Whether we like it or not, we simply cannot get away from economic principles when playing fantasy baseball. The unfortunate truth is that supply and demand come into play through the draft process as there are simply a finite number of resources available at each position. With that being said, it is important to have late-round draft targets at each position who can exceed their expected value. Here, let us take a look at some first base late-round targets and value plays.
For the sake of clarity, the guidelines that we are going to use is any first base eligible player who is coming off the NFBC board after the top-20. This pushes us to ADPs of at least 200 which is into the 14th round in 15 team leagues and the 17th round in 12 team leagues (data as of 2/20/23 through 466 drafts).
Joey Meneses, Washington Nationals, ADP of 195
Before we go any further, and this is of no fault to Menses, there has to either be an error or some familial bias going on here as he has a minimum pick of 31. I am attributing that to why his ADP is barely under 200 as he just barely sneaks onto our list.
The career minor leaguer came up almost by default last summer for Washington, and all Menses did was hit. In 56 games, Menses hit 13 home runs while driving in 34 and batting .324. As far as low hanging fruit goes, his BABIP was .371 so we can just knock his batting average down to around .260 and still feel comfortable.
Prior to getting to Triple-A in 2018, Menses previously did not show much in the way of power, but he also had another 20 home runs in 96 games at Triple-A last season prior to getting promoted, so it shouldn’t have been a complete shock. Menses had a .239 ISO, a 9.9%-barrel rate and a 47.1% hard hit rate last year so he was making strong contact. I don’t feel as good about his 9.9 average launch angle, but there are around 25 home runs in here. The fact that Washington didn’t bring in a clear threat to playing time for Menses is also a good thing as he should bet plenty of RBI opportunities again in the middle of their lineup.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees, ADP of 249
I know that you generally look for more in the power department out of your first baseman and LeMahieu likely has more value at the other infield positions, but it is difficult to overlook the flexibility he offers. He allows you to attack other spots in your lineup, and perhaps stolen bases at second base, and then come back to first base with perhaps less risk.
We say less risk with a disclaimer as LeMahieu was dealing with a toe injury at the end of last season, but so far this spring all systems do appear to be in order for the dependable veteran. In a full slate of at bats, we won’t get more than 15 home runs, but he’ll hit around .270 with a walk rate (12.4% last year) close to his strikeout rate (13.1%) which makes him an OBP asset, while getting a decent amount of RBI and runs scored.
Wil Myers, Cincinnati Reds, ADP of 375
Admittedly, the price on Myers has increased since early drafts (243 since January 1st) which makes him one of our biggest movers now that he has signed with Cincinnati. While that price might be slightly aggressive, it is clearly based on two factors; Myers staying healthy and the benefit he receives from Great American Ballpark.
After stealing eight bases in 2021, Myers picked up just two stolen bases in 77 games last season (as late as 2019 he had 16), so we know that the ability is in there at some level, but at this point if we get double-digit stolen bases, it would be a nice bonus not something I’m truly planning for. Instead, I’m going into this looking for a .260/20/65/65 campaign out of Myers while knowing that the biggest obstacle is going to be games played and he very likely could surpass those marks. In leagues where there is a clear replacement, either via bench depth or the waiver wire, I would certainly feel better about drafting Myers as the production will be there when he is on the field.
Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels, ADP of 411
The price on Walsh is quite different from where it was a year ago, and while it isn’t necessarily unwarranted, it very well could represent a buying opportunity. Walsh hit just .215 while striking out 30% of the time in 118 games. After the season, Walsh had thoracic outlet surgery, he appears to be fully healthy entering 2023 as there could be a bounce back in order.
A year after Walsh hit 29 home runs while driving in 98 runs, that dropped down to 15 and 44 in 2023, and perhaps we can split the difference this season? While there was a little decrease, Walsh still had a 9.5%-barrel rate and a career high 42.5% hard hit rate, so it all wasn’t bad for him. The majority of Walsh’s power does come with the platoon advantage against right-handed pitching, but that does mean that even if we got to that situation, he would still get the majority of the at bats.
Luke Voit, Free Agent, ADP of 490
This one requires a bit of faith, but Voit’s ADP is also depressed by the fact that he is currently without a team. The expectation is that he will find his way into a favorable situation and a good amount of at bats in 2023. Batting average will not be an asset, but he did hit 22 home runs with 69 RBI in 135 games, and that power ability cannot be overlooked at this point of the draft.