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First Base Draft Values for Fantasy Baseball - EDV Finds Undervalued, Overvalued Picks

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB DFS Picks, Betting Picks

Baseball is coming, so it is time for another year of the FSWA-award-nominated Expected Draft Values (EDV) series, where we look at historical data to identify both overvalued and undervalued players of all types. Whether you're targeting power, speed, power+speed, batting average+power, and so on, we've got you covered. We'll start at first base and make our way around the diamond to begin the 2023 exercise.

Today, we'll look at first basemen and compare their projected statline via my Cutter Projections against their ADP's expected return. Due to a variety of factors such as name recognition, your fantasy platform's default rank in the draft room, or social media buzz, ADPs can be swayed to poorly reflect the stats you're drafting. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we'll do in this series is identify players who will return a positive or negative value, based on their NFBC ADP in Draft Champions Contests spanning January into February, their Expected Draft Value (i.e. the average stat line typically produced at that ADP), and the player's projection

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How Expected Draft Values (EDV) Help You Win

Expected Draft Values (EDV) try to provide concrete answers to those who say, “Player X is a great value at that ADP.” We've taken historical data and come up with a data set that reliably shows stat lines along the ADP totem pole, with players falling into seven cohorts: 1) HR+BA+SB 2) HR+BA, 3) SB+HR, 4) SB+BA, 5) HR, 6) SB, 7) BA.

We all know players don't fall neatly into one bucket of production, but we can read between the lines and apply the appropriate context if necessary. EDV is not some definitive practice, just as projections are an imperfect science, but it helps sharpen the tools in your kit on draft day. Now, let's move along.


Top First Base Tiers

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even stat-line of every draft slot, you can identify which of your draft picks are projected to return a positive or negative value. Below, we look at five power bats that are either over or undervalued based on their recent NFBC DC ADP, our CUTTER projections, and Expected Draft Values.

Many view 1B as a steady current of value and most feel comfortable waiting, so how does this play out? Without further ado, here is a rundown of first base!

We start at the top, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a soft buy at an even market price, with the crux of it hinging on two parts. We have Toronto’s new walls to contemplate, as well as the surge in steals once John Schneider became skipper.

Guerrero had only attempted one steal (it failed) through July 13, when the Blue Jays called on Schneider to replace Charlie Montoyo as manager. Then we saw the 23-year-old go 8-for-10 on swipe attempts in their final 72 games, helping fuel that 46-28 surge toward a postseason berth. If ~10 steals are on the table then he comes close to the 50 HR+SB demanded by his EDV. I'm in.

Some will elevate Vladito into his own 1A tier, while others will have this next batch right there with him across the top of their draft sheet. Freddie Freeman and Pete Alonso are both strong buys, as is reigning NL MVP, Paul Goldschmidt.

Freeman's value is tied more to his R+RBI opportunities within LA, but the Dodgers did take a step back this offseason. Still, his 211 R+RBI projection is 19 above the EDV mark, and his batting average should edge the .298 tally, which helps offset the modest HR+SB total. Alonso's 41 HR projection is right on the EDV nose and I'm happily taking him after going SP or speed in the first round. Goldy's well-rounded stat sheet yields little disappointment as well.


Mid-Round First Base Tier

If everyone's good, then where do you turn your profit? On the one hand, a strong piece within a strong position can supply a bulwark against weaker ones to come. And if you want to load up the corner-infield slot to protect yourself against a top-heavy third base field that bottoms out then these guys are happy to be of service.

In fact, would you believe that almost everyone at first base is a healthy buy at their ADP? You have to drop down to Andrew Vaughn and Jose Miranda to find a tier where the values start turning red. This is where the projections say you get three chances to truly make good: Ryan Mountcastle, Josh Bell, and Joey Meneses.

Mountcastle has been pushed down after Camden’s new wall ate up one too many deep balls but he still had even home/road power splits: 11 HR, 303 PAs at Camden, and 11 HR, 306 PAs on the road. He had three more doubles and triples away from Camden, so don't think I'm purposefully obscuring that. Statcast gave him 23 expected homers at Camden versus 40 in Cincinnati, and 36 in Houston, so it goes!

But it's lazy to simply blame the wall and move along. Out of 252 qualified hitters, Mountcastle's -0.086 difference between his slugging percentage (.423) and xSLG (.509) was the widest gap. The next Oriole we find is Anthony Santander (-0.016, 71st-worst) so there's still room to rebound. That wall isn't going anywhere and neither is Mountcastle, but 27-30 HR with 160 R+RBI from the middle of the order has him above EDV.

