Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: 1BSporting News — (Matt Lutovsky)
Maybe it's because a host of of highly ranked first basemen are eligible at other positions (including a bunch at 2B, for some reason), the 1B rankings doesn't seem quite as strong as usual heading into 2019. But even with that said, fantasy baseball owners still don't have to go out of their way to reach for a potential sleeper or breakout candidate. The list of potential .265, 20- or 25-HR, 75- or 80-RBI guys on your cheat sheet can become long and uninspiring, with the main difference being what kind of value you can get during your draft (or off the waiver wire).
Indeed, trying to find more upside in one mediocre 1B than another isn't easy, but we do our best to identify some potentially overlooked options. Whether it's age, a clear path to more playing time, or even some stolen base ability, here are eight first basemen to watch as you prepare for the season.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 cheat sheet
2019 Fantasy Baseball 1B Sleepers
Eligibility based on Yahoo's default settings
Tyler White, Astros. White is an unexciting "sleeper" pick, especially at a strong position like 1B, but considering he started eight games at SS, 22 games at 3B, and 26 games at 2B last year in Triple-A, it's possible he gains multi-position eligibility at some point this season. As it stands, the 28-year-old slugger is coming off a quietly solid 66-game showing with the big club last year, posting a .276/.354/.533 line with 12 HRs. Slated to DH, White could be a cheap source of 25-HR, 85-RBI production assuming he doesn't fall into a platoon.
Jake Bauers, Indians. The 23-year-old lefty was shipped to Cleveland this offseason from Tampa, where he slogged his way through a .201/.316/.384 line during his 96-game rookie season. Bauers was a high-walk, modest-K guy in the minors, and over the past three seasons (135 games at Double-A, 184 games at Triple-A, 96 games in the majors), he's averaged 14.3 HRs and 15.3 SBs in 138.3 games. Given his age and new (very) lefty-friendly park, Bauers should see an uptick in power, making him a 20/20 threat a position that rarely sees that kind of production. Obviously, you'd like more homers from your 1B, but Bauers' SB-upside makes him a potentially valuable commodity. He's also OF-eligible, which never hurts.
Ronald Guzman, Rangers. There isn't much in Guzman's profile that suggests he's going to have a big breakout campaign, but a 6-5, 225-pound, 24-year-old lefty who plays in Texas is always worth a second look. Guzman hit 16 homers in his 123-game rookie campaign last year, and he should have an everyday job to open the season unless Willie Calhoun forces his way into the lineup. Guzman wasn't a big strikeout guy in the minors, which suggests his 28.3 K-rate last season will come down. If nothing else, he's a worth a late-round flier in leagues that have a corner infield spot.
Peter Alonso, Mets. The 24-year-old slugger is the Mets top prospect, and he hit an impressive 36 HRs between Double-A and Triple-A last year. Given his age, it would be nice to see him cut down on the strikeouts, but he walks a lot and will be a solid run producer with everyday at-bats. With 33-year-old Todd Frazier at 1B and 34-year-old Jed Lowrie at 3B -- both of whom can play multiple infield positions -- it seems likely Alonso will get called up relatively early. (Update: Alonso is now expected to start the year in the majors.) Once he does, be ready to pounce if he's available in your league.
Ryan O'Hearn, Royals. O'Hearn crushed the ball during his 44-game stint in the majors last year, blasting 12 HRs. Playing time could be an issue for the 25-year-old lefty, as a platoon with Hunter Dozier seems likely at least early in the season, but O'Hearn could still provide cheap power and RBIs. His high BB-rate should also play well in OBP leagues.
Josh Bell, Pirates. Bell surprisingly hit 26 HRs in 2017, but perhaps even more surprising were the 12 HRs he hit last year. His most likely outcome in '19 is somewhere between the two, but the 26-year-old switch-hitter seems to be low on the fantasy radar right now. Bell improved in BB-rate and K-rate last year and saw his BABIP rise as he made more hard contact. A career .303 hitter in the minors, Bell has a lot of room to improve on his average, and his already solid OBP gives him more value in those formats.
Luke Voit, Yankees. Last year's biggeset surprise is poised to start over oft-injured perennial breakout candidate Greg Bird. Voit clubbed 14 HRs in only 39 games with the Yankees last season, and while that pace is untenable, it's not crazy to think Voit can hit 30 with a full season worth of at-bats. It's just as likely Bird and Voit platoon, Bird takes over as the everyday starter, or the Yankees trade for a veteran 1B at some point, but going into the season, Voit is in position to outproduce his ADP.
Peter O'Brien, Marlins. It's probably silly to expect a breakout from O'Brien, who's 28 and already been with seven different organizations, but there's no denying his power, which was on dislay last year when he hit 34 HRs between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors. Again, given his age, crushing Double-A pitching isn't exactly a notable achievement, but O'Brien also held his own in his 22-game stint with the Marlins, posting a .273/.338/.530 line. He'll get his chance in the rebuilding Miami lineup, and while the strikeouts (and batting average) figure to be brutal, he could pop some homers and drive in some runs on the cheap.