Projections are listed as follows: AVG - HR - RBI - Runs - SB. These prices are for regular 5x5 Rotisserie-style leagues with MLB Universe. Adjust prices upward for AL/NL-only leagues.
1. Albert Pujols, STL $38
Pujols emerged as a monster on the fantasy scene and was the consensus best player in the game. His value takes a small hit since he loses his 3B eligibility, but he's still the best player out there for your 1B slot, or your OF slot. He's a definite first-rounder next season, and probably for seasons to come.
Projection: .340 - 41 - 127 - 125 - 4
2. Todd Helton, COL $33
If it weren't for Pujols, Helton would probably be the best overall first baseman around. Unlike most 1Bs, Helton hits for serious average and, playing in Coors Field, can still pump out the homeruns. Colorado's lineup is still fantastic, providing Helton both with people to drive in and protection. Helton could go in the first round, but he's a lock for round two.
Projection: .345 - 31 - 120 - 130 - 2
3. Jim Thome, PHI $29
Thome actually had a down year last season, and he still jacked 47 homers. With a more stable lineup around him in 2004, Thome should be able to at least duplicate his '03 numbers, if not better them slightly. The problem with doing so well is that you have so little room to improve.
Projection: .290 - 48 - 130 - 108 - 0
4. Richie Sexson, ARI $25
Getting out of Milwaukee should ultimately help Sexson. Put into a place where he can actually win will hopefully boost his numbers, and he's a good hitter at the BOB. Sexson probably has more raw power than any player in the league, and he's always capable of cranking out 45 homers.
Projection: .270 - 44 - 120 - 95 - 1
5. Derrek Lee, CHC $25
The only first baseman that can consistently steal bases is this guy right here. The move to Wrigley Field should also help his power numbers a great deal. Lee could be a big surprise if you aren't looking. He won't hit for a really good average, but how many other 1Bs are really threats to steal 20 bags?
Projection: .268 - 38 - 98 - 90 - 19
6. Jeff Bagwell, HOU $24
Bagwell managed to put up good numbers despite a terrible slump in May and June. He hit just four homeruns and had 18 RBI over those two months, but still finished with 39 dingers and 100 RBI. We're willing to bet he won't hit a two-month swoon again in '04, so look for a better year out of Bags.
Projection: .285 - 40 - 120 - 100 - 9
7. Phil Nevin, SD $22
Injuries were the only thing preventing Nevin from having a monster year in 2003, and a healthy Nevin will be great for you in 2004. Add outfield eligibility to a good lineup and 40-HR potential, and this guy's a good pick. Some owners may also have forgotten him since he was hurt for so long, but I wouldn't forget if I were you.
Projection: .280 - 37 - 110 - 94 - 2
8. Ryan Klesko, SD $19
Klesko is the only other guy on this list capable of putting up serious stolen base numbers. The problem is that he doesn't seem to want to. If he's in the mood, Klesko could swipe 20, but he could also get you just six. He finished 2003 on the DL with shoulder surgery, but he'll be ready to go in '04.
Projection: .279 - 28 - 90 - 94 - 11
9. Nick Johnson, MON $17
The Expos knew what they were doing when they traded for Johnson. Nicky has nothing but potential and all he needs is to stay in the lineup. We think he finally will and, as the everyday first baseman, could finally be ready for his breakout year.
Projection: .296 - 23 - 80 - 77 - 4
10. Jeff Conine, FLA $13
Conine's a pretty steady guy, he'll get you pretty much the same thing year after year, but only if he stays healthy. Health has been a problem for this guy for a while, so you have to expect some missed time next year. But he'll see the majority of the at bats from first base for the World Champions and he's a good guy to have on your team.
Projection: .283 - 16 - 87 - 82 - 3
11. Shea Hillenbrand, ARI $13
With the acquisition of Sexson, Hillenbrand will be moving back to third base full time in '04, but he'll qualify at both positions in your draft. He's an extremely streaky hitter but he's made a good name for himself over the last two seasons.
Projection: .280 - 17 - 88 - 75 - 1
12. Sean Casey, CIN $9
Casey probably won't ever reach his numbers from his 1999 breakout campaign, but he gives you solid enough stats for what you should spend on him, which isn't much.
