Recreational Fishing: First Base

We’re doing a little recreational fishing here at Today, we’re ignoring the trophy fish that bedazzle the fans of Kent Hrbek’s outdoors show, we want those rough, ugly fish; the fish that are fun to reel in. Round 25 and beyond, no one who goes before our 288 ADP cut-off. We’re trolling for First Basemen and we don’t have much for bait. Grab one of those nasty hot dogs and a piece of corn, we’re fishing for bottom-feeders. Make the jump for the underrated few who the public largely (and mistakenly) ignore.

12-team Mixed Leagues

Brandon Belt -ADP 357- Belt has played professional baseball for only one season and everyone already knows and loves him. Brandon dominated as he was promoted from single A ball to AAA and he’s killing the ball in Spring Training. He has good plate discipline, keeps the strikeouts down for a power hitter and utilizes smart base running to snag bases. The only problem: SF has Huff at First Base and Burrell, Ross, Torres, Rowand, Schierholtz and DeRosa to play the Outfield. You don’t have to tell me Burrell and Ross are garbage; I already know this, but the Giants’ management does not. Their late season success has bought them a couple months time to prove themselves while Belt’s arbitration clock is pushed back. Expect a mid-season callup similar to how the team handled Buster Posey in 2010. Belt doesn’t need to be stashed in 12-team leagues, but he should universally owned around Memorial Day. 2011 Projection: .283-16-55-58-6 (385 AB)

Mono-leagues (AL and NL Only) and Deep Mixed Leagues

Kila Ka’aihue -ADP NA- This Hawaiian packs plenty of punch (32 HR in 503 combined AB between AAA and MLB), but hasn’t been given extended At Bats by the Royals until now. Kila, who will be 27-years old when the season starts, will be cast out on a long line as he and Billy Butler share time between 1B and DH. He’s a patient hitter (18.4% BB% and 21.2% BB% in two seasons of AAA), which combined with his expected low Batting Average makes him more valuable in OBP leagues. Kila has the most upside of our deep league First Basemen because of his patience, power and ability to smash Line Drives. Plus he has baseball in his blood, his father played for the Pirates and his brother is a farmhand in the A’s organization. Scouting Report [Baseball Prospectus]. 2011 Projection: .253-27-82-83-0 (525 AB)

Freddie Freeman -ADP 338- Freeman is our most popular prospect on the list. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .319 with 18 HR in AAA as a 21-year old. The Braves No.2 prospect will be apart of an improved Braves lineup (albeit hitting 8th) and has a cool name, but he projects as a 20-HR hitter. Freddie isn’t your prototypical power hitting First Baseman. He was shut down in the Arizona Fall League with a thumb injury, which has likely healed by now, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. Thumb injuries can be fickle, just ask the stiff-thumbed (and sore groined) Jason Heyward. 2011 Projection: .269-18-70-77-3 (520 AB)

Matt LaPorta -ADP 382- Besides a solid 338 At Bat showing in AAA, not much has gone well for LaPorta since joining the Indians ball club via the C.C. Sabathia trade. LaPorta was the corner piece in the swap, but Michael Brantley may prove to be the better haul if LaPorta doesn’t break out soon. And he better break out because the club is looking at Nick Johnson. Carlos Santana is already expected to see some At Bats at First Base so the idea of Nick Johnson eating more of his playing time just seems absurd. Anyway, LaPorta has some upside (20-25 HR potential this season), but the downside is ugly, very ugly. My projection is on the optimistic side. 2011 Projection: .263-23-78-82-1 (525 AB)

Brett Wallace -ADP 395- Brett Wallace has been passed around the league like his name is Andy Marte. From the Cards to the A’s to the Jays to the Stros, Wallace has traveled the world at the tender age of 24. He hit 20 HR across two levels and three teams in 2009 and launched another 20 HR between AAA and MLB in 2010. He has some potential, but he could have powered a fanboat the way he was whiffing during his two month callup with the Astros last season. He struck out in 34.7% of his At Bats. Houston is giving him a look in the two-hole during Spring Training and hopes he wins the starting job, but the possibility of Carlos Lee playing 1B looms like a black cloud. The Astros will be horrible in 2011 so I’d be surprised to see Wallace sent to AAA, let him play! 2011 Projection: .267-20-71-74-1 (550 AB)

