2011 Fantasy Rankings: First Basemen

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Here is how deep the first base pool has become: the guy who finished fourth statistically among first basemen, and who hit more home runs than every first baseman not named Albert Pujols, is ranked 12th in CBS’s projections for 2011 (14th if you count two 1B-eligible catchers). Twelve first basemen are projected to knock in over 100 runs (nine accomplished this feat last year), and 11 are projected to hit over 30 home runs (nine accomplished this last year as well). Which means, in theory, you could be the ninth person in your league, or even the last, to draft a first basemen, and you’ll still be good for a 30-100 stat line. Not too shabby.

Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo is struck in the head with a bat by St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols in the first inning in St. Louis on October 1, 2010. Olivo left the game and went to a local hospital to be checked. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Big Dog goes ‘Arf’

And to think, that doesn’t include guys who hit 25 home runs or more (add another six). Underneath that group are another dozen hitters capable of blasting 25 dingers, provided you’re flexible in the batting average and strikeout department. First base is deep, kids, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence on the position. First, let’s discuss the wounded birds looking to reclaim their 2009 glory.

Kendry Morales, Angels
Yes! I just hit a Grand Slam and won the game for my tea-OW! What the hell just popped in my foot? Even stranger, this bitten-by-home-plate thing happened to two different guys last year. Morales was a beast in 2009, hitting 34 dingers and knocking in 108 runs (He even stole three bases, though his success rate was a dismal 30%), and he’s reasonably well protected with Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and the ageless Bobby Abreu hitting around him. A safe estimate would be a 5% drop from his 2009 numbers, but he certainly has the potential to do better than that.

Justin Morneau, Twins
We love what a pure hitter Morneau is, but this concussion business is spooky. Football players come back from one after a week or two, while Morneau has been sidelined since July, which makes us wonder: what exactly was he seeing, and are those images still dancing around the periphery? The Twins are smart to be cautious with one of their most prized hitters, but we’re now eight months removed from the injury, and the Twins are still treating him like the boy in the plastic bubble. That’s troubling to put it lightly. His draft value obviously takes a hit – a third rounder last year, he’s a projected late sixth rounder this year – but that also makes him one hell of a steal, if he’s healthy.

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
He’s a projected second-round pick, despite the fact that he had major shoulder surgery in the offseason. Why is it that no one is concerned about Adrian Gonzalez, even though he’s no further along than Justin Morneau and is behind Kendry Morales’ timetable? Of course, we know the answer to this: it’s because fantasy goons are so geeked out about the prospect of Gonzalez in Fenway – with that lineup – that they’re willing to overlook his current rehab schedule. As it stands, though, he’s not a lock to be ready by Opening Day. Of course, that would not stop us from scooping him up in the third round, if not sooner.

Stuck in the Middle with You

No one is expecting these guys to carry their team’s burden, which puts them in the perfect position to shock the world.

Ike Davis, Mets
He’d probably never admit it in public, but Ike Davis has to love all of the hoopla surrounding the company brass. With much of the Mets talk focused on money – and whether they’ll have enough to re-sign Jose Reyes at season’s end – Davis can enter camp relatively worry-free. That’s as ideal a situation for a second-year player as they come.

Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Young players don’t like sitting on the bench. Hell, old players don’t like sitting on the bench. They want to play, which would explain why Lind’s production in 2010 dropped in conjunction with his playing time (92 games at DH in 2009 versus 120 in 2010). All right, Lind’s production actually dropped more than his playing time, but he still managed to hit 24 bombs last year, and now that he’s the team’s full-time first baseman, expect his head to be much more in the game than he has ever been.

Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
He could hit for more power, sure, but 19 dingers as a rookie, even a 26-year-old rookie, is nothing to sneeze at. As he hits his age-27 year, and the Marlins are looking for power sources to make up for the loss of Dan Uggla, Sanchez has volunteered for the job. Works for us, and he steals a few bases, too.

Paul Konerko, White Sox
Like we said earlier, he’s the 12th ranked first baseman, projected to leave the boards at the end of the 11th round. Really, with Alex Rios and Adam Dunn hitting ahead of him, and Carlos Quentin behind him? We’ll take that bet any day.

First Basemen Who Are Eligible at Catcher

Why on earth would you play them any position other than catcher? Geez, that’s an easy one.

Below is our official ranking of first basemen (again, excluding those eligible at catcher):

1. Albert Pujols, STL
2. Miguel Cabrera, DET
3. Joey Votto, CIN
4. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
5. Mark Teixeira, NYY
5. Ryan Howard, PHI
6. Kevin Youkilis, BOS
7. Kendry Morales, LAA
8. Prince Fielder, MIL
9. Justin Morneau, MIN
10. Adam Dunn, CHW
11. Paul Konerko, CHW
12. Billy Butler, KC
13. Pablo Sandoval, SF
14. Aubrey Huff, SF
15. Adam Lind, TOR
16. Ike Davis, NYM
17. Carlos Pena, CHC
18. Gaby Sanchez, FLA
19. Carlos Lee, HOU
20. Michael Cuddyer, MIN
21. Derrek Lee, BAL
22. Freddie Freeman, ATL
23. Garrett Jones, PIT
24. Adam LaRoche, WAS
25. James Loney, LAD

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