Isn’t first base supposed to be the deepest position in fantasy sports? Overall I would have to agree, but in the National League things just don’t appear to be that way. Seven of the top eight first basemen on my draft board reside in the American League, as do nine of my top twelve. I guess that’s what happens when names like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols pack up and head to the AL. That’s not to say that there isn’t talent at the position, but you are going to have to be smart in identifying the value. Let’s take a look:
- Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
- Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
- Michael Morse – Washington Nationals
- Ike Davis – New York Mets
- Gaby Sanchez – Florida Marlins
- Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
- Michael Cuddyer – Colorado Rockies
- Lance Berkman – St. Louis Cardinals
- Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Carlos Lee – Houston Astros
- Lucas Duda – New York Mets
- Bryan LaHair – Chicago Cubs
- Obviously the injury to Ryan Howard does have a significant effect on these rankings. While you could argue that he has been on the decline, a healthy Howard would still be a Top 3 option in the NL. You couple his injury (and at this point lack of certainty on when he will return) with the departure of the other two top options and you realize how desperate the position has become.
- There is hope, though, with Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez all looking like potential stars. Davis is the biggest question mark, given the injury he sustained in 2011 to his ankle that cost him all but 129 AB. However, what he did in that time showed how big of an upside he has. He hit .302 with 7 HR, 25 RBI and 20 R. While you may want to call his .344 BABIP or 17.1% HR/FB as slightly inflated, remember that the walls in CitiField have been brought in. Even if those metrics regress slightly, the results should be there. As long as he’s healthy, he could have a monster 2012.
- Speaking of CitiField, you may not think of Lucas Duda as a 1B (since he’ll be the team’s RF), but he has eligibility there for 2012. He was a monster in the second half for the Mets (.322, 10 HR, 38 RBI in 205 AB) and, like Davis, the adjustment in the dimensions of his home ballpark should help to offset some unrealistic metrics (like his BABIP over the final two months of the year). There’s no doubting his power (27 HR in ’10 across three levels), so look towards him as a sleeper source of power in all formats, but especially in NL-only leagues.
- I know everyone wants to gush about Paul Goldschmidt and his power potential. It’s legitimate, but if he doesn’t improve his strikeout rate he could crush you in the average department. After his promotion last season he was at 29.9%, not an unrealistic mark given his 20.1% rate at Double-A. There should be a reduction, but be careful in overvaluing him.
- Does anyone believe that Lance Berkman can replicate his 2011 success (.301, 31 HR, 94 RBI)? It’s not that there was anything unbelievable, but at 36-years old and without Albert Pujols in the lineup, you almost have to expect a regression.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: