2017 Fantasy Baseball First Base Sleepers: Finally Getting Their Opportunity
First base used to be the position where you could wait until the later rounds and still get a legit option. One that you could rely on for plenty of power, almost elite power. At the same time that same player would not completely crush your batting average.
Looking at the rankings and projections, the depth is not there anymore. Once you get past the Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, all the way to Freddie Freeman range of players, things appear to be very muddled. You are then left with three types of players.
- Those who lack power at a position you expect it from. Players such as Adrian Gonzalez and Eric Hosmer come to mind.
- Those who are a huge drain on batting average. Chris Davis, Todd Frazier and Chris Carter.
- Those who are question marks all-around. Guys like Wil Myers, Brad Miller and Hanley Ramirez come to mind. It is either injury or consistency concerns with these players.
Regardless though there are only six, maybe seven first baseman that you truly feel comfortable drafting. That means even in 10-team leagues, not everybody can have one of these players and will need to look elsewhere to get the stats we want/need from this position.
Below I am going to be identifying some sleepers. None of these guys are ranked in the Top 20 at the position on FantasyPros, but they are players you can draft if you are in deep leagues with a corner infield slot. If you are in leagues where you only play a single first baseman and its 10-12 teams, just make sure you keep them on your radar.
2017 Fantasy Baseball First Base Sleepers
Tommy Joseph, Philadelphia Phillies
Last season Tommy Joseph got his chance, but he was having to deal with splitting playing time with Ryan Howard.
Even with limited playing time last season, Joseph had a good season, hitting 21 home runs and almost 50 runs and RBIs.
This season he should have the position all to himself and you can expect to see about 30 home runs from him and closer to 80-90 runs and RBIs. His batting average won’t be great, but it is not the bottom of the barrel like you get with Chris Carter.
Justin Bour, Miami Marlins
Justin Bour was having himself a nice 2016 when an unfortunate ankle injury forced him to miss two months.
In the time before his injury he was hitting .268 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs in 242 plate appearances.
He, like Joseph, will be unimpeded for playing time. He will have to improve against lefties to truly get a full season worth of starts, but the I like the fact that the overall talent and opportunity is there. Doesn’t hurt that the manager likes him too.
Justin Bour is the Marlins’ everyday first baseman. Don Mattingly: “He brings fear to the lineup. We think he’s getting better.”
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 13, 2017
Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers
I know he does not have first base eligibility to start the season, but he will after the first 10 games the Brewers play. So I’m cheating here a bit and placing him on this list.
Thames is very controversial this offseason. If you look at his projections, you would think he would be a Top 75 player in all preseason rankings. Go ahead, I’ll let you check them out on his FanGraphs profile page.
That projection of around 30 home runs, 80 runs, 85 RBI and .270 average is pretty crazy, right? Especially for a guy who you probably have not heard of. Then when you look deeper into his past you’ll notice he has had some major league experience, it just did not go very well.
After 2013 he left the MLB system and signed in the KBO. There he destroyed pitching to the tune of 124 home runs and 379 RBIs in three seasons.
Despite the success, I have my doubts that he is going to reach those projections. Do you remember Byung-Ho Park hype last season? But at this point his ADP is so low that even if he gets you two-thirds of these projections, the return on investment is worth it.
— Fantasy Sports News (@fantasysportsso) February 18, 2017
His beard might make me draft him alone. He is like the MLB James Harden.
Greg Bird, New York Yankees
People are forgetting about Greg Bird because he missed all last season with a shoulder injury. They shouldn’t though.
Once a top prospect in the Yankees organization, Bird was called up in 2014 and showed plenty of pop in his bat immediately. In just 178 plate appearances he hit .261 with 11 home runs, 26 runs scored and 31 RBIs.
After Mark Teixeira’s retirement and then the trade of Brian McCann, it was apparent that the Yankees were all-in on making Bird their everyday first baseman. This made Bird one of my favorite sleepers at the position at the time.
The issue now and why he winds up last on my list here is the Yankees signed Chris Carter. I still think Bird gets the majority of the starts at first, but this is going to put a big dent into his potential this season.
I would still target him in really deep leagues, or if you are willing to platoon at first base as his per at-bat performance will be very good.
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