More on First Basemen…

Earlier this week, I did a breakdown of 1B using the NFBC ADP data. I grouped them according to the draft slots and gave some thoughts on who I liked and disliked at their current costs. Since I was using the NFBC draft data, it was only listing those who are currently qualified by the standard 20-game threshold (the industry standard and also what most sites use, while Yahoo! is most lenient at just 5 games).

I was so zeroed in on the group of NFBC-eligible first basemen that I didn’t even think about a very worthwhile group of players: those certain or very likely to gain 1B eligibility early enough in the season that you can draft them with the intention of being your primary option at the position and those who fell below 20 games, but still had enough to qualify at sites using a 5- or 10-game qualifier.

The 1B-To-Be: Gems & CI Studs

I grouped this quartet together despite the vast split in ADP because all four are viable fantasy starters. The top two are obviously in another class – and even they are split pretty substantially, though I have to imagine Murphy will close the gap once draft season kicks into high gear. Hoskins goes into my Studs tier in between Anthony Rizzo and Cody Bellinger.

After a solid April (.985 OPS), Hoskins sputtered through May (.551 OPS) and then fouled a ball back into his face and broke his jaw. After missing just nine games, he returned in early-June and played great the rest of the way with 28 HR and an .883 OPS in his final 444 PA. I don’t see much split between Hoskins and Bellinger in composite value with Bellinger holding an SB/AVG upside and Hoskins holding some HR/RBI edge. Both will also maintain their OF eligibility, too, though I’m sure they’ll be more valuable at first base given the state of the position.

Murphy is a career .299 hitter heading to Colorado. That could be amazing. He hit .347 back in 2016 and while I wouldn’t project him to repeat that level in 2019, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him push a .325 or better mark with his new spacious home outfield.

It took Murphy some time to get into a groove after returning from his knee injury with just a .194 AVG in his first 22 games. But he was peak Murphy and very nice in his final 69 games with a .328/.366/.508 line, 11 HR, 32 RBI, and 36 R in 273 PA. Just for fun, I’ll mention that he has a .330/.358/.536 line in 120 PA at Coors Field. He slots into the Contributors group and at his current price, I prefer him most of that group, though like I mentioned earlier, I suspect his ADP will surge.

Braun’s entering his age-35 season on the heels of two solid-if-unspectacular seasons that fit for a starting CI role. He hasn’t reached 450 PA in either season, but he’s still managed double-doubles (10+ HR/SB) in both, going 17 HR/12 SB in 2017 and 20 HR/11 SB last season. Plan for 400-450 PA of useful production. Roster a usable backup for the time missed and you’ll get a worthwhile 500+ PA out of that CI spot. Braun fell just two games shy of the 20-game threshold for qualification, but that means he’s good to go on sites using 15 games or fewer.

A severe shoulder injury robbed Lamb of his power and limited him to just 56 games, but don’t let that dud season make you forget that he popped 59 HR and drove in 196 RBI across 2016-17. The re-signing of Eduardo Escobar and trade of Paul Goldschmidt will push Lamb to 1B and he’ll gain eligibility early in the season. A strong spring will push Lamb’s cost up, but even with that I still think he’ll be affordable and worth the gamble.

The 1B-To-Be: Deep Leaguers

A knee injury cut Trumbo down last year (90 games played), but he still had a 30-homer pace and 107 wRC+ for the games he did play. He’s still in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards and should share 1B duties with Chris Davis.

Morales had 18 games at 1B last year so he’ll be eligible in some formats and he quietly popped 20+ HR for the fourth straight season. He should be locked into the DH role and if he gets another 150 games (as he did in 2016-17), we could see a 30-homer season.

Fraizer will get a real shot to rebound despite a particular popular prospect breathing down his neck and it’s worth remembering that we’re not that far from a 40 HR/15 SB season (2016). Health is the major factor to getting back on track after a pair of DL stints last year. I won’t rule out a 30 HR/10 SB campaign, though it’ll likely still come with a poor AVG, even if he’s healthy.

Choi is slated in as the strong side 1B for Tampa Bay right now after the Avisail Garcia signing and he could provide some nice pop in that role. He smacked righties to the tune of a .289/.387/.535 line and 7 HR in 168 PA down the stretch with the Rays.

The Prospects (ranked in the order I like them for potential ’19 performance)

There’s a lot of excitement for Alonso after a 36 HR season across Double- and Triple-A. 80 raw plays so the moment he reaches the majors, he’ll be worth in a look in all formats. He’s a bit blocked off right now, but don’t get overly hung up on that. Injuries happen. Underperformance happens. Surges from the prospect in question happen.

Talent wins out in the end so if Alonso continues to mash in Triple-A, he’ll get his opportunity. I know I just said some relatively nice things about Frazier and he’s the primary blocker of Alonso, but there’s also age (Lowrie/Cano) and inexperience (Rosario) elsewhere on the Mets infield and there’s enough versatility that an injury or falloff from any of them can open space for Alonso.

Davis might not have the same upside of Alonso (after all, he “only” has 70 raw power), but he’s slated for a bench role with the big league club so he has a head start. The 26-year old former Astros prospect has infield and outfield utility making it easier for him to carve out a role, though he won’t enter ’19 with 1B eligibility so it could take some time to gain it.

Lowe put together a great three-level season (178 wRC+) ending in Triple-A and now sits on the cusp of an MLB call up. It crowded, as it always seems to be in Tampa Bay, but they also love to mix and match players so the 23-year old left-handed hitter could get a real opportunity over the summer.

McKay was given a 2019 ETA in the TB prospects write up, but he’s also a pitcher/hitter hybrid so he’s a total wildcard when it comes to fantasy.

Alvarez only played five games at 1B in the minors last year, but he’s not a particularly good fielder so I’m not sure the Astros want him patrolling a corner outfield position when he’s called up. Finding any playing time could be a challenge, though, with Yuli Gurriel being backed up by both Tyler White and A.J. Reed. Kyle Tucker should get the first open outfield role over Alvarez, too.

Chavis lost 80 games to a PED suspension on the heels of a 31-homer breakout in 2017 and now we’re left wondering what his future holds. If the power was unduly chemically influenced, we’re left with a bland 1B prospect. Even if the ’17 punch returns, he still has an uphill battle for playing time and might be best off as a trade candidate for the Sox.

Bradley did smack 27 HR across Double- and Triple-A last year, but only put up a 110 wRC+ in the process (held back by a .304 OBP in AA). Jake Bauers will be the primary 1B at the outset of the season and Carlos Santana should get some 1B reps, too, but if Bradley finds his ’16-’17 levels again (~118 wRC+), he could be up over the summer.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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3 years ago

Damn, I thought this article was going to be about moron first basemen.

3 years ago
Reply to  mitchy

He did mention Daniel Murphy early on.