The first base position is loaded at the top, but there are a ton of interesting options that we all can agree are intriguing sleepers… unless you are Starbonell and Justin Occhionero. You see, these two are ready to come to blows over their difference of opinions on Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt, so rather than settle the score with fisticuffs, they are deferring to a good ole’ war of words… but if that doesn’t work, a death match will solve the matter.
More after the jump:
Starbonell’s Case: Freddie Freeman sucks for fantasy purposes. We as fantasy owners require power from our first basemen, and Freeman doesn’t get the job done. He had just 21 HRs last year. To make matters worse, he failed to pair his meager HR totals with decent counting stats (76 RBIs and 67 Rs). You can’t really expect his runs scored or RBIs to improve in a weak Atlanta offense, and the upside of Freeman for 2012 appears to be that of a poor man’s Billy Butler. Be still my heart.
Goldschmidt, on the other hand, has serious power potential. He posted ISOs over .290 at all levels of the minors and plays in a great hitter’s park to boot. The price tag has gotten a bit steep for his services thanks to a storm of hype, but I’d rather overpay for Goldschmidt than pay face value for Freeman. What say you Justin O-So-Zero? What can you possibly say to sell these fine people on the “merits” of Freddie Freeman?
Justin’s Case: Goldschmidt has sexy power Starbo-smell, but that’s about it. You have to love the hitter’s park for sure, but if you look closely at Schmidt’s stats, one big flaw screams out. The guy strikes out... a lot (29.9 K% in 2011). Last year, another potential power demon was pegged by the community as being the next big thing. He too had amazing power potential, and a good track record to prove it. He too struck out a lot. That player was Pedro Alvarez. We all know how abysmal his 2011 season was, and although I do expect Goldschmidt to perform better, I am wary that he’s able to hold value at his overhyped price.
Freeman may not have exceptional power, but that doesn’t mean he won’t provide adequate production. You positional scarcity zealots make me laugh. Who says you need ridiculous power at the first base position? If you waited until the mid-rounds to snag one up, it's highly unlikely you’ll find more than a 30 HR hitter anyways. You can get power from any position (hello Jose Bautista, hello Matt Kemp). Freeman is so under-hyped that you can get him cheap, and It’s not like his HR totals are abysmal. He hit 21 homers in his first full year in the majors and considering he had better ISOs in the minors, that number could easily improve. Think a ceiling of .290/25/80/90. I’ll take the across the board production over the CHANCE for a bit more power in Goldschmidt any day.
Starbonell’s Rebuttal: A “bit” more power? Dude, the power gap between Goldschmidt and Freeman is wider than your mom’s cooch. I was waiting for you to make the point about Goldschmidt’s strikeouts. Look, he did strike out a lot last year, but calling him Pedro Alvarez is a low blow. Goldschmidt actually rocked a K% under 21-percent in his last stint in the minors, so he has shown that he can curb the problem. Alvarez has always had incredibly high strikeout rates throughout the minors, so you could see his struggles in the bigs coming from a mile away.
I agree that the Goldschmidt price tag is getting a bit too high for a sleeper, but it’s not like he’ll cost you an arm and a leg. In auction leagues, he’s probably $4-5 more than he should be, which is not terrible. Freeman? If he’s $6, he’s $4-5 more than he should be. He’s just not a very appealing option. It’s Billy Butler all over again, except Butler has at least proven capable of driving in runs when guys are on base. Freeman still has a lot to prove, but I can’t imagine wanting to buy him based on the blind assumption that he will all of a sudden see a big jump in RBIs in a weak Braves offense. Freeman may get better with time, but he’s still a 22-year-old kid with below-average contact rates and power. The upside is nil with Freeman, so even though Goldschmidt costs more and comes with his share of risk, the upside is light years better. Bottom line: if I own Goldschmidt on Opening Day, I’m rolling with that lineup. If Freeman is in there, I’ve been planning since the conclusion of my draft/auction how to upgrade at 1B.
Justin’s Rebuttal:I love how you continue to roll with your assumption that you must have power at first base. I don’t care where I get my power from. STATS ARE STATS. And what’s this nonsense about Atlanta having a poor lineup? You call Michael Bourn, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, and on-base guru Martin Prado weak? My dude Freeman will have a ton of people to drive in, and if Heyward bounces back like I know he will, he may even see an uptick in runs. Back to the Schmidt though, what worries me most about him is that he hasn’t played in AAA and has never played a full season in the majors. How can we not expect some growing pains when pitchers know what to expect when he reaches the plate? His power potential is for sure real, but do I trust that he hits 30 HR in his first full year? The answer is a resounding no. Freeman, in contrast, has played a full year in the MLB and knows what to expect. He’s not an ordinary 22-year-old. If you are rolling with Goldschmidt as your starting first baseman, and are relying on him to help you out in power, fine. I hope we play in a league together. But, If you were unable to get one of the big bats at first, and compensated for that by getting power sources elsewhere (Troy Tulowitzki, Jay Bruce, Mike Stanton, Evan Longoria) then going with Freeman is the best bet. I’ll go on record and say that he will outproduce Goldschmidt in all categories. That’s right, including home runs. I’m bold like that son!
Final Thoughts and Poll: So there you have it. Now it’s time to let you, the reader, settle this beef. You rolling with Goldschmidt and his power potential? Or does the hype of Freddie Freeman tickle your fancy? Let your voice be heard.