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Three First Basemen Who Will Outperform Their 2015 ADP

Bang For Your Draft Day Buck

First base is a treasure trove for bargain hunters this year with three players in particular standing out. All three struggled in 2014 and have seen their draft day stock plummet as a result. Ready for some 2015 fantasy baseball bounceback candidates? Let's begin with Mr. Second Breakfast himself...
 

Prince Fielder (Average ADP: 64.5)

Power is becoming increasingly hard to come by in the modern age. Only 27 players hit more than 25 home runs last year. Of them, only 11 hit more than 30. As you can see, this is hardly anything new:

Year 25+ Home Run Hitters 30+ Home Run Hitters
2012 44 27
2013 30 14
2014 27 11

 

Where does Prince Fielder fit in? Simply put, he's one of the very few players going outside of the first five rounds who I could project for more than 30 home runs without being an utter liability in the batting average department (think Chris Davis). Having shown the ability to reliably hit above the .275 threshold, the 30 home run version of Prince Fielder is head and shoulders above his fellow seventh rounders and a true value gem.

Of course, Fielder comes with risk. If he didn't, he wouldn't be a seventh round pick after all. Fielder's last two seasons have seen a marked drop off from his traditional production and durability. Why then all this optimism surrounding the lumbering first baseman? It begins with his new home park. Take a moment to compare how Arlington stacks up against Fielder's former home in Detroit:

2014 Left Handed Park Factors Texas Rangers Detroit Tigers
Home Runs 6th 15th
Singles 4th 3rd
Doubles 10th 30th

 

Arlington was built for a hitter like Fielder. Furthermore, as power declines throughout the league, it becomes easier and easier to take a risk on a player like him.

Is it even a risk? Fielder has only hit the disabled list once in his major league career, notably missing just one game between all of 2009 and 2013. Moreover, we've never really seen a 'bad' season from a healthy Prince Fielder. His last year in Detroit, the worst full season of his career, still resulted in a .274 batting average, 25 home runs, 106 RBI, 82 Runs scored, and even a novelty stolen base.

Altogether, Fielder pairs an arguably high floor with a much higher ceiling. Getting that in the seventh round? Sign me up any day.
 

Pedro Alvarez (Average ADP: 249.5)

Let's continue the “power is scarce” theme with my next value pick: Pedro Alvarez. In many ways 2014 was an odd year for the young Pirate. He posted some of the worst raw numbers of his short career, yet improved many of his key peripheral stats. Compared to the previous year, Alvarez cut his strikeout rate by almost 5%, upped his walk rate by over 2%, and cut his GB/FB rate for the second time in two years.

Could Alvarez hit 30 home runs again? Maybe. He certainly has the skill set to do it, having led the NL in home runs just two years ago. Considering how little the Pirates have behind him at first base (i.e. Corey Hart), he shouldn't want for at-bats.

Granted, his utter inability to hit for anything approaching a quality batting average will mean that not every team can afford to roster a player like Alvarez. For those who do have room for him, I would strongly advise a long hard look. The earliest I've seen Alvarez go in drafts is at CBS where he's averaging a late 19th round pick. On some sites, he's actually going undrafted. Given how hard it is to find power nowadays, Alvarez won't have to do much to justify a late round lottery ticket. A 30-32 home run season? That would certainly do it.
 

Joey Votto (Average ADP: 71.2)

There are few bounceback candidates I'm higher on for 2015 than Joey Votto. I don't need to tell you about what went wrong last season. The perennial All-Star watched his entire game sink to career lows as he battled through a left quadriceps strain which would end up costing him 100 games by season's end. All reports out of Reds camp so far this spring suggest that the injury is behind the former MVP.

"I'm really pleased with how he's moving around, how he looked in the cage, how he looked at first base,” shared manager Bryan Price to MLB.com. “He was throwing the ball well, looked spry. I was happy to see that for sure."

"I've been swinging, throwing," echoed Votto. "I'm taking ground balls and running. It feels like a big contrast to where I was during the season and at the end of the season."

Maybe that's just “best shape of his life” talk, but I do find it encouraging. Votto is among the most polished hitters in major league baseball and can be an utter force of nature when healthy. He'll be 31 years old next season and has played at least 150 games in three of the last five seasons. Prior to last year he was a career .314 hitter averaging roughly 22 home runs each year. If you miss out on Fielder in the seventh, I don't think you can do much better than Votto in the eighth.
 

Parting Thoughts

Feel like there's someone I missed? Considering how many players are out there on draft day, it's impossible to get to everybody, but if there's a first baseman you'd like to hear more about feel free hit me up on twitter @KBraver. I'm always happy to chat.

 




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