1. Miguel Cabrera - I was IM'ing a friend early last July when Miguel Cabrera came up in the conversation. I laughed when he said Cabrera would end the season with 30 home runs and 110 rbi's despite having only 11/48 at the time. Then Miggy went on to put up .303-48-26-79 in the last 3 calendar months of the season. Oops.
Now he's on top of the AL 1st Baseman heap. In his 5 full seasons he's never missed more than 5 games, he appears to have his weight more under control and he's turning 26 in April. Bank on huge numbers.
2. Mark Teixeira - His move to NY's (new) short porch and strong (old) lineup has many people valuing Teixeira as a late first rounder. He boosted his contact rate in '08 and set a career high walk rate. His worst year in the last 5 is .280-30-105 but, has settled in with averages around .295-35-120. Take him on the back end of round 1. You're paying for his consistency and not as much for elite level top-end numbers.
3. Justin Morneau - This is his age 27 season and he still has Joe Mauer (.419 OBP in '08) in front of him. His walk rate and contact rate have risen the last 4 years in a row. He's a proven player in his prime. If he lasts to the 3rd round scoop him up.
4. Chris Davis - This is where things get crazy. I'm putting a guy with 295 major league AB ahead of more established veterans like Youkilis, Pena, and Huff. Here's why: He's a power monster amongst the likes of Dunn, Howard, and Thome. He burst on the scene in the Texas heat and produced to the tune of .285-17-55 in less than half a season. He'll be in the middle of Texas's potent lineup and should benefit from having Kinsler, Young, and Hamilton hitting in front of him. I love him and you should to. The only problem is, I'm not alone. His Mock Draft Central ADP is 66! 295 major league AB!
5. Kevin Youkilis - '08 was his breakout year but, is it his new norm? I'm saying no. All of his peripheral stats stayed the same from '07 to '08, including his contract rate, groundball, flyball, and line drive rate. His walk rate even went down. What was so different? Youk's HR/flyball percentage doubled from 8% to 15%. Look for him to come back to earth and back to the middle of the AL 1st baseman pack. Expect .295-90-25-95 not the .312-91-29-115 he put up last year.
6. Aubrey Huff - The man with the girl's name started hitting like it was 2004 again. At 32 he set career high's in all 4 hitting categories. A lot of people were pleasantly surprised by the Baltimore offense in '08 with Roberts, Markakis and Mora putting Huff in a place to succeed. With Adam Jones and Matt Weiters moving into the lineup in '09 I see Huff continuing to put up good counting numbers. I would love to say that '08 was a fluke but Huff has this in him.
7. Carlos Pena - I was shocked to hear on Baseball HQ radio today that Carlos Pena had an expected BA over .300 in '07. Should we pay for him expecting this? No but, the fact that he's done this before and that he's 30 means he could do it again. I love this lineup with the addition of Pat the Bat. In front of Pena is Upton and Crawford with Longoria and Burrell hitting behind him. If he can continue to walk and hit homeruns he'll be a monster in 3 categories and you won't mind if he's significantly below average in the other 2. He's the poor man's Ryan Howard but, you can get him 4 rounds later.
8. Mike Jacobs - Going back to Baseball HQ radio I learned that Jacob's expected BA was .280 last year. Here's a guy who had 32-93 in only 477 AB. He'll have the everyday job for KC and appears to have .270-35-110 in him.
9. Jason Giambi - Back where it all started. . . . and by "it" I mean riod filled MVP seasons of OPS's over 1.100. Things are different now but, Giambi still has the power of the thong that will support him into 30 hr's. With Holliday and Cust getting on base around him it's not insane to think he could put up run and RBI totals that will mean value out of Giambi considering how little you'll most likely need to pay to get him.
10. Paul Konerko, Hank Blalock, Carlos Guillen, Lyle Overbay, Billy Butler - The mixed league poo-poo platter. The AL 1st base end game. When deciding between 5 guys of apparent similar value look at playing time, ballpark, surrounding lineup, and health risk. Here's how I'd take them - Blalock, Guillen, Konerko, Butler, Overbay.