When it comes to fantasy baseball draft day, I have tried many different strategies over the years. Many people will tell you that you need a ‘big bopper’ at first base to have a truly balanced line up. Although you can win your league in a number of ways, having a big bat in the first base slot in your line-up really makes a difference.
First base is the one position where defense is almost an afterthought on the field. As a result, most teams have a player slotted in at first that can really handle the bat. It helps on the field and it helps in fantasy. Trust me, you can win without a huge bat at first (and I have done it) but it makes your life a lot easier having a big-time fantasy contributor manning the 1B slot on your roster. Here are some of the best to consider for the 2013 season:
Albert Pujols (LAA) –
Don’t let that miserable start to his Angels career last year sway you. After June 1st, Prince Albert was up to his old tricks and mashing at the dish around the AL. A player like Pujols comes along once a generation. If you get the chance to own him, do it.
Joey Votto (CIN) –
Sure, he got hurt late in the season last year and it hurt his fantasy value. However, before he went down, Votto was one of the very best fantasy baseball players in the game. He’s in his prime and if you’re looking for an elite hitter with an amazing OBP, Votto is your man.
Prince Fielder (DET) –
Yes, his home runs were down, however he has Victor Martinez returning to the lineup to provide some much-needed protection in the batting order. Also, his team is a contender and offers him a chance to produce some great numbers. His durability makes him a great fantasy asset.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) –
Everyone thought that the move from Petco to Fenway would result in monster fantasy numbers from A-Gone. However, a shoulder injury sapped his ability to produce at an elite level. Now back in the comfortable confines of the NL West, expect Gonzalez to continue to put up elite numbers. He’s simply too talented to be ignored.
Mark Teixeira (NYY) –
Raw power, amazing athleticism and the ability to carry a team (both fantasy and on the field). Tex has struggled through some injuries recently but is simply too good to let slide to the later rounds. Grab him and enjoy the production while you can.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) –
Having a big name isn’t always the answer at first base. Having big stats is the best approach. Freeman has raw talent and is growing into the role. Expect big things from his bat, maybe even as early as 2013. He could be a fantasy stud real soon.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) –
E-5 finally put up a the numbers that many have expected from him for years now. Injuries and inconsistency have held him back in the past but in a potent line-up with the right opportunity, he could again be a fantasy stud. Don’t count on him long-term but for this year, Encarnacion should again be a source of some solid fantasy stats.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) –
Don’t be too enticed by the speed. However, Goldschmidt is in a good situation in the desert. He is primed to put up a monster season and 2013 could very well be time we see it. He swings and misses a lot but could still shine. Definitely worth the gamble.
Ryan Howard (PHI) –
How soon we forget. Howard could come back with a bang. He should be available on the cheap and might just be the sleeper at the position. If you can get grab him late (and you should be able to) he might just surprise with some really big power numbers in 2013. Don’t reach for him but if you can get him in the later rounds, you just might get a surprise.
Adam Laroche (WAS) –
Proving that production doesn’t always have to be flashy, Laroche rewarded his owners with a big year in 2012. Putting together 2 solid halves of a season has always been a struggle for him but riding a huge crest of confidence into 2013 (along with a big contract) might just make him a fantasy asset once again.
Be sure and come away from the draft (or auction) with a solid fantasy contributor at first base. It will help solidify your roster and give you the flexibility you need to fill out your line-up at other positions.
Be sure to keep your eye on other players that qualify at 1B that might just fly under the radar of your fellow fantasy owners. Players like Logan Morrison (MIA), Mark Trumbo (LAA) and Corey Hart (MIL) could be draft day steals. Also, sleeper picks such as Eric Hosmer (KC) and Ike Davis (NYM) might just surprise you with their production. However, nailing down one of the big boys could go a long way to freeing up your options when filling out your roster.
Good luck with your 2013 fantasy baseball team!
* Joey Votto photo by Geoff Livingston on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Mark Teixeira photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: Mark Teixeira) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Ryan Howard photo by User Googie Man on en.wikipedia (From en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons