Getting strong value out of your first baseman in Fantasy is a must, so let’s discuss likely first base busts in 2017.
David Gonos posted his Fantasy Baseball rankings here, and have many talented first baseman going early in drafts. However, the talent level at the position falls off dramatically in the middle of the rankings.
After the first 100 picks in the draft, the remaining first baseman have all around issues that make drafting them a concern. This situation has created urgency in owners to take a first baseman early in Fantasy drafts. Of course this sort of urgency at a position can cause owners to reach for first base busts on draft day. Many first baseman that I’m avoiding this season will likely be in platoon situations or be at substantial risk of injury.
Even though there is a big difference between reaching for first base busts and having them fall to you in drafts, owners want to maximize the talent and production they get out of each pick. This is even more true in points leagues, where the top scoring first baseman, Daniel Murphy, scored 200 more points than the 15th ranked first baseman in Brandon Belt.
This big difference in production has caused owners to panic if they didn’t draft a first baseman early. We’re here to sort through likely first base busts in Fantasy this season to help you all out. Below are five likely first base busts in 2017.
2017 Fantasy Baseball First Base Busts
Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
As a Giants fan, I love Belt and everything he’s done for the organization over the years. However, I’m staying away from him in Fantasy this season, and so are many other owners. I’ve seen Belt fall as far as 60 spots in mock drafts so far, despite putting up decent numbers last season. Belt finished 2016 hitting .275 with 77 runs, 17 homers, and 82 RBIs. Even though these numbers aren’t bad, Belt has never exploded into his ceiling that makes drafting him appealing.
Fantasy owners keep waiting for Belt to hit 30 homers and 100 RBIs, but it just hasn’t happened. To make matters worse, I don’t see Belt matching these numbers in 2017.
The Giants’ organization has already stated that they will look to rest Buster Posey’s by starting him more at first base. Even though Belt has proven he can play left field, there is already competition between Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson. All this competition combined with how often the Giants rest their starters makes drafting Belt at 101st suspect.
There’s a good chance Belt could only start four of six games each week, which is not the value you are looking for. Because of the competition for Belt in the lineup, I’m not waiting for Belt when I’m drafting a first baseman.
Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Gonzalez is another mid-draft first baseman who has been falling many rounds in mock drafts so far. The Dodgers’ veteran got off to a really slow start last season, and finished with OPS and SLG percentages far lower than his career averages. Gonzalez still had a decent Fantasy season hitting .285 with 69 runs, 18 homers, and 90 RBIs. His biggest drop off in SLG and OPS are troubling for me. He also failed to hit over 20 homers in a season for his first time in Los Angeles.
All of these declines last season have Fantasy owners concerned about drafting Gonzalez. His age, injury risk, and increased rest days are also reasons that owners have been avoiding him in mocks. If he falls multiple rounds in drafts, then taking a chance on him is not as big of a risk.
I’m not confident he’ll continue to fall in drafts with the lack of first base talent after him. This presents a situation where it’s fine if Gonzalez falls to you, but you can’t risk reaching on him. At least with Gonzalez, you know you’re getting consistency, but the upside isn’t there and the injury risks are. Take this into mind on draft day when considering picking Adrian Gonzalez.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
It seems disrespectful to list a future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols as a bust, but he’s concerning for Fantasy this season. Pujols underwent foot surgery in December, and can’t promise he’ll be available on Opening Day. Recent reports indicate Pujols can’t run at all, which makes him a concerning pick in points formats. Despite getting up there in age, Pujols hit .268 with 71 runs, 31 homers, and 119 RBIs. Even though these numbers are outstanding, I don’t see Pujols matching these numbers in his 17th season.
Aside from the fact that Pujols can’t run and he isn’t cleared for opening day, the Angels have brought a lot of competition into their lineup. The Angels will have C.J. Cron and Luis Valbuena competing for time at first base. The team also has competition at left field between Ben Revere and Cameron Maybin, with all four eligible for at-bats at DH as well.
Pair these position battles with Pujols claiming most of the time at DH, and this leaves all of the Angels’ first baseman as risky Fantasy picks. Pujols won’t be allowed to start at DH in national league ballparks, and might not be able to play first base this season. If Pujols doesn’t get enough starts at first, he might not have first base eligibility in your Fantasy platform.
All of these reasons make it hard to take Pujols at this point in drafts, especially while it’s still a little over a month away from opening day. These position battles and Pujols’ foot injury are important to track throughout Spring Training. Even if Pujols will be available, I can’t see him playing a full season. The injury risk is just too much of a concern for me, but I may consider buying low on him during the season.
Chris Carter, New York Yankees
Carter had a long wait in free agency, but just signed a one year, 3.5 million dollar deal with the Yankees. The former Astro has bounced around the last few years, but his power has made him valuable in free agency. Carter is coming off a big season for the Brewers, where he hit 41 homers and 94 RBIs. Carter showed interest in coming to New York partially because he’s had success in Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, Carter won’t have the success this season as he had with Milwaukee in 2016.
Carter was able to get almost 550 at-bats with the Brewers last season, but likely won’t in 2017. Carter slates as the second first baseman on the Yankees behind Greg Bird. The Pinstripes also have both Matt Holliday and Billy Butler to compete for at-bats out of the DH spot. Holliday can still play some RF, but the Yankees need to learn what they have with Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees will have to split up at-bats at first and the DH for four different players. Fantasy owners will see Carters’ projected home-run numbers and reach for him, but I can’t support this. I won’t be drafting Carter unless I am reassured that he will get at least 450 at-bats this season.
Lucas Duda, New York Mets
I hope owners have given up on Duda for Fantasy purposes, because I always cringe when I see an owner wait on first base and draft Duda. The Mets’ first baseman just cannot stay healthy, and Duda is not worth drafting. Duda only appeared in 47 games in 2016, and hit only .229 with seven homers and 23 RBIs.
He’s also in a lineup that is below average around the league, and struggles to score runs. I can’t see the upside in drafting any New York Met not named Yoenis Cespedes. When drafting a first baseman this low, your player should have substantially more upside than Duda. I beg of you to not draft Lucas Duda this year, as it will only hurt you if you do.
I hope reading about these potential busts will help you understand the landscape of first baseman in this draft. There really is a steep fall off after the first 11 or 12 first baseman off the board. This can make a huge difference with the production you will be getting out of one of the most valuable starting spots on your roster. You should target a first baseman who has a high ceiling for Fantasy and won’t be a part of a platoon. Don’t sleep on first base if you want to win first place!
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