Ranking the top 20 first basemen in fantasy baseball for 2010

If you don’t end up with 20 homers out of your first baseman, you’re not trying hard enough or you are very, very unlucky.

These 1Bs, they have the power. Not surprisingly, the first five players are in the Top 10 overall and the top 14 or so are going in the top 100. Your 1B power level will be decided by how early you pull the trigger on drafting one.

Like all of the other rankings so far — check them out at our 2010 fantasy baseball rankings page — the players with the top-20 average draft positions are listed. The comments are meant to steer you to the values and away from the overvalues. There are some tiers built in, too. Make sure to stick around after the credits for bonus players.

The Top 20 first basemen in fantasy baseball for 2010:

1. Albert Pujols – Gets his own tier. His projections are listed in the Top 10 for 2010.

2. Mark Teixeira – This is the beginning of a new tier and it runs through Ryan Howard. All of these players are elite first baseman. Teixeira’s projections are listed in the Top 10 for 2010.

3. Prince Fielder – Read more about Fielder in the Top 10 for 2010.

4. Miguel Cabrera – Talked about Cabrera in the Top 10.

5. Ryan Howard – Because of his batting average, doesn’t appear to belong. However he’s the most likely of this bunch to get your 45 homers and 145 RBIs. Those are both elite numbers. Howard was reviewed in the Top 20 for 2010.

6. Joey Votto – This tier runs to Berkman. He’ll have outstanding production across the board, but none of the numbers will be elite. Votto belongs in his own tier because he’s a step worse than the Top 5 and a step better than the rest. Projections: 85/25/90/5/.310

7. Adrian Gonzalez – If A-Gonz gets traded (rumors!) he probably leapfrogs Votto and probably Howard. The dude hit 40 homers last year in San Diego. As it is, he’s still in San Diego and I’d take the under on his over/under 35 homers in these projections.  Projections: 95/35/105/1/.280.

8. Kevin Youkilis – You’re probably still trying to figure out why A-Gonz’s numbers are so much better than Votto’s but I didn’t tell you to pick Gonzalez first. Gonzalez drips of downside risk. Votto will be better than last year. Youkilis? When he’s healthy, he’s a lock for these numbers. Projections: 95/25/95/5/.295

9. Justin Mourneau – It appears the stress fracture that hindered him in the last few weeks of 2009 has healed. He still finished with 30 homers in 2009. Projections: 85/30/110/1/.280

10. Kendry Morales – Some people are a lot higher on Morales than others. He’s a little overrated at this spot. Projections: 75/25/90/1/.295

11. Lance Berkman – Health is a considerable concern, but he also feels like the last first basemen likely to get the across the board numbers I’m projecting him for. Projections: 90/25/95/10/.280

12. Carlos Pena – This tier runs through Lee. Cheap power here. Make sure you get some average help elsewhere, because Pena is gonna bring you down. If you picked him instead of Morales at 1o that’s not a stretch. Projections: 85/35/95/1/.245

13. Billy Butler – I said the top 14 or so are pretty good, but you’re going out on a limb if you pick Butler as your only 1B out of the 14. He plays for the Royals so he’ll never be elite in the runs and RBIs. He’s also the most likely first baseman in the top 15 that won’t get 25 homers. Projections: 80/20/90/1/.300

14. Derrek Lee — He’ll be 35 in September so the steals have been sapped. Still, if he stays healthy he’s more worthy than Morales to be in the top 10. Projections: 85/25/95/5/.290

15. Chris Davis – Post-hype sleeper alert. Davis gets his own tier. Drafters aren’t jumping all over him like they were last year. Could be a value here. Projections: 70/30/80/1/.270

16. Jorge Cantu – This is a new tier, this is that tier of 1Bs you’ll hold onto because they pop out a decent enough game every once in a while, but they’re not exciting at all. This one runs all the way to the end of the top 20. Boring but useful projections: 70/20/80/5/.280

17. James Loney – Boring but useful. You need more power out of a 1B. projections: 70/15/85/5/.295

18. Adam LaRoche – The player most likely to surprise out of this group. Why? It’s a gut brain thing. Projections: 80/25/85/1/.270

19. Todd Helton – His time of greatness has passed. Projections: 80/15/85/1/.300

20. Paul Konerko – Projected homers are a red flag. I’m not feeling great about his projections… but that doesn’t mean I’m going to change them. Projections: 70/30/85/1/.265

Bonus round

There are players who aren’t getting mocked in the Top 20, but deserve monitoring or outright picking as prospects.

Nick Johnson is playing in Yankee stadium, that’s good for a few more than the 10-15 homers he’s expected to hit … Daniel Murphy isn’t terribly exciting, but hitting 10-15 homers will put him on somebody’s injury-plagued roster before the season is over … A sleeper last season, Jeff Clement could pop the 15-20 homers he was expected to hit last year … He’s a total dynasty pick because he’s not even on the Rangers right now, but Justin Smoak could hit 10 homers in limited time this season … Chris Carter hit 39 homers in A ball and has looked decent at the AAA level. If the Athletics make room, he could hit 15-20 homers.

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