It is no secret that power is down across baseball, as we saw last year the total number of home runs hit across baseball drop to the lowest total since the strike shortened season in 1994. In fact, we have seen a steady overall decline since 2000, when 5,693 home runs were hit … a record that remains today.
What does this mean for you and your Fantasy Baseball team? Well to me, it means you need to put a premium on drafting power this upcoming season. Not always an easy thing to do, since most of the top home run hitters will get drafted in the first four rounds. So what do you do if you do not get enough power in the first few rounds? I say look at first base in your mid-to-late rounds to help boost your teams power.
First base is widely considered the deepest batting position in Fantasy Baseball. Yes, you could say that outfield is deeper, but that is just based on the number of hitters available. When you consider the amount of valuable players at each position, I would say first base is a deeper position. Think about this. Out of the 57 players who hit 20 or more home runs, 16 of them had first base eligibility and it should have been 17 with Paul Goldschmidt hitting 19 home runs while missing 53 games. That is a whopping 28 percent of 20-plus home run hitters coming from the first base position.
4 First Base Sleepers to Boost Your Team’s Power
Not all of these players will get drafted in the early rounds, which means that there are some nice first base sleepers to be found from round 10 on to help boost your teams power.
Adam LaRoche, Chicago White Sox
Adam LaRoche is a forgotten man most years in drafts and he absolutely should not be. Did you know he has hit 20 or more home runs in every season since his rookie year, except for 2011 when he only played 43 games. Last year he had a really good year hitting 26 home runs and batting in 92 runs, despite spending a short time on the DL with a quad injury.
He now gets to move from the unfriendly confines of Nationals Park to the much friendlier U.S. Cellular Field. The park factor numbers from fangraphs.com, show that as a lefty hitter in Cellular Field he gains a considerable overall advantage in the move from Nationals Park.
|Team||Basic||1B as L||2B as L||3B as L||HR as L||SO||BB|
The only reason I can think that Fantasy owners avoid LaRoche is his age, 35. Not ideal, but he has shown no signs of slowing down and the move to a better ball park should help delay that even more.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Some Fantasy owners might feel so burned by Chris Davis after spending a first round pick on him last season, but I’m urging you to give him a second chance. Do I think he will hit 53 home runs again like he did in 2013? No, but he did hit 26 last season in 127 games, not bad, just not what you were hoping. What really drove his value down so much in 2014 was his .196 batting average. I do not think he is this type of hitter either. In his first two seasons with the Orioles, he batted .270 in 2012 and 286 in 2013. To see a giant drop like that means there had to be something wrong. What was it? Let’s dig a bit deeper here.
For one his BABIP was a horrible .242, which means he was getting really unlucky. Some of this was due to the extreme shifts that teams placed on him. I’m talking David Ortiz types of shifts and he will have to learn to hit around those to get better.
Second thing, and I’m taking his word on this, he was struggling to see the ball last season. Even though he did start taking Adderall during 2014 to help with it, the struggles were already in his head and he never got it corrected. Eventually getting suspended 25 games (one of which still needs to be served) for taking a banned substance … he will serve his final game suspension this season.
He is already a good source of power, but add in some better luck with the Adderall prescription and I believe Davis will be closer to, if not, a Top 10 first baseman, than just a Top 25 first baseman like he was last season.
Brandon Moss, Cleveland Indians
Moss was a beast last season, well at least for one-half of last season. In the first-half he hit 21 home runs and 66 RBIs, while batting a respectable .268. The second-half was a disaster as he only hit four home runs and saw his batting average drop to .173. A hip injury, that we did not find out about until late September, was probably a big reason for the dip in numbers, despite Moss saying he didn’t want to use that as an excuse.
*Note: The hip injury did require surgery, but he is expected to be fully recovered to start the season.
I’m really excited to be able to get him where is current ADP is, 179, now that he is with Cleveland. Oakland Colosseum is a death trap for power hitters and it hurt Moss too as evidenced by his home/away splits. Moss hit 33 of his 55 home runs away from the Colosseum over the last two seasons (60 percent). A move to Cleveland, which is a much more hitter friendly park, should help him get back to 30 home runs in 2015.
Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
|2015 Fantasy Sleepers|
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Belt does not play in a very friendly ballpark, nor has he had as much success as the previous three mentioned. So why do I like him this season? Well, with an ADP of 206, there is almost no risk in taking a player who has shown flashes of being a legit power hitter.
Take for example his start to 2014. He hit eight home runs in the first five weeks, then got saddled with multiple injuries the rest of the season. He missed almost two months due to a thumb injury, then shortly after he returned, Belt missed the same amount of time due to a concussion. He never seemed to get back on track and in turn, Fantasy owners have forgotten just how good he was to start 2014. The only concern I have is the drastic drop in batting average, from .289 in 2013 to .243 last season. I’m going to chalk that up to simply falling into some bad luck since his BABIP was just .288, down from .351 the previous two seasons. If he can get his BABIP back up to .320, he will be perfectly fine in the batting average department. I’m very willing to take a chance on him this late, when there will be very few batter available to help boost your teams power.
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