The 1B position without a doubt is the deepest position in fantasy baseball and so some believe that its best to bypass these options early in the draft and go for a more shallow position such as SS or 2B. While I totally endorse filling in those scarce middle infield positions early, I also believe that a top slugging 1B is an essential ingredient to a winning team. You don’t want to be left looking at a Derrek Lee, Billy Butler, or a Kevin Youkilis at 1B when the rest of the teams in your league have such powerhouses like Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto. You need to keep pace with the rest of the league and grab one of these top guys. And as an added bonus, the 1B position in my view is the perfect place to go shopping for your UTIL or CI spot. Imagine a scenario where you have Joey Votto at 1B and a discounted Kendry Morales at UTIL? Sounds like your on your way to a winning season. So with that nugget of info hopefully stored in your head, here is how I see the 1B ranks during the very early portion of the offseason.
1. Albert Pujols
2. Joey Votto
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Ryan Howard
5. Mark Texeira
6. Prince Fielder
7. Adrian Gonzalez
8. Kendry Morales
9. Kevin Youkilis
10. Justin Morneau
11. Paul Konerko
12. Adam Dunn
13. Ike Davis
14. Billy Butler
15. Derrek Lee
16. Victor Martinez
17. Buster Posey
18. Carlos Lee
19. Mike Napoli
20. Michael Cuddyer
-No discussion needed at the top with Albert Pujols once again pacing the rest of the group. Even though his numbers were down a bit, the guy is still in his prime and is the safest best for the best all-around numbers in the game.
-Joey Votto was a guy I have been high on since he broke into the league and I made it a point to draft him in both of my money leagues. Without a doubt those moves helped me to win both those leagues and it validates the ability I saw in him in the first place. Votto is a hitting machine who can even get better. The BAPIP was high in 2010 so a small drop in average is expected but when you consider the guy can steal 15 bases at a position where 5 is considered high, than you gave yourself a gem here.
-Its amazing that Ryan Howard would be considered the fourth best player at any position but that’s the nature of 1B. Howard was a bit frustrating to own in 2010 with a stint on the DL and late season struggles but he is the rare player who can hit 50 home runs. I used to steer clear of Howard when the averaged took a tumble when he first came into the league but the last few years he has shown the ability to hit .280 which shoots his value up to ownership levels in my standards.
-Prince Fielder was a disaster in 2010. He got off to a horrid start and than only swatted solo home runs it seemed the rest of the way. Clearly his contract status was on his mind and I think he will return to his regular levels this season. Fielder is actually discounted this year after struggling so much in 2009 so this is a good buy low opportunity.
-Mark Texeira has his own issues in 2010 as he once again struggles mightily in April as is his custom, and than again in September as a bum toe caused his swing to get out of whack. Still I am a Texeira lover and he once again will get his 35 home runs with 120 RBI along with the April struggles. Grin and bear it through the first month and enjoy the rest.
-One guy I will likely have on both of my money league teams as my UTIL player is Kendry Morales who figures to come really cheap after missing most of last season with a broken leg suffered in a freakish home plate celebration. Morales was on his way to validating his breakout 2009 season and I have no doubt he will get back to that level in 2011. The injury and the fact that he was out of sight/out of mind in 2010 will depress his value and this a huge buying opportunity will present itself. These are the kinds of moves that win you titles and this is one I will do my best not to miss. Neither should you.
-Adrian Gonzalez is another guy I steered clear of until the last two seasons when he proved to me that hitting in San Diego wouldn’t negatively impact his numbers too much. Sure he can do better if he were hitting anywhere else but Gonzo is a trusted, durable commodity.
-Anyone who has followed me on here knows that Paul Konerko is one of my all-time favorite fantasy baseball players. Konerko has had a permanent home on my rosters for upwards of a decade now due to his consistent production and also due to the fact he always was undervalued. Amazing as it is to say this, we have reached the point where Konerko is OVERVALUED after his ridiculous 2010 season. Like I said I love Konerko but I don’t think I will be getting him this year for the first time in like forever since someone will see those numbers and reach for him higher than they should. Konerko’s season eerily reminds me of Derrek Lee’s 2009
-I know Kevin Youkilis is a very good player but I don’t like how he looks at the 1B spot. Throw in the fact he always gets hurt and hence I’ll pass.
-Enough with the Billy Butler breakout posts. I am off that train and I think we are looking at a slightly better version of Sean Casey. A nice, rolly-polly dude who hits for a high average with limited power. I don’t think so.
-Justin Morneau like Paul Konerko was usually on all of my teams due to he also being somewhat undervalued. I no longer will look in his direction however for two reasons: 1). Morneau ALWAYS gets hurt at some point in the season and last year’s concussion was the topper. 2). Morneau always slumps in the second half. He is the Dan Haren of hitters. I don’t want guys on my roster that are useless to me when I need them most in September.
-I really love Ike Davis’ potential to turn into a possible 30 home run hitter. Davis strikes out too much and is prone to slumps so his average wont be great but he has the ability to be a very good player at a very cheap price. Late in your drafts, be sure to call his name as he really is one of the few players in the fantasy baseball game that can club 30 dingers from a late draft spot.
-It was nice knowing you Derrek Lee. Enjoy your fantasy baseball retirement.
-Carlos Lee earned qualification at 1B late in the season. He is aging rapidly so don’t bother.
That’s how I see it. Who did I rank too high? Who is ranked too low? Let me hear it.