The first base position continues to be a premium spot for premium talent and if you want one of the best, you’ve got to dig deep into your pockets because you’ve got to pay, pay pay. The top 13 players at the position go within the first 100 picks and there’s one, Anthony Rizzo, who sits right on the cusp. Thirteen is almost half the starting first basemen out there in the player pool, so while outfielders make up almost 30-percent of the players taken in the first 100 picks, the percentage of first basemen who go, relative to their position, actually has a higher impact.
Not to mention, the drop-off in talent we see once those top 13 are off the board. Those who play in deeper leagues and opt to wait on the position because of the myth that it’s just so deep, lose out on quality players and run the risk of getting hurt even more if the league has a corner infield spot and aggressive drafters start looking to fill those spots early. Just looking at the overall ADP at the position, you’ll see that while there’s a definite cut-off spot for when first basemen come off the board in bulk, but the next seven come off before the 200th pick, so really, nothing good can come from waiting on this position.
Just to give you an example, I am currently doing a slow draft for a 15-team, mixed, standard 5x5 roto league that requires two catchers, a middle and corner infielder, one utility player and five outfielders. Pretty standard stuff. Well, one guy opted to wait on the position. He went outfield heavy with four of his first six picks and then took care of third and short. But then he battled a catcher run and was forced to take a guy and then pitching started to run thin and he was forced to grab starters with his next three picks. By the time he got to first base, not only did every team have their guy locked up, but many also had filled their corner infield spot and a couple even filled their utility. He ended up with a selection of Justin Morneau in the 14th round and picks of Adam Dunn and Ike Davis in the 24th and 25th. Not really a great group of guys.
Morneau could pan out well in Colorado, but he still has plenty of question marks around him. Dunn is all about the long ball, but not only does he have an albatross of a batting average, but he’s also going to have playing time issues and he and Paul Konerko fight for at-bats at the DH spot. And then Davis, well, there’s the valley fever that ruined him last year, the hitch in his hands during his swing and he’s also a potential drain on the average. He certainly didn’t need a top-five guy to succeed, but at least one guy better would have been helpful.
Incidentally, I have Mark Trumbo who qualifies at both first and the outfield and Anthony Rizzo. I invested relatively high draft picks for both, but I’m very secure with the power I’m going to end up with. And I grabbed a third baseman, Todd Frazier for my corner infield spot, but that’s also potentially just a depth thing too. Everyone has their own strategies, but if you ask me, you need to get yourself an elite power guy at the first base position.
Now let’s look at the recent ADP trends at the position and see who’s been rising and falling over the last month…
|Rank||Player||Team||Current ADP||1 Month Ago||Trend|
Prince Fielder, TEX (+29.08%) – While he’s showing the largest increase percentage-wise, Fielder’s rise in the NFBC ADP is only about four picks. However, if you look at where those picks are, you’ll see that he has moved from the second round into the first. More and more people are realizing that the power decline the last two years had more to do with the ballpark than they’d care to admit. His plate discipline numbers have remained a constant and now he goes from Comerica to Arlington and has more than just one good bat surrounding him. Not to mention the health track record (knock on wood). This could be an explosive year for him.
Jose Abreu, CHW (+27.14%) – Well this ascension didn’t take too long. Robin Ventura has committed to the latest Cuban sensation as his primary first baseman (as stated above) and if his numbers translate as well as those of fellow countrymen like Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, then he’s going to be a beast. He’s already moved from a late-eighth round pick in the NFBC to a mid-sixth and with a strong spring, he could climb even higher. He’ll out-earn his current draft position with a strong full year, but reaching much higher will eliminate that return value because of the increased cost.
Albert Pujols, LAA (+14.06%) – Every mock draft I’ve done I’ve watched Pujols slip and the guy who ends up taking him always purports a big comeback. Maybe that’s truth and maybe that’s just wishful thinking but the fact that he’s landing somewhere in the middle off the third round means that he is going to need a big bounce-back to make drafting him worth your while. Personally, I won’t touch him unless he starts to slip a little further down, say somewhere around the fifth or sixth round.
Mark Trumbo, ARI (+10.17%) – OK, I’ll admit it. My man-crush on Trumbo could very well be the reason his ADP has been on the rise this entire offseason. I waited in a few drafts to see where he was going so not to reach right from the onset, but he never fell past the middle off the fifth round. Depending on where you’re drafting (pick-wise, not actual location), a fourth round pick might be necessary if you want to score the Diamondbacks’ newest slugger. Don’t worry though as he’ll be worth it. I see 40 bombs coming and with dual-position eligibility to boot!
Anthony Rizzo, CHC (+8.64) – A quiet climb up the ADP charts for Rizzo, but another who should be well worth the draft pick or auction dollar you are spending. There’s a ton of raw power to be had and he knows how to draw a walk. If he can improve that contact rate and the BABIP gods show him a little love, he’ll be back up to the .270 range in no time. With 23 homers last year and more development along the way, he could be a 24-year old 30-home run masher by year end.
The movement down isn’t as significant as the movement up, but you probably expected that anyway given what we’ve already discussed. So you’re only get three fallers here as everyone “below” them doesn’t have movement that you’d really consider noticeable.
Kendrys Morales, FA (-6.64%) – Nerves are being frayed for those who drafted early or just had hopes of Morales being a worthwhile late pick. But we’re already into spring training games and Morales remains unsigned. He’ll continue to fall down the ADP charts until someone signs him, and by then, he could be a forgotten man. That would actually be great because you should be able to get him for a song.
Allen Craig, STL (-6.16%) – People are already talking about how the at-bats are going to be split up in St. Louis and it’s already causing folks to sour on Craig a little. He’s probably not the one to lose out though, so don’t read too much into things. He’ll only miss out if he gets hurt. But yes, the situation is tenuous right now as Oscar Taveras, Jon Jay, and Matt Adams are fighting for playing time. Craig could get spelled a little more often than some would like, but keeping him healthy is definitely a top priority for the Cardinals. Perhaps his lack of power last year has people thinking platoon situation, but I doubt it. Let him keep falling and hope to land him at a bargain rate.
Adam Dunn, CHW (-5.75%) – We’ve said this not once but twice already in this piece alone, so there’s no real reason to elaborate any more. He won’t see a full season of at-bats and that is going to cut into his counting stats. End of story. He’s filler material for late in your draft and the hope will be to stream him in when he’s hot and sit him down when he’s cold.
By red star rising, 3/1/2014 11:05 AM
What do you think trumbo's BA will be like? 40hrs is great, but if he hits 220 he is gonna hurt you too...
By Howard Bender, 3/4/2014 12:16 PM
@red star rising -- I see Trumbo batting around .255/.260 this year. I think he hits for more power and reins in the strikeouts. That with maybe a little help in the BABIP department should keep his average someplace warm where it won;t hurt you.
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