Fantasy Baseball: First Base Sleepers and Busts
First base is one of the deepest positions in fantasy baseball.
If you miss out on a first baseman the first few rounds of a draft, don't panic. Just wait on some sleepers in the later rounds that nobody seems to want.
In the last few drafts that I participated in, the first baseman below fell in the drafts and became great bargains.
On the other hand, there are first baseman that have gone way too early in drafts that are not proven or will hurt you in one category or another.
Here's a list of my sleepers and busts for 2009:
Sleeper 1: Joey Votto
Joey Votto quietly broke out last year and nobody seems to realize it. Votto posted solid stats of: .297 AVG, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 69 R, 7 SB, .368 OBP.
Those numbers are great for your first full season and Votto's only going to get better.
He plays in a solid Reds lineup and a hitter's ballpark in Cincinnati. Wait until the middle rounds and then snag him before anybody else does.
Sleeper 2: Carlos Pena
Pena seems to have been forgotten after he had his monster season two years ago.
Sure, his numbers slipped a bit last year, but he might be the biggest 40-homer bargain in the draft.
Owners are scared off by his average, but you're not drafting him for average anyway. If you draft high average guys early, it won't hurt your team to draft Pena in the middle rounds.
This guy is a huge sleeper.
Sleeper 3: Billy Butler
Butler's potential is through the roof and he seems to go undrafted in every league.
Sure, his numbers were not great last year, but what's the risk in drafting Butler late when he has the potential to win a batting title in the future?
Butler is tearing it up this spring, so pounce on him late in the draft when there's no risk in taking him.
He might end up being a huge bargain.
Sleeper 4: Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko was a top 10 first baseman a few years ago and has slipped lately, but has he declined enough to go undrafted?
He was excellent in the second half last year, batting .270 with 13 home runs and 28 RBI.
He is also having a mammoth spring and should not be overlooked late in the draft.
Sleeper 5: Adam LaRoche
If there's one thing to know about Adam LaRoche it is that he's always a slow starter.
That notion seems to be common among fantasy owners and that has led to LaRouche going undrafted or dropped early in the season.
Now, I'm not a huge LaRoche fan, but there are a few things I like about him this season:
1. He's in a contract year.
2. He always has a huge second half and will be helpful in the playoffs.
3. A healthy Ryan Doumit will help LaRoche's numbers over the course of the year.
4. He always finishes with solid numbers when it's all said and done.
Take a flier on him late and hold on to him, even if he struggles early, because it will pay off.
Bust 1: Chris Davis
It's not that I don't think Chris Davis will have a good season, but he is being drafted way too high for an unproven player.
Why take Davis in round 5 when you can grab Carlos Pena or Joey Votto in the middle rounds?
Owners are loving his potential a little too much and that can come back to bite you if he struggles.
He is also more valuable as a third baseman than a first baseman since third is not as deep.
I would pass on Davis and wait for a more proven guy.
Bust 2: Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis is a great player, but I don't seem him repeating last year's numbers.
He's also 30 years old, which means his numbers are more likely to decline than improve.
If you're going to take him, do so as a third baseman and grab a more reliable guy for first base.
Bust 3: Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn could be considered a sleeper since he doesn't get much love in the fantasy world.
But why draft Dunn early when you can get the same production from either a Carlos Pena or Carlos Delgado late in the draft?
Dunn will give you 40 homers and drive in 100 runs, but you can get that production, or close to it, from Pena or Delgado in the later rounds.
He is a batting average killer, so make sure you draft high average guys before taking him and don't draft Pena along with Dunn.
Choose one or the other.
Bust 4: Garrett Atkins
Atkins is a solid fantasy player, but he's more valuable at third base, much like Youkilis and Davis.
Sure he hits at Colorado, but his numbers have declined the last few years and there's no Matt Holliday hitting in front of him anymore.
His home/road ratios were astounding in 2008. Home: .342 AVG, 9 HR, 55 RBI. Away: .233 AVG, 12 HR, 44 RBI.
And those numbers were with Holliday in the lineup. He's too risky to take as your first baseman.
Bust 5: Mike Jacobs
Jacobs was traded from the Marlins to the Royals this offseason, and some might think the change of scenery will help.
But Jacobs is nothing special.
He will kill your batting average just like Dunn, and if you're drafting him for his career year last year, you're asking for trouble.
His numbers against lefties vs. those against righties were mind boggling. He hit .257 with 25 home runs and 70 RBI against righties, but just .218 with 7 home runs 23 RBI against lefties.
Jacobs is more likely to platoon and probably won't give you much value besides power.