Last week, I gave you the top five best catchers in fantasy baseball and my projections for each one. It’s time to go around the diamond this week and analyze the best first baseman.
1. Albert Pujols- Now I understand Pujols had a slow start to the 2012 season, but the second half of the season has me optimistic he’s still the best first baseman in fantasy baseball. He’s a model of consistency (.300, 30 HR, 100 RBI), and while his average has regressed slowly the past few seasons, it’s still pretty darn good. Add Josh Hamilton and an established Mike Trout, and there’s a lot of good reasons why the 33-year-old will be very productive. Projections: .302 BA, 32 HR, 115 RBI, 93 R, 7 SB
2. Joey Votto- At 29 years of age, Votto’s right in the middle of his prime and the previous seasons have shown how scary good he is. But last year has me scared of his health. Votto injured his knee and was limited to only 14 home runs, and none of those came after the All-Star break. Trust me, I have no concerns about a decline in production. He’s still a top tier first baseman. Since I’m a big fan of consistency as you know by now, Pujols is number one on my board. That can easily change after this year, so expect a healthy bounce-back for Votto in 2013. Projections: .325 BA, 29 HR, 110 RBI, 85 R, 4 SB
3. Prince Fielder- My mantra of consistency leads me to another elite first baseman, and he resides in the Windy City. When you take away the 2005 outlier and his first official rookie season, you’ll notice Fielder’s a home run machine. While most power hitters don’t get average (take Curtis Granderson as an example), he stays within the .280 range, and that’s not bad one bit. Speaking of health, Fielder’s also very healthy. Add in Victor Martinez returning from an injury sidelining him last year along with Austin Jackson getting on base more, and the Prince is guaranteed to hit like a king. Projections: .299 BA, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 90 R, 2 SB
4. Billy Butler- While the Kansas City Royals might not be one of the league’s best teams, Butler’s still a top first baseman. In fact, he’s a very underrated player due to the team he plays for. Last year, “Country Breakfast” broke out, hitting 29 home runs, 107 RBIs, and a solid .313 average. Butler’s only 26 too, so he’s only entering the prime stages of his career. I know you WAR geeks say he isn’t worth much (he has a WAR of 3), but to many fantasy lineups, Butler’s a catalyst to a championship squad. Projections: .310 BA, 24 HR, 97 RBI, 72 R, 3 SB
5. Edwin Encarnacion- E5 has been a very frustrating player most of his career, having years that flash his potential but other seasons that diminish his value. Last year propelled him into elite status, hitting 42 home runs and 110 RBIs. This isn’t the only player to rejuvenate his career in Toronto (see Jose Bautista), and I don’t expect a huge regression. The home runs might not stay in the 40 range, but the RBIs and average should stay where they are. Projections: .275 BA, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 82 R, 11 SB