In our newest installment of the Draft Day Debate, we look at two of the top first basemen, Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez.
Votto is coming off an MVP year while Gonzalez seems set for his best year yet as he enters the Red Sox offensive powerhouse. While undoubtedly fantasy owners will choose Albert Pujols first off the board and first for 1B, who will be the better pick as the second 1B to go? You decide...
The Case for Joey Votto by Tyler Becker
If you haven’t participated in your draft already, you will eventually notice the incredible depth at first base this year. There are about seven first basemen ranked in the top 20 overall players, so taking one of these guys means spending your first or second round pick.
With this investment, you better be getting what you paid for in fantasy baseball terms. That means runs, power, average, and maybe even some steals thrown in. One of this season’s first basemen, who will give you each of the previously mentioned is Joey Votto, Cincinnati’s 27-year old star first basemen.
Votto had a breakout year in 2010, hitting .324 with 37 home runs, knocking in 113, scoring 106 runs, and swiping 16 bags. He was also one of only nine players in all of baseball to score 100 runs and record 100 RBI last year.
In addition to his stellar 2010 season, Votto has had a steady progression in almost every statistic since 2008. Below are Votto’s lines from his 2008, 2009, and 2010 season.
2008 (151 GP): 69 R, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 7 SB, .297 AVG, .874 OPS
2009 (131 GP): 82 R, 25 HR, 84 RBI, 4 SB, .322 AVG, .981 OPS
2010 (150 GP): 106 R, 37 HR, 113 RBI, 16 SB, .324 AVG, 1.024 OPS
Votto will certainly not continue at this pace, but he can definitely stay around his 2010 numbers. Most of the Reds’ last year supporting cast will be in the lineup in 2011, and with the emergence of Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce as offensive threats in the outfield, Votto could potentially see an increase in runs and RBI this year.
To go along with his steadiness, Votto is a reliable fantasy stud year-round. His pre and post All-Star break numbers are chillingly consistent as you can see below:
Career Pre-All Star: 819 AB, 131 R, 46 HR, 142 RBI, 13 SB, .310 AVG, .942 OPS
Career Post-All Star: 807 AB, 137 R, 44 HR, 156 RBI, 15 SB, .318 AVG, .974 OPS
Votto exemplifies the top tier first baseman that is ideal for your fantasy lineup. Especially with the extra speed you get with him, Votto gives you consistency, confidence, and elite status with a first or second round selection.
Looking at Adrian Gonzalez, his move to Boston and Fenway Park is a great change. Basically, just getting out of Petco Park is a plus for him. However, I like Votto significantly more than Adrian this year. Gonzalez is going within the first two rounds of drafts this year, but is less of an all-around player than Votto. Adrian has only reached the .300 AVG mark once in his career, and the .400 OBP mark once as well (Votto’s OBP in 2009 and 2010 were .414 and .424 respectively).
Gonzalez has also had minor shoulder discomfort coming off surgery. It is unlikely to impact him during the regular season, but a late start to spring training could mean a couple of more weeks than expected to settle into Boston’s lineup and get comfortable with his new surroundings and transition to the American league.
Votto has proven himself as a top three first baseman, and a sure thing top-10 player overall. Even if you see no increase in production from Votto this year, he is undoubtedly capable of putting up his 2010 numbers once again.
I’m on “Team Votto” in 2011.
The Case for Adrian Gonzalez by Nick Polak
The Red Sox are a team that every opposing pitcher is going to look at and fear this year, there’s simply no denying it (besides those select Yankee fans that still think their lineup is better).
The fact is, the Red Sox will be putting out a lineup that will presumably look something like the following…
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury
LF- Carl Crawford
2B- Dustin Pedroia
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
3B- Kevin Youkilis
DH- David Ortiz
RF- J.D. Drew
SS- Marco Scutaro
C- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (One of my favorite names in sports)
This lineup just SCREAMS playoff (and possibly further) potential. The Sox undoubtedly made the biggest waves this offseason when they brought in Crawford and Gonzalez to anchor this frighteningly powerful lineup. In doing so, they not only made themselves a far better team, but they helped to put Adrian Gonzalez near the top of the list of “America’s Next Top First Basemen” (ABC, NBC, and FOX are all currently considering it for primetime).
This season will be entering uncharted territory for A-Gon, as he has never had any offensive support more notable than Kevin Kouzmanoff in his career (debatably). Not to mention that he played half of his games at the famously, spacious Petco Park.
Yet despite all of these excuses for Gonzalez to be nothing more than an average baseball player, he has consistently been a monster. He’s been averaging around 35 home runs, 105 RBI and around a .285 average over the past four seasons.
Consider those things when you now factor in the idea that he will be playing in a hitter-friendly park (especially for lefties), along with the fact that several elite offensive players from all different angles will now surround him. Not to mention, he’s only 28 years old.
Even with A-Gon nursing an injury this spring, he’s going to be fine for opening day, and don’t be surprised to see a stat line that reads something like .290 AVG, with 35+ HR and 110+ RBI.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Joey Votto is another potent offensive talent that is not to be taken lightly. You really can’t go wrong with drafting either of these phenomenal first basemen, so don’t be too distraught if you miss out on A-Gon, because taking Votto is a wonderful consolation prize.
However, if presented with the choice, fantasy owners should be heading down the A-Gon path this season. His new upside potential is simply too massive to ignore.
Written by Tyler Becker & Nick Polak exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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