Bell’s patient bat gets to hit cleanup for Cleveland, giving him an excellent chance at crushing the EDV’s call for ~150 R+RBI. He'd also only have to hit .254 to match the draft-day demand, which he's exceeded in every season outside of the shortened 2020 campaign. You know with Meneses that you’re taking a flier on a small-sample upside shown, but you can bail on early for waiver churn if he flops.


Late-Round First Base Tier

While we'd all love to have studs across our entire roster, some spots will be filled late in the draft. And what does that look like at first base? The EDV formula doesn't have anyone's projection meeting its cohort cutoff after Luis Arraez around pick 215, but that doesn't mean the rest get lumped into some "undraftable" bucket.

Josh Naylor and Triston Casas are healthy buys for your CI slot or a bench role relative to the field. You still get roughly 25-30 HR+SB with a projected average of .250 or higher in hitter-friendly venues for their left-handed swings. While Casas only hit .197 in his first 95 MLB PAs, he still slugged five home runs, had a 20% walk rate, and showed signs of elite contact. Out of 497 batters with 50 batted-ball events, the 23-year-old's 95.7 mph average exit velocity on flies/liners ranked 45th.

Dive deeper and you'll likely find Wil Myers' 1B/OF eligibility at Great American Ballpark, the most homer-friendly spot in baseball per EVAnalytics' Park Factors. Those in daily formats can juggle Brandon Belt into the lineup when deployed, while those simply seeking plate appearances can't forget about Carlos Santana in Pittsburgh.


Top First Base vs. EDV - Full Data Table

We've got players, the cohort they qualify for (if applicable), their HR+SB projection against what EDV demands, same with their R+RBI, a similar batting average score, and notes.

Player ADP Cohort HR+SB
v. EDV
v. EDV
AVG Notes
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 11.62 BA+HR+SB -3.1 4.9 -3.3 Solid foundation, heart of the order bat
Freddie Freeman 12.67 BA+HR+SB -15.6 12.0 1.3 Lack of overwhelming power offset by AVG, LAD R+RBI
Pete Alonso 18.7 HR 1.3 5.0 -0.3 Massive power resource won't burn the average down
Paul Goldschmidt 24.33 BA+HR -0.2 7.7 -4.1 Reigning NL MVP is a healthy anchor
Matt Olson 42.86 HR 2.0 3.7 -1.7 Steady buy as the last man in the upper tiers
Jose Abreu 88.67 BA+HR -2.9 24.8 -4.5 Huge opportunity within middle of HOU order
Vinnie Pasquantino 92.62 BA+HR 1.3 9.6 -4.0 Can KC youths take a unified step forward
Nathaniel Lowe 115 HR -4.3 -2.3 6.8 Not exciting, but spot in surging TEX makes nice profit
Rhys Hoskins 119.62 HR -0.3 24.3 -2.1 Start of three healthy buys, usually one slips
C.J. Cron 127.56 HR -0.6 20.7 3.1 Will have to juggle Coors v. road but composite checks out
Christian Walker 131.65 HR -1.7 20.0 1.8 Growth in pulled fly balls matched with health yielded $$
Andrew Vaughn 138.67 First bat not to qualify, though 1B/OF eligibility helps
Jose Miranda 147.43 Another case of no cohort but 3B elig. is big in 2023
Anthony Rizzo 149.41 HR 0.1 0.1 -1.7 Shift ban helps, great environment, must manage back inj.
Ryan Mountcastle 153.81 HR -2.5 14.4 3.8 Camden hurts, if he ups aggression then could still pop
Rowdy Tellez 163.87 HR -1.9 3.1 -5.5 Nice later power source if you can stomach the BA hit
Ty France 170.43 .873 OPS pre-collision, .682 OPS post-collision. You in?
Josh Bell 176.86 HR -3.5 21.3 2.1 Great risk-reward if CLE lets him attack early pitches
Alec Bohm 179.8 Bulked a bit, will plus swing yield 25+ HRs?
Brandon Drury 184.1 How much magic was tied to GABP? .724 OPS post-trade
Jake Cronenworth 187.29 Lesser projections, but you're likely playing him at 2B
Joey Meneses 192.05 HR 0.0 0.7 5.9 Small-sample basis but can drop for waiver if he flops
Luis Arraez 204.4 BA -1.3 28.5 0.0 You know the deal. Little category juice but AVG anchor
Seth Brown 205 HR 3.6 -10.2 -3.6 Last 1B to qualify for a cohort, even if a bit lagging

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