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Position Profiles: First Base

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Catcher – First Base – Second BaseShortstopThird BaseOutfieldDH
Starting Pitcher
Relief Pitcher
Draft Kit Home

As usual, first base is loaded with heavy hitters. So much so that seven of them are likely to be gone by the third round of your draft. Here’s where you get your cornerstone guy, the stud that paces your team’s offensive production. Last year, amid a few big-name disappointments, there were career years, comeback stories and impressive rookie debuts. It all adds up to a talent pool that’s deeper than ever. Let’s dive in…

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, STL
Not sure why I ranked him first. Last season, Pujols had the lowest batting average of his career. Clearly, the guy’s finished. Just having a laugh. Take him first in every draft. Pay top dollar. Pujols will continue to be a beast in his age-31 season.

2. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Votto take over as the MV1B (Most Valuable First Baseman). He broke out last year, but it was a continuation of the stats he was on pace for in his truncated 2009 campaign. Draft Joey and don’t look back…he’s “Vottomatic.”

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET
Seems like Cabrera should be a lot older than 27, right? Scary to think he’s just entering his prime. The two players ahead of him on this list have a big edge in stolen bases, but Cabrera is right there with them in every other category. With Victor Martinez adding protection in the lineup, Cabrera could eclipse the 40-HR plateau for the first time.

4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, BOS
Gotta say, I’m salivating over the change of uniforms. (I’m a Boston fan.) I expect a 5-10 HR spike, now that Gonzalez has left the vast wasteland of Petco Park for cozy confines Fenway. It’s a miracle Adrian ever saw a single pitch to hit with the Double-A lineup the Padres put around him. Look for a ton of RBIs with jackrabbits Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury setting the table.

5. Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY
It finally happened. Teixeira dug himself such a deep hole in April that he couldn’t climb all the way out to post a respectable batting average (only .256). But his previous six seasons were in the .280-.310 range. It’s tough to stomach the annual slow starts, but despite a hiccup last season, Teix is money by the time the baseline chalk settles in September.

6. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI
We’re smack dab in the middle of the frustrating first baseman trio that took a stats hit in 2010. Howard was off his normal pace by about 15 home runs and 30 RBI. Ouch. He did miss time with a sprained ankle. Look for him to bounce back like a superball. No way Howard’s pulling a “Mo Vaughn” just yet.

7. Prince Fielder, 1B, MIL
Whoa, big fella! What happened last season? Fielder went from a fantasy monster to a fantasy mystery in 2010. He had a whopping 58 fewer RBI than his previous season. Of course, you have to look at the bigger picture. Recent history is a good indicator of future performance, but it’s not the only one. Let’s give Fielder, Teixeira and Howard a mulligan. They’ve earned it.

8. Kendrys Morales, 1B, LAA
(Just added the “s” after “Kendry.”) Morales suffered a moronic season-ending leg injury on a home run celebration last season. Don’t sleep on him. He was well on his way to proving ’09 was no fluke, and I expect him to pick up where he left off. Expect an average around .295 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

9. Kevin Youkilis, 1B, BOS
“You kill us!” That’s what his fantasy owners were screaming when Youk went down with a thumb injury in early August. Still, he’s a good bet to hit .300 with 25 homers if he can make it through his usual 145 games. To begin the season, Youkilis likely only qualifies at first base, but he’ll take over the hot corner, so the extra eligibility will be a plus.

10. Adam Dunn, 1B, CHW
You want consistent? 38, 38, 40, 40, 40, 40. Those are Dunn’s lofty home run totals over the past six season. You can count on three things in life: death, taxes and Adam Dunn hitting around 40 home runs. Now that he’s in the launching pad known as U.S. Cellular Field, 40 home runs is the baseline for his power projections. Absolutely love him in Chicago.

11. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN
I was one of the unfortunate souls who owned Morneau last season. He teased us with out-of-this-world production in the first half. Then he went down with a really bad concussion. It’s the worst type of injury to gauge. I waited…and waited…and waited for Morneau to get cleared. No definitive word ever came. It would’ve been better if he just fractured his leg like Morales. But you know what? I’m going to take a chance on Morneau again this season, provided he looks recovered in the spring. His concussion happened on a weird base-running play and it’s unlikely something of that nature will happen this season. If you’re looking for an injury-risk player with high upside, Morneau’s your man.

