Top 15 first basemen for fantasy baseball

Joey reviews the importance of the first baseman position, and lists the top 15 first baseman for your fantasy baseball league.

Joseph DeClercq, Writer

True or False? First base is the deepest, most important position on a fantasy roster. It is a position that sets the tone for a team and if you can’t draft a power hitting, run-producing machine you might as well throw in the towel after you close the draft window.

The answer is false. Yes, first base is a very important position, but the depth of it takes away the importance of drafting certain players even though they might be for a sure thing. There are several first basemen, beyond the top few, who are worth your while to wait on and take a more important position in the first two rounds. Here are my top 15 first basemen:

The top 15

1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals- He’s the best player in baseball and is a lock for 40 HRs, 120 RBIs, 10 SBs and a .325+ average. In a contract year, like the one he’s in now, there is no telling what he can do.

2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers- He’s not quite as good as Pujols, but he as consistent as they come. At 27 he’s a career .313 hitter who has never failed to reach 100 RBIs in a full season and has only hit less than 30 HRs in a full season once. He’s established himself as the best hitter in a great lineup. 35 HRs, 120 RBIs and a .320 BA aren’t far out of reach.

3. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox- He will most likely lead all MLB first baseman in HRs and RBIs and provide a good average. He’s moved from the spacious Petco Park to Fenway Park and is set to thrive hitting behind table setters Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

4. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds- Votto broke out last season with 37 HRs, 113 RBIs, 16 SBs and a .324 batting average. I expect the home runs to drop a little as well as the RBIs and SBs, but the average is for real.

5. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees- Teixeira had a down year in terms of average last season by hitting .256, but he’s a career .286 hitter. What number do you believe is real? He has had 30 or more home runs and 100 or more RBIs in every year since 2003 and his batting average has never dropped below .281, with 2010 as the exception. He’s 30 and had a slight injury problem at the end of last season, but that won’t factor into his 2011 numbers.

6. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers- Prince surprised us all last year by failing to live up to expectations, consider that a fluke. His power was useable, but his run production dropped below 100 RBIs for the first time in four seasons. He has a 50 HR and 46 HR season under his belt and is a career .279 hitter, look for a return to elite power with 110 or more RBIs.

7. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies- Even in a down year Howard still managed to hit 31 home runs and drive in 108 runs with a .276 average. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they also aren’t what we’re used to from Howard. After four straight 45+ HR and 136+ RBI years, Howard didn’t all of a sudden forget how to hit at an elite level. He missed time due to an ankle injury and never returned as the same hitter he was in previous years, but 2010 is behind him, and he will return to top five production, but this time he’ll be much cheaper.

8. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox- has him at No. 5, but I think that is a stretch because he has never produced at a top 10 level, but I’m including him here because I can’t deny the potential of a fully healthy Youkilis in a deadly lineup.The Red Sox have so many options and so Youk may end up hitting before Gonzalez or behind him, but either way, he’ll be in for a great year. 25+ HRs, 90-100 RBIs, 100 runs and a .300+ average are very attainable.

9. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox- He’s the cheapest 40 HR, 100 RBI option available and he won’t kill your batting average either. Sure he’s a career .250 hitter, but back to back years of .260 or better and the move to a great lineup and great hitters park will do him good. Hitting behind Juan Pierre and Alex Rios will allow him top 110 RBIs, and 40 HRs is already a lock for him. If you can, wait on Dunn.

10. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins- There’s a lot of uncertainty with Morneau after his concussion, but when he returns he’ll likely tear the cover off the ball like he did in the first half of 2010. He was hitting .345 with 18 HRs and 56 RBIs before he got injured in July and has always been one of the best first basemen in the league.

11. Kendry Morales, Los Angeles Angels- He put up elite caliber production prior to his injury, now he’s a great, cheap option.

12. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox- He was stellar in 2010 and still has plenty left in the tank.

13. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals- If he can turn his doubles into homers and maintain his .300+ average he’ll be a star.

14. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants- The NL Rookie of the Year showed great promise in 2010, now let’s see him hit for a full season.

15. Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals- He has hit over 20 HRs every year since 2005 and is a career .271 hitter who averages 93 RBIs a season. Great second half hitter and late round pick.

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