Fantasy Baseball 1B Preview: Albert Pujols Switches Leagues

Fantasy Baseball 1B Preview: Albert Pujols Switches LeaguesFantasy Baseball: Gone are the days when first base was so deep that first basemen eligible at other positions automatically were slotted elsewhere. Four first basemen drafted as starters in most leagues in 2011 – Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Adam Dunn and Kendrys Morales – are too risky for more than speculative picks this time around. Another 2011 starter, Billy Butler, is now a full-time DH and is not eligible at 1B in many leagues (though he is in Yahoo!).

And now Miguel Cabrera (pictured) is moving to third base.

Meanwhile, only rookie Eric Hosmer and late bloomer Michael Morse have shown they should be added to the roster of starting first basemen.

So the first two tiers of starting first basemen include only nine players who are likely to be starting at first base on a fantasy team, the other three being Cabrera, Michael Young, who is also eligible at 3B (and 2B in Yahoo!), and Kevin Youkilis, who is primarily eligible at 3B. Youkilis is eligible at 1B in Yahoo!, but may not be in other leagues.

Last year, my 12th =-ranked 1B was Paul Konerko. This year, of players likely to be playing 1B, my 12th-ranked is Ike Davis, who was just diagnosed with Valley fever.

So if you can’t get a 1B in the first tier, do your best to get one in the second tier.

TIER ONE

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Albert Pujols, Angels
Joey Votto, Reds
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Prince Fielder, Tigers

Mark Teixeira, Yankees

Pujols drops to 2nd because he’s switching teams and leagues, which always adds uncertainty, and his numbers were a little off last year. Gonzalez’s BA could drop since he had a .380 BABIP. Fielder is also switching teams and leagues. Teixeira has batted under .260 the last two seasons, but has also averaged 37 HR and 114 RBI in three seasons as a Yankee.

TIER TWO

Paul Konerko, White Sox
Michael Young, Rangers
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
Eric Hosmer, Royals
Lance Berkman, Cardinals
Michael Morse, Nationals

Konerko has gone 30-100-.300 the last two seasons and has hit at least 28 HR seven of the last eight years. He turned 36 on March 5 but still seems to be going strong. Young’s .338 BA and 105 RBI were career highs, and the multiple position eligibility will add flexibility to your roster. But he won’t give you HR you’d like to see from your 1B. Young turns 36 in October.  Youkilis hit just .258 last year and has missed 102 games over the last two seasons. Hosmer is only 22 and projects to be a star, but he’s only had one season so far, so don’t draft him as if he’s already become a star. Berkman is only a month older than Konerko, but while Berkman had a great 2011, his results and health the last few years have not been quite as consistent. Berkman also loses Pujols from the order. Morse had a great season – 31-95-.303 – but needs to show he can do it again.

TIER THREE

Mark Reynolds, Orioles
Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Billy Butler, Royals
Freddie Freeman, Braves
Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
Ike Davis, Mets
Ryan Howard, Phillies

Reynolds’.221 BA was still grisly, but at least it improved from 2010’s .198. And he avoided 200 K for the first time in four seasons (he had 196). What makes Reynolds worth considering are those 37 HR in 2011 and his career 162-game average of 36 HR and 97 RBI. Now if he could just get back to his lifetime .238 BA. Reynolds is also eligible at 3B.

Cuddyer hit 20 HR playing his home games in Minnesota; now he gets to play in Colorado. But Cuddyer, who turns 33 later in March, has only hit 20 HR three times in his career, so a lot more power is not guaranteed, even in Coors. Cuddyer is also eligible at 2B in Yahoo!

Butler is a career .297 hitter who had a career-high 95 RBI last year. But his 19 HR are typical for him and low for a 1B.  Butler remains eligible at 1B in Yahoo!, but may be UTIL-only in other leagues.

Freeman had a nice rookie year – 21-76-.282. He has already suffered a partially dislocated kneecap in camp, but the injury is not supposed to be serious.

Sanchez has hit 19 HR in both of his seasons with a BA around .270.  Davis put up similar numbers in 2010 before missing much of last year with an ankle injury. It is unclear how his diagnosis of valley fever will affect him.

Howard was originally supposed to return in May from his Achilles injury, but suffered a setback when he developed an infection in the area. He remains a great candidate to stash on your bench, but he can’t be ranked as a starter just yet.

ROOKIES TO WATCH

Yonder Alonso, Padres
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Photo by Keith Allison.

Jon Lewin is the Met half of the Met-Yankee fan blog SubwaySquawkers.com. He has also written on baseball for Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew, Perpetual Post and Heater Magazine, and he has appeared on ...read more

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