Luke Scott -ADP 340- Luke Scott is Luke Scott, we pretty much know what to expect from him by now. On the field that is, his atrocious statements were somewhat surprising. That birther, I bet he voted for Sara Palin. Luke will be trolling the Outfield after the team signed Vladi Guerrero. We should expect what he’s done for the past three years: a .260 AVG with 23-25 HR and a RBI total that is higher than his IQ. 2011 Projection: .262-24-64-71-1 (450 AB)

Daric Barton -ADP 379- It’s hard to believe, but Barton was once a top prospect. I remember seeing him ranked among the likes of Delmon Young. The good old days. Barton is here for OBP purposes. He takes Walks (16% BB% in 2010) and that’s about it. He reportedly added some muscle this off-season in hopes of hitting more HR (the presence of Chris Carter will do that to people). Barton may now have an outside shot at 15 HR, hurray! In standard 5×5 leagues, draft him if you want James Loney without the RBI. 2011 Projection: .271-12-80-66-5 (550 AB)

Justin Smoak -ADP 393- Thank goodness Lost has concluded, we are saved from endless Smoak Monster references (and an awful show). Smoak’d Turkey (or Salmon for this piece) seems a more appropriate nickname in Justin’s case. Anyone who doesn’t have Russell Branyan power or Ichiro speed is going to be a sub par to poor fantasy option while playing their home games at Safeco. It’s sad, but true. The Line Drives are there, but the strikeouts are a little high right now (26.1% K% in 2010). Give him a year or two before we start to rave about his top prospect status. 2011 Projection: .259-20-70-75-0 (525 AB)

Mitch Moreland -ADP 388- Moreland had a solid rookie season in 2010. He was patient (14.5% BB%) and hit 9 HR in 145 At Bats. The strikeouts (24.5%) should improve in his second season, he was posting 14%-17% K% numbers in the minors. His post-season performance was even better. Moreland has the potential to challenge Kila Ka’aihue as the number one deep league 1B on this list, but I have one problem. He stunk vs LHP, although the team didn’t give him much of a chance against them last season (4 for 20). The Rangers were rumored to be searching for a Right-handed platoon partner during the off-season and they got one in Mike Napoli (.928 career OPS vs LHP). Michael Young could also play the position against Lefties. The team is saying he will be given the opportunity to be their everyday 1B, but I’m not buying it. Not yet, at least. This projection could change. 2011 Projection: .268-18-58-69-3 (425 AB)

Lance Berkman -ADP 308- I don’t know what to tell you about Lance Berkman that you don’t already know. You have to be a Cardinals fan or desperate to draft this guy. Sure, you can fish in polluted waters, but you can’t eat what you catch. Berkman is back to roaming the Outfield on his busted up knee. How long can he last out there? Can he bounce back from a poor 2010 season at the age of 35? I’m not buying, I advise you to stay away. If you are pregnant, may become pregnant, a nursing mother, under the age of 13 or you just want to win your league, you should not consume more than 0 Lance Berkmans in one years time. 2011 Projection: .264-18-63-70-2 (450 AB)

Dan Johnson -ADP NA- Oh boy, now we’re getting desperate. Drafting Dan Johnson is the equivalent of ordering the blowfish fillet at your local Asian restaurant. You’re flirting with death here. Johnson has 25 HR potential, but he also has the potential to destroy your Batting Average, Mark Reynolds style. Johnson won’t flirt with 200 strikeouts like Reynolds, but he consistently posts horrific BABIP numbers. You have to be evil to project a .250 BABIP for a guy, but that’s Dan’s career average. I used a .260 BABIP for this 2011 Projection: .230-25-69-78-0 (540 AB)

Recreational Fishing: [C] [1B] [2B] [SS] [3B] [OF] [SP] [RP]

2011 1B Rankings and Projections

ADP numbers provided by