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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


Chris Colabello, Toronto Blue Jays

He was mashing Triple-A pitching when he was called to the majors in early May, and Colabello kept right on rolling after arriving in the bigs. Colabello batted .325 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 221 first-half plate appearances, and then shook off a slump in July to post a solid .315-7-22 line in 46 games after the break. Many observers waited all season for Colabello to cool off, but the former Minnesota Twin fooled them all by maintaining his torrid pace throughout the campaign. His absurd .411 BABIP tells us that good fortune likely played a major role in his lofty 2015 batting average; look for a major regression this season. Colabello has good pop, but he’ll have to vie for playing time with, among others, Justin Smoak in Toronto’s potent lineup. Look to Colabello in AL-Only Fantasy leagues, and he could be an asset in deeper mixed leagues if he’s able to earn regular playing time. – Buck Davidson


C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels

He was a popular deep sleeper pick entering last season, and he rewarded those faithful followers by cobbling together some decent power numbers while playing largely in a part-time role. He posted some rather odd reverse split stats: a .774 OPS and 13 homers against right-handed pitching versus .672 and three bombs against southpaws, which served to grant him more at-bats against righties. Cron’s free-swinging ways limit his upside in OBP Fantasy formats, but his 2015 numbers extrapolate to 22 homers and 70 RBIs over the course of 550 plate appearances. Cron looks to be in line for regular at-bats as the Halos’ designated hitter this season, and he figures to spell Albert Pujols at first base on occasion. His power potential could make him Fantasy relevant in very deep mixed leagues, but don’t set the bar too high in terms of batting average or OBP. – Buck Davidson


Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

Davis started the year a little bit slow, but his season ending numbers sure looked a lot like the breakout season he put up in 2013. There’s no doubting the power, but there are certainly trust issues with Davis. That’s what a .196 average in 2014 will do. Davis is back in Baltimore, after not finding the contract he was seeking on the free agent market. HIs strikeout rate is always going to limit his batting average, but maybe the biggest question surrounding Davis is whether he’s applied for a therapeutic-use exemption for adderall  for the 2016 season. Much of his struggles during that 2014 may be a result in his failure to do so that year. – Doug Anderson


Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

Encarnacion kept rolling along last season, logging his fourth consecutive campaign with at least 34 homers, 98 RBIs and a .901 OPS. He again missed time due to injury, and he has exceeded 146 games played only once during his career. When he’s in the lineup, though, Encarnacion is one of Fantasy Baseball’s most consistent and productive power hitters, and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be mashing again in 2016. Encarnacion’s batting average is typically a bit below average, but his sharp batting eye boosts his value in Fantasy leagues that count on-base percentage. The veteran slugger underwent sports hernia surgery in late October, but he is expected to be fine for spring training; he should be an early-round pick in most mixed Fantasy leagues. – Buck Davidson


Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers

Last spring, Fielder’s detractors pointed to his disappointing 2014 season, which had ended in cervical fusion surgery in late May, as a sign that the big man might be slowing down. His supporters, on the other hand, took heart in the fact that he had missed only one game in the previous five seasons, and had been given a clean bill of health just prior to spring training. Fast-forward a year, and it’s clear that Fielder, whose 693 plate appearances ranked seventh in all of baseball, has pretty much put to rest any lingering concerns with his surgically-repaired neck. While his power production is not what it was in his glory days, his ability to put the ball in play and to draw a walk makes him more than a one-dimensional power contributor. Fielder’s BABIP was a bit higher than his career norm last season, so look for some batting average regression, but otherwise Fielder is a great choice as a middle-tier starting first baseman in mixed Fantasy leagues. There is a slight chance that Fielder will not be eligible at first base in your league; be sure to double-check your settings before placing a bid or calling his name on draft day. – Buck Davidson


Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

He was billed as a budding superstar a few years back, but after he batted just .232 in his second season, many observers chalked him off as a bust. Big mistake as Hosmer has quietly re-emerged as a solid Fantasy first-sacker. He may never reach 25 homers, but Hosmer has batted at least .297 in two of the past three seasons, and his gap power and improved batting eye helped him to a career high in both RBIs and OBP last season. Don’t fret about that dismal .232 average he put on the board back in 2012; it was bogged down by a horrendous .255 BABIP. Don’t look to Hosmer for big power production, but he should again be a fine fallback option at first base in mixed Fantasy leagues. – Buck Davidson


