2016 Fantasy Baseball Busts: First Base
Generally, your first baseman is drafted with a high pick, so you need to be assured of solid production. These players have question marks surrounding them which suggest that they may not live up to expectations in 2016.
Albert Pujols – Angels
Overall ADP: #ADP 89
It would be easy to look at the 40 home runs hit by Albert Pujols in 2015 and expect a similar level this year, less one month’s production if he starts on the DL. However, that may be an overly optimistic view. Currently, the FantasyPros ECR™ (Expert Consensus Ranking) ranks Pujols 67th. The Angels’ first baseman said he had been suffering with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation on the base of the foot, for the last eleven years. In 2013, he played in pain all season and ended with the worst numbers of his career. He was shutdown after 99 games for extended rest until Spring Training. Even though the risk of recurrence was high, the decision to avoid surgery was taken due to the “lengthy recovery period of up to one year”. In November 2015, Pujols took the tough decision to go under the surgeon’s knife to try to finally resolve the condition. The operation was successful and Angels are voicing an optimistic line of 4 1/2 months recovery time. A pessimistic opinion would be that it is possible he misses the entire season. It’s worth considering when investing a top 100 pick.
Freddie Freeman – Braves
Overall ADP: #80
The FantasyPros ECR™ ranks Freddie Freeman as the ninth first baseman and 59th overall. There are a couple of red flags flying over the Braves’ superstar that you will want to consider before investing such a high pick. Firstly, Freeman landed on the DL twice last year and never fully recovered from the wrist problem that contributed to the disappointing production of just six home runs and a .395 SLG in the second half. He claims that winter rest has cured the problem and is fully healthy going into Spring Training. Wrist injuries tend to linger and sap strength, only time will tell whether Freeman is back to 100%. The second red flag is the presumption that the Braves will be one of the worst teams of 2016 so RBI opportunities for Freeman will be reduced and teams will more frequently pitch around him. The consensus projections of 22 HR, 79 RBI and .285 AVG look realistic for a fully fit Freddie Freeman playing in a stacked lineup, otherwise they look risky.
Mark Teixeira – Yankees
Overall ADP: #181
Teixeira’s injury which forced him to miss the final six weeks of last season was aptly described as “freak”. He fouled a ball off his leg and the initial diagnosis of a bone bruise was revealed to be a stress fracture. This was the fourth straight season that the Yankee’s first baseman has missed time with injury. Those who believe that avoiding injury is a skill will be unlikely to invest in Teixeira in 2016. The FantasyPros ECR™ current ranking of 172 looks generous unless you are expecting another 31 home run season in the final year of his contract. Teixeira continues to be a drain on batting average (.223 vs LHP) and the surprising career-high .293 ISO in his age 36 season is unlikely to be repeated. Greg Bird, the Yankee’s first baseman of the future, showed great potential in his brief stint in the majors last year hitting 11 home runs in 46 games with a .871 OPS. Bird will likely start in Triple-A but the Yankees will be eager to find any reason to promote him.