Fantasy Baseball: First Base ADP Bargains and Busts

Fantasy Baseball: First Base ADP Bargains and Busts

by March 26, 2022 1 comment

Fantasy baseball draft season is in full swing, with Opening Day only 12 days away. We need to look at each position and figure out who is valuable with that in mind. In addition, determine which players could turn out to be landmines we regret drafting. For lack of a better term, busts. Let’s look at three bargains and three busts at the first base position. ADP listed is from 15-team leagues on NFBC since March 1. 

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Bargains

Joey Votto (149.85 ADP)

Even at his current ADP, we can consider Votto a sleeper. At the very least, he’s a tremendous bargain. He’s simply going behind too many first basemen for what he provides at a less-than-stellar position for fantasy. Although the Reds are trading away or releasing anyone making a decent wage, Great American Ballpark remains a bandbox and one of the most favorable places to hit. 

Votto saw his production decline in 2018 when his home runs came down to 12 in 145 games. He still hit for a good .284 average and an outstanding .417 on-base percentage. In 2019, it was much of the same, although he hit for a .261 average with a career-low .357 OBP.

However, he has since answered the call and reinvented himself to a certain degree. Votto has sacrificed some contact for power in the latter stages of his career instead of getting on-base, hitting for average, and not striking out a ton. Since the 2020 season, Votto has hit a home run every 16 plate appearances on average while striking out at a 22.4 percent clip. 

Among qualified hitters last season, only seven had a 15 percent or better barrel rate, 50 percent or better hard-hit rate, .270-plus xBA, and .380-plus xwOBA last year. Votto is one of the seven hitters. Yet, he’s the only one being drafted outside of the top 100. The newly weakened lineup surrounding Votto shouldn’t scare you. Entering the season at 38 years old shouldn’t scare you. He still has another solid year of production in him. Lock and load. 

Stat line prediction: .268 AVG, 33 HR, 90 RBI, 80 R, 1 SB

Frank Schwindel (234.80 ADP)

Frank the Tank has bounced around between different organizations’ minor league systems. However, it wasn’t until the second half of last season that he got a chance to shine at the major league level. Once the Chicago Cubs purged their core pieces away at the trade deadline, they had immediate openings at many positions. Schwindel stepped in for the North Siders at first base and took over Anthony Rizzo‘s former job admirably. 

Schwindel finished with a .326 batting average. However, he hit .342 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 56 games with the Cubs. We can expect regression here. Schwindel isn’t going to hit for a batting average nearing Trea Turner territory throughout an entire season. The question is, what will an entire season look like? Schwindel offers an interesting blend of above-average power with good bat-to-ball skills, especially for a first baseman. He won’t walk much, evidenced by his career-high 6.1 percent walk rate in the minors. However, he doesn’t strike out much, either. Frank struck out only 15.8 percent last year, and he consistently kept his strikeout rate under 20 percent at every stop in the minors. 

Schwindel should get plenty of opportunities to man first base for the Cubbies. Even in a diminished lineup, Schwindel will bat somewhere between 2-4 when he’s in there. He can easily hit close to or more than 25 home runs while providing a solid batting average and counting stats.

Stat line prediction: .275 AVG, 24 HR, 80 RBI, 74 R, 2 SB

Luke Voit (260.50 ADP)

Voit is a player I haven’t drafted yet because when we get to that point in the draft, I usually have at least one or two first basemen selected already due to how the board played itself out. I was able to find what I considered good value and hit the draft button on players like Votto, Schwindel, etc. Nonetheless, Voit makes for a tremendous late-round target for those that wait or need another corner infielder.  

The New York Yankees were able to fill first base by re-signing Rizzo. At that point, Voit became expendable. Hello, San Diego. The Padres have been less than pleased with Eric Hosmer‘s production over the last few years, so they were looking to upgrade this offseason. Hosmer remains on the team for now, but they haven’t been able to find a trade partner who will take on his contract. There have been rumors swirling about a team like the Chicago Cubs with payroll flexibility taking on his contract with a prospect attached to progress their rebuild/retool further. 

It remains to be seen if the Padres will trade Hosmer. That said, if he gets traded, that opens up a ton of playing time for Voit. Let’s assume Hosmer stays for the whole season. San Diego traded for Voit with the intent to play him, and the DH is now in the NL. Hitting in a good Padres lineup should help a lot of his counting stats. In addition, it feels like he’s primed for a bounceback season. 

The problem is Voit is always injured. If he can somehow find a way to play more than his career-high of 118 games in 2019, Voit drafters will reap the benefits of a late-round power producer. Not to mention, his .239 batting average last season was the worst of his career. Expect that number to boost back up a little. This is still a player with a hard-hit rate over 50 percent and an expected batting average of .252, so he shouldn’t kill you in that category.

