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One of the key misnomers in fantasy baseball is the fact that everyone “needs” a good first baseman. In essence, that is true. But in reality, so many players are eligible at first base, that unless you get Paul Goldschmidt late in the first round, a first baseman is worth waiting on.
When you wait, you put yourself in position to take players who qualify as “sleepers”, and this year is no different at first base. There are a few quality sleepers available who are falling in drafts. Be sure to get at least one of them.
Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
Morneau is not what he once was in Minnesota, but in Colorado, he is surrounded by a plethora of hitters who will not only get on base for him, but will bring him around to score. Morneau is on my short-list of first basemen to draft, and here is why. Last year, he only hit .259 with 17 home runs and 77 runs batted in. But so far, his ADP is 181, and he is the 30th first baseman taken so far in terms of ADP. His average will not jump much, but his home runs and runs batted in should be up from a year ago playing in Colorado. Morneau is projected in a lineup with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado and Michael Cuddyer. Morneau is one guy to keep an eye on, and 100 runs batted in is a reasonable expectation. Not bad for the 181st pick in the draft.
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Howard’s ADP sits at 201, meaning on average there are 200 players that are drafted before him. He is also the 31st player eligible at first base to be taken so far. Now, the Phillies lineup is lacking, and Howard will likely be pitched around again. But if he stays healthy for a full year (has not happened since 2011) he is still one of the better bats in the National League. The last two seasons have been his worst, combining for just 24 home runs and 99 runs batted in, but this is over a course of a full season’s work. Not many players being drafted at 201st overall are capable of hitting 25 home runs and bringing in 100 runs. If Howard plays a full season at the level he has the last two seasons, he is still a viable option at first base. Most expect him to be a bit better, and if he is, that is a steal as the 31st-eligible first baseman taken.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
It seems that Teixeira lands on a sleeper list each and every year. Last year he was only able to play 15 games before suffering a season-ending injury. But this year he is back, and word around New York is that he is “in great shape.” Teixeira is currently being drafted at an ADP of 204 and is the 33rd eligible first baseman to be selected. Here is why he should be drafted. Last year was an anomaly and freak season-ending injuries happen. Before last season, Teixeira hit .251 with 24 home runs and 84 runs batted in in just 451 at-bats. Prior to that, he was coming off three consecutive seasons of at least 33 home runs and 108 runs batted in. He likely will not get back to that, but he is only one injury and two years removed from that status. Should Teixeria play over 140 games this year, it is not unreasonable to expect a .255 average with 27 home runs and 90 runs batted in. That production can’t be found at 204th overall in drafts. Be sure to queue Teixeira and be ready to pounce on him at around the 180-200 slots.
As mentioned before, Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, and Mark Teixeira are going from 181 to 204 in mock drafts, each of them is a steal that late. Other potential sleepers include: Corey Hart, SEA, Chris Johnson, ATL, and James Loney, TB.
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