What is the most important position in fantasy baseball? Some would say Pitchers because they take up 10 roster spots. Some would say Shortstops for their all-around play. Some would say Outfielders because each team has to carry 3-5 at a position that’s relatively lacking in depth.
The truth is there’s probably not a single, most important position. But there is one position that, when drafted craftily, can make an absolutely huge impact.
First Base is the deepest position in the game. You see, Major League Baseball is becoming a new school game. The recent onslaught of sabermetrics has driven General Managers’ focus towards defense. First Base, on the other hand has remained an old school position. It’s a position where you stick the inflexible goon with the 5 second 40 time. If cavemen played baseball, their First Baseman wouldn’t go out hunting. He would just wait for Rickey Henderson to come home, dragging a sabertooth tiger. Then he would proceed to knock Rickie over the head with a club, and eat the entire tiger himself. That might actually be how the term cleanup hitter was coined.
The point is, First Basemen can hit, and that’s generally about it. They’re the idiot savants of baseball. Since defense doesn’t count in fantasy baseball, you should welcome these savants with open arms.
Because hitting is the only requirement, it’s an incredibly deep position. That means that it’s incredibly easy to stock up on. You should keep at least 2 First Basemen on your roster. As a matter of fact, I would recommend keeping 3. The higher your HR, RBI, and BB/OBP numbers are, the better your team is going to be. And that is exactly what First Basemen will get you.
Most leagues allow you to start 3 First Basemen. You can put one at First Base, one at Corner Infield, and one at the Utility spot. So you can draft 3, and still have an open bench. The trick here is that owners will draft their first 1st Baseman early, and then focus on other positions. But after the first round of First Basemen go, there is still another batch of productive hitters left. One of the easiest mistakes to make is saying, “I already have a First Baseman,” and drafting a lesser player.
Since it’s so easy to get 3 of them, here is my advice. Grab a top tier First Baseman in the first 3 rounds. I’m talking Pujols, Votto, Fielder, Cabrera, or Gonzalez, or Teixeira. In the middle rounds, grab a next-tier First Baseman for your Corner Infield spot. Draft somebody like Butler or Morneau. And then, towards the end of the draft, grab a First Baseman with multiple position eligibility. If you get somebody like Garrett Jones, Carlos Lee, or Michael Cuddyer, you’re getting a guy who can play 1st Base, Corner Infield, Outfield, and your Utility slot. Even if he’s on your bench, he’ll get you 50 games a year by simply filling in for people. And he’ll probably produce more than the other late round options.
This way, if your First Baseman goes down, you can slot your Corner Infielder there, slot your Utility man at Corner Infield, and hardly skip a beat. Because let’s face it, if you lose Albert Pujols and don’t have a replacement, you’re going to lose.