2016 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers/Busts: First Base
First base is one of the most important positions on a fantasy baseball roster. Traditionally it’s the position where you can get your biggest source of the power categories and because it’s so important, you definitely don’t want to swing and miss at first base on draft day. Listed below are a few guys that Ryan and I feel will be solid guys you can pick up a little later on draft day and also a few guys that we feel may let you down if you select them too early.
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Ryan’s First Base Sleeper
Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
Injuries have been the biggest derailment of Myers’ career to this point, especially wrist injuries that are known to sap power. He has a lot of potential to be an all-around good hitter. He certainly has the power capability to hit 25 home runs in a good year and he showed he could hit for a solid average in his rookie season. Not only have the injuries been a problem, but sometimes it just takes guys a couple years to fully acclimate to the Majors. I’m not sure that either of those are the answer for Myers’ struggles, but I know the kid knows how to hit, he is just 25 years old, and he is coming into the season healthy. The pressure of being a superstar looks to be off of Myers this season, and although PetCo Park might not be a hitter’s haven, it isn’t a long shot to say that he could have a huge bounce back in 2016.
Steve’s First Base Sleeper
Byung-ho Park, Minnesota Twins
One thing that I like to do when it comes to filling my corner and middle infield positions is look for a player with a high celling. Korean import, Byung-ho Park fits that bill. While in Korea, Park showed he has as much power as one of those bombs that North Korea’s chubby little leader is developing (allegedly) as he hit 50+ homers for two consecutive seasons. Not only that, but he was also able to hit .300 in three consecutive years, so the skill is there. While I don’t expect him to replicate those numbers against big league pitching, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume he can hit .260 with 25+ home runs. He should earn quite a bit of playing time at first base, but even if he splits time with Joe Mauer, he should still see enough at bats at DH to be a very nice fantasy contributor that you can pick up later in drafts this year.
Ryan’s First Base Bust
Albert Pujols, Anaheim Angels
After two straight non-Pujols-like seasons, Big Albert brought the pain again to American League pitching to the tone of 40 home runs in 2015. Unfortunately, coming with the power surge came a huge decline in batting average, as Pujols hit under .250 for the first time in his career. He had surgery on his plantar plate in his foot in November and while he is due to be ready for Opening Day (or close), my confidence in an aging 36 year old who is starting to break down. This foot has been an issue for a number of years now, and this type of injury certainly does linger and definitely saps power. Just ask Corey Dickerson. Things are certainly trending in the wrong direction for Pujols, and at this point I would not want to have him as my starting first baseman.
Steve’s First Base Bust
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
I have to admit that I was dead wrong about Chris Davis last season. After getting busted for PEDs in 2014 and struggling immensely, he rebounded in 2015 and led the league with 47 home runs. I didn’t see that coming at all. However, there are some signs that give me a little concern for 2016. First of all, Davis had a home run to fly ball rate of 29.4% last year, which is much higher than his career average of 23.8%, so I don’t expect to see quite as many of his balls sail over the fence this year. His on base percentage was also .31 points above his career average and with a slightly elevated BABIP, I can see some regression in his .262 batting average as well. Finally, with the additions of Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez who both can play first base (and DH) I don’t see him reaching the 670 plate appearances he saw last season as well. One of those guys could still be put in right field, but I feel that although he could still see 35 home runs, there are too many signs pointing down for me to feel safe taking him in the second round where he’s currently being drafted.