Keeper Conundrums: First Base

All this week, I’ll be looking at potential keepers at each position that you may be on the fence about. Now, a look at some first basemen.

Billy Butler
Butler continued to increase his walk rate while simultaneously cutting back on the K’s. The batting average is always there, but owners are still waiting for the power to come along. He’s only 24, so a power surge is still possible, but it’s probably going to take a slight adjustment in his swing, and that may not be worth the risk. Somewhere down the road, he has a 30 HR season or two in him, but how long are you willing to wait?
Crude 2011 Projection: .315/.395, 20 HR
Verdict: Keep. As long as he keeps churning out a high average, I’m willing to wait for more power.

Kendry Morales
Morales had a chance to duplicate his 2009 success until he snapped his leg like a twig. He’ll still be in his peak years when he returns, so the leg is likely the only thing to hold his value back.
Crude 2011 Projection: .285/.345, 28 HR
Verdict: Keep. If you got him in the fourth, he’s still worth it.

Matt LaPorta
It feels like I’ve been here before. You? For someone who’s supposed to be a great power hitter, LaPorta has a sub-.400 slugging percentage. The only good thing to come out of this year is his improved BB%, and a ton of MLB experience. He’s still only 25, so maybe he’s a late bloomer?
Crude 2011 Projection: .255/.320, 16 HR
Verdict: Cut. Not looking like a stud, may never even be average.

Justin Smoak
He disappointed early this season, but Smoak has been on fire since he was recalled. He’s kept the strikeouts to a reasonable level, is working walks and is still hitting for power. Sure, it’s a small sample, but I like what I’m seeing right now.
Crude 2011 Projection: .270/.360, 20 HR
Verdict: Keep. Too much potential to let him go.

Ike Davis
I’m not going to lie and say I saw this coming. Davis has been very good this year, and has gotten overlooked quite a bit. He has the Mets job going forward, and will be a big part in their rebuilding plan.
Crude 2011 Projection: .270/.365, 23 HR
Verdict: Keep. He may never be a superstar, but he’ll put up good numbers.

If you have a first basemen you’re on the fence about, leave it in the comments. If I see a player showing up in the comments multiple times, I may do a writeup on them for next week.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

35 Responses to “Keeper Conundrums: First Base”

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  1. Rob says:

    Mike Morse. If the Nats do not sign Dunn, does he play first base? I’m in a 20 team keeper league, he worth keeping at $10? Love these articles.

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    • Zach Sanders says:

      $10 seems a bit steep, even in a 20 teamer.

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    • The A Team says:

      That said, the Nats do really like Morse. Right now I get the feeling he’s a backup plan that they’re comfortable with. Expect them to be very active in the free agent market looking for impact OF or 1b. If for some reason they miss on their targets, he’ll become a good option in a league that deep.

      If you have a late keeper date, just keep and eye on the situation and decide later. If you have to decide soon, cut him.

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  2. Here’s one to chew on. I’m in a 14-team league, 25-man rosters with unlimited keepers and an IF slot where first basemen can come in handy. I have Howard (27), Dunn (19), Loney (17), and Kila Ka’aihue (4). We have a lot of categories, so well-rounded players are the most valuable.

    Would it make sense to shop Howard for an upgrade at LF, where I currently have a poo platoon of Blanks, Colvin, Gomes, Venable and Oakland Carter? Or would I be better off keeping Howard and Dunn as anchors at 1B/IF?

    How do you like Loney’s chances of breaking out in 2011/2012 such that a fairly high salary would be justified? Finally, do you think Kila can hit as the KC DH, or was the last week of the season a mirage?

    Thanks in advance for your wisdom.

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  3. ST says:

    what kind of production can i expect from Mitch Moreland next year?

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  4. CCW says:

    Logan Morrison?

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  5. Jeff Wise says:

    The Mariners would be foolish not only to get rid of Justin Smoak but they would be foolish to start him in Tacoma.

    The player I want to know more about is Michael Saunders. He had decent playing time this year. Will his 10 home runs turn into 20 if he’s a full time player in left field?

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  6. Marc says:

    Does Lance Berkman land a starting gig next season? I feel his down year was more attributed to the balky knee than age. Do you see any more 25HR .400 OBA seasons left for him?

