Taking A Closer Look at First Base for 2013: Goldschmidt, Hart and Davis

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 03: Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks swings the bat against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Coming into the 2012 season, first base looked so deep. Weren’t quick enough to snag Albert Pujols or Joey Votto? No problem. Missed out on Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder? No biggie.

As the season winds down, those who failed to land one of the big boys probably regret selecting Eric Hosmer or Michael Cuddyer as their everyday first baseman. Similarly, those who secured Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira early are probably experiencing the same feelings of regret, as neither player has lived up to expectations.

On Monday, Ray gave you an early look at his rankings for first base in 2013. Looking through the list, what stood out to me was the uncertainty of the position. What looked like a safe position in 2012 doesn’t quite look the same heading into 2013.

Will Votto and Ryan Howard bounce back from injury? Will Teixeira continue his downward slide? Will Fielder hit for more power in his second year in Detroit? Did Edwin Encarnacion finally turn the corner?

With so many questions surrounding first base in 2013 – and the loss of Cabrera’s first base eligibility in Detroit – the question of who will be your first baseman next season is an important one.

If you decide to wait on drafting a first baseman in 2013, here are three players I believe are in for career years, after the jump:

Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

Ray ranked Goldschmidt 10th on his list, and I’m glad he did. Not only is Goldschmidt capable of providing elite power numbers, but the 245-pounder old can provide a boost in steals too. Among first baseman, only three players have more than 8 steals and Goldschmidt’s 16 steals ranks as best of the bunch. As Ray pointed out, a power-hitting first baseman capable of producing double-digit steals is an extremely valuable commodity, and Goldschmidt’s power will only get better in 2013.

After hitting 30 home runs at Triple-A in 2011, Goldschmidt has hit 18 long ones in 516 plate appearances this season. While that ranks just 15th among first baseman, the signs for more power are definitely there. Goldschmidt is currently hitting .287/.360/.497 with a respectable .210 ISO. Most of his power came after hitting only 4 home runs through May, but Goldschmidt’s ISO jumped from .221 in May to a ridiculous .390 in June before returning to .223 in July.

While a .390 ISO is unstainable, it shows the immense power potential Goldschmidt possesses. After Votto, Goldschmidt is your best bet at first base in the NL. In three full minor league seasons, Goldschmidt has hit more than 30 home runs twice, and I expect more of the same at the big league level, starting in 2013.

Corey Hart, Brewers

Hart checked in at No. 17 on Ray’s rankings, but I think Hart’s .278/.340/.514 line in 2012 deserves a little more love. Among first baseman, Hart’s 3.4 WAR ranks fourth best in baseball. Only Prince Fielder (4.0), Edwin Encarnacion (3.9) and Albert Pujols (3.5) are better. And here’s how Hart stacks up among first baseman in the standard five-by-five roto categories.

batting average: .278 (t-8th)

home runs: 27 (5th)

stolen bases: 5 (5th)

runs: 86 (1st)

RBI: 77 (10th)

2012 marks the third consecutive year Hart has hit more than 26 home runs with at least 80 runs. And while last year’s 63 RBI were underwhelming, he’s well on his way to hitting the 80 RBI mark for the fourth time in six years. Maybe it’s time we start viewing Hart as more than just a fallback option at first base. He's currently the 7th best first baseman on ESPN's Player Rater, and I think he’s a top-10 first baseman again in 2013. Draft him with confidence.

Ike Davis, Mets

Davis was a trendy pick to ascend to the near-elite tier among first baseman prior to 2012 drafts. Then he went out and hit .185/.241/.309 in April and .154/.214/.282 in May. Davis’ current line of .222/.304/.442 isn’t great to look at, but the 26 home runs and 78 RBI in 514 plate appearances are.

Ray didn’t rank Davis in his top 20, and that’s reasonable considering Davis has battled injuries and rollercoaster-itis in his short professional career. Davis’ big problem is an awful .168/.209/.323 triple slash line against lefties. But against righties, he’s hitting .252/.348/.503 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. If he can improve his approach against lefties, we have a first baseman capable of hitting .260 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Considering that’s basically what Teixeira has become, I’d rather take Davis at a lesser cost than reaching for Teixeira early in drafts.

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