When it comes to fantasy baseball, there is no deeper position than first base. You have your proven veterans who are considered elite options in fantasy land, and then you have some of the younger, upcoming talents who provide a ton of upside in the later rounds.
Two guys, in particular, are ranked very closely to each other, but are heading in different directions. You already know where I am going with this, so let the debate begin.
Edwin Encarnacion or Adrian Gonzalez?
Remember when Gonzalez was more of an elite fantasy option at the first base position? From 2007-20010 with the Padres, Gonzalez was a legitimate 30-40 home run, 100+ RBI candidate every single season. However, after joining the Red Sox, Gonzalez only hit 42 home runs in two seasons in Boston combined. The drop in power is pretty alarming, considering he was once one of the premiere power hitters in the game. While the power isn’t where it once was, Gonzalez is still a safe bet to bat for average, hitting for at least .297 the past five seasons. Fantasy owners can expect at least a .290 average and 20 home runs. Gonzalez certainly has the potential and the lineup around him to return to the 30-home run realm, but don’t count on it. However, batting in the heart of a very powerful Dodgers lineup consisting of guys such as Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, Gonzalez will likely produce a great amount of RBI and runs.
And what about Encarnacion?
Growing up admiring Ken Griffey Jr, I watched the Cincinnati Reds quite frequently. Because of that, I also got a chance to look at a guy like Encarnacion, who at the time, was an average player at best. However, I knew he was better than he mediocre stats indicated. During the 2012 season, he proved me right. Encarnacion had by far his best season as a pro last year, hitting 42 home runs and 110 RBI. Many fear that he will never see similar production like that again, especially now that he is 30 years old. Honestly, I believe he can be a legitimate power source for the next few years, especially in Toronto’s powerhouse of a lineup. Remember, he posted monster numbers last season and teammate Jose Bautista didn’t even suit up for 100 games.
I think you may already know where I’m going with this, but I’m siding with Encarnacion. I just feel like Gonzalez has been on the decline ever since he departed from San Diego. The only advantage he may have over Encarnacion at this stage is in the batting average department, but Encarnacion’s strikeout rate of 14.6 percent provides comfort for fantasy owners. He also has more upside, coming off of his best season and believe it or not, he can get even better. I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m trying to get my hands on many players from the Blue Jays this season, and that especially includes Encarnacion.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.