Spring Training is upon us, which means that not long from now teams will be taking the field for the first meaningful baseball games of the season. The NL East might be the best division in the NL, and it should be a tight race in 2009.
Instead of just picking who I think will win, I will be breaking down all of the positions and ranking the players who will be starting at them. Here is the preview for first basemen.
Each player will have some projected stats for 2009, and because I don't have time to make accurate projections for complete teams other than the Braves, I will be taking the projections from MLB.com
Howard is one of the best hitting first basemen in the MLB. Although his average won't be that impressive, his RBI and HR totals will likely be among the league leaders in 2009, and you can probably expect him to be in the MVP hunt once again.
2008 Stats: .251/.339/.543 48 HR, 146 RBI, 105 R, 1 SB, 113 RC in 610 AB
2009 Projections: .269/.366/.571 49 HR, 133 RBI, 99 R, 1 SB
Washington's biggest acquisition of the off-season will likely be playing first base, although he can play in the OF. Dunn has put up consistent power numbers in Cincinnati, and, although his average won't be great, he will have a good OBP because of all the walks he draws.
2008 Stats: .236/.386/.513 40 HR, 100 RBI, 79 R, 2 SB, 111 RC in 517 AB
2009 Projections: .246/.381/.521 39 HR, 99 RBI, 97 R, 4 SB
Delgado had a monster second half in 2008, and finished the year with great numbers. However, he is getting older, and I doubt that he will be able to repeat his 2008 performance in 2009, but he still will likely reach 30 HR and 100 RBI.
2008 Stats: .271/.353/.518 38 HR, 115 RBI, 96 R, 1 SB 108 RB in 598 AB
2009 Projections: .264/.347/.488 33 HR, 104 RBI, 86 R, 1 SB
One look at the other starting first basemen in the NL East and you see that Kotchman is the opposite of the power hitting sluggers that they are.
He is the best defensive 1B in the Division, and likely will hit for a higher average than the others. Although he doesn't have tremendous HR power, he should improve on the numbers that he put up the second half with Atlanta at the end of last year.
2008 Stats: .272/.328/.410 14 HR, 74 RBI, 65 R, 2 SB, 67 RB in 525 AB
2009 Projections: .287/.351/.440 15 HR, 77 RBI, 72 R, 1 SB
Remember 2005 when Cantu seemed to be the a certain all-star at second base for years to come? Well, after a couple of down years Cantu was back in 2008.
He could easily finish the year with better numbers than Kotchman, but I am expect his numbers to drop off some, so he finishes last in the 1B rankings.
2008 Stats: .277/.327/.481 29 HR, 95 RBI, 92 R, 6 SB, 97 RC in 628 AB
2009 Projections: .270/.313/.445 18 HR, 73 RBI, 65 R, 3 SB