Primer For 1B Slumming

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, whichever is applicable for you. Yes, the time seems to be crawling along. The calendar isn’t lying; it’s the middle of January and you’re still 2.5 months away from meaningful baseball games. While this can take a toll on one’s heart and soul, an optimist views this period as a haven. It’s a period of time where we can all put our GM caps on, pick apart, build up, tear down, eulogize what once was great, show elation for what is new, and prepare for the painstaking task of being the smartest person in the room come draft day. Thanks to this site and countless others on this great wide web, the process has become such an enjoyable journey.

First Base, 1B, the 3 for those scoring at home. It’s kind of a big deal in fantasy terms. If your team hopes to contend it’s likely going to need some quality production from this position. If your league requires it’s participants to remove the training wheels, you’re likely going to start multiple players from the position. While it’s great to get affirmation that Goldy, Rizzo, Miggy and Votto can rake, a 40 Top  or top 10 1B list with the same names doesn’t assist much come draft day. That’s where I come in. In reality, if you clicked this webpage, bothered to read the intro, and are still hanging on, nothing I’m going to type is going to be breaking news. Perhaps, though, I can put a new spin on an old tune, steer you away from disaster, or give you affirmation everyone desperately seeks.

The focal point of this post are your 2nd and 3rd tier 1B options, players you’ll be dropping into your CI and UTIL spots. To find my target group I used recent NFBC ADP from completed Draft Championship teams. Numbers listed by players’ names are current ADP accompanied by the players’ high and low pick.

Upper Tier Production For Clearance Level Pricing?

Byung-ho Park (201/126/290). I cannot honestly say anything positive or negative about Byung-ho Park with any certainty based on anything I have seen. What I do know is this. The Twins have developed, what many view to be, the top Farm System in baseball as recently as last season. Many of these same people felt it would be wise to sign this power bat. In addition, aside from Hideki Irabu and Kaz Matsui, has there been any complete bust among International players? I could be wrong, but it sure seems the success rate is pretty good. Have you tried moving Brandon Belt (155/ 130/190) the last couple of seasons? My guess is Park wouldn’t be a hard sell should he come out of the gates with 7 HR in April. Throw in the success of Kang last season, and I like the potential value Park could add to your team.

Mark Trumbo (182/126/241). After 3 really strong seasons from 2011-2013 totaling 95 HR and 282 RBIs, Trumbo has combined for 36 HR and 125 steaks the last two seasons. His plate approach hasn’t wavered, his plate discipline seems to have sustained, and his batted ball data has stayed true to form. All that makes me think that injuries derailed 2014 and that 2015 could have been simply the year to get back to form. In addition, the Orioles seem to have a way with getting the best out of free agent sticks, at least of late. Anyone recall the dumpster fire that was Chris Davis, or the untapped potential of Nelson Cruz? At 29 I like what 2016 holds in store for Trumbo.

Pedro Alvarez (289/ 256/337). On the plus side: Alvarez bounced back from a lackluster 2014 to more resemble the good pop, BA risk option we’d come to expect. On the downside: His Pirates career is over, and he will likely be remembered as having failed to live up to the hype (Please pass the tissue). Once Alvarez signs a new contract, I’m sure he’ll recover – having yet to be signed is obviously a rather important factor in his outlook for 2016. Given his status as a failed prospect combined with his glove liability, I just don’t see a scenario where he is signed by a team who will commit to him in a full-time capacity. His groundball spike is concerning, but otherwise his underlying skills stayed the same. He improved considerably against LH pitching, albeit in just over 60 PA. He’ll have his warts, but the potential of 30 HR makes him much more viable to me than the Justin Bour’s (235/ 166/261) and Mitch Moreland’s (250/ 207/321) of the world.

Richie Shaffer (609/523/723). The Rays seem like a contender for the most part. Their starting pitching is among the deepest in MLB. Their bullpen projects to be deep and talented. Their team defense could be amongst the best in baseball. Their offense….Aah, their offense.. The offense is punchless and has been for years. The offense is so inept they gave up a serviceable rotation piece to acquire Logan Morrison. As if seeking out the help of Logan Morrison isn’t enough, it’s very likely you could be looking at a middle-of-the-order bat. I’ll let the cat out of the bag: I’m skeptical. I question the staying power of Logan Morrison being a productive MLB hitter this season. Hypothetically speaking, say Morrison performs above replacement level. All it would take for Shaffer to garner playing time would be for James Loney to come out of the gate sluggish.

