Top 20 First Baseman for 2009

It’s that time of year to kick off our positional rankings.  We’ll kick things off with the first baseman, and what is there to really say?  As allows, first base is one of the deeper positions available to fantasy owners, though there is a lot of debate about the order starting at about #10 to the bottom of the list.  Let’s take a look at how I ranked them:

  1. Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
  3. Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
  4. Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
  5. Lance Berkman – Houston Astros
  6. Justin Moreneau – Minnesota Twins
  7. Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
  8. Adrian Gonzalez – San Diego Padres
  9. Kevin Youkilis – Boston Red Sox
  10. Chris Davis – Texas Rangers
  11. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
  12. Derek Lee – Chicago Cubs
  13. Carlos Delgado – New York Mets
  14. Carlos Pena – Tampa Bay Rays
  15. Garrett Atkins – Colorado Rockies
  16. Aubrey Huff – Baltimore Orioles
  17. James Loney – Los Angeles Dodgers
  18. Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox
  19. Adam LaRoche – Pittsburgh Pirates
  20. Jorge Cantu – Florida Marlins

Just Missed: Mike Jacobs, Kansas City Royals; Jason Giambi, Free Agent; Conor Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks; Casey Blake, Los Angeles Dodgers; Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants

  • Am I overvaluing youngsters like Davis or Votto? Possibly, but given the other options I’d rather take the player with the bigger upside as opposed to the player who is likely to fall short of expectations. I’ve already compared Votto to Lee (which you can read here) and concluded that I’d take Votto first. Considering that I’d rather take Davis then either of them, the rankings make sense.
  • I really don’t believe that Jorge Cantu is going to put up similar numbers to his 2008, but his 29 HR are too good to ignore. I wouldn’t draft him as anything better then a corner infielder, however, as a fall-off is certainly likely.
  • Paul Konerko in the Top 20? I know everyone is ready to declare him a player on the downside of his career, and after hitting just .240 with 22 HR I really can’t blame them. Prior to ’08 he had hit 30+ HR for 4 consecutive seasons and is a career .277 hitter, so I just can’t believe that he’s fallen that far that quickly. A rebound season is definitely a possibility, so look to him as a sleeper late in your draft who could enjoy a significant rebound.
  • Those who read the site know just how high I am on Pablo Sandoval, but as a 1B he just isn’t a great investment. I’d much rather have him as a catcher, but we’ll all have to wait a little while on that.
  • Does anyone expect a repeat performance from Carlos Delgado or Aubrey Huff? I certainly don’t, but their 2008 performances were too good to ignore, as is their track record. Still, I wouldn’t draft them as my starter.
  • It almost seems like a lifetime ago that Prince Fielder hit 50 HR, but we are just one season removed and there certainly is a possibility of him returning to that type of form. I know he’s listed as #7 on this list, but he has plenty of potential upside if others in your league decide that 2007 was an aberration. Still, there are a lot of question marks surrounding him, making him one of the tougher players to rank on this list.
  • Garrett Atkins is a solid player, but he’s much better suited as a solid 3B option as opposed to a fallback 1B. Keep that in mind. Still, a rebound from a disappointing ’08 where he failed to hit .300 or drive in 100 RBI should be in store, as he’ll now be the centerpiece of the Rockies offense with Matt Holliday now playing in Oakland.
  • I considered Mike Jacobs for that bottom spot, but opted to leave him off and in the just missed category. The average is right among the worst of the potential options, and the power may not quite be repeatable. That’s not to say he doesn’t have potential, but I think there’s a better chance of a .260, 25 HR season then there is of him exceeding the 32 he posted last season. That puts him just outside looking in.
  • I know a lot of people are high on Conor Jackson, but he just hasn’t shown the potential for enough power to make him worthwhile to me. A first baseman who hit just 12 HR in 540 AB? Granted, part of the problem was that he failed to hit one in August & September, buy he also only had 1 apiece in May & June. That clearly isn’t enough, even with a .300 average, to make him worth anything past a last resort option.
  • Adam LaRoche showed once again that he’s a tremendous second half player, but not a good buy for the first half. If you can draft him as a reserve and have the room to stash him away, then why not? A .304 average with 14 HR in just 181 AB just doesn’t lie. That marks the third straight season where he has hit above .300 after the All-Star Break. If he could finally put it together for a full season, he’d be an absolute beast, but time will tell. I’ll take a closer look at him as we move closer to draft day.

