Discord Dispatch: First Base Edition
Welcome to the first edition of Discord Dispatch, a new, impromptu series here at TDG. Every couple weeks or so we will take questions from our Discord group (donate here to join!) on a given subject and roll up the answers into a tidy little article for the whole world to enjoy. Since it’s First Base Week here at the office, we asked our members if there were any one-baggers they were worried about heading into 2023. And this is what we got!
Most responses will be quick, rapid-fire takes to keep you on your toes.
So without further ado, enjoy, and thanks for reading.
From estevão maximo: Which Josh Bell do we get in Cleveland?
Oh boy. Start me off with a hard one, Estevão. Thanks for that. I’m going to try to put my bias aside for the time being, as I’m a big Padres fan and Bell was hard to watch in the second half of the season in San Diego. It won’t be easy, but here goes nothing.
If I had to guess, we probably see a mix of the two halves here, leaning more toward his successful first half in D.C. He has a decent track record of absolutely crushing baseballs, and while the numbers in that regard took a step back last year, I think there’s enough evidence from his career to bank on somewhat of a bounceback. With enough playing time, and in that Cleveland lineup, it’s pretty easy to imagine a 20-homer season with 150 runs and RBI, with a solid batting average to follow.
Just know that the fantasy floor is, apparently, lava. (Taylor Case)
From JAWinks: Rowdy and his poor finish?
This is an easy one for me. I’m not worried about Rowdy Tellez at all. I don’t want to be that guy who relies fully on expected stats and BABIP to predict the future (for some cases, that can lead to weak future predictions), but in Tellez’s case, I’m going to make an exception. To sum it up quickly: among qualified first basemen in 2023, he had the second biggest difference between batting average and expected batting average, the 11th biggest difference in slugging and xSLG, and the 4th biggest difference in wOBA and xWOBA.
My brief and altogether way-too-simplified translation? Well, the dude is crushing the ball and unfortunately ran into a few unlucky streaks last week. And still managed to hit 35 homers. With a .205 BABIP!
Imagine the season coming his way if that BABIP climbs back up his career number of .255. Go ahead, imagine it. Looks good, huh?
All that to say I’m not worried about his August through September dropoff. Go get him. (Taylor Case)
From Mike Buttigieg: Mervis – will he live up to his AAA showing?
Good question. My initial thought was: mayhaps? Literally, that was the word. I don’t know why.
Will he truly live up to his incredible .297/.383/.593 slash with 15 homers across 240 (!!) plate appearances in triple-A though? Probably not at first, all things considered. I mean, in spite of Mervis’s incredible season, the Cubs went out and added Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer (of all people) to their roster this off-season. Those trades don’t instill confidence in Mervis’s immediate fantasy impact. It doesn’t help that from what I’ve gathered, he’s also not a great fielder.
I’m intrigued though. The guy was a true breakout for all but the deepest of deep dynasty players, and his ability to continue his success across three levels last season is one of the more impressive things I think we saw in the minor leagues. My advice? Acquire him cautiously, not expecting a ton this year. 2024 could be a whole new story though, as Hosmer will likely be gone and Mancini likely holding down the DH fort. (Taylor Case)
From c130highroller: Will Tork live up to the hype or join the avoid group?
I am still all the way in on Torkelson even given his struggles for much of the year. I’m not sure he will be what was originally envisioned when first drafted but I feel relatively confident that he will bounce back in a big way this year and be a solid top-eight first baseman in OBP formats. I am encouraged by the at-bats I saw after he was called back up in September, he cut down his strike-out rate to league-average levels and continued to hit the ball hard as his hard hit rate, barrel rate, and average exit velocity were all above average. He will still only be 23 for most of the season and obliterated the competition at each level he has faced before this year. Most first-base prospects (and most prospects in general) aren’t called up for their age-22 season so I’m willing to give a young prospect the benefit of the doubt (at least for this year.) (Ryan Epperson)
From Jo3: Will Vaughn sneak into the top 10 dynasty 1st base rankings after this year?
Quite simply, yes and I don’t think he will sneak, I think he will loudly announce his presence. He ranked 23rd in our outfield rankings and if we ranked him with the first baseman this year he easily would have slotted into the top 10 I believe, I would rank him above Torkelson and Casas for sure. Now entrenched at first base with Abreu leaving, the outfield experiment should mercifully end and he can just focus on hitting the ball. His groundball rate for last year was up four points (43.9% – 48%) and should regress back to previous levels if only slightly. (Ryan Epperson)
From Evogland: Time to avoid the Cron zone with how he ended the season?
I don’t think so, this is obviously in our theoretical 15-team OBP roto league and he definitely serves a purpose in that context. Im not worried about his second half, he was playing through a hand injury from July on.
In daily leagues, he’s an even better piece, since I would only start him when he’s at home (duh.) His profile is just a match made in heaven for his home park and he should see steady at-bats all year, even with Toglia maybe having a spot out of Spring Training. He’s not someone that I would want as my primary first baseman but as a corner infielder, you could do worse. (Ryan Epperson)