Shaffer isn’t without his faults. He swings and misses a ton, so a .240 BA would require a nice assistance from BABIP, and it’s not exactly a given he’d clear 25 bombs. What Shaffer does have going for him is his cost. He’s ignored in most smaller formats and thus far merely bench filler in bigger formats. With the lackadaisical play among lower-end CI/UTIL options, the plus home run skill alone could easily make up for the lackluster batting average. I would easily prefer the roll of the dice on Shaffer over similarly skilled players such as LaRoche ( 447/ 327/558), Ryan Howard (461/ 388/541), and Mike Napoli (451/362/537).

Paying The Premium For Middling Production

Brandon Belt (160/130/190). When I first reviewed this list of players, I was looking for the player I felt could produce a Top 5 season for the position. The first name I listed was Brandon Belt. He’s shown flashes of such, albeit in various seasons. He hit .289 in 2013, had a 25+ HR pace before an injury in 2014, and stole double-digit bases in 2012. He’s not a liability vs. LHP, he hits the ball to all fields, and a career GB/FB rate of .91 would suggest 25 pop should be the norm. So while many of the tools appear to be there, the results haven’t followed in full. His plate approach hasn’t gotten better. A .38 BB/K rate just doesn’t fly for a Top 150 player who has yet to offer a plus skill. His solid BA last season would seem to be a product of a .363 BABIP. I certainly understand the intrigue in Belt. He’ll be 28 when the 2016 begins, and I understand why several owners will target Belt for a breakthrough. I will not be one of those-owners and will feel vindicated should his numbers approach those of seasons past.

Mark Teixeira (184/140/226). Firmly in the top of the 2nd 1B tier, Teixeira was nothing short of excellent last season, at least in terms of the price you paid to obtain him. He cut back on his K% last season, and it resulted in a nice batting average increase. Teixeira’s approach otherwise didn’t change: he walks 12% of the time, hit’s the ball with authority, and more often than not pulls the ball right into the shift. Like many LH power hitters, the BABIP gods aren’t likely to be kind to him. In 2013 he missed all but 15 games, and in 2014 he produced a decent season accompanied by mumbles of a declining skill set. At 36 I find it difficult for Teixeira to equal the projected totals his draft status demands. Going into the season, Teixeira’s value is derived on his counting stats. It’s a foregone conclusions he won’t surpass a .250 average. Should injuries or struggles drop Teixeira into the low 20 range in home runs, it’d be hard for him to surpass 85 RBIs. A .235/21/82 line doesn’t seem to be a Top 200 player in my book.

Justin Bour (241/166/286). It would seem as though the Marlins are committed to seeing what Bour can do over the course of a full year. His first full season produced good results. He walks enough, makes decent contact, and is country strong as old-school announcers would say. My fault with Bour has more to do with draft stock than talent. Bour will be exposed against lefties, his respectable .262 mark will fall below .250, his HR/FB% will dip below 20, and you’ll be left with a serviceable bat but not one you’re happy with. I’d much rather have the Coors effect of Ben Paulsen (318/270/360), who benefits from the RH assistance of Mark Reynolds.

Adam Lind ( 241/191/279). Nothing artificially inflates a player’s value more so than a new uniform. Sure, Safeco isn’t a welcoming place for hitters to go, but the optimist would point to what should be a slightly better lineup around him. From an underlying skill standpoint, nothing stands out as a warning sign. His plate approach is good, he hits the ball to all fields, and he produces good, wholesome stats you can send home to your mother. Perhaps it’s recency bias from Cano, or perhaps it’s caused by years of suppressing my true feelings regarding Adam Lind. This one is more of a gut call so take it with a grain of salt, but I’d prefer rolling the dice on a Chris Carter (410/322/507) or Adam LaRoche (447/ 345/558) type who could produce plus numbers in counting stats at a cheaper cost.

 

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Josh Coleman
Father of four SP1 children. Replacement level husband to a top tier wife. I love my family, value my friendships, and spend as much time as possible (too much according to the aforementioned Mrs. Coleman) dedicated to the pursuit, of another Fantasy Championship. I'm the oddball at the bar who prefers Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy Football.