Big Board's Picks: First Base

Over the next couple of weeks at Harper Wallbanger, I'm sorting through the Big Board for 12-team 5x5 leagues to find the must-draft and must-avoid players at each position. Let's keep it rolling with first base!

STATE OF THE POSITION

With Miggy's injury issues and Goldy getting humidor'd, Votto is my top option at 1B this year. The tier just below that feels fairly interchangeable, with Freeman, Rizzo, Goldy, and Abreu all providing solid 2nd round value. There is a youth movement underway at 1B, and though Bellinger/Hoskins are not yet in these upper tiers, either (or both) of them could make their way in by 2019. Jumping down a bit, Tier 6 is just huge, featuring breakout names from last year such as Smoak, Olson, and Zimmerman, and the best option might be to just wait and snag two guys out of that group (depending on your site/your leaguemates, grab the ones that fall). It drops off quick, so don't find yourself left holding the bag with the risky bottom tier that can include the likes of Cron, Davis, Adams, and Moreland - they could be good bench options, but I'm not relying on them.

Target: Yonder Alonso
575 PA, 25 HR, 80 R, 80 RBI, 3 SB, .267 AVG

This time last year, we heard murmurings out of A's camp about Yonder Alonso changing his launch angle, but most of us didn't bother to pay too much attention to that. Those that did were rewarded, as Yonder did indeed jump on the flyball revolution bandwagon, cranking 14 homers before June 1st and putting up a .291/.391/.657 line. The numbers took a dive from June 1st on, but the good news is that this projection is only asking him to do marginally better than his 2nd half numbers last year, and that's still pretty damn good, better than he ever was before last year. This is a conservative take, in my opinion. Sure, there is a chance pitchers "figured out" Alonso late in '17, and we're accounting for that here, but there's also a chance that he adjusts back and looks like the first-half guy again! He absolutely smashed RHP last year (.282/.383/.517) but was dreadful against LHP (.181/.263/.417), so if you play in a league where you can effectively platoon him, you can get really elite production out of Yonder.

When to target: A 14th round value, but his ADP is all over the place. In ESPN, target him around Round 18. In CBS, Round 20, and in Yahoo, Round 24 (wow, he is basically free!). 

Risk profile: Medium.

Target: Ryan Zimmerman
580 PA, 30 HR, 76 R, 92 RBI, 2 SB, .275 AVG

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills with Zimmerman - another member of the flyball revolution, he posted the highest ISO of his career last year, .269. It was no fluke, as his xStats line for the year shook out to a crisp .294/.350/.548. But plenty of people are pretending that this didn't happen, or that "it's just because he was healthy". Fine, R Zimm has had issues with injuries in the past, but injury is one of the least projectable outcomes for players, by far. Even handicapping his playing time a bit (just 580PA in this projection), he still grades out as a solid power/average source, hitting in a fantastic lineup in Washington. There is some risk here, but also a big chance to profit on a guy that other fantasy managers (and the projection systems) have refused to buy in on!

When to target: An 8th round value, target him in Round 10 in Yahoo or Round 12 for ESPN/CBS.

Risk profile: Medium. (health)

Avoid: Chris Davis
562 PA, 31 HR, 75 R, 81 RBI, 2 SB, .225 AVG

Ahh, Crush. Formerly known as the "good one" of the two (C/K)-hris Davis-es, he backed off in a big way last year, putting up a meager .215/.309/.423 effort. While a June oblique strain may have limited him, he also wasn't particularly good before that. These days, Davis is looking pretty Chris Carter-ish, and that power-only skillset just isn't that useful anymore in fantasy baseball or real baseball with so many players mashing dingers left and right. He receives a somewhat limited playing time projection as well, as there's a chance that he cedes playing time vLHP to Trey Mancini. If you have a power-anemic lineup and need to shore that up in the late rounds, Davis is worth a shot, but I am generally staying away here.

Risk profile: High.