A few days ago, Baseball Press kicked off our 2010 Fantasy Positional Rankings with the catching position. Making our way around the diamond as today, we focus on the first base position. Players are eligible for the position in 2010, if they played at least 10 games at that position in 2009. These are initial rankings heading into draft day and do not reflect the final rankings come October 2010. The statistics listed to each player are his FINAL 2009 numbers, not the projected 2010 stats.
|RANK||Player||TEAM||POS||Stats - 2009|
|1||Albert Pujols||STL||1B||BATTING - AB 568 AVG .327 OBP .443 R 124 HR 47 RBI 135 SB 16|
|2||Prince Fielder||MIL||1B||BATTING - AB 591 AVG .299 OBP .412 R 103 HR 46 RBI 141 SB 2|
|3||Miguel Cabrera||DET||1B||BATTING - AB 611 AVG .324 OBP .396 R 96 HR 34 RBI 103 SB 6|
|4||Ryan Howard||PHI||1B||BATTING - AB 616 AVG .279 OBP .360 R 105 HR 45 RBI 141 SB 8|
|5||Mark Teixeira||NYY||1B||BATTING - AB 609 AVG .292 OBP .383 R 103 HR 39 RBI 122 SB 2|
|6||Justin Morneau||MIN||1B||BATTING - AB 508 AVG .274 OBP .363 R 85 HR 30 RBI 100 SB 0|
|7||Adrian Gonzalez||SD||1B||BATTING - AB 552 AVG .277 OBP .407 R 90 HR 40 RBI 99 SB 1|
|8||Mark Reynolds||ARI||1B||BATTING - AB 578 AVG .260 OBP .349 R 98 HR 44 RBI 102 SB 24|
|9||Kevin Youkilis||BOS||1B||BATTING - AB 491 AVG .305 OBP .413 R 99 HR 27 RBI 94 SB 7|
|10||Adam Dunn||WSH||1B||BATTING - AB 546 AVG .267 OBP .398 R 81 HR 38 RBI 105 SB 0|
|11||Kendry Morales||LAA||1B||BATTING - AB 566 AVG .306 OBP .355 R 86 HR 34 RBI 108 SB 3|
|12||Joey Votto||CIN||1B||BATTING - AB 469 AVG .322 OBP .414 R 82 HR 25 RBI 84 SB 4|
|13||Pablo Sandoval||SF||1B||BATTING - AB 572 AVG .330 OBP .387 R 79 HR 25 RBI 90 SB 5|
|14||Derrek Lee||CHC||1B||BATTING - AB 532 AVG .306 OBP .393 R 91 HR 35 RBI 111 SB 1|
|15||Victor Martinez||BOS||1B||BATTING - AB 588 AVG .303 OBP .381 R 88 HR 23 RBI 108 SB 1|
|16||2||Billy Butler||KC||1B||BATTING - AB 608 AVG .301 OBP .362 R 78 HR 21 RBI 93 SB 1|
|17||1||Carlos Pena||TB||1B||BATTING - AB 471 AVG .227 OBP .356 R 91 HR 39 RBI 100 SB 3|
|18||1||Lance Berkman||HOU||1B||BATTING - AB 460 AVG .274 OBP .399 R 73 HR 25 RBI 80 SB 7|
|19||Paul Konerko||CWS||1B||BATTING - AB 546 AVG .277 OBP .353 R 75 HR 28 RBI 88 SB 1|
|20||1||Chris Davis||TEX||1B||BATTING - AB 391 AVG .238 OBP .284 R 48 HR 21 RBI 59 SB 0|
|21||1||Jorge Cantu||FLA||1B||BATTING - AB 585 AVG .289 OBP .345 R 67 HR 16 RBI 100 SB 3|
|22||1||James Loney||LAD||1B||BATTING - AB 576 AVG .281 OBP .357 R 73 HR 13 RBI 90 SB 7|
|23||3||Russell Branyan||CLE||1B||BATTING - AB 431 AVG .251 OBP .347 R 64 HR 31 RBI 76 SB 2|
|24||new||Garrett Jones||PIT||1B||BATTING - AB 314 AVG .293 OBP .372 R 45 HR 21 RBI 44 SB 10|
|25||new||Michael Cuddyer||MIN||1B||BATTING - AB 588 AVG .276 OBP .342 R 93 HR 32 RBI 94 SB 6|
|26||2||Adam LaRoche||ARI||1B||BATTING - AB 19 AVG .263 OBP .263 R 2 HR 1 RBI 3 SB 0|
|27||Nick Johnson||NYY||1B||BATTING - AB 457 AVG .291 OBP .426 R 71 HR 8 RBI 62 SB 2|
|29||Aubrey Huff||SF||1B||BATTING - AB 536 AVG .241 OBP .310 R 59 HR 15 RBI 85 SB 0|
|30||5||Todd Helton||COL||1B||BATTING - AB 544 AVG .325 OBP .416 R 79 HR 15 RBI 86 SB 0|
|31||new||Nick Swisher||NYY||1B||BATTING - AB 498 AVG .249 OBP .371 R 84 HR 29 RBI 82 SB 0|
