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NL First Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

J.T. Snow367101.2754401401
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37B:L    T:L55-6.1-4.5

Nearly a decade in San Francisco did not keep Snow from departing the Giants after he unsurprisingly proved unable even to echo his dynamic 2004 performance. Declining patience and limited power seemingly give him very little value, yet Snow still landed a job with the Red Sox due to his sterling defense. Although I see little justification for him starting over Kevin Youkilis, Snow at least will not hurt anyone who adds him as a cornerman during Dollar Days.

Mike Jacobs10031.31011230191
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:L    T:R4413.316.1

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Jacobs.

Hee Seop Choi32081.25315421401
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:L    T:L45-0.3-0.3

Few moves this winter shocked us more than Choi's agreement to a one-year deal only days after the Dodgers essentially replaced him with Nomar Garciaparra. While Choi might stay in the majors as a defensive replacement, he could be sent to AA Jacksonville so that James Loney can play every day at AAA Las Vegas. Hopefully a club like the Rays or Orioles will liberate Choi from Los Angeles, where Jim Tracy proved shockingly incapable of completing the simplest job requirement: writing "H Choi" on his lineup card every day. Fortunately Choi still possesses strong batting skills and only turns 27 in March, so he still could enjoy a respectable big league career if awarded 450 at-bats sometime in the next couple of years.

Lance Niekro27870.25212460321
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R33-3.3-3.3

Joe's kid unexpectedly spent almost all season in the majors after a couple of years at AAA Fresno. While he possesses plenty of power potential, his .295 OBP sharply limits his value, especially on a team already committed to deploying Pedro Feliz every day. However, Niekro also registered a .324/.361/.657 performance in 108 AB against southpaws, so the expected platoon of Niekro and Mark Sweeney could simulate an All-Star bat for San Francisco. Feel free to roster Niekro as your cornerman for a couple of bucks with the reasonable hope that he at least echoes these stats.

Ryan Shealy9130.3302161141
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R226.36.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Shealy.

Phil Nevin38090.23712553461D
Age: 34B:R    T:R23-13.6-15.8

Few players have vanished from roto radar faster than Nevin, who suffered in PETCO park, vetoed a move to Baltimore, and then somehow collapsed upon his trade to a far superior hitting environment in Texas. He returns to the Rangers as David Dellucci's likely platoon partner at DH, but after injuries and ineffectiveness plagued him throughout 2005, he should last very late in most drafts. Looking at him from a slightly more favorable perspective, he suffered little specific skill deterioration, could find significant playing time in one of baseball's best lineups, and needs a strong season as he heads into free agency next winter with one last chance to score a big contract. Bidding about five bucks here could snag you a nice bargain.

Mike Lamb32276.23612531411
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:L    T:R12-9.1-6.1

Ceding the third base job to Morgan Ensberg left Lamb with no definite home in the field. His averages subsequently crumbled as he even proved incapable of contributing at first base or off the bench. Right now he looks like no more than a fallback option at all four corner positions, so although I expect his improving contact rate to spearhead a significant BA rebound that will boost all his stats, Lamb's relatively minimal upside will keep him on the board until the endgame.

Chris Woodward17349.2833180161O
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R11-1.16.4

Somehow Woodward's defensive flexibility provided Willie Randolph with a reason to award the weak-hitting middle infielder with over twenty starts at first base. While Woodward wound up playing at least five games at every position short of pitcher and catcher, his occupancy of first provided a significant basis for the Mets fall from playoff contention. Woodward returns as the primary utilityman this year, but given his limited plate discipline and extremely unimpressive upside, he certainly merits no consideration as more than roster filler in even the deepest leagues.

First Base Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Mike Jacobs and Ryan Shealy only need to start every day to emerge as double-digit roto options, however the best values here look like super sleepers Hee Choi and Phil Nevin. All this duo needs to jump from draft afterthought to $15 profit is regular playing time, rendering both players superb targets in most leagues, especially if they remain available as the draft moves through Dollar Days to any reserve rounds.

Click here to read the previous article.

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