Adam LaRoche, Chicago White Sox

LaRoche had been a somewhat sneaky source of power numbers for most of the last decade, but it all came unraveled in 2015. His strikeout rate ballooned from 18.4% in 2015 to a career-worst 27.5%. His Hard Hit Rate fell to 33.9% and all his fly-ball numbers went the wrong way. As of now LaRoche is still pencilled into a regular DH job along with some time at first base, and a slight rebound is likely. If his struggles leak into 2016 it’s very easy to see the at-bats disappear though. Draft LaRoche as a reserve where any production will be a bonus, but don’t bet your season on a bounce-back.


Adam Lind, Seattle Mariners

Lind logged his highest number of plate appearances since 2010 last season, and he equaled the second-highest RBI total of his career in posting a fine overall campaign in his first year in Milwaukee. He still was unable to solve left-handed pitching though, posting a measly .575 OPS with zero home runs in 112 plate appearances against southpaws. Lind’s power is his primary Fantasy asset, and his sound batting eye buoys his value in OBP and OPS formats. His move to spacious Safeco Field in Seattle might suppress his power potential a bit, but it’s noteworthy that he owns a career .841 OPS with five homers in 90 career plate appearances in the Mariners’ home yard. Look for Lind to be the M’s top first baseman this season, but he’ll likely grab some pine when a lefty is on the hill for the opponents. He’s a bit of an injury risk, but Lind’s pop and OBP skills make him a serviceable Fantasy option in most mixed leagues. – Buck Davidson


James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays

Let’s set the way back Machine to 2007: A young first baseman named James Loney smacks 15 homers in just 96 games for the Dodgers. Nearly a decade later, he has not matched that production even over the course of an entire season. Loney missed a big chunk of the season due to injury, but when he was out there, it was more of what we’ve come to expect: a high batting average with power stats that are simply unacceptable for a Fantasy corner infielder. Loney should again bat in the middle of the Tampa Bay order, but it’s doubtful that the Rays’ anemic attack will produce many RBI opportunities. Look to Loney as a fallback option in deeper AL-Only Fantasy leagues. – Buck Davidson


Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers

C’mon…you didn’t really expect Martinez to duplicate his amazing 2014 stat line last season, did you? Well, neither did virtually anyone else…but few expected quite the fallback we saw from V-Mart in 2015. He underwent surgery on his left knee in February, and then struggled out of the gate, batting just .216 before hitting the disabled list in May due to inflammation in his surgically-repaired knee. He wasn’t much better after returning to the lineup, and Martinez stands as a huge injury-risk for the 2016 Fantasy season. He played only 10 games at first base, so it’s important that you determine whether Martinez is position-eligible in your league before deciding to add him to your roster. – Buck Davidson


Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

The good news is that Mauer logged the most plate appearances of his major league career last season; the bad news is that he finished with the lowest batting average and OBP of his big league tenure. His power numbers remained problematic as well; he has exceeded 13 homers on only one occasion during his 11 seasons as a big league regular. Mauer was a Fantasy beast after posting .365-28-95 as a catcher back in 2009, but he has not appeared behind the plate since 2013. Batting average was his primary claim to Fantasy fame, and now it looks as though even that has deserted him. His sub-par BABIP raises some hope for a bit of a bounce back in 2016, but his days as being even a serviceable Fantasy contributor insofar as power stats appear to be far behind him. – Buck Davidson


Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners

The former top prospect utterly destroyed minor league pitching last season, rapping out a robust .365-18-85 line in 98 games in the hitters’ paradise known as the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t fare nearly as well in the majors, though, fanning over 27 percent of the time and casting doubt on whether he will ever realize any of the massive potential he displayed while tearing his way through the minor leagues a few seasons back. Adam Lind’s struggles with lefties likeloy means Montero will get at least part of the first base job and possibly some at-bats at DH, but he will have to slay the Whiff Monster if he hopes to achieve relevance in mixed Fantasy leagues. – Buck Davidson


Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals

He had struggled with injuries in three of the previous four seasons, but Morales reminded us just how good he can be when he’s fully healthy last season, finishing eighth overall in RBIs and reestablishing himself as a viable Fantasy force. Morales typically fares better when batting lefty, and last season was no exception: he forged a .901 OPS and launched 18 of his homers against right-handers. He holds his own as a right-handed batter – and he actually managed a higher batting average against southpaws last season – but his improved pop when batting lefty is something to keep in mind for daily lineup leagues or DFS play. Morales comes with some injury risk, but he should again be a decent source of Fantasy power stats in 2016. He may or may not be eligible at first base in your Fantasy league; downgrade him a notch if he’s not position-eligible.


Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers

Moreland eclipsed…nay, he shattered, his previous career high for RBIs last season, while equaling his career standard for home runs. A substantial jump in his HR/FB rate likely played a role in his homer numbers, while a huge month of June – .323-9-25 in 25 games – helped to lift his stats across the board. As is his custom, he struggled against lefties last season, posting a .685 OPS as opposed to a robust .876 mark against right-handed pitching. Fantasy owners looking to deploy Moreland in their game of choice should bear his troubles against southpaws firmly in mind, though it’s likely that he’ll take a seat on a regular basis against lefties again in 2016. Moreland’s fine performance in 2015 flew a bit below the Fantasy radar, so he should be available at a bargain price this spring; look for him in the later rounds of your mixed league draft. – Buck Davidson


Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay Rays

It was a rather uneven season for Morrison: he smacked more homers and plated more RBIs than in any season since 2011, but his batting average, OBP and OPS all established new career lows. Morrison has never hit for a high average, but his sharp batting eye helps to boost his Fantasy value in OBP leagues. He figures to play fairly regularly in Tampa Bay, probably in a platoon situation against right-handed pitchers. That bodes well for him: all 17 of his homers last season came against righties. Fantasy-wise, Morrison’s value is probably limited to mono leagues, and he carries more value in OBP formats. – Buck Davidson


David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

First and foremost, check to see if Ortiz is eligible at first base in your league; if he’s strictly a DH or Utility player his Fantasy value takes a bit of a hit. The veteran slugger enjoyed a renaissance campaign in 2015, producing his highest home run total since 2006 and plating more RBIs than in any season since 2007. While he doesn’t hit for average the way he used to, he still draws enough walks to be a valuable asset in OBP Fantasy leagues. Ortiz has announced that 2016 will be his final season, and while he’s not likely to replicate his 2015 numbers, the big man should again be a decent source of Fantasy power stats in his farewell campaign. – Buck Davidson


 

Byung-Ho Park, Minnesota Twins

He has shown prodigious power during his career in Korea, compiling a .343/.436/.714/.1.150 slash line with 53 homers and 146 RBIs in 140 games last season. Those are impressive numbers, but the big question of course is how they will translate to MLB production. By comparison, Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang amassed 40 homers in 117 games in the KBO back in 2014, and then smacked 15 long balls in 126 games for the Pirates last season. Park seems to be more of a pure power hitter than Kang, though, and it’s noteworthy that the Pirates infielder’s previous season’s high was 25 homers prior to his ’14 breakout. Park should provide close to 30 homers if he plays the entire season, but his struggles with strikeouts -161 of them in 622 plate appearances last season – figure to keep a lid on his batting average. His sharp batting eye should soften the blow a bit in OBP leagues, though. Look to Park in the later rounds of your mixed league draft; there is risk here, but he definitely carries 30-plus homer upside. – Buck Davidson


Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels

Pujols’ 2015 season was full of surprises – both pleasant and unpleasant – for Fantasy owners; the veteran slugger reached 40 homers for the first time since 2010, but those dingers came attached to a batting average that was 28 points below his previous full-season career low. Take heart, though: Pujols’ BABIP was by far the lowest among qualifying hitters, so a significant rebound should be in store for 2016. What else should we expect from the future Hall of Famer this season? His HR/FB ratio figures to settle back a bit – his 2015 number was his best showing since 2011 – which should serve to lower his long-ball production a bit. His 26 first-half homers last season was fueled by a monstrous June, in which he crushed 13 bombs, which should help to serve notice that some power fallback is on the way. Look for less power production and a higher batting average from Pujols in 2016; he’s a fine mid-tier Fantasy option in most mixed leagues. – Buck Davidson


Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

He finished with the second-lowest home run total of his career last season, and he matched his career low for batting average. Santana’s Fantasy value is largely based on whether your league counts batting average or on-base percentage, as he is typically among the league leaders in drawing walks. He is a decent source of Fantasy power in any format, but don’t look for another season of double-digit stolen-base production. He lost both his catcher and third-base eligibility last season, and probably won’t regain either designation anytime soon. – Buck Davidson


Travis Shaw, Boston Red Sox

After bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors a few times last season, he was recalled for good on August 1. Extrapolating stats with such a small sample size is a slippery slope, but Shaw’s 65-game numbers project to 31 homers and 86 RBIs over a 155-game season. Heady stuff, but keep in mind that the 25-year-old hit just five homers and batted a rather pedestrian .249 in 77 games at Triple-A last season. Shaw should have a decent chance of making the team this spring, but it would be surprising if he came close to reproducing the fine numbers he compiled during the “garbage time” final two months of the 2015 season. Keep an eye on Shaw’s progress and role this spring; he could be a serviceable AL-Only Fantasy option if he wins a regular job. – Buck Davidson


Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros

Singleton didn’t receive much of a trial in 2015, but the results were much like we saw in 2014. He did lower his strikeout rate, which is a good sign, but he still failed to reach a .200 batting average. The Astros say that Singleton is their first baseman until he proves otherwise, but they’ve got power prospect, A.J. Reed down on the farm ready to step in. The above projections is based on some level of success early in the season. If he falls flat right away, he could find himself back in the minors a lot earlier. – Doug Anderson


Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays

The 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft has been a disappointment throughout most of his MLB career, but he showed some signs of life last season. Smoak established new career highs in RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS last season, despite logging just 328 plate appearances. Before anyone gets too excited, though, bear in mind that Smoak has never batted higher than .239 in the majors, and he scuffled to a .211 mark in the second half of the ’15 campaign. Smoak’s pop is undeniable, but his high strikeout rate figures to limit his batting average potential. He may also struggle to find at-bats in Toronto’s loaded lineup, so consider Smoak a serviceable AL-Only Fantasy option. – Buck Davidson


Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

He woke up the echoes by staying healthy and smacking 31 homers through August 15, but fate caught up with the brittle veteran in late August, when he suffered a shin injury that would eventually cost him the final six weeks of the season. Teixeira is getting long in the tooth, and he failed to appear in more than 123 games for the fourth straight season in 2015, but he still provides decent Fantasy power production and OBP support while he’s on the field. Those numbers come at a rather steep cost: Teixeira has not batted over .256 since way back in 2009. He is expected to be healthy come spring training, and he should be a serviceable late-round or low-dollar fallback option at first base in your draft’s later rounds; just be sure to have a viable backup plan in place. – Buck Davidson


Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles

He missed some time due to injuries last season, but even when he was on the field and healthy, Trumbo didn’t look like the same guy who blasted at least 29 homers in three straight seasons between 2011 and 2013. He got off to a horrible start after being traded to Seattle in early June, but he was able to right the ship enough to log a serviceable .284-11-32 line in 66 games after the All-Star break. Trumbo strikes out too much to carry a high batting average, but his plus pop gives him some mixed-league Fantasy value when he’s healthy and going well. He should benefit from the move to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which ranked third in runs scored and second in homers among MLB parks in 2015. Right now, Trumbo looks like he’s slated to be the everyday first baseman in Baltimore; if that indeed comes to pass, Trumbo is worth a look as a corner infielder in most mixed leagues. He’s eligible in the outfield as well, which lends a modest bump to his Fantasy value. – Buck Davidson


 

We’ll be updating the 2016 First Base Projections and Profiles for the American League right up until Opening Day. There will undoubtedly be some names we add to the list and some we need to get rid of. Check back regularly and let the “So-Called” Fantasy Experts get you ready for the 2016 Fantasy Baseball season.

Also please check out the rest of our 2016 Projections and Profiles

NL Catcher | AL Catcher | NL First Base | AL First Base | NL Second Base | AL Second Base | NL Third Base |  AL Third Base | NL Shortstop | AL Shortstop | NL Oufield | AL Outfield | AL DH | NL Starting Pitcher | AL Starting Pitcher | NL Relievers | AL Relievers |

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