The Fantasy Man's free fantasy baseball advice offering 2011 fantasy baseball first base rankings. Let's be real, no one else in the industry loves hoarding power 1B bats in the first three rounds of a fantasy baseball draft more then me. I mean, seriously. Stop it. Why would 2011 be any different? I have a method to my madness and if you follow along, I'll help you win your fantasy leagues too! Tell your wife .... You're welcome!
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2011 First Base Rankings:
1. Albert Pujols - He's still a monster and playing for big contract
2. Joey Votto - Same production as Cabrera but could add in 10-15 SB
3. Miguel Cabrera - He's only going to get better while just entering prime, but doesn't steal
4. Prince Fielder - Two words..... Contract Year!
5. Ryan Howard - No regression here, just nagging injuries in '10, expect 40+HR
6. Adrian Gonzalez - expect huge spike in production in Boston like .300+/40+/120+, but risky
7. Mark Teixeira - He was man-down late in '10, should be healthy in '11 with a better BA
8. Justin Morneau - Top talent, proven, lineup protection, but also injury prone
9. Kendry Morales - Should be ready for 2011 where he left off..... DOH!
10. Kevin Youkilis - Can't ever stay healthy a full season but super consistent when he's in there
11. Adam Dunn - .260/40/100/90 wherever he ends up
12. Victor Martinez - Catcher eligibility with .300/20/90 every year if you miss on a big 1B
13. Billy Butler - .318/15/78 in '10, has the power potential, only 24....maybe this is the .300/30/100 year
14. Paul Konerko - Don't reach for Konerko, he alternates good/bad seasons like freakin' clockwork
15. Derek Lee - New team, new season, could be the Paul Konerko resurgence of 2010
16. Ike Davis - Burst on the seen and kind of fizzled out late, look for a big improvement in 2011
17. Carlos Pena - Homer happy, BA sad. Should produce 30+ if healthy and maybe BA bounces back
18. Aubrey Huff - Put up a respectable .290/26/86, solid '08, crap '09, solid again in '10...what's next?
19. Mike Cuddyer - Multi-position eligibility and overall solid hitter is a good reliable player
20. Gaby Sanchez - Hit .272/19/85 in first full season at age 27, look for some improvement in 2011
21. Adam Lind - Played 11 games at 1B and 16 in the OF, could be a nice value in the middle rounds
22. James Loney - 27 years old this season.... when no one is looking, here comes the break out!
23. Garrett Jones - .247/21/86 in '10 which was disappointing. If he plays everyday, expect improvement
24. Adam LaRoche - Always a second half guy right?
25. Mike Napoli - Doesn't play everyday but will have catcher eligibility and 25+ HR power
26. Justin Smoak - Does he have enough protection batting 3rd/4th in Seattle?
27. Matt LaPorta - This is my big 1B sleeper of 2011. Was a #1 touted fantasy prospect not too long ago
28. Mitch Moreland - Post-season run will hype Moreland up as a huge sleeper, and rightly so. He can hit!
29. Brett Wallace - .301/18/61 in AAA and only 24 so keeper potential is there
30. Freddie Freeman - 2011 #1 Top prospect, grab and stash
31. Daric Barton - Only 25, potential is still there but that's what it is... potential
32. Todd Helton - Power is gone but the BA is there, consistent if he stays in the lineup
33. Xavier Nady - If he can hold it together for a full year you could get serviceable production plus some
34. Kila Ka'aihue - 6 of his 8HR came in September, big power, patience, high OBP potential, huge sleeper
35. Chris Carter - Has Ryan Howard type power potential but lacks defensive skills, HUGE SLEEPER
36. Lance Berkman - If he finds a full-time home, could be a fantastic value at the end of your draft
37. Ty Wigginton - Exploded in the 1st half in '10, I wouldn't expect that again
First Base Draft Day Strategy:
Drafting the 1B position isn't much of a secret. You either love the power early in the draft or you try to scope out the power at the end a la Paul Konerko in 2010. First base is not a weak position which means you can afford to wait later in the draft to fill it. If you're a position scarcity guy, you can wait until after round 10 and grab more than serviceable players like Derek Lee, Carlos Pena, and even Adam Lind in some leagues. These are three players whose value is down but could easily outperform its draft position which will let you stock up on middle infielders or starting pitching earlier in the draft.
I have been touting Kila Ka'aihue for a few years now. He's been stuck in the minors behind Billy Butler and he'll be 27 years old in 2011. What is intriguing is his patience and ability to make contact at the plate in 8 minor league seasons, Ka'aihue walked 585 times while striking out only 620 times. So he walks as much as he strikes out. In 2010, his first season with significant major league time he had 24BB and 39K in 180AB. He hit 8HR (6 in September) with 25 RBI. Multiply that over 600AB or a full season and your looking at approximately 30HR/100RBI with a solid BA. If this guy plays full-time, he'll be a steal at the end of your draft. Ryan Howard didn't make a splash until he was 26 too!
Super Sleeper Alert:
The other guy I like is Matt LaPorta who was hampered by injury last year, or at least hampered by surgery on his hip and foot during the offseason last year. I am sure that played a part in his slow development in 2010. LaPorta was one of fantasy baseballs' top touted prospects not too long ago but he's been dealing with injuries the last two years. Throw in a terrible supporting offense in Cleveland last year and you have a recipe for disaster. The Indians will be better in 2010, Grady Sizemore should be back and healthy and some young players will emerge. 46BB and only 86K in 376AB tells me he's ready to hit in the majors. So if he's healthy, I'm expecting a bit of a break out at age 26.
Paul Konerko, like I said above, will alternate good and bad seasons like it's clockwork. The last time he hit .312 in 2006 he came back the next year and hit .258. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen again but Konerko will be drafted as if he's a .300/39/111 guy and that's going to prove to be overvalued. Last year Konerko was a flier after the 14th or 15th rounds in most drafts. This year he may go in the early to mid rounds (5-8) when he should probably go (9-12). He's not young, doesn't have upside, and is coming off a career year. I like Konerko to still be at least a .280/30/100 guy if he stays in Chicago but I don't want to have to stretch to get it.
The Fantasy Man's 2011 Draft Strategy:
Power! Power! Power! Let's be honest, power is at a premium thanks to our friends like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. That means I love to hoard as much power as possible. So yes, if I have the 11th or 12th pick in a draft, I have no problem drafting Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard back to back. I'll even throw in Jose Bautista in the 3rd or 4th just for shits and gigs. I know that I can find stolen bases later in the draft, I can find batting average throughout but when I have a chance to monopolize a category or two, it's a no brainer for me. Think of it like this...... in real baseball terms, where does a teams' offensive power come from? That's right, normally it's first base! Build power from the corners, power/speed from the outfield and consistency from the middle infield.
The Fantasy Man
"Tell your wife..... you're welcome!"