Projection: .294 - 14 - 80 - 70 - 2
13. Jason Phillips, NYM $9
Phillips is way more valuable at catcher, but he's a decent option at first base for deeper leagues and NL-only leagues. He doesn't have much pop, but he can hit for average, which is usually a good thing.
Projection: .295 - 12 - 60 - 50 - 0
14. Craig Wilson, PIT $8
Wilson managed 18 homers last year in just 309 at bats. That's a really good number, but getting enough at bats for it to make a difference will be an issue. He's the projected starter here for the Bucs, but don't expect many RBI from that lineup.
Projection: .269 - 21 - 64 - 60 - 3
15. J.T. Snow, SF $6
If he stays in the lineup, Snow can give you okay numbers. He's a good guy to have on your major league team, but he won't crack most fantasy league's lineups.
Projection: .270 - 10 - 55 - 50 - 0
16. Paul Lo Duca, LA $4
LoDuca's another one of these guys that's much better at catcher. Draft him there (and for a higher price), not here.
Projection: .270 - 9 - 50 - 65 - 0
17. Robin Ventura, LA $4
Ventura hasn't had an average higher than .247 in the last four seasons, and playing in Dodger Stadium for a full year will wreck his power numbers. In that park and that lineup, Ventura's a last resort for your team. Bonus points for being 3B eligible however.
Projection: .245 - 15 - 60 - 57 - 0
18. Lyle Overbay, MIL $3
Overbay won't have any protection in Milwaukee, and he won't hit for power anyway, but he could post a decent average and Mark Grace-like numbers if everything goes right. Chances are, however, that they will not. Overbay's a very long shot to be a sleeper pick, however.
Projection: .280 - 11 - 62 - 57 - 0
19. Hee Seop Choi, FLA $2
Choi was supposed to be one of the next big things in the league, but he has yet to show a thing. Last year's scary injury may have derailed him for good, but the change of scenery may help. What the change of scenery will not help, however, is his homerun totals and playing time. He could step in should someone get hurt though.
Projection: .230 - 9 - 37 - 30 - 1
20. Brad Wilkerson, MON $1
Now that the Expos have an everyday first baseman to go with too many outfielders, Wilkerson will have to scrape for at bats. With enough of them, he could be a good sleeper, but don't look for 500 at bats here.
Projection: .260 - 12 - 59 - 65 - 6
21. Wil Cordero, MON $1
The acquisition of Johnson likely left Cordero without a position, but he can see some time in the outfield. Don't look for regular time though.
Projection: .270 - 10 - 48 - 40 - 0
22. Brian Buchanan, SD $1
Buchanan will have to fight with some very good players to earn playing time. Odds are, he won't be winning tht fight.
Projection: .260 - 8 - 30 - 25 - 3
23. Shawn Wooten, PHI $1
Only eligible at 1B for most drafts, Wooten also plays third and catcher. It's this ability that will likely earn him some at bats over the year, but he's not a good enough hitter to really make a difference anyway.
Projection: .280 - 5 - 30 - 27 - 0
24. Julio Franco, ATL $1
Franco's proven that he can hit into his mid-40's, but with LaRoche on the way up, he'll have to hit like a 29-year-old to crack the lineup often enough to be a fantasy player. Only assigned to a minor-league deal, Franco isn't even guaranteed a roster spot at this point.
Projection: .275 - 2 - 20 - 15 - 0
Adam LaRoche, ATL $1
LaRoche projects as a pretty good power hitter down the line, capable of putting up 20 homers a year with a good average. The 1B job is his to lose in Atlanta, but he'll be given every chance to succeed.
Projection: .289 - 15 - 77 - 70 - 2
Things To Keep In Mind: The Mets Mike Piazza will be playing first base this year and will qualify in most leagues within the first week or so. Do not forget...although having Mike behind the plate is better for your team. The Reds' Adam Dunn played 19 games at 1B last season and failed to qualify for most drafts this season by just one game. Dunn would fit in the 8-10 range among NL first basemen but could produce somewhat better numbers.
Special thanks to Mark Rubin, our in-house fantasy baseball expert.
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