2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: The Top 15 First Basemen

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: The Top 15 First Basemen
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Just like years past, 2011 is loaded with All-Star first basemen to roster on your fantasy baseball team.

Last season, 15 different first basemen hit 25 home runs. That’s not including Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis or Kendrys Morales, whose seasons were cut short due to injury.

This year, 15 first basemen made my 2011 Big Board, including an astounding eight in the top 20. Bottom line: there’s plenty of pop at the position to go around.

Click on a player’s name for more in-depth analysis and projections.

1. Albert Pujols (1B – STL): His career averages (119 runs, 41 HRs, 123 RBI, 8 steals, .331 batting average) haven’t been matched in a single season since Larry Walker posted a redonkulous 143/49/130/33/.366 line in 1997.

2. Miguel Cabrera (1B – DET): Entering his age-28 season and still improving. He’s had 33 HRs in six of the last seven seasons and no less than 103 RBI and a .292 batting average per in seven full seasons.

3. Adrian Gonzalez (1B – BOS): His career home/road splits suggest 50 HRs/.315 batting average are entirely possible in Boston’s lineup.

4. Joey Votto (1B – Cin): His 2010 campaign was the first 100/35/100/15/.320 season from a first basemen not named Pujols since Derrek Lee posted a 120/45/107/15/.335 line in 2005.

5. Ryan Howard (1B – Phi): Four-year streak of at least 45 HRs and 136 RBI ended last year due to ankle injury that forced him to miss three weeks. Thirty-one-year-old’s contact rates are trending upward while his strikeout rates are on the decline; he remains capable of 40 HRs and .275 batting average.

6. Prince Fielder (1B – Mil): Since 2006, he’s produced HR totals of 28, 50, 34, 46 and 32, with RBI totals ranging from 81 (2006) to 141 (2009), while batting as low as .261 (2010) and as high as .299 (2009). Notwithstanding, he’s never missed more than five games in any of his first five seasons.

7. Mark Teixeira (1B – NYY): Line-drive, fly-ball and strikeout rates are all trending in the wrong direction, which may help explain .256 batting average in 2010. 30 HRs and 100 RBI are near-locks, but a .300 average isn’t.

8. Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B – Bos): Increased OPS in each of his seven seasons. Better three-year batting average than Wright, Longoria, Rodriguez and Zimmerman. Three-year averages across the board top that of Zimmerman.

9. Adam Dunn (1B/DH – ChW): Only Pujols has hit more HRs since 2004. Dunn’s incredible durability (missed a total of 26 games over the last seven seasons) has been overshadowed by his notoriously low batting average. Given a season in U.S. Cellular Field in the middle of the White Sox’s order, he’s due for a monster season.

10. Justin Morneau (1B – Min): Wide range of HR (23, 30, 18) and batting averages (.300, .274, .345) in last three seasons. He’s endured a long recovery from a concussion last July but appears on track to start Opening Day. Target Field could limit power potential, but he remains capable of 30/100/.280 season.

11. Victor Martinez (C/1B – Det): Only catcher to post 100-RBI season since 2004, and he’s done it three times. Leads backstops in HRs over the last seven seasons (129), and now bats in the same lineup as Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.

12. Billy Butler (1B—KC): Low fly-ball rate (34.0 percent last season) makes it difficult to generate big power numbers. However, a return to 20 bombs in 2011 is likely, and there’s evidence (follow the link) that the 25-year-old can still develop 25-plus HR power.

13. Buster Posey (C/1B—SF): Scouts have always noted that power isn’t his best tool. Poor home splits (.258/.304/.419) are a reflection of AT&T Park, but his 31.8% FB rate and 10.7% HR/FB rate at home are more realistic than the .351/.406/.587, 34.4% FB, 19.7% HR/FB he posted on the road. He will hit for average, not 20-plus power.

14. Kendrys Morales (1B—LAA): Was on pace for another stellar year in 2010 (11 HRs, 39 RBI, .290 in 51 games) before he broke his leg celebrating a walkoff grand slam on May 29. He’s capable of 30/100/.300, but DL-stint to start the season will cut into his production.

15. Ben Zobrist (1B, 2B, OF—TB): Advanced batting eye (14.0 percent walk rate) and fly-ball rate (38.1 percent) remained in tact last year but deflated HR/FB rate (6.0 percent) and unfortunate BABIP (.273) kept him from repeating 2009 line: 91 runs, 27 HRs, 91 RBI, 17 steals and a .297 batting average.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDERS

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