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Three First Basemen Who Will Underperform Their 2015 ADP

 

The First Base Busts List

There are few things that can derail a season faster than drafting a big name bust. You know that guy who took Albert Pujols during his first year with the Angels? No one wants to be that guy. Hopefully this article will help steer you in the right direction. I've highlighted three first basemen who have the potential to produce at a much lower level than their draft day cost should demand.
 

Victor Martinez (Average ADP: 46.3)

Last season we saw the absolute best of Victor Martinez. He clubbed a career high 32 home runs, six more than in his last two full seasons combined (2013 and 2011). Martinez did so while simultaneously slashing his strikeout rate to a league best 6.6% and hitting .335, the second highest batting average in all of baseball. Simply put Martinez was incredible in 2014. Sadly, all the evidence suggests he'll look much more human going forward.

Let's begin with a couple of facts. Martinez will be entering his age 36 season next year. He's also currently rehabbing from his second left knee surgery in the last three years. While reports out of Tiger camp have been positive so far, it's still an open question about whether he'll be able to make Opening Day. Finally, there is the matter of power. Prior to last year, you have to go as far back as 2007 to find another season in which Martinez hit more than 23 home runs. Assuming he's even able to play 150 games next year, I can't responsibly project him for more than 16-18 in light of his personal history.

As a career .306 hitter, Martinez does bring an elite hit tool to the plate. That shouldn't change any time soon, meaning that he's likely to remain a .305-.310 hitter going forward. The problem is that without 20 home run power or any speed, his skill set just won't cut it in the fifth round. To take Martinez as a top 50 player, you'll need to be able to count on him for more than just batting average.

Altogether Martinez is solid pick...if we're in the late-seventh to mid-eighth round. Given his age, recent injury history, and lack of difference making power, he just doesn't supply the kind of production you're looking for in the fifth.
 

Chris Davis (Average ADP: 85.6)

Before we go any further, I need to say that I personally have no problem with Chris Davis' current ADP. Regardless of his very real contact issues, a true talent 25-30 home run hitter with his kind of track record and job security should absolutely go in the top 100 players. That said, if we're talking about 1st basemen who could dramatically underperform their current ADP, it would be irresponsible not to include Davis in the discussion.

Davis led the league in strikeout percentage last year with a batting average crushing 33% rate. The rest of his numbers come as little surprise after you take that into account. He'd go on to bat .196 over the course of the regular season, deeply disappointing the many fantasy owners who spent a first round pick to acquire his services.

The good news is that next year should be better. Davis might never make a name for himself as a contact hitter, but a performance closer to his career 30% strikeout rate will be a tremendous improvement over what we saw last season.

Perhaps most important of all, however, there is the matter of his BABIP to discuss. Davis struggled through 2014 with a BABIP of .242, a deep departure from his career .320 line. That should get better going forward. The question is how much? Fangraphs' Mike Podhorzer wrote a fascinating article last winter about the profound impact defensive shifts have had on Davis' game. As a result of those shifts it's quite possible a .320 BABIP is no longer his true baseline, a sobering thing to say about a player already struggling to make contact consistently.

As I said earlier, I like Davis where he's going. In light of his upside, I'd take him there myself if given the opportunity. There's just no escaping the reality, however, that any season projection for Davis comes with some very, very large error bars.
 

Michael Cuddyer (Average ADP: 221.5)

Given his current ADP, I'm essentially telling you Michael Cuddyer isn't draftable in standard leagues by putting him on this list. He's not. Cuddyer will be 36 this year and he's coming off a season in which injuries limited him to only 49 games played. Moreover, he's played less than 110 games in two of the last three seasons. There's also the matter of his new home:

2014 Right Handed Park Factors Coors Field Citi Field
Home Runs 115 (1st) 104 (10th)
Singles 110 (1st) 98 (25th)
Doubles 112 (2nd) 96 (28th)

 

For those of you unfamiliar with park factor statistics, a score of 100 is league average. Higher numbers indicate a more hitter friendly environment. Lower numbers indicate the reverse. I've included how the stadium ranks compared to other stadiums in parenthesis as well.

What's the 12-15 home run, .250-.255, 3-5 stolen base version of Michael Cuddyer worth? Not a draft spot.

 




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