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Fantasy Baseball 2011: First Basemen Primer

February 2, 2011

As shallow as the catcher position is first base is as deep, and it’s possibly the deepest position in fantasy. Take a look:

  • Seven first baggers hit .290 or above (Nine if you count VMart+Posey, who both play some 1B, but you’re probably not drafting them to be your 1B).
  • Nine hit 30 or more homers
  • Nine with 100+ RBIs
  • Five with 100+ runs – And that number excludes big-boppers Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard, who’ve all done it multiple times before.

Some of the guys who hit .290 or more: Billy Butler, Paul Konerko, Aubrey Huff. Adam LaRoche had 100 RBIs. When you dig a little further, you see a couple young guys like Gaby Sanchez and James Loney had over 80 RBIs, and they both were in the top five in doubles, so it wouldn’t shock me to see them gain a few homers and RBIs this upcoming year. Granted, their 29 combined homers aren’t what you want, but if you’ve got a homer-happy team going in your draft, you can afford to get one of those guys for their potential, especially if you’re in a league that count doubles, hits, etc.

What about Justin Morneau? The most famous Canadian this side of Pamela Anderson had a concussion sideline him from early July-on, but he was hitting a Pujols-ian .345 when he went down and was on pace for 36 homers and 100+ RBIs. He’s still recovering from the concussion, but the team expects him to be ready for spring training. See what he does during ST, and you could probably get him as a draft-day discount.

Other elite guys who suffered injuries last year: Kevin Youkilis and Kendry Morales. Both were on their way to great seasons, just like Morneau, and should make for a small draft-day discount, too. Youkilis will be valued higher, because he has a better history of producing at a high level, but Morales is only 27 and has put up stellar numbers in his past 203 games. And he was injured on a grand slam, so even when he gets hurt he still produces.

Carlos Pena is due for a rebound this year in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, but make sure you don’t let his batting average bring your entire team down around him. I can see 35 homers and 100 RBIs for him this year, unfortunately.

Derrek Lee had a nice second half (.298-9-44) and now he’s in the middle of a revamped Baltimore lineup that’s got a mix of youngsters and some nice veterans. He’s a guy you’ll be able to get later than usual because of the depth at 1B and everyone already having their 1B slot filled.

A couple guys worthy of a bench spot: Michael Cuddyer and Ike Davis. Cuddyer could hit anywhere between 15 and 30 home runs, but his runs and RBIs are very steady. Davis is young (23) and put together a solid rookie season (.264-19-71), but he had 33 doubles and his minor league pedigree is good. Expect a few more homers, right around the same average and 20 more RBIs.

First Base Draft Strategy: Go Big or Go Home.

The top three first basemen are clear: Pujols, Cabrera, Votto. Those guys are the most elite and consistent first basemen in the league. All three were in the top five in runs, homers, RBIs and average among first baggers last year, and they’ll all go in the first round, possibly in the top half of the first round. Votto and Pujols led all first basemen in stolen bases last year, too, with 16 and 14, respectively. So those bags can come in handy if you decided to select them in the first round, which you should.

So if you’re able to land a top-six draft pick you can either take one of those three guys or pick Hanley or Evan Longoria if you’re a position-scarcity guy. But if you pass on one of the Three Amigos and take your chances with a Fielder or Howard in the second round or someone else later in the draft, beware: You’re missing out on that elite production and consistency.

Take Howard, sure, but don’t come running to me if he continues his three-year drop in all the important categories. Same thing with Fielder. Will he be the 48-homer, 130-RBI guy from 2007 and ’09, or will he be the 33-homer, 90-RBI guy from 2008 and ’10? Mark Teixeira is a better and safer option than either Howard or Fielder, just don’t sell low on him when he’s hitting .190 on May 15. He’ll heat up.

Adrian Gonzalez is the last guy in the elite bunch, but how will he do in his first season in Boston? Teixeira had the second-best season of his career his first year in New York, but he’s got more raw power than Gonzalez. A-Gon will be in a much better lineup and park this year than he’s ever been in, but he’s more of a low-30s home-run guy when Texy is a high-30s guy. Gonzalez should put up monster RBI numbers though, and if your league counts doubles you’ll be even better off with A-Gon. If you have a bottom-half pick in the first round, I wouldn’t be against you taking Gonzalez with your first pick or hoping that he gets to you in the second round. He’ll put up great numbers this year, but don’t count on 40 homers.

TIER 1 – The Elite

Pujols

Votto

 Cabrera

TIER 2 – An elite first baseman, but if you’re in a head-to-head league his slow starts don’t help

Teixeira

TIER 3 – Elite guys, but some question marks

Gonzalez

Howard

Fielder

TIER 4 – Injury concerns

Morneau

Youkilis

Morales

TIER 5 – For you, sir? Power, please, but hold the average. And for you, ma’am? Average, please, but hold the power

Dunn

Huff

Konerko

Butler

LaRoche

TIER 6 – Catchers, if you must, and deep-league options

Martinez-Posey

Cuddyer

Davis

Lee

Scott

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From → Fantasy Baseball

One Comment
  1. tile87 permalink

    Good stuff

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