Best NL Fantasy Baseball First Baseman for 2013
The following is a list of the top National League fantasy baseball first basemen for the 2013 season. The position is not as deep previous years but there are several nice buy-low candidates to target in your draft. The rankings are based on personal opinion formed while watching a tremendous number of National League baseball games.
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14. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
The Baby Giraffe was supposed to have his break out campaign in 2012 but he didn't fully deliver due to a prolonged mid-season slump and mishandling by his manager Bruce Bochy. However, if you put the lofty expectations aside it wasn't that bad of a season as he managed to hit .275, with 27 doubles, 7 homers, 56 RBI, 54 walks, and a pleasantly surprising 12 steals in 145 games. My wish for 2013 is that Bochy puts him in the 6th or 7th spot and leaves him alone for the season instead of constantly yanking him in and out of the lineup based on match ups and how he hit the day before. Let the guy develop and show what he can do at the major league level. Belt will be 25 at the start of the season and hopefully he delivers this time around.
13. Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres
Another player cursed by the dreaded Petco park dimensions. However as Chase Headly showed last season, the curse can be overcome by perseverance and a positive attitude. For his first full season Alonso had a somewhat disappointing campaign (based on expectations of being the next great thing) but it was very solid in many respects. The 25 year old Cuban hit .273 with 9 homers 62 RBI and 39 doubles. The Padres will surprise people with their offense in 2013 with lineup pieces like Headley, Grandal, Quentin, Maybin, and Cabrera. Alonso will be right in the middle of it all most likely batting sixth. The Petco fences are also coming in so expect a few of those 39 doubles to land on the other side of the wall this year. I expect improvement and for him to finish at .280 with 15 homers and 80 RBI.
12. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies
Cuddyer was having a solid campaign when he went down with a dreaded oblique injury in late July. He played only 101 games and finished the season batting .260 with 16 homers, 58 RBI, and 8 steals. He should be back for the Rockies in 2013 and will most likely bat 4th or 5th in the lineup. The stolen bases are a nice bonus and he was on pace for a career high last year. If he can stay healthy he could put together a nice season, but it is a big if as he will be 34 at the start of the season. He should have eligibility at both first and outfield in most fantasy leagues.
11. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
An outfielder by trade, Hart also played 106 games at first in 2012 (along with 53 in the OF) and should have eligibility at both position in most leagues for the upcoming season. He is one of those players that always slightly disappoints his fantasy owners, either through injury or prolonged slump. At this point in his career (he will be 31 at the start of the 2013 season) he is what he is, which is a player that will bat around .270 with 25-30 homers and maybe 80 RBI. If you expect magic to happen or a breakout season then you will most likely be disappointed, but if you temper your expectations and draft accordingly he can be a useful piece to your fantasy championship puzzle.
10. Ike Davis, New York Mets
Plain and simple Ike had a rough 2012 due to one of the worst starts in recent memory, which was most likely related to his bout with valley fever. Through the first 57 games he batted .162 (!) with just 5 homers, 21 RBI, and 59 strike outs in 185 at bats. To his credit he fought through the slump and the rest of the way batted .263 with 27 homers, 69 RBI and a .909 OPS, which would be a fine season for most players. Because of the dismal start he will fall in many drafts and will be a good buy-low player on draft day. With his light tower power and season of misery behind him I expect a break out 2013 with 35 homers and 100 plus RBI. Remember, you heard it here first.
9. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Bargain alert! Bargain alert! The once great Ryan Howard has kind of been forgotten due to his troublesome ruptured Achilles tendon which took much longer to heal than initially reported. Because of this most people will shy away from him in fantasy drafts due to injury fears but there is still value to be had in this 32 year old. He came back in mid-July last season but he still didn't appear 100%. However, he still managed to hit 14 homers with 56 RBI in only 260 at bats. With a full off-season to rehab the tendon further I think he will come back well in 2013 and have a 30 homer 100 plus RBI season. He will never be the 40 homer player of years past but he will provide value at bargain prices in 2013.
8. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo did not disappoint when he was called up for good by the Cubs on June 26th. In a previous call-up with the Padres in 2011 he looked over-matched by major league pitchers and hit an abysmal .141 with 46 strike outs and only 1 homer in 128 at bats. However, it appeared he worked on his hitting mechanics during the off season. He came back in 2012 with a lower starting hand position which helped his timing mechanism and it resulted in a dramatic improvement. As a result, with the Cubs he hit .285 with 15 homers, 48 RBI and a .805 OPS in 337 at bats. He is the starting first baseman for Chicago and with a full season this 23 year old should hit 25 homers with 90 RBI in 2013.
7. Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals
LaRoche was all but left for dead in most 2012 fantasy drafts. He was picked in the 18th round in one of my leagues. However, he came back with a vengeance to have the best season of his career at age 32 by hitting .271 with a career high 33 homers, 100 RBI, and .853 OPS. He also managed to play a career best 154 games. Because of his age and his history of typically playing 140-ish games a season I can't see him repeating this performance. However, on the positive side he will be batting fourth in a potent lineup so he still should put up decent numbers in the 25 homer, 80 RBI range.
6. Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals
I rate Craig this high but there are some concerns, mostly with playing time. The Cardinals are notorious for coming out with a different lineup every day and with Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter, and Carlos Beltran on the roster I have a hard time seeing Craig reaching 500 at bats next season unless there is a shake-up during the off season. The late blooming Craig (he will be 28 at the start of the season) put together fine numbers in his first full season. In 469 at bats he hit .307 with 22 homers, 92 RBI, and an .876 OPS. The Cardinals obviously think highly of him since he batted fourth in most playoff games but as mentioned they can be a little unpredictable when it comes to shuffling lineups from one day to the next. Hopefully, this career .300 hitter will get the playing time he deserves and if that happens you will see him deliver a monster 30 homer 100 RBI campaign. As an added bonus he should also have OF eligibility in most leagues as well.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Many of the Arizona players had fine seasons with little fanfare and Goldschmidt was one of them along with Montero and Hill. Goldy almost went 20-20 in 2012 as he batted .286 with 20 homers, 82 RBI, 18 steals, and a .850 OPS. Strikeouts were a concern coming into the season but he was able to decrease his strikeout rate from 29.9% the previous season to 22.2% in 2012. He plays in a great hitters park and bats in the middle of a potent lineup so expect more of the same in 2013. I predict he will bat .280 with 25 homers, 90 RBI and 15 steals.
4. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Freeman built on his rookie campaign and was able to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump in 2012. In 540 at bats he batted .259 with 23 homers, 94 RBI, and 91 runs. His average dropped somewhat but he did show improvement in his strikeout rate going from 142 in 2011 to 129 in about the same number of at bats. Freddie will only be 23 at the start of the season but with his durability and more steady improvement he should be able to reach 25 homers and 100 RBI.
3. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Gonzalez came over to the Dodgers in a late season trade and ended up batting fourth between Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, a nice place to be if you're a hitter. For the full season he hit .299 with 18 homers, 108 RBI, and 47 doubles. The homer totals have declined alarmingly for Adrian over the past several seasons from 40, 31, 27, to 18 last season. The HR/FB rate has also followed the same steep downward trend from 15.9%, 11.8%, 10.6%, to 6.7%. He is still only 30 years old and should be in his hitting prime so the reason for this power outage is unclear. Hopefully some time working with Don Mattingly, who was a master a pulling the inside pitch for home runs, can help reverse this distressing trend. Even with the power decline he should still put up solid numbers, especially in the Dodgers lineup. I project he will hit .290 with 20 homers and 110 RBI.
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
The NL batting champ also played 29 games at first base and 2012 and thus will be eligible for the position in most fantasy leagues. He was almost the top choice at two positions with his performance last season. He had one of the best offensive performances by a catcher since Mike Piazza was in his prime with a .336 batting average, 24 homers, 103 RBI, .408 on-base, and .549 slugging percentage. He also put this together at the tender age of 25 so he hasn't hit his prime yet. It will be fun to see the numbers he posts the next few years.
1. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Votto just didn't look right in the NLDS. He was mostly swinging with his arms and had little of the power his stroke normally generates. It was most likely due to his knee injury which caused him to miss a good chunk of the season. Through the first 68 games and 237 at bats he batted .367 with 15 homers, 45 RBI, 55 BB, and a 1.145 OPS. He tweaked his knee sometime in July and the rest of the way he batted only .285 with 1 homer and 11 RBI through 137 at bats due to the loss of strength in his leg. He is still the best choice at first base in the NL and with four months to recuperate he should be back to full health in 2013. Because of his poor performance down the stretch he may fall in some drafts and will make a good buy-low candidate in the late first or early second round.
Other national League first basemen to consider include Garret Jones, Carlos Lee, and Tyler Colvin.
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