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Welcome to the second installment of our new fantasy series focused primarily on analyzing early average draft position (ADP) trends to determine what we can learn from them to help improve our draft-day strategy heading into 2016.

The early ADP data referenced for this entire series, housed at STATS.com, is from 2016 National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) leagues, which are comprised of 15 teams. For the purpose of this column, since the majority of BP subscribers play in shallower, standard 12-team leagues, the average round data is reflective of that. It’s also worth pointing out that the data is also both relatively thin and updating in real time at the link above, so be sure to check back frequently for the latest updates. Without further delay, let’s dive into the early ADP trends at first base.

Note: Players marked with an * are eligible at DH only.

The Early Rounds

Is Rizzo the new Goldschmidt? It’s a fair question…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

1

Paul Goldschmidt

ARI

2.42

1st

2

Anthony Rizzo

CHC

11.37

1st

3

Miguel Cabrera

DET

14.79

2nd

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Goldschmidt is one of the safest five-category foundational building blocks in fantasy and deserving of his lofty ADP, but it’s Rizzo who is generating the most buzz behind him at first base. And it’s easy to see why. He’s the catalyst for a loaded Cubs lineup, coming off back-to-back 30-home run campaigns. The 26-year-old finished as the third-most valuable first baseman behind Goldschmidt and Joey Votto, earning $28 in standard mixed leagues last season. He also added speed to the equation for the first time in his career, swiping 17 bases (second only to Goldschmidt among first basemen) in 2015. The hype is justified with Rizzo.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

It’s only in comparison Cabrera’s lofty ADP last year (fifth overall) that his fantasy stock is on the decline. He’s still managed to slide into the first round of 15-team leagues and the early second round of standard 12-team formats after an injury marred campaign in which he recorded a career-low 511 plate appearances, but hit just like vintage Miggy .338/.440/.534 with 18 home runs, when he was on the field. He’ll turn 33 this season, but the raw skills remain intact and a bounce-back appears likely, making him a solid investment toward the end of the first round in 2016 drafts.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

4

Edwin Encarnacion

TOR

22.16

2nd

5

Jose Abreu

CWS

22.79

2nd

6

Chris Davis

BAL

26.63

3rd

7

Joey Votto

CIN

34.84

3rd

Jose Abreu, White Sox and Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

Consensus first-round picks in every league at this time a year ago, both Abreu and Encarnacion have fallen to the end of the second round despite the fact that they finished as top-six first basemen, earning $23 and $26, respectively in 2015. The rise of young studs like Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, A.J. Pollock and Mookie Betts (just to name a few) have pushed them further down draft boards, where they become even more appetizing propositions.

Joey Votto, Reds

There was plenty of uncertainty swirling around the Toronto native, coming off an injury plagued 2014 season in which he hit just .255 in 272 plate appearances, around this time a year ago. He answered all of them with a bounce-back performance in which he hit .314/.459/.541 (.360 TAv) with 29 home runs, 95 runs scored, 80 RBI, and 11 stolen bases (his most since 2010). He more than justified the late fifth-round selection fantasy owners used on him, finishing as the second-best option at the position behind Goldschmidt by earning $30 in standard mixed leagues. With the possible exception of Prince Fielder, no first baseman improved their fantasy stock more than the 32-year-old Votto over the last calendar year.

The Middle Rounds

This is what value looks like…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

8

Adrian Gonzalez

LAD

71.26

6th

9

Eric Hosmer

KC

74.42

7th

10

Freddie Freeman

ATL

79.58

7th

11

Prince Fielder

TEX

80.26

7th

12

Albert Pujols

LAA

92.21

8th

13

David Ortiz*

BOS

112.84

10th

Eric Hosmer, Royals and Prince Fielder, Rangers

Unless you’re a valuations nerd (like me), you may not be aware that Hosmer not only finished as a top-six first baseman, but as a top-30 hitter overall last season. On the surface, the 26-year-old represents a phenomenal value in the seventh round, going nearly outside the top-75 overall in early NFBC drafts this winter.

Fielder bounced back from an abysmal 2014 season by hitting .305 with 28 dingers to finish as a top-10 first baseman. The health risks are obvious with the soon-to-be 32-year-old, but as long as he stays on the field he should have no problem justifying a seventh round investment in 2016.

Freddie Freeman, Braves

The 26-year-old was a top-35 pick last season and barely cracked the top 100 hitters in standard mixed leagues, hitting just .276 with 18 home runs, 62 runs scored, 66 RBI, and three steals in 416 plate appearances. It’s hard to get excited about what the Braves offense looks like around him, which makes him an incredibly risky proposition heading into 2016.