|32||new||Troy Glaus||ATL||1B||BATTING - AB 29 AVG .172 OBP .250 R 2 HR 0 RBI 2 SB 0|
|33||5||Lyle Overbay||TOR||1B||BATTING - AB 423 AVG .265 OBP .372 R 57 HR 16 RBI 64 SB 0|
|34||4||Ryan Garko||SEA||1B||BATTING - AB 115 AVG .235 OBP .307 R 10 HR 2 RBI 12 SB 0|
|FA* = Free Agent|
First base, in my opinion, is primarily a spot to provide power to your fantasy lineup. The other categories are nice and all, but they can usually be found in more plentiful amounts at other positions around the diamond. Thus, my rankings may slant in favor of home run sluggers. Enjoy!
Albert Pujols is the no-brainer number one at this position and in all of fantasy baseball. If a guy in your draft has the first pick and doesn't take him, you'll know who to offer trades to all season.
After King Albert, things might get a bit hazier. I like Prince Fielder at two, assuming he can maintain his high batting average and post another monster RBI season. Batting average was his father's main problem as a hitter, but the two don't talk so they might not have much in common other than belt sizes.
With Prince and Albert off the board, you can basically flip-flop a lot of the guys. Miguel Cabrera's power numbers may not quite click in with those of the other top-6 guys, but his high batting average gives him an edge. He's proven himself to be pretty consistent and with youth on his side, he might make the jump to the super-elite hitters of the game. Former AL MVP Justin Morneau missed the end of the season due to injury, but as a consistent .300 hitter with 30-plus home run power and big RBI potential, he can't be overlooked in fantasy drafts.
Adrian Gonzalez's season was another good one and he managed to get his batting average up to .277 after sitting in the .250-.260 range for much of the year. If he moves to a more hitter friendly ballpark and a team with some lineup protection, I'd bump his value up.
Will Mark Reynolds repeat his 2009 season? Probably not. However, no one predicted Reynolds would post the ridiculous numbers he did, so I'm not going to underestimate him in 2010. He's primarily a third baseman but is useful at either corner spot.
Kevin Youkilis' value in 2010 is probably best had at third base, but first base is his primary position so I've listed him here. He's a monster in OBP leagues, as is Washington slugger Adam Dunn, who is primarily an outfielder but logs a lot of time at first base as well.
Kendry Morales is the real deal as a major league hitter, though he's now lost his eligibility as an outfielder. He provides good value where he's listed here, and could improve on his numbers with a successful season under his belt and a good team around him. If you miss out on the first wave of first base sluggers, he makes for a solid option with tons of potential for improvement.
I liked Joey Votto going into 2009, and I like him even more if he can put in a full year in 2010. A Miguel Cabrera kind of season isn't out of the question for him, assuming he's healthy and Tony Soprano doesn't whack him. Derrek Lee was a lone bright spot for the Cubs in 2009. I'm not sure that Lee's power will be similar in 2010 and that's why he isn't ranked higher, but he'll certainly help you in the batting average category.
