First Base Targets For Freddie Freeman Owners (Fantasy Baseball)

by Andrew Seifter | @andrew_seifter | Featured Writer
May 19, 2017

Victor Martinez is one of several options to replace injured first baseman Freddie Freeman

The 2017 baseball season has already had it’s fair share of injuries, but perhaps the most significant yet occurred on Wednesday when Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was hit on the left wrist by Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Loup. An MRI and CT scan have revealed that Freeman’s wrist is broken, and he’s expected to miss about 10 weeks of action.

At the time of Freeman’s injury, only Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Ryan Zimmerman, and Mike Trout had accrued more fantasy value in standard 5×5 rotisserie leagues, according to Baseball Monster. So there’s no question it’s a massive loss for both the Braves and Freeman’s fantasy owners.

While the Braves will have to turn to Rio Ruiz to take Freeman’s place in the lineup, fantasy owners in most leagues should be able to do quite a bit better. Here are five first base-eligible players owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues who can help fantasy owners fill the Freeman void.

Get free start/sit and waiver wire advice for your fantasy team >>

Victor Martinez (DET) 48 percent
Martinez is 38 years old and has just three home runs through his first 37 games, so it’s tempting to conclude that he’s washed up. But that conclusion is premature. Just 6.5 percent of Martinez’s fly balls have resulted in home runs, despite the fact that he is currently sporting a career-high hard contact rate. And although his strikeout rate has crept up a bit over the last couple years, he is still one of the better contact hitters in baseball. This is a guy who delivered a .289 batting average, 27 home runs, and 86 RBIs last season, and he’s only three years removed from the best season of his career, when he hit .335 with 32 home runs and 103 driven in. He does have some less impressive yearly home run totals on his resume as well, but even if he fails to match last season’s power output he should be a good source of batting average and run production in a loaded Tigers lineup. Just be sure to wait until he returns from paternity leave before inserting him into your lineup.

Danny Valencia (SEA) 19 percent
Valencia is a good example of a player who gets overlooked because he’s never managed to get an entire season’s worth of at-bats. He’s never topped 20 home runs or 75 RBI in any of his eight seasons, but on a per-game basis, he’s been impressive. In 2013, he hit .304 with eight home runs in just 161 at-bats. Then, after a down year in 2014, he hit .290 with 18 home runs in 345 at-bats in 2015, and .287 with 17 home runs in 471 at-bats last year. His lack of at-bats in years past actually had more to do with competition for playing time than injuries, but he’s been playing almost every day with the Mariners this year. After a very slow start to the season, he’s really heating up, hitting .315 with four home runs since April 25. Put him in your lineup while he’s hot and find out if this is the year he finally gets more than 500 at-bats.

Tommy Joseph (PHI) 21 percent
Speaking of hot, Joseph is hitting a scorching .417 with four homers in 11 games since May 5. Like Valencia, Joseph got off to a horrible start this year, which left him widely available in fantasy leagues. And like Valencia, he hasn’t yet had the chance to show what he can do in a full season’s worth of at-bats. But if the 21 home runs he belted in 315 at-bats last year are any indication, a huge home run total could be in store. Joseph strikes out a lot, so he’s unlikely to improve upon his current .264 batting average, but it’s conceivable that he hits even more homers from this point forward than Freeman would have. That said, Joseph will need to keep hitting in order to hold off fast-rising prospect Rhys Hoskins, so Freeman owners would be wise to roster Joseph now and be ready to pounce on Hoskins if he gets called up.

Justin Smoak (TOR) 36 percent
Smoak has had a pretty uninspiring career up until this point, but he wouldn’t be the first highly-rated prospect to produce as a post-hype sleeper, nor would he be the first hitter to perfect his power stroke in Toronto. He’s currently sporting a career-high hard hit rate and a career-low strikeout rate, so there are some reasons to be optimistic. Above all, he’s absolutely crushing the baseball of late, hitting .409 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games. Smoak doesn’t have the track record of success that some of the other guys on this list do, but when a guy is talented and hitting like he is sometimes it’s worth making the add now and asking questions later.

Josh Bell (PIT) 38 percent
Bell is also a highly-regarded prospect, albeit one with much less Major League experience than Smoak. As a hitter who displayed strong plate discipline and contact skills but little speed or power in the minors, there were legitimate reasons to question what Bell’s potential upside would look like. But he has begun this season with nine home runs in his first 125 at-bats, so it’s time for fantasy owners to take notice. Bell is just 24 years old, and power often takes time to develop. His 29 percent home run/fly ball rate is clearly unsustainable, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t emerging as a legitimate power hitter, and his .250 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) suggests some significant improvement on his .248 batting average is due. It’s too early to know exactly how good Bell will be, but if you wait until it’s completely clear, somebody else will already own him.

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

Andrew Seifter is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrew_seifter.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
9Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
10Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
13Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
14Michael Thomas (NO)WR
15Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
16A.J. Green (CIN)WR
17Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
22Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
23Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
24Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
25Jerick McKinnon (SF)RB
26Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
27Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
28Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
29Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
30Travis Kelce (KC)TE
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF
2Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
5Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
6Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
7Manny Machado (BAL)3B
8Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
9Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
10Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
 View All Rankings 
11Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
12Chris Sale (BOS)SP
13J.D. Martinez (BOS)RF
14Trea Turner (WSH)SS
15Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
16Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
17Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
18Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
19Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
20Joey Votto (CIN)1B
21Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
22Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
23Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
24George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
25Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
26Luis Severino (NYY)SP
27Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
28Andrew Benintendi (BOS)LF,CF
29Jose Abreu (CWS)1B
30Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,LF
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Gordon Hayward (BOS)SG,SF