It wasn’t that long ago that big, beefy power hitting first basemen were the norm in fantasy baseball. While we haven’t strayed that far (Chris Davis, anyone?), the position is more nuanced now. There are more Joey Vottos and fewer David Ortizes in fantasy baseball. The top first basemen skew towards higher averages with power, instead of selling out for pop. That means first basemen have more well-rounded skillsets, and they provide you average as well as power (with some chipping in some speed).
Today, we look at three fantasy baseball free agent first baseman. Just like the first two iterations of this piece, we will explore three first basemen available in 50% or more of leagues. For this exercise, we use Yahoo! ownership percentages. For deep leaguers, one of the three has ownership in less than 10% of Yahoo! leagues.[Jeff]
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington (46% owned)
Not much changed with Zimmerman since the last time he showed up here, including his ownership percentage. He continues to play well while healthy, which is what you can expect from Zimm these days. The #6 hitter on the season sits on the wire in over 50% of Yahoo! leagues, so snag him from the wire if you need someone for your first base slot.
Mitch Moreland, Boston (18% owned)
The league leader in hard hit rate (60%), most of Moreland’s value is tied pretty much into the fact that he’s clobbering the snot out of the ball. He smacked his first dinger of the season last week, but continues to rocket the ball. That means Moreland has home runs in him, and you’ll want to get in on the ground floor. Worst case scenario: you pick up a hot hitter in one of baseball’s most potent lineups.
Justin Smoak, Toronto (1% owned)
Smoak is the purest of deep league upside plays: a guy on the strong side of a platoon who takes full advantage of the opportunity provided to him. Smoak has only 37 at bats on the season, but Smoak has two home runs on the season, both in the last week. He won’t get enough plate appearances to have even 14-team league relevance, but he rakes so far this year in his opportunities. And he’s out there in 99% of leagues. You should check out Smoak if you’re at a loss for deep league production.