If there is a position that is deeper than first base, you will be hard pressed to find it. The number of home runs, RBI, and runs scored from the corner is astounding. Take these numbers.

  • 17 players with first base eligibility had at least 20 home runs
  • 8 drove in more than 100 runs
  • 11 scored more than 85 runs
  • 7 hit better than .300

Sure, you will not find speed here since only one player with eligibility at first base stole better than 20 bases, but a fantasy owner cannot miss out on the other categories here. The good news is that it will be hard to do that given the power that we see. Owners need that production in order to have any chance in most leagues. Getting more than one is often the best recipe.

How do I rank them? Take a look:
(Calculations based on weights of 35% for HR & RBI, 15% for runs, 10% for average, 5% for SB; does not account for all injuries; all data based on 2010 ESPN eligibility)

Some notes:
  • Keep an eye out on Justin Morneau. I ranked him inside the top-10, but all bets go out the window if he cannot recover from the concussions that plagued him at the end of last season. Morneau was one of the best in the game prior to the injury and his return will be the lynchpin to any success the Twins see.
  • We never seem to give Paul Konerko as much love as he deserves. I will admit that he is ranked higher here than he should be, but this is a guy that is coming off a season where he was second at the position in home runs with 39 and fourth in RBI with 111. Add to that, he hit better than .300. He may not be likely to duplicate the average, but the production levels have been decidedly consistent every year.
  • Remember there were other injuries besides Morneau. Both Kevin Youkilis and Kendry Morales lost time with injuries last season. Youkilis will maintain first base eligibility this year but will move to third base full time with the signing of Gonzalez. Last chance to capitalize on that corner eligibility in all likelihood. Morales broke his leg after coming off a thunderous 2009 campaign. If healthy, he could be a steal owners need to look at late in the draft.
  • The Mark Reynolds bandwagon broke down hard last year after his .198 average appeared and the stolen bases left him. Reynolds still has upside, and I rarely argue for drafting for a good or bad average, but his situation is a tough one. The strikeouts and lack of much production in two key categories makes him a tough sell.
  • Think how deep the position is when you see Prince Fielder barely cracking the top-12. Also, I will not say Aubrey Huff will not duplicate his production from last year, but I also will not be the one gambling that he will. Huff has too long a history of disappointing owners for me to gamble on him. The position drops off quickly after the first 11 and you end up with more risk and reward type selections.
  • Best Value Selection – Konerko is currently going at 71 overall and you are getting far greater production than that. Again, I do not really believe he is a top-three first basemen, but I need to drive home the point of his value and putting him there does that. Certainly better than 71 though. Ike Davis at 198 is another sneaky selection that could pay dividends. He hit 19 home runs as a rookie. Like his chances to improve upon that, his 71 RBI, and his .264 average.
  • Sleeper Selections – Davis, Freddie Freeman, and Brandon Belt. Freeman has the job in Atlanta with the departure of Derrek Lee. Belt will be there ready to step in the second that Huff decides to come back to earth.
  • Situations to Avoid – Nothing seems overly contentious where we would be in a straight platoon. Still, I would not want to be stuck with owning Seattle’s starter Justin Smoak simply because of the lack of any sort of success track record.
  • Situations to Watch – Texas. The Rangers traded Smoak to Seattle and are now looking at both Chris Davis and Mitch Moreland. Moreland came on strong in the playoffs, but there have to be questions as to if he can maintain this over a long season. This one will play out in both spring training and in the early season returns.
  • Biggest Risk – Outside of Huff, it has to be Adrian Gonzalez. Right now, he’s going at number eight overall. I just do not see first-round value coming out of his bat. Yes, he will be playing in a more-friendly park and he has good protection, but this is a substantial jump from where he was being looked at last year. Beware drafting him this early.

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