Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: First Base

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: First Base

First base used to be a position of strength in the fantasy baseball world. It used to be extremely deep, and sluggers could be had late in drafts. That is no longer true. While there are still viable options after the top seven or eight guys, it may behoove you to wait until the last few rounds to grab a player who can contribute and be a good backup if your first base/corner infield/utility player goes down. Here are a few of those players going after pick number 300. To determine ADP, I used the NFBC ADP tracker from January 1st until now.

Other Sleepers: Catcher | Second Base

Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers, ADP – 316

The big lefty began his career with the Toronto Blue Jays and had a few decent seasons. However, with the youngsters forcing their way into the lineup and a rough start to 2021, Tellez found himself with the Brewers before the All-Star break. He finished the season strong with slashing .272/.333/.481. In Milwaukee, his BB rate was 8.0 percent and his K rate was 18.4 percent. That was an improvement over 6.7 percent and 25.0 percent respectively.

Tellez should be penciled in the lineup every day as the starting first baseman. Fellow lefties Daniel Vogelbach and Travis Shaw are both gone and while Keston Hiura could play some first base, he needs to figure out how to hit again and being in the designated hitter role may be what he needs.

You also shouldn’t worry about Tellez losing at-bats when a southpaw is on the mound. He has a .755 career OPS against lefties which is not far from his .775 vs. right-handers. Tellez is improving and could take a big step forward this year as he has nearly 1,000 plate appearances of experience. He just turned 27 and will be right in the heart of Milwaukee’s lineup.

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pittsburgh Pirates, ADP – 373

In just two years Tsutsugo went from being a coveted international signing to an afterthought of the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. Luckily, for Pittsburgh, he has a home now. In his 43 games at the end of the year last season for the Bucs, Tsutsugo found his groove and slashed .268/.347/.535 with eight homers. It may be a small sample size, but the Japanese lefty could have just needed some regular playing time to get himself acclimated to MLB pitching.

As far as playing time this year goes, Tsutsugo shouldn’t have to worry. Colin Moran is now in Cincinnati and Vogelbach can’t hit lefties nor is he a very good fielder. Tsutsugo has the added versatility of being experienced in right field. He played most of his games out there especially in September after the Pirates released Gregory Polanco. Add in the DH now in the NL and Tsutsugo could easily get in 150 games this year. If the strides he made with regular time are sustainable, he could hit 25-30 homers and have solid counting stats since he will be in the middle of that lineup.

Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks, ADP – 479

After he bounced around the league, Walker broke out in a big way in 2019 with the Diamondbacks. He blasted 29 home runs and it looked like Arizona may have found an adequate replacement for Paul Goldschmidt. Walker has since not displayed that kind of power again as he has hit just 17 homers in his last 172 games between 2020 and 2021. However, the 41 doubles, 90 runs, and 80 RBIs over that same span isn’t horrible.

Walker has been working on adjusting his swing to prove that Arizona didn’t make a mistake in tendering him this season. He will be given every opportunity as the starting first baseman this season. As far as any challenges to Walker’s playing time, Pavin Smith will see most of his time in the outfield and Seth Beer will be the DH mostly. Walker will also likely bat in the middle of the lineup as the offense for the Diamondbacks isn’t anything to write home about. A .260 average with 20 homers, 80 runs, and 80 RBIs is realistic for Walker this season. Getting that production from a guy who will be undrafted in smaller leagues is a good return.

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