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Early 2020 ADP Reflections - First Base

When a baseball season ends, the following season can’t come here soon enough for some fans, myself included. We start thinking about what we want to see from some players, which includes letdowns, bounce-backs, and even young prospects. Instead of letting them bounce off the brain walls, let’s put these musings into digits. This includes things to watch out for as the season approaches that will affect drafts and in-season management. Some will force further research in the offseason.

This series will provide a few insights and items for consideration at each position; this week we dive into the first basemen. There will be more juicy morsels than the catcher spot (reviewed last week), but it still isn't as plentiful as we would like. Thankfully, it is top-heavy with skilled players, giving us something to toasts with our bourbon du jour.

There are enough solid first basemen to go around for everyone if you play in a 12-team league and everyone shares nicely so that each team gets one. If that scenario doesn't happen, things start to get dicey. Looking at early NFBC results, there are two elite options, one power play, and then a gaggle near pick 65. There are still decent options after that, but the questions start to mount. My preference* is to wait until the seventh round if I don't get one of the two elite players. Make no mistake about it, first base can get ugly quickly if you aren't paying attention. Pay attention.

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Accelerating Off The Line

  • Will Danny Santana (ADP: 120) become baseball's version of a one-hit-wonder? The current love is tied to power/speed combo at a weak position. He doesn’t believe in walks(4.9%) just so he can smack the crap out of the ball (91.4mph avg exit velo). I might watch from a bit further back than the seventh round to keep an eye on his .353 BABIP, Chase rate (39.9%) and playing time.
  • There will be plenty of Peter Alonso (ADP: 28) discussions. Talks of cost, value, sophomore slump, etc.  Pure, raw, unadulterated power is the slogan. He tied for second on max exit velocity (118.3mph). Anyone really going to quibble over 40 HR, .250 AVG?
  • Jose Abreu (ADP: 78) stays at home. The quality of life is getting better in the ChiSox family. Sign me up for duplication of great counting stats.
  • The helium tank is nearly empty thanks to all the Matt Olson (ADP: 69) love. Can he still be a value even at that price point? If he can maintain the positives (crushing the ball) while improving versus lefties (.223 AVG), I’d want him everywhere too.
  • Some are acting like Trey Mancini* (ADP: 105) is the safety net of the position. He calls Camden home, but doesn't rely on it for success. The departure of Jonathan Villar will have some negative effect on the numbers. Multi-positional eligibility provides some extra coziness. Can you believe he’ll be 29 years old in 2020?


Coasting Down Main Street

  • Freddie Freeman (ADP: 16) is boringly successful. Barrel rate (12.5%) returned to norm from 2018 resulting in more homers. If you pick from the mid-to-latter half of the first round, have a plan in case he drifts to you in the second.
  • No one talks about Anthony Rizzo (ADP: 59). He gets on base, hits his homers, tallies the counting stats and even adds a few SB. It’s not sexy. “Not sexy” has value and might be what your roster needs at times.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising to find out there was a moment of pause before Josh Bell (ADP: 91) was selected in drafts. Yes, he had a forgettable second half that most will not forget; though he did walk more (14.2%) and strikeout less (17.3%). He’s priced right and there will be no discounts; he’s still a very good bat at first base.
  • Paul Goldschmidt (ADP: 66) doesn’t run anymore. Complaining about it doesn’t help you. You either want what he is selling or you don’t. Uncharacteristically, he struggled against four-seamers with a 10.3% Swinging Strike rate and a .232 AVG. He’s still very good.
  • Is Rhys Hoskins* (ADP: 114) cruising or stuck in the mud? The numbers and treatment suggest the latter, but I’d use that as an advantage. It is true his Mike Tyson Punch Out-type uppercut swing (24-degree launch angle) led to a league-leading fly ball rate (50.4%). He still has excellent plate discipline and maybe, just maybe, he can improve his endurance (second half) and lefty splits; both are a career .221 AVG. Wagon stays hitched.


Stuck In The Mud

  • Will Luke Voit (ADP: 193) be ready (abdominal surgery)? Sexy power in a wonderful lineup, but do the whiffs (15.8% Swing Strike) and poor contact (66%) keep him in the lineup? Enter Mike Ford (ADP: 571) Ooh-La-La. Voit may have poor plate discipline but he’s not alone down there, he walks shoulder to shoulder with Danny Santana (also 15.8% SwStr). Sorry, I forgot to mention that above, didn’t I?
  • Daniel Murphy (ADP: 224) will not get a second look by many as the “Coors effect” didn’t materialize. However, the 1.9% Brls/PA and a deteriorating exit velocity (86.3 MPH) aren’t scaring everyone away. Did the finger injury cause this? Did age cause this? It costs a 15th-round pick for batting average support and the possibility of 15-20 homers.
  • Ageists continue to turn a cold shoulder towards Edwin Encarnacion (ADP: 214). That's fine. To get 30 homers in the 14th round is a gift horse.
  • Christian Walker (ADP: 205) is supposed to be considered Goldschmidt Lite. He's a solid late option if I've avoided the position the entire draft.
  • C.J. Cron (ADP: 284) is the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball: no respect. He hit at least 25 homers the last two seasons and yet, he is looking for a job. Cron salivates at the idea of facing southpaws (.326 AVG). Full disclosure, he would prefer to avoid righties, batting .231 and .225 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. I’ll be taking a chance on him late in Draft & Hold leagues.
  • Eric Hosmer (ADP: 215). I know, I know. You don’t want to hear any talk about this guy. The lineup around him has improved this offseason and he hit the ball harder than ever (40.1% Hard hit rate) in 2019. However, he’s also putting a lot of divots in the ground (56% Ground-ball rate).
  • You want Nathaniel Lowe (ADP: 246). We want Nate Lowe. Everyone wants Nate Lowe, except for the ones that matter most, the Rays. He may bounce to the minors again as well as get squeezed in a platoon. Ultimately, his 91.3mph average exit velo with solid batting average should garner some playing time. Color me frustrated at the end of the year with this situation.

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