First base is a position deep with good fantasy options, and among those that joined the group in 2012 were Ike Davis of the New York Mets and Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles. Both guys enjoyed a breakout season with remarkably similar home run and RBI totals, and will look to stay in the good graces of fantasy baseball owners in 2013. Is one a better option than the other?
Ike Davis battled Valley Fever during spring training last year, which led to a poor start (.170, five home runs and 21 RBI in April and May). But he turned things around soon after that, with 27 home runs and 68 RBI from June 12 through the end of the season. His struggles against left-handed pitching (.174 batting average last season) stand to keep his batting average down and may make him a platoon candidate, but better luck (.249 BABIP in 2012) should lead to an improvement on last year’s .227 mark. Davis was the subject of trade speculation this winter, but he looks certain to stay with the Mets at this point.
A change of scenery did Chris Davis a lot of good in 2012, as he put up excellent numbers (.270, 33 home runs and 85 RBI) in his first full season in the big leagues and in Baltimore. Orioles manager Buck Showalter did whatever it took to keep him in the lineup, as Davis saw time in the outfield (41 games), at first base (38 games) and as a designated hitter (60 games). He strikes out too much (169 times last season), which helps contribute to significant hot and cold streaks (.320 batting average with 10 home runs in September and October; .216 with nine home runs in June and July combined), and perhaps makes his batting average last season a ceiling in that category. His 2012 home run/fly ball rate (25 percent) is slightly inflated and may not be repeated in 2013, but Davis finally enters a season assured of a spot in a major league lineup.
Both of these guys are draftable in mixed leagues, and each are good options for owners that choose to wait to draft a first baseman. Both should offer home run and RBI totals comparable to 2012, and any significant contribution in the other standard fantasy categories has to be considered a bonus.
When narrowing down which is the better fantasy option, a couple differentiating factors are home park and multi-position eligibility. Those two areas favor Chris Davis significantly, and he will also have plenty of road games in hitter-friendly parks within the American League East, making him a surprisingly easy choice for me here.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.