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2010 Fantasy Projections - NL First Basemen | February
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2010 Top 3 NL First Basemen After last week's look at the top NL Catchers, this week we move on the First Basemen. Again, all dollar values are based on a 12-Team 5x5 format, $260 budget, and are for this season only.
Player AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG $$
Pujols, A - STL 565 123 44 129 12 .331 .441 .644 38
Fielder, P - MIL 577 101 43 122 3 .284 .383 .572 31
Votto, J - CIN 533 95 29 103 5 .313 .400 .559 29
Howard, R - PHI 601 101 40 127 2 .268 .347 .534 27
Gonzalez, A - SD 569 89 38 102 0 .279 .394 .541 26
Lee, D - CHC 551 93 28 101 1 .305 .391 .530 25
Dunn, A - WAS* 546 89 41 104 1 .266 .393 .542 24
Berkman, L - HOU 525 94 29 99 5 .286 .401 .520 22
LaRoche, A - ARI 565 82 27 101 1 .283 .356 .501 21
Sandoval, P - SF* 575 80 23 88 2 .289 .341 .489 20
* Dunn also eligible at OF, Sandoval at 3B. First Base is a premier offensive position in the National League, with at least 10 players likely to earn $20 or more.   Albert Pujols should be the top 1B in 2010 once again. Pujols has been a model of consistency - batting over .300, slugging at least 30 HR, and driving in over 100 runs for each of his nine major league seasons. Last year, he bumped the HR up to 47, and even stole 16 bases. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Pujols lead all NL 1B in every key offensive category. Prince Fielder is coming off his best season, leading the NL in RBI with 141, and putting up a career high 1.014 OPS and 168 OPS+. He should be an outstanding contributor again in 2010, but probably just a notch below Pujols in every category. Joey Votto only played in 131 games last year, but showed that he must now be considered an elite 1B, finishing in the Top 5 in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Votto hit well against both RHP (1.000 OPS) and LHP (.931 OPS), as well as at Home (.968 OPS) and on the Road (.990 OPS). His power may be a notch below Fielder, Howard, Gonzalez, and Dunn, but he should hit for a much higher batting average than all of them. Ryan Howard has hit over 45 HR and 135 RBI for four straight seasons, leading the league in RBI for three of the last four years. However, Howard continues to struggle against LHP, batting only .207 with 6 HR in 222 AB last season. Adrian Gonzalez mashed the ball outside of Petco (28 HR away, 12 at home), and drew a career high 119 BBs last year as teams continued to pitch around him.  Expect more of the same in 2010.  Derrek Lee had a monster 2nd half in 2009 (.336/.436/.656), and also saw a spike in HR to 35 from 20 and 22 the previous years. A big factor was Lee's fly ball rate, which jumped to 45.7% in 2009 from only 33.7% in 2008.  Adam Dunn has been very consistent for 40 HR, 100 RBI, and over 100 BBs for six consecutive seasons. However, his batting average has fluctuated a lot, from as low as .234 to as high as last year's .267.  Dunn has never put together two decent batting average seasons in a row - I think he'll finally do it in 2010.  Dunn continues to be one of the most extreme fly-ball hitters in the Majors, finishing with a 48.5% Fly Ball rate in 2009. Lance Berkman has a career .299 Batting Average, which leaves him just out of the career .300/.400/.500 group that includes Pujols, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, and Todd Helton. He missed some time in 2009 with injuries, but should be back to his typical 30 HR - 100 RBI levels in 2010. Adam LaRoche has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting around 25 HR with a .270 AVG every year. Now he is moving to a great hitters park in Chase Field, and I think we'll see a bump up to a .280-27 HR level. Completing the Top 10 is Pablo Sandoval, who is also eligible at 3B. Sandoval had an outstanding rookie campaign, but he does play in a tough park (didn't bother him in 2009 - 1.012 Home OPS) with a poor lineup around him.  There have also been some concerns about his weight, and his plate discipline isn't that great. I have Sandoval taking a small step backwards in 2010.
Player AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG $$
Loney, J - LA 582 71 14 88 7 .294 .371 .424 17
Helton, T - COL 511 73 15 76 0 .305 .404 .470 15
Prado, M - ATL* 588 77 14 65 4 .301 .353 .435 15
Cantu, J - FLA* 541 63 15 71 2 .268 .317 .418 14
Murphy, D - NYM* 451 64 15 68 5 .277 .333 .441 13
Jones, G - PIT* 477 63 18 65 7 .258 .317 .436 12
Huff, A - SF 485 66 14 73 1 .256 .324 .421 10
* Prado also eligible at 2B; Cantu at 3B; DMurphy and GJones at OF. The next group of 1B-eligible players is led by James Loney. Loney doesn't have the power of the Top 10 First Basemen, but he should reach double figures in HR with a decent batting average and RBI total.  Loney only has a career 35% Fly Ball rate, which is the lowest among the quality 1B, so his HR total should not increase significantly. Todd Helton has not had a 30 HR-100 RBI season since 2003, but seems to have settled into a .300-15-80 hitter.  Like Loney, his Fly Ball rate is low among 1B, and has been dropping steadily for several seasons. Martin Prado qualifies at 1B, but will most likely be drafted as a 2B, so will be discussed in greater detail in that article. Although Jorge Cantu has driven in 95 and 100 runs for the last two seasons, his low OBP and fading power make him a risky play.  With Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez ready to step in at 1B for the Marlins, Cantu can't afford to drop any further if he wants to maintain his playing time. With Carlos Delgado out, Daniel Murphy will battle with Fernando Tatis for the first base job with the Mets. Although not a true power hitter, Murphy should get the bulk of playing time against RHP, and can probably contribute a league-average OPS.  Garrett Jones came out of nowhere to hit .293/.372/.567 (21 HR in 82 games) in 2009 as a 28 year old rookie. This came after playing almost 600 games at the AAA level with totals of .265/.321/.463, although he had shown improvement in each of the last three seasons.  What can we expect in 2010? I still put more stock in the 10 years of average minor league play than in the 3 great months with the Pirates, so I'm going with an average back in the 250s, although with decent power.  Jones may end up as a platoon player, as he really struggled against LHP (.208 AVG). Aubrey Huff followed 2008's strong .304-32 HR-108 RBI season with a drop all the way to .241-15-85.  I think Huff's 2010 will be similar as he moves to a tough hitting park in San Francisco.
Player AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG $$
Hernandez, R - CIN* 407 46 11 61 1 .263 .335 .410 8
Clement, J - PIT 211 26 7 31 0 ..256 .326 .427 3
Tatis, F - NYM* 159 29 6 27 1 .277 .335 .459 2
Sanchez, G - FLA 183 24 6 25 1 .251 .328 .415 1
Morrison, L - FLA 161 22 4 23 2 .273 .361 .422 1
Gload, R - PHI 101 18 4 21 0 .267 .327 .446 1
Giambi, J - COL 115 15 5 23 0 .226 .346 .426 1
Tracy, C - CHN 95 11 3 12 0 .253 .311 .411 0
* RHernandez also eligible at C and FTatis at OF. The remaining players listed probably will not get significant playing time at 1B, although Ramon Hernandez will play considerably at Catcher.   Jeff Clement has an opportunity for playing time if Garrett Jones struggles.  Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez will see time if Cantu struggles or is traded, with Sanchez having more power while Morrison should be better at getting on base.  Fernando Tatis may become at least a platoon player for the Mets.  Ross Gload, Jason Giambi, and Chad Tracy will primarily serve as pinch hitters.