Albert Pujols, Angels and David Ortiz, Red Sox

If you’re looking for my hot take on Pujols, you can find it over in the latest edition of our “Fantasy Players to Target: First Base” series. Seriously, go check it out. Ortiz is in a similar boat. He has one year left, but in all likelihood, it's going to be excellent. Every year, numerous fantasy analysts have boldly proclaimed “this is the decline year," yet somehow it never happens. He's hit 30 home runs with 100+ RBI in three straight seasons, while hitting at least 29 homers in five of the last six years. If you want to bet against Ortiz, be my guest, but if anyone is going to defy the laws of player aging curves at 40 years old, it’s going to be Big Papi.

The Late Rounds

We’re not quite into “Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe” territory just yet…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

14

Lucas Duda

NYM

153.58

13th

15

Kendrys Morales*

KC

156.58

14th

16

Brandon Belt

SF

161.58

14th

17

Carlos Santana

CLE

176.11

15th

18

Mark Teixeira

NYY

183.32

16th

Kendrys Morales, Royals

He’s a utility-only option, but the 32-year-old Morales finished as a top-50 hitter last season, earning $19 in standard mixed leagues. Not bad for a guy whose ADP was 395th overall last year. Seriously, that’s not a typo.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

19

Byung-ho Park

MIN

201.50

17th

20

Evan Gattis*

HOU

210.21

18th

21

Ryan Zimmerman

WSH

232.47

20th

22

Mitch Moreland

TEX

238.11

20th

23

Justin Bour

MIA

240.58

21st

24

Adam Lind

SEA

242.05

21st

25

Victor Martinez*

DET

249.53

21st

Byung-ho Park, Twins

If you’re a regular listener of the Flags Fly Forever podcast (and you should be), you’re aware of the well-founded skepticism surrounding Park. It’s a notoriously tough hitting environment to begin with, and the Twins do have other options, most notably Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia, if Park struggles to adjust in his first season stateside. Given the success Jung-ho Kang (arguably the KBO’s premier hitter) experienced last year, fantasy owners are routinely willing to roll the dice on Park having a similar impact in 2016. Let them take that risk.

Victor Martinez, Tigers

One of the top hitters in fantasy baseball two years ago (.335 TAv), Martinez was derailed by a toxic combination of age and another knee injury from the get-go last season. Unable to drive the ball, he hit just .245/.301/.366 (.232 TAv) and looked like a shell of the player who was a legitimate MVP candidate the year prior. Martinez’ value hinges on the health of his surgically repaired knees. The talent is unquestioned, but at 37-years-old, it’s a bit unreasonable to expect him to ever get back healthy enough to reach the lofty offensive ceiling he touched in 2014. His ADP is reflective of that pessimism, as fantasy owners opt for younger (and healthier) lottery tickets in the late rounds.

The Leftovers

Can we just Netflix and chill instead of talking about these guys? Except Greg Bird

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

26

C.J. Cron*

LAA

276.84

25th

27

Pedro Alvarez

FA

288.58

25th

28

Greg Bird

NYY

311.68

26th

29

Matt Adams

STL

312.63

26th

30

Ben Paulsen

COL

317.37

N/A

31

Mark Canha

OAK

334.26

N/A

32

Joe Mauer

MIN

339.79

N/A

Greg Bird

If you’re digging deep for an intuiting speculative pick, Bird fits the bill. The presence of veterans Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez block him at both first base and designated hitter to start the year, but all it takes is one injury for the 23-year-old left-handed power hitter to step into everyday at bats in Yankee Stadium. He can flat out hit, which is all that matters in fantasy. In 178 plate appearances late last season, Bird hit .261/.343/.529 (.312 TAv) with 20 extra-base hits (11 home runs), 26 runs scored and 31 RBI. Bird is a late-round investment that could pay off big-time if everything breaks right.

Joe Mauer, Twins and Pedro Alvarez, FA

Mauer simply doesn’t hit for enough power (or average anymore, frankly) to warrant consideration outside the deepest of formats. Alvarez, who remains a free agent at the time of writing, could become a tasty late-round grab if he lands in a favorable park this spring. It would be wise for fantasy owners in deeper leagues to keep a close eye on where the 29-year-old former Vanderbilt standout ends up.

The Undrafted Crop

These guys are so far off the map Sean Penn couldn’t find them…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

32

Travis Shaw

BOS

410.58

N/A

33

Chris Carter

MIL

417.63

N/A

34

Logan Morrison

TB

427.37

N/A

35

Max Kepler

MIN

438.68

N/A

36

Adam LaRoche

CWS

443.37

N/A

37

Mike Napoli

CLE

444.26

N/A

38

Billy Butler

OAK

449.58

N/A

39

Ryan Howard

PHI

456.58

N/A

40

Mark Reynolds

COL

460.47

N/A

Chris Carter, Brewers

The 29-year-old’s ADP cratered after his release from Houston, but he couldn’t have landed in a better spot for right-handed power than Miller Park. If you’re going to speculate on one name from this group, it’s Carter, who was a top-120 pick, one spot behind Manny Machado, in fantasy drafts last season.

