By: Chris Dommermuth
Next up on our rankings is First base. The premier power position saw many changes this off season. There was players changing teams, like Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, and of positions, like Miguel Cabrera or Michael Morse. Regardless any successful fantasy team must have a productive first baseman. Lets look at the rankings.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers- The addition of Fielder certainly helps Cabrera’s value but the switch to third base is what makes him not only the top first baseman, but the top pick overall. Many scouts are skeptical the move can work but with as good of a hitter as he is, the defense shouldn’t matter that much. He’s not that bad on defense. Right?
2. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- The changing of leagues is a concern but Pujols is a good enough hitter, that he’ll hit anywhere. His “down year” was more of a product of poor hitting in front of him than diminishing skills. Remember he was just one RBI from 100 and one percentage point from hitting .300. It’s a toss-up between Pujols and Cabrera but Cabrera’s position eligibility is the deciding factor and what puts Pujols second. Not going wrong with either.
3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds- For the second year in a row, Votto lead the league in OBP. His HR’s and RBI’s dropped slightly from his MVP-season in 2010. I give Votto the edge barely over Prince because of Votto’s ability to steal bases (24 in the last two season). He’s a career .313 hitter. The guy is one of the best in the game.
4. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers- It was somewhat of a surprise signing with the Tigers, who came out of no where. The Tigers may have been Fielder’s boy-hood dream but Comerica field has been a nightmare for many hitters. Look for his HR totals to take a slight dip but hitting fourth in that Tigers lineup will give him plenty of chances to drive in runs.
5. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox- Somehow Red Sox fans were disappointed with Gonzalez’s first year in Boston, but he had a great season and was right in line with both Pujols and Cabrera. He led the AL in RBI’s and the league in hits while hitting .338 (career high). The 27 HR’s were a little bit disappointing because of his move from Petco to Fenway, but Gonzalez should bounce back with more power this season.
6. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox- Surprisingly he’s averaged a .306 batting average, 35 HR’s, and 108 RBI’s line of the last two seasons. He doesn’t get as much publicity as many of the other sluggers, but Konerko is one the most consistent players on this list. The only concern I have for Konerko is he’ll be 36 entering the season. At some point he’ll start to decline.
7. Mark Texiera, New York Yankees- He’s overrated in most rankings I’ve seen mostly because he plays under the bright lights of New York City. Since joing the Yankees he has hit just .256 in 2010 and .248 last season. The power numbers are there but will he return to what he was before he came to New York when he was a career .290 hitter? I don’t think so.
8. Michael Morse, Washington Nationals- Morse has 46 HR’s during the last year and a half (since June of 2010) and came on very strong last season with 31 HR’s and a .303 batting average. He’s eligible at both 1B and OF which makes his value just a tad higher. I’d rather have him in my OF but if he ended up as my 1B I wouldn’t be at all disappointed.
9. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals- I like Hosmer as much as anyone but he’ll be taken way too early in the draft. Unless it’s a keeper league, I’d avoid taking him early and waiting to get your first baseman later in the draft.
10. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians- My top-rated catcher also has first base eligibility. He may be young, and has to improve on last year’s .239 batting average but he has plenty of power and will be the Indians’ cleanup hitter barring any huge trades or free agent signings.
11. Ike Davis, New York Mets- Before getting hurt last season Davis had 7 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, and a .302 batting average in just 36 games played. This former first round pick will definitely produce, but I fear he wont have any protection around him in the middle of a bad Mets lineup.
12. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves- Freeman had a good rookie season, especially if you consider the fact that he was just 21. He had 76 RBI’s, 21 HR’s, while hitting .282. His batting improved as the season went along (looked overwhelmed the first month of the season). With Jason Heyward struggling to find a level of consistency, Freeman has a chance to hit third in the Braves lineup. I think his power will improve and he’ll cut down the strikeouts.
13. Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals- Berkman bounced back last season showing he still has something left in the gas tank. He hit .301 last season with 31 HR’s and 94 RBI’s. He’ll move to 1B after Albert Pujols’ departure to the Angels. I don’t think he puts up quite the same numbers but .280/25/80 aren’t out of the question this year.
14. Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers- I’ve called Napoli the most overrated catcher but as a 1B he’s just an average player. I love his power and think he can be productive if he receives enough at-bats, I just don’t think him being your everyday first baseman would be a good idea for your team.
15. Michael Young, Texas Rangers- Young has much more value at third base but can provide some nice production as a first baseman. You’ll be at a disadvantage with power because he hit just 11 HR’s last season but his career .304 batting average is a definite plus. He’ll be most valuable once your team has injuries because of his position flexibility.
16. Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays- When you draft Pena, you have to know exactly what your getting. He’ll give you a power bat but wont hit for average and will kill your team with the strikeouts. Obviously his value rises in leagues that don’t penalize for K’s. Pena is more of a bench player that you can put in your lineup when he’s on a hitting streak, but I wouldn’t use him in your lineup all year.
17. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies- Howard was on a decline before the achilles tendon tear on the Phillies last play of their season. Remember he had just 33 HR’s this year and 31 last year. He’s likely to miss at least the first couple of months of the season. This is one of the riskiest players on this list.
18. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks- Goldschmidt has a ton of power and will be a future stud if he can improve his strikeout rates, but I’d stay as far away as possible this season. His 34% strikeout rate needs to improve or your just drafting a younger, unproven Carlos Pena. Pass on this guy, I guarantee one of the owners will reach for this guy based off of the most dangerous word in drafts, potential.
19. Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays- The question for Adam Lind is if he can put two halves together. Last season at the All-Star break he was hitting .300 with 16 HR’s but crashed in the second half hitting just .197 for the rest of the season. On a positive note though, he did improve against lefties last season. I think Lind is a better hitter then he’s shown during the last two seasons.
20. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- His value will be based on what position he ends up at. The Angels have talked about giving him a chance at third, which would improve his value immensely, but it seems unlikely to me that the Angels would move a guy to third without ever playing their as a pro. I think a move to the OF and DH is much more likely.
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