Fantasy Baseball First Basemen 2012
Before I get into the rankings I wanted to name my deepest sleeper for 2012.
Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs) – Rizzo is not a player that should be drafted but he may be a hot waiver wire pick later this season.
He was one of the top players in the Red Sox farm system but was traded to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He didn’t impress anyone with his .141 batting average and 46 strikeouts in 49 games last season but Theo Epstein likes him enough to bring him to the Cubs.
Rizzo is currently behind Bryan LaHair on the Cubs’ depth chart but may get the chance to start later this season or earn the job during spring training. Now the top 5:
5. Prince Fielder – Detroit Tigers
Fielder played in every game last season and hit .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs. he put up those numbers while batting behind the NL MVP and now he’ll be in another dangerous 3-4 combo with Miguel Cabrera.
This should be another big year for Fielder. He is even more valuable in leagues where walks and OBP are categories. He and Cabrera will likely lead the Tigers to an AL Central title and I expect both of them to be MVP candidates.
4. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
Many casual baseball fans didn’t know who Joey Votto was in 2009. He changed that the following year.
The 2010 NL MVP was a triple crown candidate for much of that season. In 2011 his average, steals and home run numbers all came down but there isn’t a big problem when his “poor season” included a .309 average, 29 home runs, 8 steals and triple digits in both walks and RBIs.
Votto is clearly the top first baseman in the NL this year if he stays healthy. He has played in at least 130 games each season since he became a full-time starter in 2008 so his health should not be a factor.
3. Albert Pujols – Los Angeles Angels
It feels a little dirty ranking Pujols anywhere but first but I’m even hesitant to rank him this high.
Pujols’ well-publicized change of scenery to California may have been the best financial option for him but I think it will hurt his fantasy value. In St. Louis, Matt Holliday’s dangerous bat forced pitchers to get Pujols out. However, his move to Anaheim puts him in a much weaker lineup. I expect his OBP and Walks to skyrocket but many leagues do not use those categories in their standard settings.
It is hard to pass up Albert Pujols but with a shaky cleanup hitter situation I don’t anticipate his offensive numbers to be as good as they were for the past several seasons.
2. Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox
Last year I used my 5th overall pick on AGon in a 26-category Yahoo league. Many league members questioned my choice but Gonzalez proved me right. He hit .338 with 117 RBIs and 108 runs. He even legged out three triples.
This year I expect his average to remain steady but I expect his home runs (27 in 2011) to increase and his strikeouts to come down. The loaded Red Sox lineup should give opposing pitchers nightmares and Gonzalez will hit right in the middle of it.
1. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
The strangest thing about this choice is that Miggy won’t spend much time playing first base this season. Because of the Prince Fielder signing, Cabrera will move over to third base but will maintain his first base eligibility.
Last season Cabrera led the majors in batting average and doubles. He also batted in 105 regular-season runs, crossed home plate 111 times and went deep 30 times. The addition of Fielder may mean that Cabrera won’t see as many good pitches this season but if that’s the case, it will likely boost his 2011 majors-leading OBP.
Some players that missed the cut are Ryan Howard, Carlos Lee, Mark Reynolds and Adam Lind.