Victor Martinez is still most useful at catcher but slots right in here for me as a first baseman. He had an excellent bounce-back year in both home runs and average and should have a similar season in a powerful Boston lineup.
An injury didn't stop Rays slugger Carlos Pena from posting his third straight 100 RBI season, and while his batting average finished at an abysmal .227 for the year, his OBP was respectable and his 39 home runs were certainly helpful. If you have someone on your roster to off-set his batting average (which hopefully won't be quite so terrible in 2010), you can do a lot worse than Pena. A great second-wave option at first base is Lance Berkman, who looks to bounce back from a disappointing season. If he can click back up to his career averages, he might be a good sleeper for 2010, assuming Houston isn't completely awful around him. His team I mean, not the city.
A nice value looking down the board is the finally fantasy relevant Billy Butler. Butler could post big numbers if the lineup around him can provide consistent RBI opportunities, but it's the Royals so that might not really happen. He led all first basemen in doubles in 2009, and his home run power finally surfaced, so even though he looks like your local butcher, he stands a very good chance of having a great season in 2010.
Other interesting names down the list include Paul Konerko (who bounced back from a terrible 2008 season) and breakout veteran Russell Branyan (who had a career year shortened by injuries). While both are vets pushing well into their thirties, they are solid sources of home runs and can be solid fantasy contributors. Branyan was a huge surprise in 2009 despite a bad average down the stretch. With 500 at-bats Branyan is a near lock for 30 home runs.
Chris Davis was a strikeout machine in 2009, disappointing many who hyped him as a possible 40 homer guy going into the season. The risk of another letdown in 2010 puts him fairly low on this list, but the potential is still great and he hit better after his demotion. If you want to roll the dice, he's definitely worth a look. Jorge Cantu and James Loney had very similar years, and if they both played middle infield they'd be possible first-round picks. Instead, they're simply decent options, but they will probably help your batting average and RBI numbers.
Adam Laroche has almost the same season every year, and he usually struggles in the first half of the year before hitting his stride. At the time of this writing, he is still a free agent. His playing time may vary depending on where he lands, but if he's the starter he's good for 25 home runs or so. If you're real crafty, see where he lands and get him on your roster around mid-June.
Hey Todd Helton: I ain't buyin' the resurgence. It feels like a last gasp for me. Helton might hit a pretty good average again but I wouldn't expect too much out of him. Retirement and a job in the Colorado Senate seems closer every day.
Brett Wallace has all the makings of a big league slugger, but there's always a bit of a learning curve so I'm hesitant to put him too high on this list, though he is set to be the starting first baseman for a good Toronto club.
Nick Johnson can be helpful when they're healthy, which is almost never at this point. Delgado can still swing for the fences and depending on who signs him, he might be a cheap source of power in the later rounds. As for Johnson, if you're in an OBP league you'll want to remember his name, but be wary of a first baseman with almost no power, John Goodman's physique, and a knack for landing on the disabled list.
Speaking of injuries, Troy Glaus missed almost all of 2009 but socked 27 homers and drove in 99 RBI in 2008, while hitting .270 with a .372 OBP. He may not reach those numbers again but he's currently locked in as the starting first baseman for the Atlanta Braves.
As for some unlisted young prospects who might make an impact in 2010, be sure to track the progress of Texas' Justin Smoak, Oakland's Chris Carter (who drove in 115 runs between AA and AAA in 2009), and New York Mets prospect Ike Davis (who looked great at A and AA ball in his first full professional season out of Arizona State). San Diego's Kyle Blanks is also one to definitely look at for 2010, though he'll be roaming the Petco outfield until Adrian Gonzalez leaves town.
Lyle Overbay helps round out the list because he does a bit of everything and can at least drive in some runs for you. Ryan Garko's short stint as a go-to RBI guy looks about over, but may be worth a look later in the season.
Oh, and don't forget about one of my favorite surprises of 2009: Jake Fox. He just flat-out hits, but first base is about the only spot he can safely play defense. If he gets moved to a place where he can log some serious playing time, he could be a breakout candidate in 2010.