Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Praising Albert Pujols at First Base
First-base is one of the deepest, if not the deepest, position in fantasy baseball. You can grab your starting first-baseman late in the draft and still be satisfied. There are so many options, but when you talk about the best of the best, you're talking about Albert Pujols.
Pujols scared owners last year with his shoulder injury and what did he do? All he did was hit .357 37 hrs 116 RBI and even 7 sbs. He is the consensus No. 1 pick and is in a tier all by himself.
If you miss out on Pujols, there are plenty of options from the powerful Ryan Howard to the rising-star Adrian Gonzalez. Here are my rankings for first-base for 2009.
Pujols in a Tier of His Own
Albert Pujols is the definition of consistency and has no mental issues, injury issues or any other issues moving forward. He made owners pay for letting him slip in drafts last year. He slipped to the end of the first-round in one of my drafts and he made everybody pay.
His career averages are astounding: .334 39 hrs 122 RBI and 118 runs. If that doesn't mean consistency then I don't know what is. He's in a group all by himself for the position and is arguably the best hitter, player and fantasy pick for 2009.
Howard Leads The Second-Tier Power
2. Miguel Cabrera-Thought I would go Howard here? Think again. Howard might be the best first-baseman for power, but Cabrera is the next best thing to Pujols. He has the total package for fantasy owners. He hits for average, power and drives in runs. He's a triple-crown threat every year and he can lead your team to a championship.
3. Ryan Howard-Howard is a beast and is a lock for 40+ homers, 120+ RBI and 90-100 runs. His average won't help you, but those other numbers are eye-popping. He started off slowly last year and got hurt, but came back with a vengeance and carried the Phillies to their second consecutive division title. He can carry your team as well.
4. Mark Texeira-His signing with the Yankees means a lot of things: He will hit in a powerful lineup, hit ahead of A-Roid (A-Rod), improve on his career numbers and be a fantasy MVP candidate. "Tex" has had some great seasons in his career, but hasn't reached the level for his potential. He does this year.
Third Tier Starts with Berkman
5. Lance Berkman-Berkman is one of the most consistent hitters in baseball and has the glory of being a switch-hitter. He is much better against righties, but still hit .276 against lefties last year. He was on a tear last year and you can't go wrong with Berkman once the other guys are gone.
6. Prince Fielder-Prince may have been a disappointment as a first-round pick last year, but he will be out to prove critics wrong. He had a down season after hitting 50 homers and batting .288 the previous season. Fielder's weight has been an issue, but looks slimmed down. Add in the fact he is happy, unlike last year, and you have a bounce-back candidate with the potential for first-round numbers.
7. Justin Morneau-Morneau is always in the MVP talks every year and never quite gets the respect he deserves. He's a legit threat for 30 homers, 120 RBI and a .300 average every year and he can be an MVP for your team as well.
Yo Adrian! Gonzalez Leads The Next Tier
8. Adrian Gonzalez-Gonzalez is one of MLB's top rising stars. His only downside is that he hits in the anti-hitter's park of PETCO in San Diego, but don't let that be the only reason for letting him slip. He built on his break-out season in 2007, by hitting .279 36 hrs 119 RBI and 103 runs on a last-place Padres team. He is oozing with potential.
9. Kevin Youkilis-Youkilis set career highs last season with 29 homers, 115 RBI and a .312 average, but his career numbers suggest he won't top those numbers and won't reach them again. David Ortiz was injured for most of last season, so he had to pick up the slack. Take him, but be cautious before doing it.
10. Derek Lee-Lee might be getting older, but he is a solid option to target in the middle rounds. He is going to drive in 100+ runs, hit at least 20 homers and score close to 100 runs. He will also hit close to .300 and is a consistent and safe pick.
The Rising Stars and Consistent Sleepers
11. Chris Davis-Davis is a legit rising star with untapped power potential. He hits in one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball in a hitter's park. That screams break-out and you will want to jump on his bandwagon before it takes off.
12. Adam Dunn-Dunn doesn't get a love of love in the fantasy world, because he strikes out a lot and hits for a low average. Smart owners will look past that and look at what they're going to get: 40+ hrs, 100+ RBI and close to 100 runs. He's also hitting in an improved Nationals lineup, so don't expect any drop off in the RBI department.
13. Garrett Atkins-Atkins had a tale of two parts. He hit over .300 in the first half with 14 homers, but fell off to .259 in the second-half and hit only .233 on the road for the entire year. With Matt Holliday in Oakland, Atkins might be a risk, but he will also have a healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton hitting in front of him so he won't have a huge drop-off.
14. Carlos Pena-Pena's numbers dipped after his career year in 2007, but you know you're going to get 30+ homers, 100+ RBI and 75+ runs in an improved Rays lineup. He's a sleeper that can explode at any time.
15. Joey Votto-Votto was a late bloomer last year and finished the season with solid numbers. He's only going to improve with the Reds improved lineup and hitting in a hitter's park never hurts.
Best of the Rest
16. Victor Martinez-He will play plenty of first-base this year so he will be eligible. You can't go wrong with a guy that can potentially drive in 100 runs, hit .300 and hit 20+ homers.
17. Aubrey Huff-Huff is a solid sleeper pick that can also play third. He hits in a solid Orioles lineup that will only get better with the eventual call-up of Matt Wieters. He probably won't match last year's career year, but don't expect a major drop-off.
18. Carlos Delgado-Delgado resurrected his career by having a monster second-half last year. He can easily match last year's numbers with at least a .270 average, 30+ homers and 100 RBIs.
19. Conor Jackson-Jackson had a solid season last year and is only coming into his prime. He hits in the middle of the rising D-Backs lineup and should surpass last year's career year.
20. James Loney-The Dodgers lineup is filled with great potential and he has yet to tap his own. He should have his coming out party this year and don't let somebody else enjoy it.
21. Paul Konerko-always a safe pick with his power and RBI numbers.
22. Pablo Sandoval-He is going to break-out in a big way this year so get ready.
23. Carlos Guillen-Injuries cut his season short last year, but you can expect a bounce-back of him and the entire Tigers team.
24. Billy Butler-Has so much potential and can be a bargain in the late rounds.
25. Adam LaRoche-Can't go wrong with him so late in the draft and can hit 30 homers.
26. Jason Giambi-Expect him to have a solid season hitting behind Matt Holliday and being embraced for his A's return.