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MLB Predictions 2012: Who Are the 4 Best 1st Basemen in the American League?

Sam DrakeCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2012

MLB Predictions 2012: Who Are the 4 Best 1st Basemen in the American League?

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    First base in the American League has become the deepest and most star-studded position in baseball.

    Two big-name free agents in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder decided to leave their respective teams to try their hand with American League pitchers.

    Those two names already add to the list of star first basemen that already occupy the American League.

    Come All-Star voting time, fans and managers alike are going to have a hard time deciding which player is going to start and which players might not make the team at all.

4. Prince Fielder

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    With his vicious upper-cut swing, Prince Fielder ranks No. 4 on our list. He has the power to hit balls to every part of the field. He also can hit it out of the park.

    Fielder has never been a hitting for average guy (his highest BA is .299 which he achieved twice in 2009 and 2010). That doesn't mean he isn't a good contact hitter, just not as good as the other on this list.

    What really puts Fielder last on this list though are his fielding abilities. 

    In six seasons as a first basemen, Fielder has recorded a total of 68 errors. That is an average of 11.3 errors per season. That number is significantly higher than other players who have played more seasons.

    Fielder does have one thing going for him, however, he doesn't have to face Justin Verlander.

3. Mark Teixeira

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    Mark Teixeira is No. 3 on this list.

    He has been a major league first basemen for eight years, playing for the Rangers, Braves, Angels and his current team the New York Yankees.

    Teixeira is coming off a lackluster season where he only batted .248, but he did manage to hit 39 homers and drive in a grand total of 111 runs. 

    The reason Teixeira is ranked higher than Fielder is that he has only 42 errors at first base in eight years compared to Fielder's 68 in only six years.

    An important thing to remember is that Teixeira plays in New York with the jet stream going right from home plate to the right field porch.

2. Adrian Gonzalez

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    Adrian Gonzalez has one huge number going for him. He has an astounding 19.5 at bats per home run. 

    That number is easily the best of anyone on this list including the next person.

    Not only does Gonzalez hit many home runs, he also can hit for average. Last season, he hit an amazing .338 and had over 200 hits. He was in contention for the AL MVP along with his teammate Jacoby Ellsbury for most of the year.

    He doesn't steal many bases because he is one of the slowest players in the major leagues, but that doesn't matter. Gonzalez had a total of 75 extra base hits and an on-base percentage of .410.

    Not only is he an excellent hitter but he can also play good defense. In seven years, he has only committed 45 errors and has a career fielding percentage of .995.

    When Gonzalez first entered the league, he played for the Texas Rangers. He then got traded to the San Diego Padres and finally played his first season wit the Red Sox last year. He has proved that position players can switch leagues and still be effective.

1. Albert Pujols

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    Is there any question as to who would be No. 1?

    Albert Pujols has been one of the best players in the Major League ever since he was drafted 402nd overall by the St Louis Cardinals.

    Even though Pujols was injured last year, he still managed to put up above-average numbers. He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI. He showed great plate discipline with 61 walks and only 58 strikeouts. 

    He has won the Silver Slugger award for first base six times, the last coming in 2010. 

    His batting production also bleeds into the postseason. Last year, when the Cardinals won the World Series, he blasted five home runs and had 16 RBI.

    Not only is he one of the best hitters of his era, he can also play a mean first base.

    He has won the Gold Glove twice in his career, in 2006 and 2010.

    His transition to the American league will not effect his playing at all. His ability to swing the bat and hit for power and well as average will make him a force to reckon with.

    His first matchup against the Tigers and the Yankees will be a must-watch as fans will see how Pujols fares against the likes of C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander in a non All-Star Game.

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