Welcome to the 2016 First Base Projections and Profiles for the National League, a part of the “So-Called” Fantasy Experts Fantasy Baseball Draft Package.
While first base in the National League can get a bit thin, the American League is filled with power bats at the position. Many of these big bats also come with the benefit of additional positional eligibility, which can be a nice thing to have on draft day.
What follows are the 2016 First Base Projections and Profiles for the American League. The players are listed alphabetically to make it easy to find the player you’re looking for. We’ve used the 20-game played threshold for position eligibility. If a player did not play 20 games at any position, we used the position they played the most games at. This includes players like David Ortiz, Prince Fielder, and Kendrys Morales, for whom first base was their most played defensive position, but may only be DH eligible in many formats.
The initial run of projections and profiles will focus on players with clear roles. As Spring Training approaches and rosters start to solidify, we’ll add names so that we can satisfy not only the needs of mixed league owners, but the traditionalists out there that play in 12-team AL-only leagues. These 2016 First Base Projections and Profiles will be updated all the way up to Opening Day, so remember to check in occasionally to get the latest news.
2016 First Base Projections and Profiles for the American League
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
It’s easy to call his 2015 season a disappointment, but a closer look at the splits tell us that Abreu’s 2014 home run total was buoyed by a pair of huge months early in the season, and that his power dropped off dramatically in the second half. Last year’s effort, though, was remarkable in its consistency, as he produced either five or six homers in five of the six months of the season. Abreu joined Albert Pujols as the only major leaguer to amass 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of their first two seasons, and he looks to be poised to produce very similar numbers in 2016. Abreu’s walk rate dropped rather substantially last season, so that could be an area of concern for Fantasy owners in OBP formats, but otherwise, Abreu should be a fine source of Fantasy power stats – which should come at a significant discount over his lofty 2015 draft-day price. – Buck Davidson
Yonder Alonso, Oakland Athletics
Injuries cost him a big chunk of the 2015 season, but when he was in the lineup, Alonso delivered the kind of lackluster performance we’ve grown to expect: a decent batting eye, good contact rate and very little in the way of power. Alonso can provide modest Fantasy batting average support when he is going well, but it comes at a steep cost insofar as power stats. His move to Oakland might land him in a platoon with Mark Canha and possibly Billy Butler, but his .245 career average against southpaws should signal that he can hang in fairly well against lefties. Alonso’s ability to draw a walk gives him extra value in OBP leagues, but his aforementioned lack of pop relegates him to Fantasy monoleague play. – Buck Davidson
Greg Bird, New York Yankees
He posted a .277-12-52 line with a .356 OBP in 83 games across two levels of the minor leagues before being called up to the majors in mid-August. He provided plenty of help to both the Yankees and his Fantasy owners down the stretch, but the Yankees’ crowded lineup casts some doubt on his role to open the 2016 campaign. At this time, indications are that Bird will open the season at Triple-A unless either Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez are injured. While both of those veterans enjoyed good seasons in 2015, both are getting up there in years, and both have a history of missing extended time due to injuries. Keep an eye on this situation this spring, but Bird is probably not worth owning in most redraft leagues until Tex or A-Rod succumb to an injury. – Buck Davidson
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
There were plenty of worries about the status of Cabrera’s surgically-repaired right foot and ankle prior to last season, but the veteran slugger looked a heck of a lot like his old self in winning his fourth batting title in the last five years. He did spend about six weeks on the disabled list, but it was due to a strained left calf muscle, not the aforementioned right foot. Miggy’s partial-season numbers extrapolate to 23 homers and 98 RBIs over the course of 155 games, so his days of 40-plus bombs and 120-plus ribbies may be behind him. Even with the inexorable effects of Father Time factored into the equation, Cabrera is one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, and he should be an elite Fantasy contributor again in 2016. – Buck Davidson
Mark Canha, Oakland Athletics
He burst onto the Fantasy scene right from the get-go last season, smacking out three hits and plating four RBIs on Opening Day, and hitting safely in 11 of his first 13 outings. He thudded back to earth by batting just .169 in May, but then closed strong over the last two months to round out a solid rookie season. Canha posted a curious reverse split in 2015, slashing .271/.334/.486/.821 against right-handed pitching but just .221/.278/.309/.587 against lefties. When he is going well, Canha provides good Fantasy power production, but his so-so batting eye and lack of speed keeps a lid on his offensive upside. The arrival of Yonder Alonso might cost Canha some at-bats at first base, but his ability to move to the outfield if need be should ensure that his numbers won’t suffer too much. If he wins a starting job this spring, Canha is a worthwhile play in larger mixed Fantasy leagues. – Buck Davidson
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