Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Ten First Baseman

First off, congrats to Barry Larkin who just made the Hall of Fame. A Cincinnati Red that I respect unlike some of their players today. Anyway, here's my first baseman rankings.

10) Eric Hosmer, Royals

I picked him over Freddie Freeman, Todd Helton, Gaby Sanchez, and Justin Morneau for the 10th spot. Hosmer came up in May and finished with a .293 BA, 19 home runs, and 78 RBIs and placed 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting. He'll only be 22 next year, and he will be making All Star teams soon.

9) Ryan Howard, Phillies

Howard ruptured his Achilles heel at the end of the NLDS last year, and will be out the first month or two of the season. Otherwise, I probably would of rated him a spot or two higher. Howard has had 6 straight 30 home run and 100 RBI seasons and finished in the top ten in MVP voting the last 6 years as well. However, he did have his 2nd worst BA(.253) and OBP(.346) last season.

8) Paul Konerko, White Sox

Konerko has quitely had a late career surge in Chicago making the last two All Star teams. 2010 and 2011 rank among Konerko's best seasons. He batted .300 last year with 31 home runs and 105 RBIs. Konerko has 396 career homers and is closing in on his 400th.

7) Lance Berkman, Cardinals

The Big Puma had a bounceback year last year in St. Louis and helping them win a championship. This year he will play first after primarily being a right fielder last season. The switch hitting Berkman finished 7th in MVP voting and batted .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs. He also was 3rd in OBP with .412 and 5th in Slugging with .547.

6) Mark Teixeira, Yankees

Tex's average and on base pct. have dropped the last two seasons, but he has had 8 straight seasons with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs now. Regarded as a good defender, he was won 3 Gold Gloves during his career.

5) Prince Fielder, Free Agent

Prince hasn't decided on a team yet, but the Nationals are rumored to be the front runner. Fielder finished 3rd in MVP voting last year and helped the Brewers win their first NL Central division title. He was 2nd in OBP(.415), 2nd in HR(38), 2nd in RBI(120), 7th in runs(95), and 3rd in total bases(322) last season. Fielder also won the All Star MVP Award last season.

4) Joey Votto, Reds

The 2010 NL MVP had a strong follow up season in 2011 and led the National League in doubles, on base pct., and walks. He also batted .309 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs and won the Gold Glove last year. With Pujols gone to the American League, Votto might be the National League's best first baseman now.

3) Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

In his first season with the Sox, AGone finished 3rd in OBP(.410), 7th in slugging(.548), 2nd in average(.338), 3rd in RBI(117), 1st in hits(213), and 2nd in total bases(345). Gonzalez also won the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and was 7th in AL MVP voting.

2) Albert Pujols, Angels

That still felt strange typing that, but Albert has moved on to the American League now. Pujols has had 11 great seasons in a row, but had his worst statistical season in 2011. It was still good enough to finish 5th in MVP voting and he still was 3rd in the NL with 37 home runs. While he finished just short of 100 RBIs and a .300 BA, he did keep his streak of 30 home runs going. His defense wasn't as sharp last year, and led the NL in double plays grounded into.

1) Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Cabrera has recieved MVP votes every season he's played in, and has had OPS over 1.000 the last two years. Since 2004, Cabrera has hit 30 home runs every year but once, drove in 100 RBIs every year, hit .300 in all but two, scored 100 runs five times, and had an OBP over .400 four times. After nearly winning the MVP in 2010, Cabrera came back to win his first batting title last year and led the Tigers to the postseason.

I used to call Cabrera Pujols-Light, but now I honestly feel that he has surpassed him as the top first baseman in baseball right now. I'm not talking career wise since Pujols has the more impressive career numbers. But I'm talking about who's the better player in 2012, and I think that is Cabrera. Pujols is a lock for the Hall of Fame, and I think Cabrera will be in Cooperstown someday as well. Here's some numbers to prove my point, as you can see below Cabrera has outperformed Pujols the last two seasons.

           Pujols     Cabrera
           2010       2010
BA       .312       .328 
OBP    .414        .420
SLG     .596       .622
           2011       2011
BA       .299        .344
OBP     .366       .448
SLG     .541        .586

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