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  7. vhailorx says:

    What about someone like Daric Barton?

    The power hasn’t come at all, but doesn’t he have to merit some consideration in an OBP league given the ridiculous BB totals?

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  8. ingeindahouse says:

    what about Brandon Allen. I got him, Morneau, and Davis in a 20 team league with 15 keepers.

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  9. OT says:

    What are you general assumptions about number of league teams and number of keepers? Surely a cut recommendation from you is far more valid in a small league with only a few keepers, then in a deep league.

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    • Zach Sanders says:

      However many teams/keepers there would be to make you be on the fence when it comes to each player. The goal is to present different scenarios/situations.

      Does that make sense, or just muddy the waters?

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  10. rob says:

    What do you think about Morneau? If he’s healthy, it’s an easy keep, but lingering concussions are a little worrisome.

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  11. Trenchtown says:

    I wouldn’t keep Morales. Broken legs seem to be a multi-year injury prior to returning to full ability. My first thought was how the injury effected Juan Rivera a couple years ago. Just my opinion

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  12. Dubs says:

    I’ve got Dunn at first and Zimmerman at third as obvious keepers but can’t decide on which CI to hold on to.

    Freddie Freeman v. James Loney.

    I’m a sucker for prospect hype but is Freeman the real deal? Last time I believed the Braves hype machine I kept Andy Marte. Epic Fail.

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    • harpago17 says:

      I’d go Loney for 2011 only, but Freeman does appear to be the real deal. Difference between him and Marte is that while the Braves hyped him like crazy they never believed enough to give him a shot in the majors themselves. Freeman has played a decent bit as a 21 year old during the September playoff run, and with Glaus and Lee as free agents has a clear path to be the starting 1b next year. I’d project slightly less than Ike Davis provided this year, but he could surpass that.

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  13. Jon J. says:

    Matt Gamel for deep NL-only?

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  14. Mike says:

    Gaby Sanchez

    I have Ike Davis, who I like for a bit more upside than Sanchez next year, but Sanchez seems to be a fairly solid bat for a utility spot or backup 1B. Is expecting 280/360 with 20 HR reasonable?

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  15. Bob says:

    Kila worth keeping in a 14 team league?

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    • philosofool says:

      Only if you are sure that the Royals will give him his chance. I don’t trust them. Also, KC kills HR while increasing other XBH, so it is overall offense neutral but bad for fantasy hitters.

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  16. matthew says:

    I aready have morales and agon…

    Have one more spot for Kila or Smoak…

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  17. griffstees says:

    10 Team Head to Head Weekly (hits, runs, rbi, hr, avg, steals) * (wins, loss, era, whip, saves, k’s)

    All the starting positions for bats (catcher-3rd + 3 OF’s) plus on utility.
    Four starting pitching slots and two relief (you must start 4 starters per week)

    Five bench spots.

    With the roster settings as they are, top tier talent really makes the difference.

    I am keeping (Prince, Stanton, Lester, Ubaldo, and Grienke) Nelson Cruz, Dunn, Panda didnt make the cut as of now.

    I spent today looking at the most likely young superstar possible players that will be available in the draft. I have the fourth pick in a non-snake draft, plus the 6th overall that i picked up from a trade.

    Here’s my list of must have youth, who else should be on it.

    Jay Bruce 23 years
    Matt Kemp 26 years
    Billy Butler 24 years
    Matt Wieters 24 years
    Justin Upton (prob getting kept) 23 years
    Carlos Santana 24 years
    Strasburgh 22 years
    P Alvarez 23 years
    Adam Jones 25 years
    Gardner 27 years
    D Stubbs 26 years
    Neil Walker 25 years
    Ike Davis 23 years
    Jose Tabata 22 years
    Starlin Castro 20 years
    Colvin 25 years.

    Top 3 (not including upton)
    1. Jay Bruce
    2. Carlos Santana
    3. Alvarez

    Starlin Castro and Strasburgh follow to finish the top 5.

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  18. griffstees says:

    I can nott say how strange it is that Mike Stanton, Pedro Alvarez and Tabata haven’t gotten more buzz. The last month of so Stanton and Alvarez hit like steroids were back, and Tabata almost hit 300 for the Pirates….

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