Do Not Draft: First Base

Hello and good morning! Last week we addressed who to avoid at the catcher position. Today we’re going to give the first base spot a good, hard look. We’re putting together a positional ranking 10 spots deeper than catcher, so we’ve got a little bit more to work with here.

The first base crop heading into the 2018 isn’t one that lights my pants on fire with excitement. Last year the position was filled with breakout seasons from Smoak, Morrison, and Thames to name a few. I’m not sold on any of those players carrying that success full-on into 2018. Sure, they should be fine, but I’m not expecting big things like they did last year. Thames displayed why last year, regressing as the season progressed. The position seems to be rather top-heavy this year. Once you get down below the top 10 at the position you might as well draw them on out of a hat. Anyway, onto the players to push aside this year.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

I can’t yell it loud enough, DO NOT DRAFT MIGGY!!! I have him ranked 10th, but I want nothing to do with him this season. For starters, Cabrera will be entering his age-35 season this year. That should be enough of a red flag to steer clear. If we avoided players strictly on age, we’d have missed a lot of fantasy all-stars in years past. There are exceptions, but this is not one of them.

Miguel Cabrera hit a whopping 68 points less than his career average last year (.249), and only totaled 16 home runs and 60 RBI. 2015 was as comparable season, in terms of games missed (119 to 130), yet Miggy had 18 homers that year, 78 RBI, and slugged 135 points better. The 2017 season seems to have been the result of age creeping up on him as well as the injury bug coming to take a bite.

Sure, Miggy could rebound nicely in 2018, win the Comeback Player of the Year award and make us all look foolish, or he could come out and hit .250 again. Maybe it was just a clubhouse shake up that needed to happen in Detroit for Miggy to get back on track, or maybe the truth is he’s just on the downside of his career, limping to the finish (like Pujols). Either way, Miggy isn’t the player he was even two years ago. If the shell of himself is a guy hitting 20 home runs and knocking in 80, that value can be found much later in any draft.

Wil Myers, Padres

Wil Myers is a fine player. He seems to have found his power stroke over the last two years, averaging 29 home runs per season. There’s nothing wrong with rostering a player with that kind of power. With the rumblings of Hosmer possibly landing in San Diego, that pushes Myers to the outfield. A struggle in the field could lead to struggles at the plate, which is why I have him ranked 16th at the position.

Myers has experience in the outfield, having played there 213 times in his career, but he’s not terrific out there. I have a hard time finding interest in a player that could take his struggles on the field to the plate with him, regardless of fantasy format. I want a guy who’s comfortable where he is playing. Just look at Matt Carpenter last year. He wasn’t happy about his place on the field and he barely hit .240. There were other reasons too, but that was one of the contributing factors.

The lineup surrounding Myers in San Diego is also something to take a look at. Yes, they added Galvis (great move), but they just sent Solarte out of town. The Padres projected opening day lineup has five players with less than a year and a half of service time. The sound of that doesn’t’ bode well for Myers’ scoring numbers. Myers presents you with a chance to hit 30 homers and that’s lovely, but he also presents you with the chance he’ll only have 60 RBI. Given his current ADP, we expect more than that.

Justin Smoak, Blue Jays

There’s just something I don’t buy about a player having his breakout season coming at the age of 30. I have Smoak ranked 20th, behind guys like Greg Bird, Rhys Hoskins, and Eric Thames. Smoak showed us for seven seasons who he was, then 2017 comes around and suddenly, he’s a totally different player. I’m not buying it.

Justin Smoak hit 38 homers, knocked in 90, and had an average of .270 last year. Smoak only totaled 39 homers from 2014-2016. From that same three-season span, Smoak knocked in a total of 125 runners. In 2016 he struck out 112 times in 299 at bats, and 2017 saw him whiff 128 times over 560 at bats.

Looking at the stat sheet prior to 2017 for Smoak really makes you question what happened in 2017 that caused the offensive explosion. As you saw in the stats above he was a night and day difference of a player after seven seasons. Heading into 2018 you are essentially taking a gamble on which version of Justin Smoak you’re going to get. The aged lineup that surrounds him in Toronto is another cause for concern. Injuries occur, then suddenly he’s surrounded by inexperience players. The risk is extremely high, and I suggest you let someone else taek the chance.

Let’s roll the dice – Guys to take a late round flyer on

  • Ryon Healy, Mariners
  • Matt Olson, Athletics
  • Greg Bird, Yankees

Now that I’ve given you my side of the first base position, let’s hear yours! Leave your fantasy questions in the comment section below or on Twitter, @KennyGarvey. Catch you next week as I give you my “do not draft” list of second base options!


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Kenny Garvey

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I'm from eastern Iowa, yes there are more things than just corn here. I'm a baseball nerd. If there's a game televised you can bet I've got it on! Family and baseball keep me sane. Fantasy baseball far outweighs fantasy football, no doubt about it!

5 thoughts on “Do Not Draft: First Base”

    1. Olson is risky, and has some platoon splits. You would want to rely on him more as a CI, but in daily where you can work around that or OBP leagues, his values takes a bump.

    2. Good question Evan,

      I think Matt Olson is a legit option in almost any format, so he’s a definite grab in a deep 14-team league. You’re not going to get much of an average out of him, but his power isn’t a fluke.

      To address Chris’s comment, I think he’s fine against either RHP or LHP. His average versus the different sides of the mound are skewed a bit by the lefty specialists coming out of the pen. Plus, you’re not drafting Olson for average, you’re drafting him for his power.

      1. Thanks for your response. I have him in one of my keeper leagues for $1 as a CI / Utility spot drafting him for power with other average guys to balance him out.

  1. I know not to draft Smoak based on a career year, but food for thought, we’ve seen another, ex-teammate of Smoak, guy who was pretty terrible until the light came on at age 29/30 season and had 6 pretty good years. I wouldn’t pay full price but Smoak may be worth a look if everyone looks the other way and he can be had on the cheap.

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