The 2012 MLB season is upon us, with pitchers and catchers reporting in two weeks. It's the glorious time of the year in which the football season has ended and March Madness is about to start.
However, the most important part of this special time of year is for the stat heads that continually try to one-up their peers in fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball leagues should open up within the next few weeks, bringing the hope of last season's losers and the elevated sense of pride from last year's winners.
But for those who have the opportunity to pick first in this year's draft, who should they choose?
The case can be made for Matt Kemp or Miguel Cabrera.
However, the task of ranking these two has become a serious problem. Kemp has become what most scouts thought he was capable of: a star athlete with five-tool potential, but his inconsistency has caused Donnie Baseball to bat him lower than fifth for one-eighth of a season (2010, according to Baseball-Reference.com).
Cabrera has continually proven himself to be in the elite level of first basemen, but will his shift across the diamond decrease his productivity?
Matt Kemp's 2011 Line: 689 PA, .399 OBP, .986 OPS, 39 HR, 126 RBI
Not much has changed for Kemp in this offseason. He should be coming into spring training with an MVP award (up for debate). The question with Kemp is the same that has plagued Prince Fielder for years—he seems to do well, then regress for a season, then miraculously coming back to tear the cover off the ball.
Last time Kemp was put in the top 10, he burned owners with a .249 AVG. However, one cannot pass up the opportunity for a 40-40 player.
Miguel Cabrera's 2011 Line: 688 PA, .448 OBP, 1.033 OPS, 30 HR, 105 RBI
While Cabrera is coming off a recent batting title, he had to shed weight in order to move over to the hot corner. He offers elite talent at a deceptively shallow first base pool this season, boosting his value a little. “Miggy” is coming into his age-28 season and his numbers should be boosted by the Tigers' recent acquisition of Fielder.
While Cabrera is probably the purest hitter in the game, Kemp’s tantalizing 40-40 potential is too good to pass up. Cabrera’s season is swirling in variables, from his transition to the other side of the diamond to Mr. Fielder coming into town.
As reported by ESPN, Kemp was recently quoted saying that he wants to go 50-50 this season. Will he be the first player in history to get there? Even if he falls short, I want his talent on my team this season.