When we look for a first baseman we are generally thinking of one thing, power. The thing is, while the options are abundent how many of the 25+ HR first baseman pair that with the ability to steal a few bases? It’s often ignored, but if you can get power and speed out of first base, even if it’s just 10 SB, that’s 10 SB that you don’t need somewhere else. Let’s take a look at the players who have the potential to chip in 10+ SB this season:
Likely – Eric Hosmer, Paul Goldschmidt
Hosmer may have struggled in 2012, but he at least still provided some value by swiping 16 bases (the second consecutive season he has been over 10 in the Majors). With a total of 14 in the minors in 2010, it’s evident that he has 10+ SB speed and should continue to provide such. The real question is if he will begin contributing in other categories once again. He needs to dramatically improve hs fly ball rate (27.9% in 2012), if he wants to contribute more power. We saw Jason Heyward do it last season, so its not impossible. He also should hit better than .232 (he makes good contact and posted a .255 BABIP). He may never be a prototypical slugging first baseman, but if he can go 20/10 with a strong average he will hold value at a corner spot.
Goldschmidt, on the other hand, has the potential to go 30/10. However, you have to wonder if the more HR he hits, the less chance he will get to run. He stole 18 bases last season, but hit just 20 HR. Considering his power potential and somewhat mediocre 14.2% HR/FB, despite playing in a favorable ballpark, we should see his power improve. All that means is maybe he kicks in 10 SB instead of close to 20. If he’s hitting 30 HR, no one is going to care as the SB are just icing on the cake. He’s not going to be Albert Pujols, but has the potential to be that type of all-around producer from first base. Don’t be surprised if he ends the season as a Top 5 option at the position.
Possible – Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols, Michael Cuddyer, Brandon Belt
Speaking of Pujols, he has stolen 7+ bases for five straight seasons and has three 10+ years in his career. However, at his age (now 33), you have to wonder if the SB are going to start to dwindle a bit. With other aspects of his game also slowing (he scored 85 runs last season and has bee under .300 in back-to-back years), you have to wonder where he’s heading. While he’s still a first round pick in 2013, he has a bit more risk associated to him. With a new crop of players also emerging, will 2014 be the year he slips to Round 2?
Encarnacion has broken out with his bat, though as I have said before there is the risk of the “Aaron Hill Effect”, as I call it. He already posted a 49.5% fly ball rate in 2012, so would it really be a surprise if he really started swinging for the fences? His 13 SB from last season were a career high, and even if he replicated it (he had 8 in 2011 over 481 AB), it wouldn’t be enough to save him. Be careful not to overdraft him.
Cuddyer had his first 10+ SB season in 2011 with the Twins, then swiped 8 bases in 358 AB in his first season with the Rockies. Never thought of for his speed, he clearly has the potential to ht .270 with 20+ HR in Coors Field. He’s not a superstar, but with eligibility at 1B and OF and the upside appeal, he is the perfect player to help fill out your squad.
Belt is a player that both fantasy owners and the Giants have been waiting to emerge. While he didn’t steal many in ’11 (8 SB), he had 12 in 411 AB in the Majors in ’12 (and had 23 total in ’10). The real question is if he is going to be able to stay in the lineup enough to make an impact. If he does, he should be given the opportunity to chip in 10-15 SB, and should also add some power and a strong average. He may be the ideal post-hype sleeper and a player that we will have to discuss in much more detail.
Sleeper – Joey Votto
He’s a “sleeper” for SB because he as gone from 16 to 8 to 5 (though last year was in 474 plate appearances). It’s easy to think that the Reds won’t let their superstar run like he once did, in an effort to keep him healthy and on the field. As it is, would you really draft Votto for his speed? I didn’t think so…
What are your thoughts of these players? Who do you think will chip in 10+ SB? Who do you think is worth owning?
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Make sure to check out our 2013 rankings (all of which will be updated in the next few weeks):
- Catchers (updated 02/18/13)
- First Basemen (updated 01/15/13)
- Second Basemen (updated 01/22/13)
- Shortstops (updated 01/24/13)
- Third Basemen (updated 01/29/13)
- Outfielders 1-20 (updated 02/25/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/26/13)
- Starting Pitchers 1-20 (updated 02/12/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/14/13)
- Relief Pitchers (updated 01/31/13)