h2h Corner ~ 2011 head-2-head first base Rankings

For a downloadable spreadsheet, please visit: awesome-h2h-rankings.comsizzle.

Is there really anything exciting about first base when you’re over the age of 15? By 16, you should have rounded second and also realized that slugging first basemen aren’t exactly Wendy Peffercorn.

Pujols is Pujols, Votto has a few more steals and a better ballpark than Miguel Cabrera. Adrian Gonzalez left Death Valley for Pesky Pole and the Green Monster to partner with the steady and healthy Kevin Youkilis. Mark Teixeira puts up massive numbers even with a flukey bad AVG, Ryan Howard is in decline from great numbers, Adam Dunn takes his homerun hitting talents to a bandbox, Fielder has a bounce back year (when it comes to AVG) and Kendry Morales is healthy.

That is your top 10 first basemen – not too hard a nut, and really you should be happy with any of them.

Of course, once you exit the top 10, there are some questions. One that I’m not capable of answering: is Justin Morneau (#11 first baseman, 39th overall) recovered? It sure seems like he could be. If so, he’d probably leapfrog a few guys, given his consistent track record. Still, his home ballpark really limits his power potential. Nonetheless, if you’re frozen out of the top 10, Morneau is a phenomenal value pick. I have him as the 11th first baseman and still inside the top 40 hitters. One of the top first basemen is likely to fall and you might as well be the guy to catch that player and stock up on other shallower positions earlier in the draft.

Anyone who knows me knows I dislike James Loney as any sort of fantasy option. So how can I have someone like Billy Butler (12, 55) – who has averaged just over 15 HRs for the past three years – as high as I do? Well, he’ll hit above .300 (which Loney wont) and he has a good chance to hit 20+ HRs (Loney has no chance). I’m not sure there is a ton of upside with Butler, but there is very little risk. Clearly, if Butler is your starting first baseman, you loaded up on infielders and outfielders in the earlier rounds, which mitigates the power loss you get with him. What Butler allows you to do is take chances on guys like Mike Stanton who could provide a ton of pop but at a significant batting average cost.

Another surprising no-power first basemen who appears somewhat high in my rankings is Gaby Sanchez (14, 82). Sanchez should easily duplicate last year’s line (.273/.341/.448) with some upside to improve upon it. I see him getting on base more, hitting for more power (say 22-25 HRs) and being a pretty good overall value. He’s another safe grab that allows you to go for upside in other areas.

In reality, though, there isn’t much analysis required for this position. If you’re in a 10-team league, you’ll get a fine first basemen. If you’re in a 12-team league, you’ll also get a fine first basemen. My advice is to know what kind of first basemen you’re getting. If he’s likely to be a batting average drain but provide big power numbers, you should probably avoid the Mike Stantons/Chris B. Youngs of the world. If the opposite, go heavy on those types of players.

Sleeper sofa:

Ike Davis (17, 111): I avoided making a Dwight Eisenhower joke here. I’m sorry. Davis loved his first taste of the majors (.264/.351/.440). I see nowhere to go but up from there. I think his average should improve to something that represents his minor league track record – comfortably in .280s. He should add a few more HRs, possibly getting to 25 and, perhaps improve on his 12% walk rate of last year. In short, I see his average, OBP and SLG% increasing.

Mitch Moreland (25, 234): In just 173 PAs last season, Moreland posted a .255/.364/.469 line with seven HRs. Given his home ballpark and prodigious line-up support, it’s pretty easy to see Moreland pushing 20 HRs and 80 RBIs with a decent average that could approach .280. There is a certain amount of risk with him, given the lack of track record and the presence of Chris Davis, Mike Napoli and (potentially) David Murphy, but, as someone who gets very little attention, he could easily wind-up in the top 15 at the position.

Brandon Allen (26, 240): If he finds playing time, likely in the outfield, the 25 year-old could be an incredibly cheap source of power. While he wont hit for a great average (think .250), he could swing his way to 25+ HRs with a full season of ABs in the desert. Those of you in deep or NL-only leagues should monitor spring training to see if he has a chance of breaking with the MLB club.

Juan Miranda (45, 367): The reason Allen has little chance of being the Diamondbacks 2011 starting first basemen is newly acquired Juan Miranda, who was blocked by Mark Teixeira. If given the at bats, Miranda has the power upside of Allen. All signs point to him getting full time at bats, which make 20 HRs all but a lock. He might hit for a poor average, but his late, 30 HR upside comes with a few downsides.

You can get full first base ranks here.

If you have ideas for other columns, post your thoughts in the comments. Also, feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] Baseball 101 just released their Head to Head First Base Rankings.  As shallow as some of the other positions are, first base is deeper than […]

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  2. More Information On The Power Team 280 Ton…

    […] ery little risk. Clearly, if Butler is your starting first baseman, you loaded u […]…

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