In years past, first base was the land of offensive titans. To a certain extent that still is the case with names like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez etc. However, once you get past the elite options at first base, let’s say outside the top-10 or 12, there are a whole bunch of options that have similar outlooks for 2012. I’ll break down some of those players in today’s piece (for my rankings of first baseman, and all the positions, go pick up a copy of my 2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide).
The old and boring: Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, Carlos Lee
All three of these guys are certain to provide plenty of production in 2012, though all have seen their best days pass them buy. Berkman turned back the clock last year but there are questions. How will he do without Pujols? After two years of less than 140-games played, can he reasonably be expected to make 145 appearances again? Even if he stays healthy, where did last year’s production come from after two down years? Pena will hit his 28 homers and knock in his 80 runs like he has the past five years. He’s also failed to hit .230 the last three years and has gotten so bad against lefties (.133 in 120 ABs last year) that he may not face many of them in 2012. Lee also qualifies at outfield which is nice, and he has hat 19 homers and 80 RBI each of the past 12 years. Still, there’s not much going on here anymore.
The young and boring: Freddie Freeman, Gaby Sanchez
Freeman reportedly gained 15 lbs of muscle. Newsflash, you can’t gain 15 lbs of muscle in five months. Maybe he went on a diet of Bacon Milkshakes? Even if he did gain muscle he’ll have to learn to lift the ball more if he was to significantly increase his homer total (he’s HR/F ratio for his short career is under 35 percent, and that’s below the big league average of about 37 percent). Sanchez did see an increase in his walk rate last year, but he’s basically produced identical seasons back-to-back. H’s solid, but there likely isn’t another level left for the 28 year old.
The young and who knows?: Ike Davis, Paul Goldschmidt
Davis is young, has the pedigree, and his ankle finally appears to be healthy. Still, this offseason talk of him hitting .300 with 30 homers is completely the result of him playing in New York. I don’t think he’ll hit either of those numbers this season, but if healthy, the power production should be solid. Goldschmidt has a bright future. The D’backs will give him all the at-bats he proves he can earn, and with that he should also be a solid run producer.
The old and who knows?: Ryan Howard
I’m not a big fan. You can read why in his Player Profile.
The flat out who knows: Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales
Both guys appear to be progressing, and the Twins and Angels are starting to grow optimistic. At the same time, neither is anything other than a depth addition with the hope that their previous levels of productivity return.
You can get solid production after the elite options are taken at first base, but it doesn’t appear very likely that you’re going to get difference making numbers after the first 10 or so options are off the board at the position.
You can check out how Fleaflicker has the first sackers ranked by clicking on the link.
By Ray Flowers