I’m not sure I remember a season with more question marks at first base than we have this year.
Even perennial stars like Miguel Cabrera (position change), Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder (new teams) have a bit of uncertainty on them going into 2012.
Beyond the top six 1Bs, there are even more questions, including a couple 22-year-olds and a 36-year-old in the top 10. It looks like fantasy owners are ready for a changing of the guard at the position.
NOTE: Some of these blurbs are copied or modified from the mixed-league top 20.
2012 Mixed League 5×5 ADP Top 20 first basemen
ADP from Mock Draft Central (Feb. 13, 2012)
1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET: He won’t repeat his batting average, but this is a no-brainer pick. One of the top fantasy 1Bs in the game who will move to 3B with the arrival of Prince Fielder.
2. Albert Pujols, 1B, ANA: Playing in a new town shouldn’t be a problem for the greatest hitter of this generation.
3. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN: Votto’s Average Draft Position has climbed considerably. He’s the only stud 1B left in the NL.
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, BOS: Unlikely to repeat batting average or get back to 40-homer power, but he’ll create runs like mad.
5. Prince Fielder, 1B, DET: Not a game-changing move for Detroit — they can rake already — but Fielder should have plenty of lineup help and RBI opportunities for fantasy owners.
6. Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY: After two consecutive years of unlucky looking BABIPs, we have to ask if this is a new baseline or if he’ll bounce back. I expect him to hit in the .280-.285 range with that sweet 100-40-100 we get from him every year.
7. Paul Konerko, 1B/DH, CHW: Konerko graces the cover of the 2012 Baseball Forecaster. Like I said, it’s not your average MLB or fantasy preview guide. Konerko posted another .300-30-100 season. He trailed off at the end of 2011 and he’s 36, but don’t let him fall too far.
8. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: Some baseball writers who have seen Hosmer play and are way smarter than me think Hosmer is a no-doubt hit for the Royals. However, at age 22, he has a lot of rocky roads ahead. In dynasty/keeper formats he’s a must pick, but he’s a risky top-50 selection (52 ADP, with a high of 24th overall, currently).
9. Mike Morse, 1B, WAS: He’s never looked like a .300 hitter before last year. However, he is in his peak range — ages 29-30 — and that power looks like it’s for real. Morse, 29, doesn’t have the pedigree, or the ceiling, of the players being drafted before and after him, but in 2012 redraft leagues he’s probably a better option.
10. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL: Like Hosmer, Freeman is another 22-year-old with high career expectations. He probably has a lower ceiling than Hosmer in 2012, which explains his ADP falling more than 60 picks later (119 ADP, high 71), but Freeman is a good dynasty/keeper option.
11. Mark Trumbo, 1B/3B, ANA: Trumbo is approaching his prime years He hit 29 homers last year to follow up a 24-dinger 2010 (combined majors and minors). He doesn’t offer much more than homers and runs/RBIs, but in the 14th round, the 26-year-old is a great investment. He’s projected to play 3B this season, increasing his fantasy value, especially in daily lineup leagues.
12. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI: The 24-year-old is expected to start for the Diamondbacks in 2012. He hit 30 homers and put up some very impressive numbers splitting time between the majors and minors in 2011. He hit .250 with 8 homers and 26 RBIs in Arizona. Prospecting is a good plan when it comes to trading cards and dynasty leagues, but there are several safer 2012 options being picked later than Goldschmidt.
13. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Howard was cleared to start exercising in early January. The Phillies expect to have the slugger back by May. Despite the age difference (Howard will be 32 this year), Howard and Trumbo look like the same player in 2012. They both have risks — health and youth — and both could provide nice power/runs created when they are on the field.
14. Adam Lind, 1B, TOR: His final averages in the last two years make his .305 in 2009 seem like an anomaly, but Lind hit .312 with 16 homers in the first half of 2011. In the second half, he walked less, didn’t make contact with the ball as well and had his batting average on balls in play plummet .100 points. Unless he hit the wall at age 28, a year before he’s supposed to hit his prime, expect a rebound. .280 average, 25-30 homers are not out of the question.
15. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN: Everybody talks about concussions when they talk about Morneau, but fantasy players should also know that he had neck, wrist, knee and foot surgeries in 2011. Because of the neck surgery, he lost feeling in his left index finger and it will likely take two years to heal. Monitor him in Spring Training and draft with caution.
16. Ike Davis, 1B, NYM: Did you hear the Mets moved in and lowered the fences at their cavernous home field? Davis lost 2011 to injury, but hit 19 homers for the Mets the previous season. It’s not a stretch to think he could reach the 30-homer plateau in 2012, making him a nice value as the 172nd pick in recent drafts.
17. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, MIA: Sanchez’s 2011 statistics were nearly identical to his 2010 statistics. 98 singles to 97 singles, 37 doubles to 35 doubles, 19 homers each season, 72 RBI each season. But last season, Sanchez trailed off in the second half, when his batting average on balls in play dropped .060 points despite hitting fewer ground balls, walking more and contacting at a similar rate to the first half. In other words, he should have finished with a few more statistics and a better batting average.
18. Kendrys Morales, 1B, ANA: Our third Los Angeles Angels 1B on the list, Morales is expected to DH. Pick him in the 21st round hoping for a 30-homer, 100-RBI, .300-average performance. He reached all of those marks in 2009, got hurt in 2010 and missed all of 2011. Morales, 29, is projected by MLB.com to bat cleanup, with Albert Pujols ahead of him and Trumbo hitting behind him.
19. Mike Carp, 1B, SEA: In 290 Major League at-bats last season, 26-year-old showed his minor league power potential can translate to the majors. Not out of reach: .265-20 homers-80 RBIs.
20. Todd Helton, 1B, COL: Last year, Helton managed to stay relatively health, hitting .302 with 14 homers in 421 at-bats. His age and health concerns combine for a risky pick. But we are in the 23rd round in standard 10-team leagues at this point. Considering all of the high-upside, high-risk 1Bs listed above, Helton isn’t a bad choice as a backup plan. Draft him here or a little later, but don’t expect much more than 400 at-bats.
The next five: Carlos Pena, TB; Justin Smoak, SEA; James Loney, LAD; Daniel Murphy (1B/2B/3B), NYM; Derrek Lee, FA.