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January
24th
2006
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AL First Basemen: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League First Basemen with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.


16.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Ben Broussard466119.25519682591
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:L    T:L9105.32.1

Broussard's anticipated quantitative breakout simply failed to occur and his OBP dropped over sixty points. While batting about fifty more times than he did in 2004, all his averages significantly deteriorated, severely hindering the bottom half of Cleveland's lineup. The good news is that his strikeouts did not spike, so Broussard still could flourish this summer, especially now the that addition of Eduardo Perez places the two first basemen in a firm platoon. Do not expect Broussard to remain with the Indians indefinitely, but his likely BA improvement should drive his value toward $15, making him a good buy anywhere in single digits.


17.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Kevin Millar449122.2729500571O
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R896.24.2

A growing reverse platoon split fed Millar's power outage, devastating his quantitative results and dragging down the middle of Boston's order. Although he nicely rebounded in the second half, we cannot expect more than mild improvement as he heads to Baltimore. Definitely do not bid into the teens and consider limiting yourself to a single-digit gamble here.


18.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Matt LeCroy30479.26017500331D
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R778.56

Minnesota cut LeCroy after the season, a mildly surprising move considering he obliterated southpaw pitching to the tune of a .306/.404/.621 performance, registering 13 HR and 24 RBI in just 124 AB. He still has not landed a job despite looking like a perfect fit for teams like Tampa, Florida, San Diego, and San Francisco. Regardless of his 2006 club, improving skills and plenty of power upside make LeCroy a good gamble anywhere around $5, especially due to the strong likelihood of him qualifying at catcher by the start of summer.


19.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
John Olerud17350.2897370181
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37B:L    T:L656.27.1

Eking out one more solid season led to Olerud concluding his career as a backup first baseman with the Red Sox. He retires after seventeen impressive years with over 2200 hits and a .398 career OBP, as well as three Gold Gloves and a couple of rings with Toronto. While he is not a Hall of Famer, I will not be surprised to see him remain on the ballot for a couple of years with a dozen borderline HOFers on his comp list, including Edgar Martinez, Will Clark, Keith Hernandez, Steve Garvey, and Don Mattingly.


20.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Justin Morneau490117.23922790621
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:L    T:R67-0.4-2.5

Morneau required an emergency appendectomy last winter and then suffered a concussion courtesy of a Ron Villone pitch less than a week into the season. Although he returned from the DL after just two weeks, Morneau suffered from elbow problems for much of the year, which only exacerbated his platoon split. However, his skills remained very similar to his 2004 marks, and considering he only turns 25 in May, any improvement in his BA could lead to truly impressive numbers. I suspect you will find a nice long-term bargain anywhere you can land Morneau under $15.


21.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Tino Martinez30373.24117492431
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37B:L    T:R564.35.7

I frankly cannot believe Tino has not found a team for 2006. While he certainly did not enjoy a productive year, his skills remained fairly sturdy and he demonstrated solid power against right-handed pitchers. He also still owns almost a full hand of World Series rings, which seemingly require a home somewhere like Baltimore. Of course, he will not contribute much to fantasy teams under the best circumstances, so generally leave him to the endgame COR bin for clubs that need a little extra quantitative help.


22.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Nick Swisher462109.23621740661O
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:S    T:L564.41.3

Nearly destined for first base, Swisher instead likely will stay in left field indefinitely, especially with Daric Barton prepared to join Dan Johnson in filling the 1B/DH holes. The Frank Thomas signing pushes Swisher into a platoon with Jay Payton, but considering Swisher switch-hits, expect another deal to move Payton, creating a firm everyday job for one of Billy Beane's favorite players. Swisher owns significant patience and power potential, leaving only contact problems as an obvious obstacle to his long-term success. A sprained shoulder cost him most of May and limited his overall development, but given his minor league numbers and overall upside, I see no reason not to expect a $15 follow-up before Swisher emerges as a true star in 2007, as well as a sim league stud.


23.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Scott Hatteberg464119.2567590521D
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:L    T:R56-7-11.4

Do not be surprised to see Hatteberg in camp with Oakland, potentially even heading to AAA Sacramento as injury insurance before his eventual move into coaching. He still possesses excellent patience, but a near-complete lack of power and speed renders his one skill almost unplayable in the majors. First basemen simply cannot post a .677 OPS and expect to continue playing every day. Of course, he still could emerge as a key pinch-hitter, but you simply cannot count on Hatteberg to help in any roto league.


24.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Casey Kotchman12635.2787221161D
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22B:L    T:L435.75

A couple more months in the minors only resulted in a .289/.372/.441 performance, along with 10 HR, 58 RBI, and a 43:40 BB:K in 363 AB for AAA Salt Lake(PCL). However, Kotchman began to see regular playing time for the Angels down the stretch, demonstrating intriguing upside at the plate despite a 2.11 G-F. The key in evaluating Kotchman is remembering that he only turns 23 in February, owns superb defensive skills, and now looks like both the unquestioned starting first baseman and probable #5 hitter. Even a platoon with someone like Robb Quinlan should not keep Kotchman from tripling these stats, providing an excellent foundation for future offensive development.


25.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Carlos Pena26061.23518440371D
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:L    T:L444.62.2

Two months with a .181/.283/.307 output forced the Tigers to exchange Pena for AAA starter Chris Shelton, who quickly emerged as the club's best hitter. However, Pena posted a .311/.424/.525 performance with 12 HR, 45 RBI, and a 45:65 BB:K in 257 AB for Toledo(IL), earning a return to the majors in mid-August. He then hit 14 home runs in the next six weeks, registering a .286/.345/.662 line that kept him from a previously inevitable non-tendering in December. As trading further patience for power creates plenty of upside if he bumps up his batting average, Pena returns as the fallback option at 1B/DH, fully prepared to play every day if a good spring outweighs Craig Monroe's contributions. I do not recommend counting on Pena as a vital part of your team, but if you can obtain the young veteran for a few bucks in the endgame, he offers as much profit potential as almost any cornerman.


26.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Chris Gomez21961.2791182271
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R44-0.3-1.9

Gomez quietly evolved into a remarkably safe option last season, boosting his contact rate back over .90, thus insuring a positive BA contribution. Of course, he no longer possesses more than the slightest bit of power, and he does not deserve any roster slot until he requalifies at MIF. Even if his improved skills lead to a platoon job, Gomez offers too little upside to merit much fantasy consideration.


27.ABHBAHRRBISBRPos
Eduardo Perez16141.25511280231
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:R    T:R436.96.9

A healthy Perez reemerged as one of the best platoon players in the game, registering a .259/.371/.526 performance with a 21:25 BB:K in 135 AB against left-handed pitchers. His solid skill set should insure he remains quite productive as he moves to Cleveland to share first base with Ben Broussard, which should provide the Indians with All-Star production at minimal cost. Unfortunately, Perez simply will not find the at-bats necessary to offer more than a few bucks of value, but sim players certainly should not ignore him as an excellent middle-of-the-order masher versus southpaws.


First Base Week continues tomorrow.


Today's Fantasy Rx: Although Kevin Millar and Ben Broussard certainly could rebound, savvy fantasy players primarily should target the younger options here - Morneau, Swisher, Kotchman, and even Carlos Pena. All four qualify as post-hype sleepers, so if one slips to the later rounds, scoop him up for your corner slot without thinking twice.


Click here to read the previous article.

Please e-mail your comments to tim@rotohelp.com.
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