Friday, 23 February 2007

Fantasy Baseball Ranking: First Basemen

After starting off with the catchers, now it's time for the first basemen. One note before I get started, there were some guys - like Lance Berkman, Victor Martinez, Gary Sheffield, and Jeff Kent - that may have made this list, because they are 1B eligible, but I decided not to include them, because typically 1B is a deep position, and those players would probably be better utilized somewhere else. Other guys - like Travis Hafner and Jim Thome - would have made the list, but unlike David Ortiz they don't have 1B eligibility, just DH. So now that that's out of the way, my top 10:

1. Albert Pujols (STL) - Pujols is simply the best hitter in the world right now. The high average, lots of RBI, lots of run, lots of HR, lots of XBH. He is a complete hitter, and the best player in the MLB.

2. Ryan Howard (PHI) - Obviously Howard has remarkable power, hitting 58 HR last year. However, I have him below Pujols because the average is a little lower, he doesn't hit as many doubles, and he's not as good of a baserunner (and doesn't score as many runs). Still, it doesn't get much better than last year for Howard, as he hit .313 even with all of the HR.

3. David Ortiz (BOS) - Ortiz mostly DHs, but he does have 1B eligibility. The 54 HR are obviously great, but he's below the top 2 guys because the average was only at .287. .287 is still very solid, but its a full 40 points behind Pujols, and 25 points behind Howard last year, dropping Ortiz to the 3 spot.

4. Justin Morneau (MIN) - Morneau probably didn't deserve the AL MVP last year, but he was one of the most pleasant surprises for fantasy owners. Like Pujols and Howard, he hits for a very high average to along with the power, which is because he finally learned to lay off the curveball some and the take pitches he couldn't drive and go the other way with him. This was huge in his development as a complete hitter, and makes him the #4 ranked fantasy 1B heading into the year.

5. Mark Teixeira (TEX) - Texieira had an off year in 2006 (in which he hit 33 HR and drove in over 100), but he is still in his prime, and plays in a great ballpark in Texas. If he can get back to 2005 form (where he batted .300 with 43 HR and 144 RBI), he's one of the top 3 1B. I'm guessing he'll fall somewhere in the middle and that gets him the 5th spot.

6. Derrek Lee (CHIC) - Derrek Lee played only 50 games last season due to a wrist injury that hampered him even when he got back, but he's a great talent with huge potential. In 2005 he hit 46 HR and 50 2B, which is excellent. This year, with the addition of Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs lineup should be a little better, which will help Lee to get back to 2005 form, and make him once again a top fantasy 1B.

7. Paul Konerko (CHIA) - No one talks about Paul Konerko that much, but you can always count on him to hit for 35-40 HR, and hit somewhere around 110 RBI, all while hitting .280+ (or in 2006's case, .313). And once again, the Sox middle of the order with Thome and Dye around him is extremely potent, which will help with the RBI and R opportunities.

8. Todd Helton (COL) - Helton had a down year in 2006, but still batted .300 with 40 2B. The HR numbers were not what you'd like to see and have been declining some, but he's a guy that hits for a high average and gets lots of XBH. I think we'll see a mini-rebound from Helton this year.

9. Carlos Delgado (NYM) - Delgado's batting average isn't quite what you'd like it to be, but the HR and RBI totals go a long way towards making up for that. Over the past 3 years he has averaged about 35 HR and 110 RBI. That makes him the #9 fantasy 1B.

10. Prince Fielder (MIL) - Fielder is still only 23 years old and had a very good year in his first full year, which makes him a nice value here. He's a guy with the type of skills and power to be a top 5 fantasy 1B by the end of 2007. He's patient at the plate and waits for his pitches, which is a common trait in good power hitters. The average was only .271, but again he has the talent to improve on that. He finished with 28 HR and 35 2B, which is pretty darn good for a 2 year-old.

What would your rankings look like?