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think I overvalued?  Undervalued?

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.


  1. Ryan says:

    Nice job oon this. I’d probably switch Prince and Adrian, but that’s nitpicking.

  2. big o says:

    eric :
    this list is pretty spot on (imo) … especially the top 11 .

    for next year (at this time) , i’d expect morneau and berkman to drop , and fielder and youkilis to rise .

    these “values” will definately affect my draft-day decisions .

    why not wait 2 or 3 rounds and grab youk ? let others pick the older berkman in round 2 , if they like . (you KNOW how similar their 2008 numbers were …. downright spooky).

    delgado ? probably won’t be on this list next year …. but your assessment of 1st basemen without proven power numbers is accurate , imo .

    thanks for being one of the most prolific , as well as the most “rational” , baseball writers on the net .

    i enjoy (and respect) your thought processes .

  3. butchwoyme says:

    I second this emotion: “thanks for being one of the most prolific, as well as the most “rational” baseball writers on the net.”

    Great list. Spot on. I agree about Konerko, but moreso agree about Davis and Votto — although I might flip them just because we know Votto will be 1B. Davis could end up in a variety of positions. That might be more Dynasty League thinking though.

  4. C Bass says:


    I love the list. #2-9 are all great options and can finish in any order, there should only be questions about 10-20. Votto is the real deal and plays in Cincy so I like the sleeper potential.

    However I do have serious doubts about your other sleeper Chris Davis. You can’t ignore the strikeouts here. If you’re in a league that takes away points for Ks its huge….if you’re in a league that is based on OBP it’s less of a concern but his lack of walks and inability to make contact is a concern.

    Pitchers and coaches now have film and a better scouting report on this kid and they will definitely look at what has worked in producing those 88Ks in 80 games. In addition he’s never played a full season so he might I can see 30 HRs 100RBI with a low BA and OBP. Think of him as a Carlos Pena but without the walks.

    I think his upside is the spot below James Loney on your list.

    I also think Aubrey Huff will repeat much of what he did last season. Baltimore is a perfect ballpark for his style of hitting and he’ll get plenty of fastballs to hit since they’ll be down multiple runs many times once again. I’d move him above Derek Lee on this list. Otherwise Its perfect. Great analysis.

  5. C Bass says:

    Sorry I meant to say he might tire out a bit towards the end of the season in the above post.

  6. Chuck says:

    I really like the list. The points afterwards were very helpful in seeing your reasoning. A little curious about Carlos Pena. Do you think 2008, even with the hand injury is about what we can expect going forward? What are his chances of getting close to 2007 value?

  7. admin says:

    Chuck – Just looking at his track record, it’s tough for me to imagine him returning to the value he had in ’07. I would probably project him out just slightly better then his ’08 numbers, but not too much honestly. I guess I’m just not a believer, but I’ll go more in depth with this in a future Quick Hit.

    Ryan – It’s funny you mention the Fielder/Gonzalez rankings, because that was one of my last decisions to make. I agree that they could go either way.

    C Bass – I’m just not high on Loney at all, so there’s no way I’m ranking Davis below him, probably ever. Loney doesn’t have the same power potential in my opinion while Davis has the potential to be an absolute monster, though I do agree that the average could be closer to .260 then .300. Still, he has a lot more upside then some of the others below him.

    I also want to thank everyone for the kind words, it really is much appreciated.

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