12. Paul Konerko, 1B, CWS
I love when guys get left for dead, only to rise from the ashes to deliver unfathomable fantasy value. Konerko was quite the phoenix, firing up career-year digits at the ripe old age of 34. No chance he hits .312 again, but you could see Pauly “put it on the board” another 30 times this season. “YES!”

13. Billy Butler, 1B, KC
Seems like we’ve been waiting a decade for this kid’s power to show up. Thing is, he’s just 24 years old. It’s coming. So is this the year he pops 30+ big flies? Probably not, but mid-20s is very doable. Butler already has the batting average thing down. Just don’t expect mega runs and RBI…his opportunities to score and drive ‘em in will be severely hampered by a very budget-friendly lineup in KC.

14. Carlos Lee, 1B/OF, HOU
“El Caballo” is was more like “El Burro” for most of last season. Lee rallied to post respectable power numbers, but his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all dropped by over 50 points. With a steady track record in previous seasons, it’s safe to think Lee still has a little horsepower left at age 34.

15. Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, SF
Huff was an unsung hero for the Giants and fantasy owners in 2010. Still, many experts aren’t singing his praises heading into this season. While consistency has never been Huff’s strong suit, I see no reason why he can’t end up in the ballpark of .290-25-85.

16. Derrek Lee, 1B, BAL
Lee was the definition of mediocre last season, as he bounced from the Cubs to the Braves. I think the 14-year vet has one more 30-homer season in his bat, and there are few better places to gather at bats than Camden Yards.

17. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, FLA
Sanchez is the type of player that wins fantasy championships. Solid, consistent numbers from a rookie with a very small price tag. This season, fantasy analysts will do more gabbing about Gaby, as he flies up the rankings. Just don’t expect a huge improvement in the power department. Think around 22 long balls and anything above that is gravy.

18. Ike Davis, 1B, NYM
If you owned Davis in a league of 14 teams or more, there were plenty of reasons to like Ike. The promising Mets sophomore has the tools to be a cornerstone first basemen at Citi Field. You can count on modest development in all of the major stat categories.

19. Carlos Pena, 1B, CHC
Like chicks, I dig the long ball, which is why I’ve always liked Pena, despite his unsightly batting averages. Well, last year really put that affinity to the test, as the slugger came in south of the Mendoza Line. Now on the north side of Chicago, I think Pena will get back to respectability with 30 HR and an average over .240.

20. Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, MIN
Cuddyer’s game is steadier than the Metrodome roof. Okay, so maybe that’s not saying much, but this guy’s great to have on your bench as insurance. You can pencil in a .275 average, 16 HR, 80 RBI and 90 runs.

21. Lance Berkman, 1B/OF, NYY
I can’t stick a fork in Lance just yet. There may be a Puddle of Youth in St. Louis, from which Berkman can salvage a few sips.

22. Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS
Last year, it seemed like no one wanted to touch LaRoche with a 10-foot pole. A bit of a head-scratcher, since he fnished with 25 HR and 100 RBI. Hey, if you need cheap power, you could do a lot worse.

23. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
The second coming of Jason Heyward? Freeman’s a big kid who has a shot to lock up 1B for the Braves for a long time. For keeper leagues, I’d bump him up at least a few spots.

24. Matt LaPorta, 1B, CLE
Sure, he was “Matt LaPorta-Potty” last season. But remember, this is the guy the Indians got for CC Sabathia. And something has to go right in Cleveland… eventually.

25. Justin Smoak, 1B, SEA
“The Smoak Monster” was just an illusion in his rookie season. Going from one of the best ballparks for hitters to one of the worst won’t help, but there’s some talent there. This far down, I’d rather take a chance on a young guy with potential than suffer through the known mediocrity of a James Loney or Lyle Overbay.

NOTE: Players like Buster Posey and Mike Napoli were left out of the rankings because they have far more value at the catcher position.

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