In this edition of Two Up, Two Down, we take a look at the position traditionally marked by big boys and known for the ever-popular home run: first base. As in previous articles in this series, our aim is not to tell you that Albert Pujols and David Ortiz are good picks; instead, we will examine two players to target on draft day that may be overlooked by other managers, and will be good value. We also recommend two players for you to avoid (or for you to “pump up” to the rest of your league, if that’s your thing). As in years past, first base is a position to stock up on home runs and RBIs, and it’s easy to see why, with twelve different returning players boasting 30+ home run totals from 2006 (not including designated hitters such as Thome and Hafner.) So who will do the same this season? Let’s take a look.
Prince Fielder – Brewers
Fielder is already highly-regarded as an up-and-coming star with quite a resume at the minor league level, including three Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Year awards. As a 22-year-old in 2006, Fielder logged 569 at bats, and posted 82 runs, 28 home runs, 81 RBIs, and 7 stolen bases to go along with his .271 batting average. These numbers are more than respectable for his first full season, and Mr. Fielder should see an improvement in 2007. He certainly won’t go undrafted and is hardly a sleeper, but he’ll come at a much cheaper price than the top-of-the-line guys. For those of you drafting in keeper leagues this year, Fielder will be an even better target. Prince has all the makings to follow in the footsteps of his father, Cecil, and will be a player to target in your upcoming drafts.
Adam LaRoche – Braves
LaRoche has been mentioned several times this off-season in trade rumors. This 27-year-old is entering the prime years of his career and building off of a solid 2006 campaign where he hit .285 while scoring 89 runs, hitting 32 home runs, and knocking 90 runs in. He also has the minor league numbers and awards to show that last season was not out of the ordinary. In 2003 he was the Atlanta Braves Minor League Player of the Year, and a year later he was named as an MLB All-Rookie All-Star. Adam, much like Fielder, should at least repeat his numbers from 2006 which are worthy of any fantasy roster. Regardless of what team LaRoche starts the season with, he should be a solid source of power later in the draft.
Carlos Delgado – Mets
Delgado is a home run threat in a potent offense, but that’s about all he has going for him. Last year we saw a spike in home runs from 2005, but we also noticed his average drop to a less-than-spectacular .265. He will play through his 35th birthday this June, and I feel that age will certainly begin to catch up with him this year. While he should be able to put up 30 home runs, there’s no guarantee he will. Odds are, based on name recognition, he will go higher in drafts than I would want. I’m letting someone else draft him this year; they can put up with the average, which is mediocre at best.
Derrek Lee – Cubs
An interesting name to see on an “avoid” list. He’s just one year removed from a MVP-type season, is a rare five-category contributor at first base, and he will have the luxury of being in a line-up with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. However, his wrist injury and career statistics throw up a red flag. Before 2005, Lee had never hit more than 32 home runs in a season or hit higher than a .281 average; these are certainly much lower than the 48 home runs and .335 average of that (likely career) year. While I feel that Lee’s final 2007 numbers may be somewhere between the two, many managers will look to take him early in drafts hoping for those 48 home runs. I will not be one of those managers.
There you have it – a glance into the first basemen to watch (and watch out) for. Good luck, happy drafting, and be sure to stay tuned for more Two Up, Two Downs.
Jordan Flemer is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jordan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Mugrila.
Questions or comments for Jordan? Post them in the Cafe Forums!
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!