I tried to do parkour once.
You know, running around, jumping off of stuff, trying to look like a superhero? Well, “tried” is definitely the key word here. Turns out, I attempted to jump from brick to brick, ultimately cutting my leg open. Needless to say, I had to go to the hospital to receiver stitches.
Please, please. Hold your applause.
Anyway, looking back on it, that cut reminds me of the first base position in fantasy baseball. No, it’s not a bloody mess, but it is very, very deep, arguably the deepest position in fantasy land. I mean, there are three top tier guys that universally rank inside the top 10 in general. So, with drafts in full swing, let’s draw up a scenario, shall we? Let’s say you hold the fourth pick in your draft and you are looking for a first baseman. Do you target Albert Pujols, Joey Votto or Prince Fielder? You certainly can’t go wrong with either one at your hot corner, but here’s my take.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: Pujols’ horrid month of April last season had fantasy owners a tad worried… until they remembered that he is Albert Pujols. During the month of April, Pujols sported an average of .217 with zero home runs and just four RBI. However, the Machine still finished the 2012 campaign with 30 home runs, 105 RBI and batted a solid .285. The addition of Josh Hamilton and emergence of Mike Trout certainly makes Pujols a big time candidate to lead the majors in at least RBI this upcoming season, especially when you consider that he has posted at least 100 in every season expect one. At 33-years old, age is a bit of a concern, but not enough to avoid drafting him within the top 10. Keep in mind, however, that despite monster numbers since 2009, his numbers have been declining every season since. Don’t be surprised if the veteran is more prone to slumps either.
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds: Votto has been one of my favorite players in baseball for a while now, so there may be a bit of personal preference here. Still, the 29-year old was a victim to two knee surgeries that hindered his power a bit during his late-season return. No wonder he hit just 14 home runs and 56 RBI, but he did still manage to bat an awesome .337. Now, with a long resting and training period during the off-season, Votto is back to more than 100 percent, and warrants your attention as the number one fantasy first baseman. Votto actually has a higher lifetime road OPS (.981) than at home (.954). Not to mention he hits better on the road than at home, despite playing at Great American Ballpark, one of the most hitter friendly environments in all of baseball. Now that is pretty impressive. The power is still there, as Votto has hit at least 24 home runs in four of his six seasons in the majors and has a terrific lineup around him.
Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers: There certainly isn’t much too dislike about Fielder, that’s for sure. Since 2006, only two players have hit more home runs than Fielder (258) and only four have drove in more runs (754). Though known as one of the games elite power hitters, Fielder has also been improving as a contact hitter over recent years. He has been cutting his strikeout rate and becoming more patient at the plate, which could be one of the reasons he posted a career-best .313 batting average in 2012. Fielder is easily favorable over Votto and Pujols in the durability department, having missed just one measly game since 2009. Can’t get much more consistent than that. The fact that stud Miguel Cabrera, who holds a career OBP of .395, bats in front of him only boosts Fielder’s fantasy value even more. A lock for 30 homers and 100-plus RBI, not to mention becoming a much more disciplined batter (which could raise batting average), Fielder should too be considered as a top fantasy first baseman.
While there certainly doesn’t seem like much is against Fielder, my gut is telling me Votto. The fact that he is actually better on the road than at home is astounding, especially considering he plays at Great American Ballpark. At 29-years old, he is arguably still in the midst of his prime and I personally believe we are in store from a monster year from the Canadian slugger. Pujols could certainly remain the top guy at the corner, but his declining numbers over the past few seasons are a bit alarming, no matter how good they still are. Of course, you really can’t go wrong with any of these three studs, but if I was forced to choose, give me Votto, por favor.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.