Next up in this series, I'll be breaking down my first base targets. Most of the top first basemen will be off the board in the first few rounds, but there are some decent sleeper picks late.
YPNM: Your Problem, Not Mine, is a term I grew fond of while listening to MLB.com's Fantasy 411 back in the MLB.com Radio days..
These target rounds assume a standard 12 team 5x5 format.
Note: I've excluded players like Kevin Youkilis, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, etc...as they are more valuable used at another position.
Round 1: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez
These guys are good. I mean real good.
Round 2: Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder
All three are proven commodities and all three have big-time bounce back potential.
Round 3-6: Adam Dunn
The AVG could end up anywhere from .230 to .260, but 40-home-run bats are hard to come by.
Round: 7-10: Paul Konerko, Billy Butler
I see a good amount of regression in Konerko's 2011 forecast, but if he stays healthy he should hit .275-.285 with 25-30 homers and the R/RBI numbers that come along with it. There is a chance Billy Butler hits 20 home runs, but he's more of a line-drive/groundball machine, so it would take a drastic change in approach to see a big spike in power.
Round 11-15: Adam Lind, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff
Lind and Pena are prime bounce-back candidates. While Pena may not help much with AVG, he should easily hit 30-35 bombs playing home games at Wrigley Field.
As much as I don't like Aubrey Huff due to his inconsistent production for the last few years, he may end up being a decent value if he slips far enough on draft day. I like the fact that he doesn't strike out too much and his rise in walk rate last season may be an indication that he has matured as a hitter. There is risk, but decent reward at the right price.
Round 16-20: Justin Smoak, Ike Davis
I wrote about Smoak's 2010 season here. Basically, we shouldn't judge him on his 348 at-bats in 2010 as his numbers were both great in some categories and quite bad in others. His good plate discipline, good line-drive rates (which track back to the minors) and raw power are enough to take a flier on in 2011. It seems like most lists have Ike Davis well ahead of Smoak. However, Smoak has the better line-drive swing and a better home park with regard to the right field fence.
Rounds 20-plus: Dan Johnson, Lance Berkman, Luke Scott, Kila ka'aiuhe
As far as flier picks go, Dan Johnson and Kila Ka'aiuhe are to of my favorite targets. They both have excellent power potential, but are unlikely to do much AVG-wise.
At some point, the idea of plugging Lance Berkman into a utility spot when he is facing a right-handed pitcher becomes appealing. Berkman has regressed against lefties, but still has the skills to crush righties. He may not stay healthy playing the outfield for the first time in years, but his left-handed production could hold value after the 20th round.
Justin Morneau, Kendry(s) Morales - If these two hitters came without health questions, they would not be in this part of the article. However, given the high round pick it will cost to acquire either, I'll pass in 2011. Morneau may be playing spring games, but it took an awful long time for him to feel symptom free after suffering a concussion before last year's all-star break. Baseball is a grind and there is just no way to know for sure if or when the symptoms will return or what might cause them to return (if at all). Morales still isn't running full speed. Hitters need strength in their legs to hit for power. Kendrys doesn't have that right now. YPNM.
Adam LaRoche - I guess LaRoche is who he is, which isn't much compared to most fantasy first basemen. He didn't make any strides in the power department in a great hitter's park last season. Now in Washington, there is even less to be optimistic about.
James Loney - Loney might be a fantasy value...if he played SHORTSTOP!