Stat line prediction: .250 AVG, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 72 R, 0 SB

Busts

Jared Walsh (122.95 ADP)

Walsh has shown power in the past, leading many to select him as a value pick ahead of last season. It worked! He bopped 29 homers while hitting .277 with 98 RBI and 70 R. However, outside of his above-average barrel rate and max exit velocity, Walsh’s expected stats didn’t match his production.

If Walsh can hit .270-plus again, along with power, he’s a solid pick. That’s the part I’m not buying. His .257 xBA was 20 points lower than his actual average, and he had a .335 BABIP. BABIP can often be random. With a sprint speed hovering around league average, balls Walsh hits into the ground should be outs. Then, there are the strikeout and chase rates. Walsh struck out 26 percent with a chase rate in the 19th percentile.

Meanwhile, his wOBA and xwOBA were also off. Walsh finished with a .357 wOBA compared to a .327 xwOBA. In addition, Walsh’s average launch angle dropped 5.3 percent from 2020. His 7.8 percent launch angle was below league average.

Where he’s going in roto leagues is just way too high. He could easily hit around .250-.255, which won’t cripple you in the batting average department, but neither will the first basemen going after him in drafts. I’ll pull the trigger if he falls, but he’s a bust at this ADP. 

Stat line prediction: .252 AVG, 26 HR, 84 RBI, 72 R, 2 SB

Rhys Hoskins (126.65 ADP)

It’s always the same song and dance with Hoskins. He hits for power, he gives many fantasy players hope for a true breakout season, but he finishes short in the batting average department. In the right league scoring format, Hoskins makes sense. Understandably, after the tear he went on to finish the season last year, there’s hope once more for a breakout. 

However, in a standard roto league where batting average needs to be considered, I’m not too fond of rostering Hoskins when I can get a player such as Votto a round or two later. Even someone like Voit, who offers power upside albeit the absorption of some risk due to his lengthy injury history. 

It all comes down to draft position. Hoskins, currently going in the ninth round on average in 15-team roto leagues, isn’t worth the risk. A lot of his batted ball metrics look fantastic. Last year, Hoskins sat 70th percentile or better in eight categories – walk rate, hard-hit percent, max exit velocity, average exit velocity, xwOBA, xwOBACON, xSLG, and barrel rate. However, he still whiffed (37th percentile), struck out (29th percentile), and his expected batting average (42nd percentile), albeit improved, remained below average.

Unless it’s for a much lower price, drafting players who contribute to only three categories in roto leagues isn’t my style. It’s no different when you hear people talk about building teams with speed/stolen base compilers instead of reaching for steals early. I’d rather build a team of multiple players who hit for a good average and good power than risking batting average for above-average power. Plus, those players still exist at this part of the draft. Hoskins is what is considered a landmine. At this ADP, stay away.

Stat line prediction:  .245 AVG, 33 HR, 90 RBI, 85 R, 2 SB

Alex Kirilloff (184.08 ADP)

With Kirilloff, he’s a solid prospect. He should have a promising career and be a solid contributor for the Minnesota Twins for years to come. That said, are we sure he’s going to take the necessary leap this season? People are drafting him like it’s a certainty he’s going to. I’m not opposed to drafting him because he gives flexibility with the added outfield eligibility. However, projecting him to take off in year two carries risk, especially when he’s only had 215 big league at-bats. 

The benefit of drafting Kirilloff is his multi-position eligibility. You can plug him in at first base or outfield for your fantasy team. Also, he’s displayed a fantastic ability to avoid strikeouts throughout the minors. Aside from two games at Triple-A last year, Kirilloff never struck out more than 18.5 percent at any minors level. Furthermore, his expected stats and barrel rate from a year ago are encouraging. Although he only hit .251, Kirilloff had an expected batting average of .291 with a .458 xwOBACON and 12.8 percent barrel rate.  

Many of the projection systems don’t like him compared to where he’s going in drafts. Of the six projection systems listed on Fangraphs, only Steamer projects him for 20 home runs. This could be a situation where people are paying for upside a little more than they should. Let’s say he topples over his highest projections from each system. Let’s look at the highest home run total projection, for example. How many more does he hit than that? 22 home runs? 24 home runs? 25? If Kirilloff hits his highest projected batting average of .277 with 25 homers, I think I’m still okay if I fade him in drafts as long as I correctly pick out bargain players like Schwindel or Voit. In addition, I like other outfielders and pitchers going in that range.

It’s nothing against Kirilloff long-term, but I’ll take the wait-and-see approach and hope for the actual breakout to come next year.

Stat line prediction: .273 AVG, 22 HR, 70 RBI, 70 R, 3 SB

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