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digiderek
1/18
How do you see 2016 shaking out for A.J. Reed?
GeorgeBissell
1/18
He's a highly coveted fantasy prospect in keeper and dynasty formats and he should be. Some of our scouts at BP like Wilson Karaman, who have seen him in person rave about his talent. The Astros have built up a bit of a log-jam at first base and we're still talking about a 22-year-old who has just 237 plate appearances above High-A. It would be asking a lot for him to step into the lineup everyday right now if Jon Singleton struggles out of the gate, which is why he's not on the radar at all in mixed leagues. He's certainly someone worth monitoring in-season for re-draft leagues. If Reed continues to mash at Double-A and gets to Triple-A by June or July, he could have a shot at a September debut if everything breaks right.
twitchroc
1/18
With Wil Myers being 1B eligible, where does he rank?
GeorgeBissell
1/18
Honestly, I can't imagine a scenario in which any fantasy owner would be using Will Myers at 1B instead of OF. He will show up in the OF portion of our positional series, don't worry. For what it's worth, Myers current ADP is 216 (OF57) so he will be there in the late rounds if you still believe in the talent and that he can get back healthy in 2016.
twitchroc
1/18
I have Trout, Stanton, Mookie and Piscotty in my OF in a 20 teamer so I'm hoping just to stick him in 1B and hope for some sort of bounce back/miracle
GeorgeBissell
1/18
There you go. Wasn't factoring in a 20-team league situation. In that case, you might be better off trading Myers and going with someone else who is a safer bet to stay on the field all season like a Bour, Paulsen or Canha type.
huztlers
1/18
Wouldn't the same be true of Max Kepler?
GeorgeBissell
1/18
The pretty much universal rule on position eligibility is that a player needs 20 games at a position to qualify at that spot. Since Kepler played just two games last season (both in the outfield) he doesn't qualify for OF eligibility in NFBC leagues to start the year. He's technically utility-only to start the year. I forgot to put the asterisk in there next to his name. He's an extremely rare case for sure.
Scott44
1/18
Shaw put up some pretty impressive numbers when given the opportunity. Is this more the belief he won't get the at-bats? Do you think he is a solid investment long-term?
GeorgeBissell
1/18
To be clear, these aren't rankings, they are ADP results. With that being said, I won't write off Shaw entirely, because he was pretty good last year. However, with Hanley Ramirez now firmly entrenched at first base and David Ortiz in the final year of his career, there isn't a clear path (barring injury) to enough at-bats for Shaw to be mixed league relevant. Long-term? He's already going to be 27-years-old this year and I think he's far more attractive as a trade piece for the Sox than he is a potential long-term asset in Boston.
Scott44
1/18
I think the Sox were initially hoping that he would get some reps at 3B in Winter Ball, then he got injured. If he can show that he is an adequate defender, he may take some playing time away from Sandoval, who I suspect, again with the weight issues and poor performance in Boston may be playing his way out the door there too.
GeorgeBissell
1/18
If there's one thing that this offseason, with Dave Dombrowski taking over at the helm, confirmed in Boston it's that Sandoval and Ramirez aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Let's make that clear. No team is taking either of those deals without getting a significant return prospect-wise, which clearly the Red Sox are unwilling to do. To his credit, Shaw is a solid defender at first base, but it's a huge stretch to assume that he can play third at the major-league level well enough to supplant Sandoval in 2016. I like Shaw, don't get me wrong, but I think his future is more as a second-division first baseman or a bench bat on a contender than an everyday infielder on a playoff team.
cernig16
1/18
(comment removed at customer's request)
GeorgeBissell
1/18
Just like Myers, he may have 1B eligibility but he's more valuable as an OF. Currently, his ADP is #185 overall (16th Round, OF49)...So that would put him right around guys like Teixeira and Park at the position. Just to re-state, these are not rankings, these are merely the ADP numbers from early NFBC drafts.
boatman44
1/18
I like Santana for something of a bounceback this year, In the 15th round,helps a lot in this situation, Am I being stupid ?!!
GeorgeBissell
1/18
No, but it's worth noting that his True Average (TAv), which measures total offensive value scaled to batting average, dropped nearly 30 points from the previous year to just .265 (right around league average) in 2015. Without catcher or third base eligibility, he has to bounce-back to the power he showed in 2014 (27 HR) to be relevant in non-OBP formats.