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Mid-Round First Basemen - Fantasy Baseball Outlooks


Here at RotoBaller, we've been producing fantasy baseball analysis all offseason. As part of that, our awesome MLB team has written up detailed 2019 fantasy baseball outlooks for 400+ players. These player outlooks include RotoBaller's analysis on how we expect player to perform in 2019, where to target them in 2019 drafts, and supporting stats to back up the analysis. Typically, we only include these outlooks for premium subscribers, but we have a special treat for you.

Over the next few weeks we'll be releasing some exclusive player outlooks for each position. Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2019 Draft Guide.

Today we are looking at some middle-round first basemen who need to be considered. Do we think they are draft targets, or players to avoid? Are their ADPs overvalued or undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and be one of your key draft sleepers? Read on to see our take. Be sure to subscribe as well, and read all 400+ of our 2019 player outlooks available exclusively in our 2019 Draft Guide.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Luke Voit - 1B, New York Yankees

New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit was a stretch-run superstar in 2018, posting a .322/.398/.671 slash line with 15 homers over 161 combined plate appearances between the St. Louis Cardinals (13 PAs) and the Yankees. His rise had precedent, as he’d posted a .896 OPS with 11 homers over 310 PAs in the Minors, but even the strongest proponents of Yankee Stadium as a power haven wouldn’t have given Voit the 40.5% HR/FB rate that he finished ‘18 with.

He also finished with a .365 BABIP that will likely tumble a bit, though he posted a .368 BABIP at Triple-A in 2017 and has elite hard-hit rates (47% in 2018, 41% in 124 MLB PAs in ‘17) and strong line-drive rates that sat around 25% in the Minors. As such, he remains a good bet for an average around .300 even as the raw power totals step back.

How the Bronx Bombers decide to deploy him and Greg Bird at first base is another story, but Voit has the clear upper hand for now after Bird’s lost ‘18 season. Steamer’s giving him 493 PAs and 130 R+RBI, but regular at-bats in this stacked lineup and a home park that can turn liners into short homers means he has top-100 potential and is easily worth the risk at his ADP of 200.

--Nick Mariano - RotoBaller

 

Jose Martinez - 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Jose Martinez was a revelation in the second half of 2017 as a late-age breakout. He proved it wasn't a fluke with a strong first half in 2018, hitting .297 with 13 HR and 56 RBI. Then, playing time suddenly became an issue. Martinez simply didn't play as much in July, sitting out for a stretch for no reason other than manager's decision.

While he survived the trade deadline and had a good finish to the season, he faces a bigger obstacle now that the Cardinals have acquired Paul Goldschmidt to hold down first base. With young players like Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill ready to take the third and fourth outfielder positions in St. Louis, a trade may be Martinez's only hope for consistent fantasy value in 2019.

At 30 years of age with a negative defensive rating, Martinez doesn't figure to fit into any team's plans as anything more than a platoon bat. He is being drafted within the top 175 overall players but could be overvalued and may not warrant more than a last-round pick.

--Pierre Camus - RotoBaller

 

Miguel Cabrera - 1B, Detroit Tigers

Gone are the days of 30 home runs, triple-crowns and even at this point, healthy seasons. Miguel Cabrera has only played more than 150 games once in the past four seasons, and the former two-time MVP appears to have seen his skills diminish as he enters his age-36 season. Cabrera won’t be the same dominant hitter he once was, but if Cabrera can still be half of what he used to, he could still be considered a late-round stash for fantasy owners come draft day.

Our RotoBaller rankings currently have Cabrera as the 1B17 and 139th overall player, but if the reports of Cabrera’s health are accurate, he could easily finish higher than that. Injuries in back to back seasons zapped his power and caused issues at the plate so the key to Cabrera bouncing back will be his health because the guy can still hit.

Having watched the Tigers quite frequently in 2017, it was clear Cabrera was having issues making contact, as evidenced by striking out once every 4.8 at-bats. For the short time he was healthy in 2018, Cabrera dropped that to one strikeout every 5.8 at bats. Now that Cabrera has had a full off-season to get straight in a couple of years, I will take a flyer at his current ADP of 156.82.

--RotoBaller Staff

 

Eric Hosmer - 1B, San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres had to be disappointed with the production they got from first baseman Eric Hosmer in 2018 after signing him to the richest contract in franchise history at eight years and $144 million. The left-handed hitter slashed only .253/.322/.398 with 18 home runs, 69 RBI, 72 runs scored and seven stolen bases in 157 games. That came after back-to-back seasons of 25 home runs in his final two years in Kansas City.

Hosmer wasn't expected to be as good in the pitching-friendly confines of Petco Park, especially since he's always been more of a line-drive hitter. To compound things, Hosmer had a career-high 60.4 percent ground-ball rate and career-low 19.7 percent fly-ball rate last season. Typically one of the harder players to strike out in previous seasons, Hosmer also made less overall contact (career-low 74.7 percent) and struck out a career-high 21.0 percent of the time.

Those are all disturbing trends for a player that already didn't stack up against the elite power-hitting first basemen in the game. He doesn't have speed to fall back on either, as he hasn't swiped double-digit bases since 2013. At a position with way more power upside available, Hosmer isn't attractive unless he's a corner infield candidate for your roster in deep mixed leagues. RotoBaller has him ranked as the 18th fantasy first baseman, behind the fading Miguel Cabrera.

--Keith Hernandez - RotoBaller

 

Justin Smoak - 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak turned in a late-career breakout in 2017 but he found it difficult to repeat his success in the 2018 season. His 2018 campaign wasn't a disaster by any means, but he certainly didn't live up to the hype his 2017 season created.

Smoak wound up slashing .242/.350/.457 with 25 homers, 67 runs, and 77 RBI in 147 games, all numbers which fell well short of his breakout the previous season. His strikeout rate also ballooned 5.2% up to 26.3%. On the bright side, his 14.0% walk rate was a career high.

Smoak can't be trusted as a starting first baseman in mixed fantasy leagues this season, but he does have the potential to outperform his draft spot if he is able to land somewhere in the middle of his past two seasons' production. Rotoballer currently ranks Smoak as the 26th ranked first baseman. Smoak is still a value with his power at his current ADP of 232.

--Matt Terelle - Rotoballer

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