Today I will analyze the first base position for NL Only leagues. First base is pound-for-pound the deepest position in all of fantasy baseball. Click here for The Fantasy Man's First Basemen mixed league rankings. Let's break it down....
Albert Pujols - STL - What's there to say? Since his rookie year, pretty much every year has been the best player in all of fantasy baseball. Just turned 31 and is on the last year of his contract with the Cardinals. So on top of being great throw in financial motivation as well.
Joey Votto - CIN - Won the MVP last year and the guy does it all. Hits for power, average and throws in 15 plus steals to boot. Will be the Reds #3 hitter for a long time as he doesn't turn 28 until the end of the season.
Ryan Howard - PHI - I know for the first time since 2005 he did not hit 40HR but Howard is only 31 and I expect him to bounce back to the levels of 40+HR and 125+RBI's. I do like the fact for the second year in a row he hit above .275.
Prince Fielder - MIL - I have to tell you to me it's debatable if Prince is an elite player. Reason I see that is because Fielder in his five full seasons has had two monster seasons, one strong season and two seasons that I would not call elite. Fielder turns 27 in May and is playing for a monster contract himself as he is a free agent after the season. With the moves the Brewers have made, everyone in Milwaukee is fired up that Fielder is playing for a big contract and it is a good bet that 2011 will be Fielder's third monster season.
Solid and Steady:
Ike Davis - NYM - K's and Citi field will mean low 20's in HR's with close to 80 RBI's and hitting around .260. One big warning sign is Davis will probably hit 6th in the lineup with the Mets Catchers (Thole or Paulino) and 2B (Castillo, Murphy etc) hitting behind him which could mean Davis in RBI situations could get nothing to hit.
Aubrey Huff - SF - The bounce back player of 2010 resigned with the Giants on a two year deal. Eligible at 1B and OF, I don't know if he will give you the $25 year he gave fantasy owners last year but I think he is a good bet to be a $15 to $17 player in an NL only league in 2011.
Garrett Jones - PIT - I like to see the batting average get to .260 but will give you 20HR, 75RBI and close to 10 steals.
Adam LaRoche - WAS - If you think about it this is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy baseball especially in NL only leagues. Not only is LaRoche coming off a 25HR, 100RBI season but LaRoche has hit at least 20HR with 78RBI's the last 6 seasons. However LaRoche has left the D-Backs so going from that ballpark where the ball flies to Nationals probably will have some effect. Still I would expect low 20HR's with close to 80RBI's and avg between 260 & 270.
Carlos Lee - HOU - Qualifies for both 1B and OF, had an awful first half and that is a big reason why Lee finished with a .246 average but still had 24HR and 89RBI. Maybe the days of Lee hitting .300 are over (he is now 34) but no reason why he can't hit 25HR's with close to 100 RBI's and his .246 average from last year could drastically bring down his price come draft day making him a bargain.
James Loney - LAD - I almost had to make a special list for Loney. The last couple of years you kept hearing.... "wait until Loney learns to turn on the ball and those doubles become HR's and he becomes a 25HR guy". It's not happening folks. Still, if he goes for the right price in the draft which needs to be around $10 can be a guy who helps you with R's and RBI's and hit in the .280's.
Gaby Sanchez - FLA - Keep in mind the first month Sanchez was batting 8th which made it very difficult for him to put up numbers. Not a HR guy but will hit high teens but if hits towards the top of the lineup for the full season can give you strong R and RBI.
Ty Wigginton - COL - Qualifies at 1B, 2B and 3B and because of his versatile Wigginton should get plenty of AB's and give you great roster flexibility. Four of the last five years Wigginton has had at least 20HR's and just about 70 RBI's per season. Should get at least 400 AB's in Colorado and his roster flexibility makes him a great addition to your team.
Lance Berkman - STL - Only played 1B last year but for STL will play the OF which means early on in the season will give you roster flexibility that Berkman qualifies for 1B and OF. The injuries have added up these last couple of years and last year Berkman could not hit from the right side at all. I am rooting for him as I drafted him in my league back in the late 90's in the farm system part of our draft. There is a report that Berkman has lost 20lbs this off-season and is the best shape of his life. Still given his age and all the bumps and bruises cannot expect more than a $15 year.
Todd Helton - COL - Helton is now 37 and I think father time and his body are nearing the end. I know he had a strong 2009 but the fact is 2008 and 2010 were miserable and I don't think he has even another $15 year left in him. If he goes for a song on draft day and you slide him in as your third corner I can somewhat see taking him and keep your fingers crossed he has 1 more healthy season.
Lyle Overbay - PIT - Turns 34 right before spring training and when Overbay was hitting around .270 and giving you mid teens in HR's with Runs and RBI's around 70 for each I can see the value of Overbay at the right price. But last year Overbay hit .243 and that is just to poor given what he puts up. Also goes from Toronto where the ball seems to carry to Pittsburgh and does anything ever go right for the Pirates?
Wild Card Young Guns:
Brandon Allen - ARI - Shown some pop in the minors and a solid spring and the 1B job in Arizona is his to start the season. Remember the ball does fly in that ballpark. May not be a bad gamble for $5 as your third corner.
Kyle Blanks - SD - Hawpe will start the season at 1B, would need a great spring to make the team. Has big power potential but K's a ridiculous amount and that must change if Blanks is going to be a player.
Juan Miranda - ARI - Was acquired from the Yankeess to give the D-Backs a little depth at the position. Can hit a mistake but that's about it.
Brett Wallace - HOU - Only had 2HR's in 222 AB's for Houston last year while hitting .222 and got to play every day from August 1st on. Late round gamble for a couple bucks as your third corner.
Bounce Back Candidate:
Carlos Pena - CHC - I know he hit .196 last year for the Rays but still hit 28HR's with 84 RBI's if Pena can bounce back (with old hitting coach with the Cubs) and hit around .250 Pena could be the bounce back player of the year and give NL owners 40 HR's and close to 120 RBI's. I know I am a big advocate of staying away from low average hitters but I do make exceptions if the player can put up big numbers in other categories. If your roster is strong in average and Pena slips on draft day pounce on him.
Freddie Freeman - ATL - Freeman in the minors has shown to be a solid on base guy with not a lot of K's good power and a doubles machine. Probably not in 2010 but in the next couple of years some of those doubles will turn into HR's. Would have to have an awful spring not to be the opening day 1B for the Braves, plus he is a great glove. I would expect a solid year for Freeman and if you can get him for $10 or less on draft day grab him.
Brad Hawpe - SD - Very quietly the Padres signed Brad Hawpe to a 1 year deal to be their 1B for 2011. While 2010 was a lost year for Hawpe, keep in mind the four seasons between 2006 and 2009 Hawpe had at least 22HR, 84RBI and hit no worst than .283 in a season. But the fact that Hawpe had a lost year in 2010 & is playing in Petco I believe in most drafts Hawpe will go for around $7 and could easily give you a $15 year in 2011. Hawpe will probably hit 5th in that lineup.
In the Minor Leagues:
Brandon Belt - SF - Had a huge year in the minors in 2010 and played at high A, AA and even 13 games at AAA. Only negative about last year was that Belt had 99K's in 136 games but on base & extra base hit machine with pop. Unless Belt has beyond a ridiculous spring and even then he would probably start the year in AAA but come June you could see Brandon Belt being the Giants every day 1B for years to come and Huff will move to the OF.
NL King - C.Lizza