Carlos Pena: Is He A Starting Fantasy First Baseman?

Carlos Pena is a player that fell short of my Top 15 First Baseman (click here to view), yet he’s currently being drafted early in the eighth round with an ADP of 77.46 (the 12th first baseman being drafted).  He certainly has enough power to justify that selection, but do his other numbers back it up?  First let’s look at his numbers from 2009:

471 At Bats
.227 Batting Average (107 Hits)
39 Home Runs
100 RBI
91 Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.356 On Base Percentage
.537 Slugging Percentage
.253 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average is an obvious glaring concern and while there is hope, there’s not much.  While it is easy to point to his BABIP and say that he almost has to enjoy better luck in 2010, remember that he is a career .247 hitter.

The problem is his strikeout rate, at 31.0% for his career.  Just look at his past two seasons (33.9% and 34.6%) and you realize that it is impossible for him to post an elite average.  In fact, he needs to be fairly lucky just to post a usable mark, which severely downgrades his potential value.

Of course, the power helps to offset that extreme problem (though it also helps contribute to it, which we’ll discuss in a minute).  For his career he’s posted a HR/FB rate of 20.4%.  In two of the past three seasons, he’s been better than that:

  • 2007 – 29.1%
  • 2008 – 18.8%
  • 2009 – 23.8%

It’s impossible to expect him to be able to replicate the 2007 mark, considering the league leader in 2009 was at just 26.0% (Mark Reynolds).  In fact, since 2004 only seven players have topped that mark:

  • Ryan Howard – 2006 – 39.5%
  • Ryan Howard – 2008 – 31.8%
  • Jack Cust – 2007 – 31.7%
  • Ryan Howard – 2007 – 31.5%
  • Travis Hafner – 2006 – 30.2%
  • Jack Cust – 2008 – 29.7%
  • Jim Thome – 2007 – 29.7%

Clearly, Ryan Howard is in a class by himself and expecting anyone else to post that type of consistently high mark would be a huge mistake.  Considering that Pena has posted a flyball rate above 50% each of the past two seasons, even if he does regress in the HR/FB rate, he should continue to post impressive home run marks.

Unfortunately, that rounds us back to the average.  As we’ve said before, flyballs are less likely to fall in, reducing the likelihood of an above average BABIP.  That just reduces the chances of him posting a solid average even further.

He has no speed, with just 18 career stolen bases in 929 games.  It would be nice if he had that to help offset the average, but it’s just not the case.

He does bring solid RBI contributions, however.  He’s picked up over 100 RBI each of the past three seasons and hitting in the middle of an above average Rays lineup, that easily should continue.  When you are joined by Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist, you get plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

As for scoring runs, he’s been over 90 two of the past three seasons.  While that’s good and all, there were 12 players eligible at first base last season who scored at least 85 runs.  He’s certainly not going to give you an advantage there.  Plus, when you consider he may hit fifth in the order (he spent 74 AB there last season), the opportunity for runs scored will diminish.

With all that said, let’s take a look at what I’m projecting for him in 2010:

.246 (123-500), 33 HR, 100 RBI, 80 R, 2 SB, .291 BABIP, .359 OBP, .504 SLG

Those are good numbers, but I wouldn’t take him before fellow first baseman Billy Butler or Derrek Lee.  I also think outfielders like Bobby Abreu, Andrew McCutchen and others have a bit more value, though they too are being selected after him.

Considering his position, he just doesn’t offer enough, outside of his power potential.  With no speed, little hope in the average department and the potential for his runs scored to fall, taking him in the seventh round just seems like a mistake to me.  I also would much prefer to have him as my Corner Infielder or as a reserve, as opposed to a starter on my team.

What do you think?  Is Pena someone you’d be willing to take in the seventh round?  Do you want him as your starting first baseman?

Make sure to place your order for the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out some more of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

3 comments

  1. steve says:

    No. I would never, ever, take pena in the 7th rd. He only helps you in one catergory and he plays a deep position. The only positive attribute is, Pena gets red hot and can carry your team for a week or two but besides that, his 2-18 10k;s weeks get old

  2. Dave says:

    For an OPS league, Pena’s not too bad. His BB’s help offset the low average, so I think he’s a decent option after the better 1B’s are gone.

    P.S. – I can’t believe people still use AVG as a stat in 2010!

  3. Aaron says:

    I would much rather go for Adam Dunn around the same area. Though Pena isn’t a bad option if you have Suzuki, those two together really even each other out in different categories.

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