The first baseman position can still deliver nice results, but don't count on it being a full-proof position in the first two rounds. There is plenty of potential for busts in this position and room for sleepers later in the fantasy baseball drafts.
Here's three first basemen with bust potential in the 2018 fantasy baseball draft.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
One year of evidence highlights what appears to be a promising career for Bellinger. That's why fantasy baseball owners are valuing Bellinger as high as other experts.
However, I wouldn't follow suit. Bellinger hit 39 homers in his rookie campaign, making him the fifth-rated first baseman entering this season in fantasy baseball. He's also listed as the 24th-highest player overall in fantasy baseball.
To utilize one of your top-two picks, do you think Bellinger is worth the risk? His youth offers some potential, but there are still some glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed. He was a strikeout machine in 2017. He wasn't among the top-tier first basemen in runs or batting average.
He did steal 10 bases, so that does offer some value. However, I'm concerned with his continued ability to get on base and the possibility of taking a step back in the power-hitting department. There are other more consistent, proven commodities in the first basemen position that you don't need to take the risk with Bellinger.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Speaking of major risks, Hoskins is one of those low floors, high ceiling players available in fantasy baseball.
In limited action last season, he was really good, with 18 home runs and 48 RBI in just 50 games. Naturally, he is being listed as a starting first baseman in fantasy baseball, with a ranking of eighth among first basemen and 50th overall.
Hoskins is all about how much risk your team is willing to absorb. If you have some sturdy position players already on your roster and sleeper options for starting pitchers waiting later in the draft, then Hoskins may be worth the gamble.
He has major potential, but we don't have enough evidence to have any confidence regarding Hoskins' 2018 campaign. If you feel comfortable with your team's position players, then Hoskins may be worth the gamble in the fifth round. However, beware, there is a high probability for bust with Hoskins based on the limited MLB games.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Cleveland Indians
When a drop occurs like it did from one season to the next, it begins to send warning signals on a player's longevity.
Encarnacion pretty much languished early in his career as a different player until becoming a major home run and RBI threat in 2011. He's been that consistent threat each year since, including last season.
However, for the first time since 2011, he showed some weak points, with a drop in home runs, RBI, batting average and runs from 2016. He's 35, so there's a chance he could slow down his production, meaning he's not worth the risk as the seventh-ranked first basemen or 38th overall player.
Eventually his production will decrease, and he won't be the consistent home run and RBI threat your fantasy baseball team needs. I'd skip Encarnacion this season based on the potential for a drop in production.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH