1B is another position where you need to make decisions early on, especially if you are drafting late first round in the range where you’ll have to decide between Pujols, Votto and Fielder. Regardless of where you draft, you need to prepare for this position. And if you prefer to take a late-round flier on someone, you should be well prepared on who is the best bet to provide substantial sleeper value. Ladies and gentlemen, RotoBaller is digging deeper into first base:
1. Albert Pujols – In his first season as an Angel, he started off slow but carried your team mid-season, swatting eight or more HR in May, July and August and batting well over .300 from June to August. This lineup is stacked from top to bottom and that leaves plenty of opportunities for R and RBI. The addition of Josh Hamilton will only provide Albert with more pitches to hit.
2. Prince Fielder – Fielder enjoyed similar success in his first season as a Tiger. What I love most is his batting average which exceeded .300 for the first time in his career. He has played 161 or more games in each of the last four years. The return of Victor Martinez should provide Fielder with some protection, again similar to Albert with Hamilton.
3. Joey Votto – He missed some of July and August which is pretty much the worst time to lose your top player, especially after June when he batted .392. Joey is healthy and you should have no concerns. Expect 30+ HR, .300+ BA and 100+ RBI.
4. Edwin Encarnacion – I feel like every time I checked the Blue Jays box score, Edwin hit a HR. I must have checked it at least 42 times, because that’s how many bombs he hit. People will be skeptical of his stats, and many won’t buy in to a repeat performance. But 30+ bombs with the lineup the Blue Jays have put together is not absurd at all. Remember that the Blue Jays added Jose Reyes and Melky Carbrera, their #1 and #2 hitters, which will ensure Edwin has every opportunity to improve on his 110 RBI from 2012.
5. Buster Posey – Posey is a very intriguing 1B. Why? Because it leaves you with the option to fill in your roster at 1B or C later on based on needs and availability. You can add another star at 1B from this list, or you can add a C later on. Posey bounced back from his brutal 2011 injury with an MVP season. Having Posey at the catcher position is invaluable but he certainly won’t hurt you at all at 1B.
6. Adrian Gonzalez – After being bounced around the past few years he has found his home in LA. The lineup will be shuffled around so much early on that I can’t even put a finger on who will be hitting where, with the possible exception of A-Gonz hitting at #3. He will put up the same gaudy stats he has been for the past several years. Being surrounded in the order by guys like Kemp, HanRam, and Crawford, assuming all three are healthy, will only help Gonzalez.
7. Billy Butler – Butler has been improving with each season he spends in the majors. The emergence of the Royals offense will only make Butler better. They are a very young team but Butler’s 29 HR were not completely unexpected. Butler is a pure hitter and only getting better.
8. Paul Konerko – The Sox offense was questionable at best last year, and the drop off in RBI for Konerko was a direct result of that. Be cautious with Konerko, and have a backup plan. That said, a healthy lineup and new manager could pay dividends for the veteran 1B.
9. Mark Teixeira – Tex is two-sided, as he’s shown he can hit 30 or 40 HR and bat .250 or .315. Despite hitting 39 HR in 2011, he looks like he is on the decline. He is still in a potent lineup, sandwiched by Cano and Granderson, and assuming he plays 150+ games, he should get you those 30 HR, but expect a .250 BA rather than his .280 career mark.
10. Allen Craig – Sleeper! How could a top 10 1Bb be a sleeper? Because if we look at his totals for the past two seasons, here is what we would find: in his second season in the majors in 2011, his line was 71 R, 23 HR, 86 RBI and a .315 BA, while last year he produced 103 R, 30 HR, 125 RBI and a .307 BA. If Allen can stay healthy (which is his major flaw), he will be a fantasy stud!
11. Ryan Howard – It’s been a year since his injury and he is fully healthy. He produced for you in the final three months of the season finishing with 14 HR and 56 RBI, but the steadily dipping BA is a serious concern. Expect a 30+ HR season and 100+ RBI. The addition of Michael Young, Ben Revere and Delmon Young will only help the Philadelphia offense.
12. Ike Davis – The Mets opening-day lineup is looking questionable. 24-year-old Ruben Tejada will be asked to play the role of leadoff hitter, and Daniel Murphy will likely be hitting second. While both have exceeded expectations over the past two seasons, expect a slight dip in their stats, and know that the #1 and #2 hitters directly impact the rest of the lineup. In 2012, Davis’s 32 HR were rewarding at the expense of a .227 BA. Look for Ike Davis to meet you at the halfway point and sacrifice some HR for a better BA.
13. Adam Dunn – It is what it is. If your league has CI than Dunn is the perfect complementary guy if you own someone like Billy Butler or Buster Posey, guys who hit only 20-25 HR but have a high BA. You will need someone to offset Dunn’s disgusting .204 BA. It might take a couple of other high-average players to lead your league in BA while owning Dunn, but 41 HR is hard to find, especially considering that only six other players hit 40+ HR in 2012.
14. Mark Trumbo – Trumbo was spectacular last season hitting 32 bombs and 95 RBI. He will have similar stats in addition to having 1B, 3B and OF eligibility this season. He is a versatile player and exceptionally underrated.
15. Adam LaRoche – LaRoche doesn’t have the same talent around him that Trumbo has, but he is another fairly underrated player. After spending his first seven major league seasons with five different teams, his seventh season and sixth team have found him a home. As an everyday starter last season he hit 33 HR and 100 RBI with a respectable .270 BA.
16. Freddie Freeman – Freeman improved moderately on his rookie season. The Braves entire lineup has improved going into 2013. This bodes well for a productive fantasy season for the young 1B. Freeman has the offensive potential of moving up in the lineup where is projected at batting sixth.
17. Paul Goldschmidt – The D-Backs made some changes to improve the club, despite trading guys like Trever Bauer and Justin Upton, which could well be addition by subtraction. Entering his second full season manning 1B, Goldschmidt is primed for an improved season. Easily a 30/100 candidate and he doesn’t hurt you in the BA category.
18. Nick Swisher – Swisher will be playing ball for a new team for the fourth time in his career. While his batting average may vary anywhere from .220 to .290, he will predictably hit you 23+ HR and anywhere from 80-100 RBI. This is all IF he makes the adjustment from being A guy in NY to being THE GUY in CLE.
19. Anthony Rizzo – Still figuring things out after only 136 career major league games, but he definitely has some power. Much of Rizzo’s success will rely on the remaining projected lineup. I wouldn’t expect too much of an improvement from last season for Rizzo; 23/80 seems achievable, though.
20. Corey Hart – Hart will put up nasty fantasy stats if he plays a full season. Unfortunately he will likely miss April (possibly into May) following surgery. He will probably have a few more 14-day DL stints, too. However, if he falls far enough in the draft for you stash him, be confident that he will put up numbers when he plays. You could scoop him up with your final pick, stash him on your DL and see where he takes you.
Don't forget to check out RotoBaller's first base fantasy baseball rankings, and full breakdown of the different tiers...