Today I’m going over frugal options for the catcher and first base positions, this isn’t exactly a sleepers article, just guys I’d target at those positions later in the draft. Fantasy Pros average the rankings from 6 other sites and it’s what I’ll use for player ADP (average draft position) here. I feel like most people draft on Yahoo! and ESPN so I’ll be giving those rankings precedence over the others.
I usually target catchers late, I know, this isn’t exactly ground breaking advice. Buster Posey finished in the top 50 twice during the Giant’s even year dynasty, but it’s 2015 now. Even if the year was 2222 and Posey was 22 years old I wouldn’t draft the guy at his current 2nd round price tag. Players like Devin Mesoraco and Yan Gomes weren’t drafted in most leagues last year but still finished in the top 5 at their position. Catcher is one of the weakest positions, you can’t screw up your draft by selecting a catcher too late.
Who I’m Targeting
#12 Russell Martin is being targeted exactly where I would take a catcher normally and I think he’ll produce like a top 5 catcher this year. He’s easily better than recovering from Tommy John surgery #10 Matt Wieters and can’t hit even in Coors #11 Wilin Rosario. Martin’s going 100 picks after Salvador Perez for whatever reason I don’t understand. Martin probably won’t stay healthy the whole year, but he moved to a much friendlier hitter’s park and is projected to bat 5th in that loaded Blue Jays lineup. His OBP was .402 last year! While that’ll probably come down Martin seems committed to keeping his OBP a priority and he’s a steal in OBP leagues.
#13 Travis d’Arnaud hit pretty well after his short stint in the minors last year and the pedigree is there for a break out season. #15 Wilson Ramos will be great when he’s healthy, but I think he’s only averaged 76 games with the Nationals. There are worse things than an injured catcher on your fantasy team. #16 Yasmani Grandal is moving away from Petco and hit 15 HRs last year…all against RHPs. That’s useful information in daily leagues, but I think he’ll enjoy the better lineup with the Dodgers and not hitting for the Padres.
#33 Francesco Cervelli could continue the trend of former Yankee players flourishing in Pittsburgh and #30 Chris Iannetta had a sneaky good OBP the past few years and bats in a loaded Angels lineup.
The Carlos Santana Dilemma
He still has catcher eligibility on Yahoo! and I think he could potentially be worth drafting early, but that’s only if you’re in a OBP league. Normal 5×5 leagues should stay away. He was maddening to own in H2H leagues last year because of his dreadful start to the season, but turned it on down the stretch if you held onto him. Yeah he’s not playing catcher anymore, but he didn’t really play catcher last year either. People love to own the “catcher that really isn’t a catcher” player, but it really only means a handful more games and probably a healthier season. I’d expect similar numbers Santana produced last year but hopefully he’s more consistent. His walks will keep him valuable in a OBP leagues, but 25 HRs from the catcher slot isn’t game breaking. In OBP leagues I’d target him, but wouldn’t mind owning Martin at a much cheaper price.
One of the most productive positions in baseball, almost like a reverse catcher position. It will cost a first round pick to draft a top 5 first baseman. Can you wait on first base? Sure. Should you wait on firstbase? Meh. Let’s assume you want to wait. The 20th ranked 1B on average is Chris Carter and he’s going around 100, that just shows you how deep the 1B position is. He’ll provide HRs and not much else.
Who I’m Targeting
#22 Adam Laroche moved to a better hitter’s park and will bat in the heart of a sneaky good White Sox team. The top three guys in that order are all great at getting on base. #23 Lucas Duda swatted 30 HRs last year and is projected to bat cleanup in a…decent Mets lineup. He might only bat against RHPs, but thats helpful in daily leagues. Both these guys seem a little underrated and while I’d prefer them to be my UTL players, I wouldn’t mind them being my starting 1B provided I drafted well for my other positions. My personal favorite sleeper from last year #27 Justin Morneau is still underrated this year. He’s still hitting in Coors and that’s really all I needed to know. It wouldn’t surprise if he improved on his top 15 ranking from last year.
I really think #31 Pedro Alvarez is due for a bounceback year, he improved his walk rate and reduced his Ks while having everything else pretty much in line with his career averages. It’s just a little more of his fly balls went for outs instead of HRs. He’s 28 years old and I can see him providing 30 HR power again, but expecting pedestrian batting average and OBP. #39 Kennys Vargas is expected to bat cleanup for a Twins team that finished as the 7th best offense last year! He’ll cost nothing on draft day. No one believes in old man #29 Steve Pearce because he’s old and no one ever believes in Oriole players. I can see him being useful again this year.
#37 Billy Butler has always seemed like the most disappointing DH ever, but he’s going from the worst batting team to one of the best. Yeah O.co Coliseum isn’t the best hitters park, but Billy Beane is able to turn pennies into rbis and unwanted hitters into studs. Either the A’s are going to be terrible this year (what I think) or I’m wrong (I’m usually wrong) and they’re able to produce strong hitting out of nothing like they always do. Country Breakfast will probably be a big part of that and maybe even Ike Davis helps too, but that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part.
#53 Jonathan Singleton could be just as bad as last year and still get a full year of playing time, the kid’s probably going to improve. The strikeouts have always been a problem, but that seems to be a problem with the entire Houston team. #38 Ryan Howard has one of the worst contracts currently in baseball, but he somehow had 23 HRs and 95 rbis last year…I mean he hit .235, but it’s pretty surprising how well he did last year. I say Howard improves but Ruben Amaro still can’t trade his ass.