It’s that time again.
After the household names at the first base position, there is a bit of a debate on which player fantasy owners should take in their drafts. First base is probably the deepest position in fantasy baseball, but with the plethora of guys to choose from, which is the right choice? For instance, do you prefer a proven veteran or an exciting, young talent from Atlanta?
Let’s square up!
Paul Konerko or Freddie Freeman?
Oldest goes first, right?
He may have just turned 37-years old, but Konerko still holds significant fantasy value. Coming off of a very solid season in which he batted for .298, slugged 26 home runs and 75 RBI. Despite being in his 30’s, Konerko has remained very durable for fantasy owners, playing in at least 140 contests in each of the last four seasons. Konerko is reliable. Assuming he stays relatively healthy, he is pretty much a lock for 25 home runs and a batting average of at least .280. The combination of Konerko being a known fly-ball hitter and U.S. Cellular Field being one of the more hitter friendly ballparks in baseball provide good signs for the 37-year old to see continued success.
And now the kid…
2012 was a career year for the 23-year old first baseman. Freeman saw a career-high in home runs (23), RBI (94), walks (64) and runs (91). He’ll turn 24 in September, but the scary part is that this is only the beginning for Freeman. In a powerhouse of a lineup consisting of guys such as Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla and the Upton brothers, there is no reason to believe that Freeman won’t see added production in runs and RBI, and as his strength improves, more home runs. The improved totals in walks last season prove that the young Freeman is showing better patience at the plate, providing fantasy owners with plenty of opportunity to get on base.
I absolutely love the upside of the younger Freeman. While Konerko has certainly been reliable over the years, at age 37, there isn’t really any opportunity for him to get better. If anything, his numbers will decrease, especially if injury strikes the veteran. Freeman, on the other hand, is coming off of his best season as a pro and can only get better. The lineup around him is much better than that of Konerko’s, and I think guys like Heyward will continue to get even better, ultimately boosting Freeman’s value. Granted, if you can get either of these guys in the later rounds, you’ll be in terrific shape. However, I’ll personally take the upside and emergence of young Freeman.
What say you?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.