Having a strong and consistent first baseman is a good cornerstone to any fantasy lineup. These guys are not easy to find though.
Elite first baseman are going to cost an elite draft pick, and no one wants to miss on an early pick. So, take a moment to get to familiar with the five best first basemen heading into 2013.
No. 5: Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion entered last season having never hit more than 26 home runs in a single season. He exploded for 42 last season.
While this certainly raises some concerns that his performance was a fluke, there are signs that he can put up similar numbers this year.
Encarnacion began last season in better shape, had a quicker bat and exercised more patience at the plate. If he employs the same approach to this season, he should find similar success.
Also, his power didn't come from one hot stretch. He was a consistent performer all year. Of his 42 home runs, 19 came after the All-Star break. Also, he had just a 14.6 percent strikeout rate last season.
Encarnacion should be viewed as a safe pick.
No. 4: Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez's power numbers have been on a steady decline since he belted 40 in 2009. Last year, he hit just 18 home runs.
However, during this time, his contact rate has stayed consistent, and he has hit at least .298 in each of the past three seasons.
Gonzalez should benefit from increased team stability this season with the promising Dodgers. This guy is a lock to hit around .300 and drive in over 100 runs, and I expect his home runs to climb back up a bit, although I wouldn't count on him to climb past the 20s.
No. 3: Joey Votto
Joey Votto struggled with injuries last season, which makes expending a high pick on him this year a little alarming. There are certainly no guarantees he won't miss serious time once again.
The other concern here is that after Votto did return, he played in 30 games—playoffs included—and he did not hit a single home run. Prior to missing time with the injury, he was hitting .342 with 14 homers, 49 RBI, a .465 on-base percentage and a .604 slugging percentage for the season.
Still, Votto has proven his worth on a consistent basis. He plays in a hitter-friendly park and he is part of a strong lineup. Given a whole offseason to get healthy, it is safe to expect a strong year from this former MVP.
No. 2: Albert Pujols
It's been a while since Albert Pujols hasn't been first on this list.
However, the all-world slugger is on a decline. His OPS has dropped in each of the past five seasons, and last season he finished with his lowest marks in batting average and home runs in his career.
However, some of this is undoubtedly due to Pujols making the jump to the American League. He got off to a slow start to the season and picked it up as the year rolled along.
While Pujols may not be able to reach the lofty numbers he put up in his prime years, he is still going to be a supremely productive hitter in a revamped Angels lineup.
No. 1: Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder is the new king of first basemen. Fielder has been amazingly consistent at the plate, and his switch in leagues did little to slow him down last year.
Fielder, 28, is clearly right in the prime of his career. While he hit 30 home runs last season, which was his lowest mark since 2006, he posted a career-best .313 batting average.
His improved batting average appears to be sustainable as his contact rate has been rapidly progressing. Last season, Prince had a strikeout rate of just 12.2 percent.
Fielder has a great approach at the plate, he is remarkably durable and he is in a good lineup. This is a safe pick to be the leader of a lineup.
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