Here is an early look at the first base rankings for 2011. First base is probably the deepest position in the infield for fantasy purposes, led by the best player in baseball-Albert Pujols. The first base position is so deep that there will probably be 3 first baseman taken in the first round in many 2011 fantasy drafts-Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and MIguel Cabrera, and 3 other first baseman who were probably taken in the first round of many 2010 fantasy drafts-Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, and Ryan Howard. And I didn't even mention Adrian Gonzalez, Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn yet.
Here is my early look at the 2011 first base rankings:
1. Albert Pujols, STL-there is not much more that one need to know about King Albert, but he has averaged 41 HRs, 123 RBIs, 119 Runs, with a .331-.426-.624 triple slash line in his 10 years in the majors.
2. Miguel Cabrera, DET-as I have predicted before, Miggy is on the verge of a 40 HR, 130 RBI season-real soon. In his 7 full seasons, he has averaged 33 HRs and 115 RBIs per season. Not bad for a guy turning 27 in April.
3. Joey Votto, CIN-the NL MVP was 2nd in all of baseball with a 7.4 WAR in 2010, behind only Josh Hamilton. Votto had a breakout season in 2010, hitting .324-.424-.600 with 37 HRs, 113 RBIs, 106 runs scored, and 16 SBs. He hits in one of the better hitters parks in baseball so there is no reason to think he can't come close to his 2010 stats in 2011. His BABIP of .361 may be repeatable, as Bill James projects him with a .352 BABIP.
4. Ryan Howard, PHI-to me, Howard had a disappointing season in 2010, as he hit "only" 31 HRs and drove in 108. Prior to the 2010 season, Howard averaged 49 HRs and 143 RBIs in his first 4 full seasons. I see him returning to the 40 HR-130 RBI level in 2011.
5. Mark Teixeira, NYY-Tex got off to a horrendous start in 2010 hitting .136 in March with just 13 HRs in the first three months of the season. He finished the season hitting .256-.365-.481 with 33 HRs and 108 RBIs. I could see him getting back to his career BA of .286 in 2011.
6. Prince Fielder, MIL-Prince is one of those hitters whose stats go on a roller coaster ride from season to season. He went 50-119 in 2007, then 34-102 in 2008, then 46-141 in 2009, followed by his 2010 season where he went 32-83. I believe I read somwhere that 25 or 26 of Fielder's HRs in 2010 were of the solo variety.
7. Adrian Gonzalez, SD-just think what this guy could do hitting in a better lineup and in a better hitter's park. AGonz has hit 30 or more HRs in each of the last 4 seasons, and has driven in 100+ runs in 3 of the last 4 seasons. AGonz doesn't strike out alot, has a very good walk rate, and hits for power. He will never steal alot of bases, but he is, in a word, consistent. And once he is traded, he could vault up these rankings.
8. Kendry Morales, LAA-Morales will forever be known for tearing up his knee in a post game celebration as he pounced on home plate after hitting a walk-off HR. Morales was having an excellent season before injuring his knee, as he was hitting .290-.346-.487 with 11 HRs, 39 RBIs and 29 runs scored in 193 ABs.
9. Paul Konerko, FA-Konerko had an excellent season in 2010, his walk year, hitting .312-.393-.584 with 39 HRs, 111 RBIs and 89 runs scored. Konerko is a free agent this offseason, and his ranking could change depending on where he plays in 2011.
10. Justin Morneau, MIN-Morneau missed alot of time in 2010 due to post-concussion syndrome. When healthy, he hit .345-.437-.618 with 18 HRs and 56 RBIs in less than 300 ABs. His ranking may increase based on his health in spring training.
11. Kevin Youkilis, BOS-even though he played in just 102 games, Youk hit .307-.411-.564 with 19 HRs, 62 RBIs, and 77 runs scored. Youk could eventually move to 3B should the Red Sox sign or trade for an everyday first baseman with Adrian Beltre leaving for free agency.
12. Adam Dunn, FA-Dunn is one of the most consistent HR hitters in baseball, and hit 38 HRs for the second consecutive year. In the last 7 years, Dunn has averaged 40 HRs and 101 RBIs. He won't hit for a high BA, but you can overlook the BA when he puts up a 40-100 season for you.
Billy Butler, KC-Butler has not hit for much power in his brief major league career, and maybe he never will, but he has 96 doubles in the last two seasons, and at some point, some of those doubles could turn into HRs. Butler hits for a very good BA (.300 in each of the last two seasons), solid BB rate (10% in 2010) and he doesn't strike out alot (just 13% in 2010). With first base prospect Eric Hosmer nipping at his heels, it is time for Butler to show he can hit for power, otherwise, he could be dealt this time next year.