2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: First Base Rankings
New D-Back Adam LaRoche could be a fine Fantasy asset and won’t cost you much.
By Tim McLeod and RotoRob
The 2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit continues today with our first baseman cheat sheet. Over the next couple of weeks, watch for the release of more cheat sheets, plus our always popular Top 10 top 10 lists that Fantasy Owners Always Wanted but were Afraid to Ask For.
This year, the top first basemen tend to go fast and furious, and given that there’s tons of speed in this year’s draft (so that’s not being placed at a premium the way power is), if you want pop, this is your position. There’s great depth here, so if you don’t get one of the real big names, you can still get a high quality player who can help anchor your offense. Even a guy ranked as low as 20th on this list (Adam LaRoche), can be had at the back end of draft, say 18th round or so.
Previous rankings are in parenthesis.
1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (1): The NL MVP is the perennial No. 1 man on this list, and with good reason. He stayed healthy last season, reaching 160 games for the third time in his career and his power and productivity were again through the roof. The fact that he was able to mash as many dingers as he did despite setting a career high in walks speaks volumes about how potent Phat Albert is. Over the last few years, he’s almost single-handedly redefined what should be considered excellent strike zone judgment. Throw in a Ruthian-like career slugging percentage of .628 and we’re talking about the best hitter in the game.
2. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers (8): Fielder’s pop came back in a big way last year as he enjoyed a career year. He set a new personal best in walks as his batting eye improved. He may leave the Brew Crew after 2011, but for now he’ll remain the key to their offence.
3. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (5): Howard stayed healthy again, and managed to tie his career high in runs while reaching 45 homers for the fourth straight season. Small wonder that in 2008 he was awarded the highest arbitration figure for a first-time eligible player ever. And while his walk rate dipped again, Howard managed to rebound in OBP somewhat thanks to a bit more discipline. He’s 30 now, but I see no sign his power is in decline. In fact, I’m calling for him to be at 26 dingers by mid-July.
4. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (4): Teixeira enjoyed a strong first season with the Yankees, shaking off a lethargic start and really turning it on after the break. His walk rate dipped, and he was definitely aided by new Yankee Stadium, but Teixeira should again be a major cog in a powerful Yankee lineup this year.
5. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (2): The durable Cabrera bounced back after a somewhat down season his first year in Motor City. Okay, his power slipped last year, but let’s put things in perspective. Miggy still smoked 14 homers from August on and he’s hit at least 34 long balls in five of his six full seasons. Best of all, at the age of 26, Cabrera has yet to reach his power prime, so enjoy the ride.
6. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (10): Those who think Votto will slide under the radar on draft day this year could be in for a surprise; he’s going in the fourth round of early mocks. And why not? This youngster’s power and patience approach will translate into seriously studly numbers if he can avoid injury this season. A full season from Votto is key for a Reds’ team that is filled with young talent, and could be ready to take a big step forward this season.
7. Kendry Morales, Los Angeles Angels (25): The Angels’ offense might have been crippled in the wake of Teixeira’s departure had Morales not burst on the scene and enjoyed a breakout season for the ages. He was especially potent in the second half (19 homers, 59 RBI, .330 BA, 989 OPS), riding a huge August (10 homers, .385) to MVP consideration. I was particularly impressed by how Morales turned a weakness (OBP) into a strength last year. Yes, there are questions about how Vladimir Guerrero’s departure will affect him, but let’s face it: last year, the only thing dangerous about Vladdy was his reputation.
8. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (6): The Twins obviously believe deeply in the 2006 AL MVP, giving him a six-year deal in 2008 – the longest contract in team history. So far, Morneau hasn’t disappointed, although injury issues were a factor last year as he missed several weeks. Regardless, he still reached 85 runs and 30 homers for the third time, and racked up a fourth straight 100-RBI season. Assuming Morneau is fully healthy this year, there’s nothing stopping him from reaching 35 homers for the first time in his career.
9. Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals (21 in OF rankings): Dunn’s first year in Washington went very well, as he drove in 100 runs for the fifth time in six years. He no longer has any speed, and he still strikes out a ridiculous amount, but Dunn can mash, so feel free to bid aggressively on him in 2010. He’s also listed in our OF rankings.
10. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres (7): Gonzalez is really the only real offensive force on the Padres, and as good as he is, that’s limiting his runs and ribbies and also has translated into a massive spike in his walk total. Gonzo’s power just keeps developing, though, as he put up his first 40-homer season. And relief may soon be on the way, as he’s expected to be moved before the 2010 trade deadline. Virtually anywhere he lands is going to help his Fantasy value, so smart owners will buy in now.
11. Derrek Lee, Chicago Cubs (13): Many aren’t that high on Lee this year, but we still see him as a top 15 first baseman after his power and batting eye recovered last season. He’s been going around the seventh round in most drafts, and that could prove to be a solid value, even though Lee is not longer a threat on the basepaths.
12. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox (9): Despite the fact that Youkilis just keeps improving, he was still sitting there in the third round in a recent mock draft. The rising Ks are a bit worrisome, but Youkilis has become an All-Star, batting at least .305 in back-to-back seasons. He’s also listed in our 3B rankings.
13. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals (21): Butler was an absolute steal in the 17th round of last year’s drafts as he soared to a major breakout, leading the Royals in hitting, doubles and RBI. The kid has arrived.
14. Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks: Reynolds had a season for the ages, earning consideration for RotoRob Fantasy Baseball Stud of the Year honours. He stayed healthy and took a huge step forward in virtually every area – his power went through the roof, his speed was impressive; his walk rate continued to rise and even his BA was up. Arizona will consider inking him to a long-term deal, but do be wary of a big drop-off from Reynolds this season, especially in the BA and SB departments. He’s also listed in our 3B rankings.
15. Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays (16): Injuries were again a factor for Pena, but before he went down with a finger woe that required season-ending surgery in September, he enjoyed a fine year. His power bounced back and he racked up a third straight 100-RBI season. The Rays have already started thinking about Pena’s heir, but he should be good for at least one more solid season in Tampa.
16. Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (3): Injuries limited Berkman to his lowest at-bat total since he was a rookie, but despite a long homer drought, he still actually hit homers at a slightly higher rate than in 2008. His overall production and extra-base pop slipped, though. Berkman is not that far removed from his 45-homer season, so he could be a sleeper this year as he’s really flying under the radar.
17. Victor Martinez, Boston Red Sox (5 at catcher): We already discussed Martinez in our catcher rankings.
18. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants: Sandoval got some recognition in the 2009 RotoRob Awards as one of our pre-season picks, and it was a great call. His extra-base pop exploded and he enjoyed a very productive year. Expect even more RBI from Sandoval this year, assuming the Giants can find a little offense from another hitter or two in their lineup. He even pitched in with a few swipes, although clearly that isn’t one of his better traits as he was unsuccessful as often as he made it on the basepaths. And while Sandoval wasn’t able to duplicate his .345 mark as a rookie, he wasn’t far off. He is also listed in our 3B rankings.
19. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers (15): Fantasy owners seek power from their first basemen, but Loney’s pop has been heading in the wrong direction since his rookie season. On the plus side, he still racked up a second straight 90-RBI campaign and he was more patient than ever last year. Loney is still just 25, so it stands to reason that he should improve as the rest of the team’s core players do.
20. Adam LaRoche, Arizona Diamondbacks (20): As part of the incessant salary dump in Pittsburgh, LaRoche was dealt to Boston, and after just six games in a Red Sox uniform was flipped to Atlanta in the Casey Kotchman deal. Now, he’s in Arizona after signing as a free agent. Think his head is spinning? LaRoche stayed moderately healthy last season, and while his power slipped, he did set a career high in OBP. Consider him somewhat of a sleeper now that he’s headed to one of the best hitting parks in the majors.
21. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox (17): Konerko went in the 14th round last year and delivered pretty good value from that slot. He had his highest run total since 2006 and his extra-base pop bounced back in a nice comeback season. Konerko is still as slow as molasses, but he’s a consistent and reliable producer.
22. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies (22): We ranked Helton 22 last year, expecting him to be severely limited in the wake of back surgery. Well, he played way more than expected, and his power rebounded somewhat. While Helton has absolutely no speed now, he did manage to bat .325 for the sixth time in his career in what has to be considered a very fine comeback season. He should still be on the board around the 16th round this year, and if your team needs a boost in BA at that stage, he’d be an excellent choice.
23. Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Jones really helped Fantasy owners off the wire last season. In just 314 at bats, the dude scored 45 runs, smacked 21 doubles and 21 homers, drove in 44 runs, walked 40 times, swiped 10 bags and hit over .290. Not too shabby for a half-season of work, right? It’s easy to double those totals and start to drool, but let’s be careful here given his history. Expecting 25 homers and maybe 15 steals is probably reasonable, but I strongly doubt his BA is that high again, nor will his walk rate be as impressive. Jones is also listed in our OF rankings.
24. Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins (61 in OF): Cuddyer enjoyed his finest power season ever, prompting the Twins to exercise his 2011 option. But was this a wise move? Given Cuddyer’s extensive injury history and his inconsistency, don’t be surprised if he experiences a big drop off in homers and RBI. He’s also listed in our OF rankings.
25. Nick Swisher, New York Yankees (56 at OF): The fairly durable Swisher enjoyed the finest power year of his career, but lest you think it was a product of hitter-friendly new Yankee Stadium, think again. He has no speed to speak of, and if you land him you’re probably better off employing him as an outfielder, unless you’re stuck at first base. Swisher is also listed in our OF rankings.
Others to Consider
26. Chris Davis, Texas Rangers
27. Troy Glaus, Atlanta Braves (didn’t play 20 games at any position in 2009, but did play two games at first base and is expected to play there for Atlanta, so we listed him here)
28. Jorge Cantu, Florida Marlins (also listed in our 3B rankings)
29. Nick Johnson, New York Yankees
30. Garrett Atkins, Baltimore Orioles (also listed in our 3B rankings)
31. Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles (also listed in our 3B rankings)
32. Lyle Overbay, Toronto Blue Jays
33. Casey Kotchman, Seattle Mariners
34. Daric Barton, Oakland Athletics
35. Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants
36. Chris Carter, Oakland Athletics
37. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (also listed in our OF rankings)
38. Hank Blalock, FA
39. Russell Branyan, Cleveland Indians
40. Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins (played 3B and 1B in minors in 2009, but didn’t qualify at any position in majors; he’s expected to play first base for Marlins)
41. Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves (he’s also listed in our 2B and 3B rankings)
42. Mike Carp, Seattle Mariners
43. Jason Giambi, Colorado Rockies
44. Chad Tracy, Chicago Cubs
45. Michael Aubrey, Baltimore Orioles
46. Andy Marte, Cleveland Indians
47. Logan Morrison, Florida Marlins
48. Carlos Delgado, FA
49. Brandon Allen, Arizona Diamondbacks
50. Brian Dopirak, Toronto Blue Jays
51. Steven Pearce, Pittsburgh Pirates
52. Jeff Clement, Pittsburgh Pirates (didn’t play a game last year in the bigs, but mostly played 1B in minors and is slated to play first for Pirates)
Cheat Sheet Archives