Monday, January 21, 2013

Ranking the top ten first basemen in big league baseball

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

I made up this list by asking a couple of people to send me their top ten players for each position. Whatever position each player was on the list, they received that many points. The player with the least amount of points, got the top spot. If a player wasn’t on a top ten list, they got an “11”. I want to thank all the people who voted and be sure to stop by next Monday for another top ten list. Enjoy.

1. Joey Votto
Last season’s stats: HR: 14 RBI: 56 AVG: .337 OPS: 1.041 OBP: .474 SLG: .567
Joey Votto was the unanimous number 1 first baseman and he’s earned that with his past couple seasons. He would have been the runaway MVP in my opinion if it wasn’t for an injury that took away his power and kept him out for almost a third of the season. He still led the league in walks and OBP despite his time missed and he just showed us this season that he is the best hitter in the game. Cabrera may have something to say about that but I’d take Votto over him any day. He also is the best fielding first baseman in baseball which, along with his hitting, makes him the best first baseman in the game.

2. Prince Fielder
Last season’s stats: HR: 30 RBI: 108 AVG: .313 OPS: .940 OBP: .412 SLG: .528
Fielder was unanimously chosen as the second best first baseman but it still was a tough decision. The thing that got my vote was that he keeps improving. He had a better year than last season and he succeeded despite changing cities and leagues. He led all first baseman in slugging, OPS, and RBIs and was a key factor in the Tiger’s World Series run. His average has been going up each year and this was the first season that Fielder had an average of over .300. I wouldn’t be shocked if he keeps improving and really challenges Votto next season for first on the list.

3. Albert Pujols
Last season’s stats: HR: 30 RBI: 105 AVG: .285 OPS: .859 OBP: .343 SLG: .516
It is time to for Pujols to pass the crown as the league’s top first baseman but you got to admit, he had a good run. He has had two straight down seasons, for Pujols. For anyone else that’s a great year but if you want to be the league’s best player, it’s a disappointment. His average has been dropping the past seasons and so has his OBP. He had a very tough time adjusting to the AL but did find his groove late in the season which does give hope for him next season but for now, he’ll have to settle on being the third best.

4. Adrian Gonzalez
Last season’s stats: HR: 18 RBI: 108 AVG: .299 OPS: .806 OBP: .344 SLG: .463
Gonzalez had a very bad year. His RBI’s may tell a different story but his OPS confirms it. I’m going to go ahead and day this was a fluke. I think it was an off year for the Red Sox, and A-Gon. He didn’t do that well when traded to the Dodgers either but, that’s understandable when switching leagues mid-season. I expect a huge bounce back year from him next year. His RBI numbers will go up since he will be hitting behind a healthy Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford and I think so will everything else.

5. Adam LaRoche
Last season’s stats: HR: 33 RBI: 100 AVG: .271 OPS: .853 OBP: .343 SLG: .510
Adam LaRoche had a very strange case this season. He was vastly underrated by the media and overrated by Washington. I believe he is somewhere in the middle. LaRoche has been inconsistent at best in his career which is why I was very reluctant to put him this high but, I was outvoted. He was still top-5 in almost every category for first baseman and he may have been the biggest reason why the Nationals had such a good year besides their rotation of course. All in all, I’m going to need to see LaRoche at least repeat these numbers from last year before he goes any higher.

6. Allen Craig
Last season’s stats: HR: 22 RBI: 92 AVG: .307 OPS: .876 OBP: .354 SLG: .522
Allen Craig was the third best first baseman in baseball this season. This was his first full season in the majors and he definitely made the most of it. He and Molina led the Cardinals to be one game away from another World Series and was just terrific all around. He didn’t get as many at bats than most of the guys on the list and that will change next year. Let’s see if this year was a fluke, or is Craig for real?

7. Mark Texiera
Last season’s stats: HR: 24 RBI: 84 AVG: .251 OPS: .807 OBP: .332 SLG: .475
Texiera had a down year for anyone and that is why he isn’t higher. He usually makes up for his poor average with big power numbers but he was silent this season. He did miss some of the season which is part of the reason he doesn’t have more homers/runs batted in but he still wasn’t himself. We’ll see next year if this was just a fluke or is it a sign that Texiera is moving past his prime.

8. Paul Goldschmidt
Last season’s stats: HR: 20 RBI: 82 AVG: .286 OPS: .849 OBP: .359 SLG: .490
Paul Goldschmidt is another player coming off his first full season in the majors and I have to say, he was impressive. He is a very young player with a lot of promise and you can only think that he will be higher up this list next season. His OPS was top-5 for first baseman and so was his OBP. When you watch this guy play, you can just tell that he is going to be a good player and I can’t wait to watch him get better.

9. Paul Konerko
Last season’s stats: HR: 26 RBI: 75 AVG: .298 OPS: .857 OBP: .371 SLG: .486
Konerko may not be the player he once was, but he is still pretty darn good. He almost led the White Sox to a division title and if not for him, they wouldn’t have even been close. He was still top-5 in a lot of categories for first baseman including OPS, OBP, and average. His power is down but that is expected for a player in his late 30’s and you can just tell that he is getting old but he is still one of the best first baseman in the league.

10. Corey Hart
Last season’s stats: HR: 30 RBI: 83 AVG: .270 OPS: .841 OBP: .334 SLG: .507
Hart is a power hitter and he showed us that this season as he hit 30 homeruns and slugged .507. He really did his best to fill the void of Prince Fielder in Milwaukee but obviously, he’s not Prince. He was about average this season for the Brewers and the Brewers really need him to get back to his 2010 form which they know he is capable of. I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw the Brewers in the playoffs again next season, thanks to major improvements from Hart.

*The reason Edwin Encarnacion is not on this list is because he spent majority of games being a DH, not a first baseman.

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