Five Under the Radar Sleeper 1st Basemen in 2014
Shall we start with Ike Davis? Take a deep breath. That’s it, now exhale. Let’s keep breathing until your heartbeat is back to normal. I understand your fear. Keep breathing…in through the mouth, out through the nose. I said Ike Davis’s name early to get it out in the open and alleviate anxiety. Your first session of exposure therapy, fantasy baseball style, requires a rebooting of your amygdala’s fight or flight response. In layman’s terms, this means your brain instantly puts your body into a panic when it sees or hears something it considers threatening. Keep breathing, you’re doing great. Ike Davis is not going to hurt you. Ike Davis is not a threat. Excellent job with the breathing technique! Now, for the next few moments, let’s discuss some more pleasant topics. But I will mention Ike Davis again. Just remember, he’s harmless.
Your bio-phsycho-social information indicates you are a huge fantasy baseball fan in search of dynasty keeper advice. Is that correct? Great! I also sense anxiety regarding a certain infield position and who is likely to bust out this year. Thanks so much for the list of eligible first basemen! Am I warm about your fears? Excellent! You came to the right place. In fact, I’m so passionate about helping people like you that I’m going to tell my secretary this session is on the house. By the way, strange coincidence, her last name is Davis. She was born during the Eisenhower Administration. They called him Ike.
First on my list of Ready-to-be-Impact Studs is Eric Hosmer. This is probably a no-brainer, but one never knows about timid fantasy owners. Remind me to tell you about picking up Paul Goldschmidt on the free agent wire in June of 2012 in my dynasty league. Some poor schmuck grew impatient and unloaded. But you don’t have to be that guy. Hosmer, 24, is poised for a half-dozen or more years of inflated numbers. I read an article in May last year on Rotoballer urging patience with the young Royals slugger. Guess what? That advice came true. Go ahead, click here and check it out. After a slow start, Hosmer found his groove and finished .302/17HR/79RBI/86R/11SB. You saw that last stat correctly. This young one-sacker has wheels. He’s a buy low (while you still can) and reap the future benefits, stock option. Did I mention Paul Goldschmidt already? Ah, yes, I see in my notes that I have. Don’t be a schmuck. Hold on to Hosmer and count your stats (big stats…think Walter White crystal blue stats). If you own Hosmer in a keeper league and don’t keep him, no biggie. I’ll just say “I told you so” and the sessions for your postseason depression will be full price.
Rizzo, Like Hosmer, has “Future Beast” written all over him. The Cubs obviously thought so, too, inking a seven year, $41 million extension with the 24-year-old last season. Traded to Chicago from San Diego in 2012 for future stud pitcher Andrew Cashner, Rizzo was shipped off by the Padres to make room at first base for another trade acquisition. That guy also happens to be on my list. We’ll get to him later. Chicago called Rizzo up June 26, 2012 and immediately held his feet to the fire, placing him in the typically veteran-slugger-dominated #3 spot in the batting order. The lefty didn’t disappoint. In 337 AB, Rizzo smacked 15 homers while batting .285. In 2013, his long balls increased to 23, but his AB nearly doubled and his across the board production suffered a bit in his first full season in the majors. But his walk rate improved, and his strikeouts (18%) are in the normal range, impressive signs for a young hitter. Expect the trial by fire in his rookie season to pay dividends for Rizzo (and you) in the future. He’ll be hitting 30-40 home runs a season well into the 2020’s and will be a top tier first baseman this season.
Adams is going to be a beast for years if he can finally land a starting role. Last season, in only 296 AB, "Big City" launched 17 HR and hit .284 with an impressive .839 OPS. When it comes to running, well, Tommy Lasorda’s quote about catcher Mike Scioscia applies: “If he raced his pregnant wife, he’d finish third.” We can live without speed from a powerful first baseman. The only issue with Adams is playing time. Last year, he filled in for Allen Craig and didn’t get into a day-to-day rhythm all season. This year, Craig moves to RF to fill the void left by free agent Carlos Beltran. The wildcard is highly touted OF Oscar Taveras, whose eventual presence in the Cards' lineup will create a platoon situation for Adams or Peter Bourjos at some point in the season. Bottom line: This kid can hit…and he’s going to be relatively cheap this season. Don’t miss the boat.
Alonso has been a Billy Butler type so far - Good average, a little pop, and a lot of doubles. A broken hand limited his progress last season (he was on pace for 18 HR) and zapped his power. Only 26, the former Red has considerable upside. His low K rate, willingness to take walks, and ability to put the ball in play all favor a career season in 2014. Playing In San Diego at Petco won’t help in the HR category, but expect him to round the bases more than twenty times this season, while hitting for a high batting average.
And then there’s our harmless former nemesis, Ike Davis. Keep breathing. Great! Despite the N.Y. critics who dissect everything from his swing to his psyche, this is the season Ike proves his massive potential. Sure, he fans a lot (and sometimes looks really bad doing it). And his batting average has been pitiful the past two seasons. But he is only two seasons removed from a 32HR/90RBI campaign, will be only 27 in March, and has endured the brutal N.Y. media his entire young career. Maybe Mets fans will get their wish and he will be traded. Maybe that would also be best for Davis. Wherever he starts the 2014 season, expect this guy to make naysayers eat their words. He has monster talent, so get ready for it.
Well, it looks as if we’ve come to the end of Session One. I’ve mentioned the name Ike Davis numerous times and you handled it extremely well. Congratulations! Next up, we’ll discuss some second basemen to add to your fantasy tool belt. See you soon.
Follow Billy Bruce on Twitter @Billy_Bruce