Sleepers & Busts: First Base
Beginning the search for the ever-elusive fantasy baseball gold and kryptonite, we continue a series on sleepers and busts at the first base position.
Besides identifying who we feel is being under- or overrated in drafts, we are going beyond our own projection system and rankings to find a favorite and least favorite to tweak their stat prediction.
SLEEPER: ERIC HOSMER
We don’t normally like buying into the hype that surrounds postseason heroes, but Hosmer has the pedigree to finally put it all together over a full season as he enters his age-25 season. Coming off a nine-homer season, Hosmer’s price hasn’t been jacked up by his big postseason performance. We project a line of .288 average, 79 runs, 18 homers, 81 RBIs and 8 steals in 647 plate appearances. There’s even more upside than that – think .300-90-25-100-15 as a ceiling. We have Hosmer ranked No. 13 at first base while his ADP is 21st.
BUST: LUCAS DUDA
One of last year’s biggest breakouts – it’s usually not a good idea to pay for a career year and Duda certainly fits the description. Part of our problem with Duda is that he can’t hit lefties – he put up a miserable triple-slash of .180/.264/.252 with two homers and two runs in 125 plate appearances against lefties last season. The Mets brought in noted lefty masher John Mayberry, whose stats against lefties sure look like he would make a great platoon partner with Duda – triple-slash of .243/.341/.571 with five homers in 82 PA. Between the risk of Duda’s playing time being cut into and that his power comes back to earth, our projected line of .244-66-23-75-2 in 581 PA almost seems generous, yet it leads to a No. 24 ranking at first base compared to his ADP of 18th.
Justin Morneau: Not only does Morneau get to benefit from playing half his games in Coors Field, but he still managed to hit .309 on the road last season. As long as he’s in Colorado, he should be able to put up solid numbers for a cheap price. We rank him No. 16 while his ADP is 22nd.
Steve Pearce: It’s hard to go all in on a journeyman who broke out as a 30-year-old, but it’s hard to ignore his spectacular .929 OPS and 21 homers in 383 PA last year. We’ve got him ranked No. 19 even with a good bit of regression compared to his ADP of 24th.
Mike Napoli: The veteran slugger could benefit from off-season surgery to fix his sleep apnea that he says was sapping his energy last year. We’ve got him ranked No. 24 while his ADP is 29th.
Logan Morrison: Finally healthy in the second half last year, Morrison finished by hitting .321 with six homers (including five in September) over the last two months. The former elite prospect could finally break out if he can stay healthy, yet his ADP is 39th while we have him ranked No. 28.
C.J. Cron: Cron’s value likely will wind up tied to how healthy and productive Josh Hamilton can be, as the second-year slugger would stand to be the full-time DH if Matt Joyce is forced to the outfield. Cron comes at a cheap price as his ADP is 37th while we have him at No. 30.
Nick Swisher: Coming off knee surgery and should problems, Swisher is being almost written off at 44th in ADP while we have him at No. 35.
Ike Davis: If he can finally put Valley Fever behind him, Davis could be a Duda-like breakout yet his ADP is 46th while we have him No. 36.
Mark Trumbo: There’s a lot of risk here with his foot problems that led to a power outage last season and a ceiling that almost entirely revolves around the return of that power. Even with our generous 28-homer projection, we still have Trumbo ranked No. 20 while his ADP is 15th.
Matt Adams: Similar to Duda, Adams is limited by his struggles against lefties (.190 with 3 homers in 130 AP last year). We have Adams ranked No. 22 while his ADP is 19th.
James Loney: This is probably splitting hairs at this point, as Loney is really just an AL-only type but we have him No. 41 while he is 35th in ADP.