Fantasy Baseball Position Reviews: First Base

Ben IceCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2009

One of the things I'll be doing besides writing about fantasy baseball is sharing some of the outstanding work done on our web site, The following is an excerpt of our 1B positional review written by Paul Bourdett. 

Written by Paul Bourdett, Senior Writer,   

Like a Robbie Alomar clone, Paul Bourdett dives headfirst into first base, breaking down the position by tiers.

Before we get into the tiering portion of the program, I want you to hear me loud and clear:


You see, there’s been a perception among many in the fantasy baseball community that the first base position is remarkably deep, yet the talent pool for third basemen dwindles once you get past the first few.  The latter part of that statement may be true, but the former, well, isn't.  Want proof?  Let's do some trivia.      

Question No. 1: Last season, there were only six third basemen to hit at least .285 with 20 home runs and 90 runs batted in.  How many first basemen reached all three milestones in 2008? 

Answer: Six.

Question No. 2: There were just three third basemen with at least a .300 batting average, 25 HR, and 100 RBIs in ‘08.  How many first basemen accomplished the feat?   

Answer: Three. 

Question No. 3:  There were 11 third basemen who stole eight or more bases last season.  How many first basemen had at least eight steals? 

Answer: Four

Sure, some will argue that there are more first base options than third base options toward the latter part of every draft, but I'll counter that those options often aren’t of the quality variety.  The fact is, there are only a handful of one-baggers that are locks for top-notch production and if you don’t nab one within the first few rounds, you’ll be spending the larger part of your season in search of an upgrade.

First-base eligibility based on 10 games played at the position.

TIER ONE: Albert Pujols (1B, STL), Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET)

When it comes to the first base position, Pujols and Miggy are the crème de la crème.  You want batting average?  Check.  Power?  Check.  Run production? Check.  Speed? Okay, so you can’t have everything.  We won’t even get into the numbers; these two are perennial Triple Crown threats and risk-free first-round selections. 

TIER TWO: Ryan Howard (1B, PHI), Mark Teixeira (1B, NYY)

Both Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira have the potential to produce like their first-tier counterparts, yet each lack the rock-solid consistency that’s required to sit side-by-side with the elite. 

Howard’s three-year averages of 51 HR and 144 RBIs are unmatched by anyone in baseball.  His .268 and .251 batting averages over the past two seasons, however, have him walking the thin line between a first and second-round pick. 

Teixeira broke out in 2005 with a .301 BA, 44 HR, and 144 RBIs, but hasn’t come close to those numbers since.  More importantly, there's no telling how he'll fare under the spotlight in the Bronx.  In our opinion, Big Tex is a big risk in the first round.  Grabbing him in the second would be the smart move.

TIER THREE: Justin Morneau (1B, MIN), Lance Berkman (1B, HOU), Prince Fielder (1B, MIL), Adrián González (1B, SD)

The third tier of first basemen is chock full of potential, but some come with question marks. 

Justin Morneau’s power has declined since winning the AL MVP in 2006, and his batting average has been up and down over the last four seasons (.239, .321, .271, .300).  Based on the unknown, you shouldn’t reach for him in the second.  If he’s sitting there in the third, make your move. 

We saw the best and the worst of Lance Berkman in 2008.  The self-proclaimed “Big Puma” was arguably the best player in baseball prior to the All-Star break (.347 BA, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 79 R, 15 SB), but cooled off big time in the second half (.259 BA, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 35 R, 3 SB).  Drafting Berkman based on either half would be a mistake, but if you can pluck him in the third, you’ll look like a savvy investor. 

After slugging 50 round-trippers in 2007, Prince Fielder managed just 34 HR in 2008.  It’s anybody’s guess which Fielder shows up in ’09, but here’s to Prince getting a healthy dose of meat this offseason, making his third-round selection a true value. 

Petco Park couldn’t contain Adrián González last season, but he’ll be hitting in what might be the worst lineup in baseball in 2009.  The inevitable downturn in run production makes the decision to select him in the fourth round an easier one. 

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