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Later-Round First Basemen - Targets and Avoids


Once you reach the later rounds of drafts, you start thinking about upside fliers that can provide a great return on value. These are the rounds to take risks on more unknown commodities like prospects, forgotten-about veterans, players returning from injuries or players that have previously showed promise but haven't put it all together yet. Knowing about the deeper player pool can help you be more flexible throughout the draft, especially if you can identify someone you like and plan your earlier picks around that.

Today we are looking at some late-round first basemen who need to be considered. Do we think they are draft targets, or players to avoid? Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and be one of your later-round draft sleepers? Read on to see our take.

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. Be sure to subscribe today 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!

 

Tyler White - 1B, Houston Astros

Tyler White had a great 2018 campaign in the small sample size of 66 games. He posted a .276/.354/.533 slash with 27 runs, 12 home runs, and 42 RBI. His stats are pretty bulletproof evidenced by an above-average walk rate at 10.1% and an average strikeout rate of 20.7%. In other words, there’s nothing in his profile from 2018 that would suggest a significant decline in performance; he’s as solid as they come (provided the small sample size).

That being said, the stats aren’t eye-popping but can provide solid fantasy production when he’s in the lineup. The likely departures (through free agency) of Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis should open up a near-everyday DH/1B spot for White. He’s currently projected to hit seventh in the Astros lineup and split time at first base with Yuli Gurriel.

Since we’re talking about the Astros, there’s no bad spot to hit, although it’s worth noting most games in 2018 he hit in the four through six spots. There’s definitely upside here, you can likely expect that he will get double the at-bats which would produce around 60 R, 24 HR, and 80 RBI, which would have made him a fringe top-ten 1B last year. A current ADP of 247 is good value to take White as a backup 1B with potential for more.

--Zach Alexander - RotoBaller

 

Jake Bauers - 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians

Jake Bauers will get a change of scenery entering his first full season in the major leagues after being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Cleveland Indians in December. He should be locked into regular at-bats as the team’s first baseman, surrounded by quality bats such as Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. There are still plenty of questions surrounding just how valuable Bauers will be, however, as he hit only .167/.281/.307 in 192 post-All-Star break at-bats.

He showed surprising pop -- his 13.8 percent HR/FB was the highest of his career at any level -- but still had a 43.8 percent groundball rate, likely capping his power potential. His average batted ball exit velocity of 86.8 was also below the major-league average, suggesting that he benefited from unearned home runs and providing more reason for skepticism surrounding his power output. His six stolen bases appear to be a strong contribution, but he had just a 50 percent success rate and could get the red light if his inefficiency continues.

If anything will help Bauers maintain fantasy value, it’s his strong plate discipline as he continued to show the ability to draw walks once he hit the majors. That will give him the chance to stick in the lineup, get on base, and profit from a strong surrounding batting order. Currently being drafted outside of the top 250 players in early drafts, Bauers is worth a flier given his positive team context and multi-position eligibility.

--Daniel Marcus - RotoBaller

 

Ryan Zimmerman - 1B, Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman surprised a lot of folks when he hit .303/.358/.573 with a .930 OPS, career-high 36 home runs and 108 RBI in 144 games in 2017. The 34-year-old predictably fell back to Earth last season, hitting just .264/.337/.486 with an .824 OPS, 13 home runs and 51 RBI in 85 games. His bloated .335 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and lofty 26.5 home run/fly-ball rate carried him in his bounce-back 2017 campaign.

While he walked more and struck out less last year, his BABIP fell to .284 and his HR/FB rate to 16.5 percent. Being healthy in 2017 also played a big part, but Zimmerman is no spring chicken anymore and has played in over 100 games just three times since 2013 because of injuries. The Nats know this, which is why they went out and signed left-handed hitting Matt Adams to platoon with Zimmerman at first base. At this stage of his career, having him play every day would be detrimental to his overall production. Besides, he's more effective in doses and against left-handed pitchers; he hit .377 against southpaws in 2018 compared to just .228 against righties.

Zimmerman can go on hot streaks and squares the ball up occasionally, but his lack of consistent playing time and injury history makes him a corner infield option without much upside in NL-only leagues. RotoBaller has him as the 34th-ranked first baseman in fantasy.

--Keith Hernandez - RotoBaller

 

Peter Alonso - 1B, New York Mets

Mets first base prospect Peter Alonso was one of the top hitters in the minor leagues this year. As a 23-year-old, he mashed 36 HR to go along with 92 R, 119 RBI and a .285/.395/.579 slash line between Double- and Triple-A. His stat lines in the upper minors resemble those of another right-handed, power-hitting first baseman: Rhys Hoskins, who has quickly turned into one of Major League Baseball’s premier sluggers.

Alonso isn’t likely to replicate what Hoskins managed his rookie season, but he should provide plenty of value in Flushing this season. The Mets are almost definitely going to manipulate Alonso’s service time, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Mets’ second-ranked prospect until at least mid-April-- and perhaps not until late May, after the Super Two cutoff.

Still, Alonso’s offensive tools should allow him to adjust to big league pitching and make him a viable fantasy option rather quickly. Beyond keeper and dynasty leagues -- in which he is a must-own -- Alonso is a worthy stash in deeper redraft leagues, particularly those with a corner infield roster spot.

--Harris Yudin - RotoBaller

 

Ryan Braun - 1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers

While he is no longer the MVP candidate that he was in the early stages of his career, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun continues to plug along as a solid fantasy outfielder after he slashed .254/.313/.469 with 20 homers, 59 runs, 64 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 125 games in 2018. While none of those numbers are eye-popping, Braun makes solid statistical contributions across the board for fantasy owners.

The veteran outfielder has posted double-digit homers and steals in each of his MLB seasons, outside of his 2013 suspension-shortened season. Braun is currently the 48th ranked outfielder at RotoBaller while his ADP of 219 makes him a solid late-round value in standard mixed leagues as a third outfielder or bench depth.

--Matt Terelle - RotoBaller

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