball, it breaks a lot less and is often “hung” up in the zone. In addition, the park dimensions are a way which create more “fair territory” surface area than any other ballpark. This leads to not only a higher batting average, but more extra base hits.

Source: Business Insider – 2014

Now with the Colorado Rockies, C.J. Cron is their everyday first baseman. After missing most of last year, Cron is projected to produce career high numbers. Expecting a .270 average, 30 homeruns, and 80 RBI’s is extremely realistic and would suggest he is an easy top 10 option at the position. Keep a close eye on his ADP over the weeks as he has been one of the most talked about “sleepers” in the industry.

Summary

When we think of players at the first base position, we generally think of big, slow, power-hitters. Well, in 2021 there are plenty of players who can hit for power at every position. This makes the top three extremely valuable. They can do what no one else at the position has proven to do – contribute to more than just HR and RBI’s.
There are plenty of solid options in the mid tier. If you do not want to invest in one of the big three, you will have a lot to choose from. Knowing full well that your batting average category could slip. There are a few guys here that could surprise us like a Vlad Jr., but for the most part, these guys are free swinging bombers. Goldschmidt won’t run like he used to, but provides a nice combination of power and average in a better lineup.
At the bottom of the draft, Cron sticks out like a sore thumb. He should be talked about in the mid tier, but missing most of 2020 and never being a true “stud” in the MLB gives drafters pause. Do not hesitate to pull the trigger when you have other pillars on your team drafted.

Jeremy Maw
@j_maw – Twitter
March 15, 2021

4 thoughts on “Fantasy Baseball Draft Targets – First Base

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