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Jun
30
2012

Positional TPR Sneak Peaks: First Basemen

You don’t get any different than catcher and first base. If you have a neutral impact performer behind the dish you might even be a little ahead of the game. If you have a neutral impact performer at first you are doing something wrong. That is because the hitting and base running categories are measured against the entire league. First basemen tend to be better offensive players.

Albert Pujols made his decision, but there are still quite a few positive impact first basemen still on the board. As with the catchers, bolded players led the big leagues in the category below, italicized players led their league, and bolded and italicized players were the worst players at that particular position. After we take a look at the table we will try to fit those remaining first basemen in spots where they might fit.

Innings TPRField TPRHit Combined
Joey Votto 

 

1427 28.1 144.6 172.7
Prince Fielder 

 

1394 -13.4 152.5 139.1
Freddie Freeman 

 

1370 -24.0 43.1 19.1
Gaby Sanchez 

 

1354 17.7 36.2 53.9
Adrian Gonzalez 

 

1352 33.9 146.6 180.5
Miguel Cabrera 

 

1322 -24.0 202.1 178.1
Ryan Howard 

 

1309 -3.4 60.1 56.7
Mark Teixeira 

 

1274 6.4 63.6 70.0
Albert Pujols 

 

1260 24.6 111.1 135.7
Carlos Pena 

 

1258 -3.6 49.5 45.9
Mark Trumbo 

 

1257 10.4 26.1 36.5
Casey Kotchman 

 

1222 -0.8 62.5 61.7
James Loney 

 

1203 7.0 22.1 29.1
Eric Hosmer 

 

1135 -25.6 37.0 11.4
Aubrey Huff 

 

1032 -8.2 -17.5 -25.7
Todd Helton 

 

987 28.3 40.3 68.6
Derrek Lee 

 

984 -3.2 16.9 13.7
Adam Lind 

 

965 -10.7 -2.1 -12.8
Paul Konerko 

 

963 -11.2 103.4 92.2
Justin Smoak 

 

926 -8.7 14.5 5.8
Lyle Overbay 

 

917 -9.0 -24.7 -33.7
Matt LaPorta 

 

802 -15.1 1.5 -13.6

Before we play our game of musical chairs I wanted to offer some general observations and look at which teams would be in the market for one of our guys. I start with Eric Hosmer. On another site, the Kansas City Royals fans came out in droves to defend their guy. They were generally very respectful and educated, so I came away very impressed with their fan base. Like with offense, fielding performance can change from season to season. So, he is not necessarily doomed to a career of sucking, but he finished last this past season in every defensive metric known to sabermetricians.

I did not include Fielding Bible data in this analysis, but I have a ton of respect for those guys over there. One of them contacted me and told me that Hosmer was equally bad on all types of plays. It’s rare to see that kind of balance. He finished last in that system as well, so the argument for him this year is a bit shaky.

The only player of note was Lyle Overbay. He normally has been a very proficient fielder if not a spectacular hitter. He fell off the cliff last season in Pittsburgh. At this point it is hard to say whether that was an anomaly of just a player hitting the wall. This year, he is competing for a bench spot with the Diamondbacks. He could stick as insurance for Paul Goldschmidt. Now, let’s move onto our game of musical chairs.

The Needy

1. San Francisco Giants

Aubrey Huff has become the human embodiment of the Star Trek movie series. Every even numbered movie was a hit. Every odd numbered movie was a dud. Well, Huff had his dud last year. That being said, do the Giants want to risk banking on the comeback season? They also have Brandon Belt and Brett Pill. Are either of them capable of producing at least decent numbers?

2. Cleveland Indians

Matt LaPorta was one of the prizes from the C.C. Sabathia deal. Now, he is looking more like the kind of prize you get out of the toy dispenser and less like one you get at Jared’s. They can move Carlos Santana to first, but they would much rather sign someone to hold down the fort. They are likely waiting around for asking prices to drop.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Adam Lind is a nice guy, but he just doesn’t bring anything to table. He isn’t terrible offensively or defensively, but he is below average both ways. The Blue Jays have a ton of money to spend, so they might make the most sense for a big fish like Prince Fielder. Of course, does the fish want to hop in that boat?

4. Baltimore Orioles

They had Derrek Lee and then traded him away. Chris Davis served some time there and Mark Reynolds played there as well. I’m sure Buck Showalter wouldn’t be hurt at all if he had to pencil Reynolds in as the designated hitter every night.

In addition to those folks, it goes without saying that the team the current free agents were on can be added to this list depending on what happens. That means that as many as seven or eight teams could be in the market for a starting first baseman. That’s a pretty significant number moving into January.

The Remaining Free Agents

1. Prince Fielder– 139.1

Scott Boras is a master at subterfuge, but if we look at this logically we can narrow down the teams. The Yankees and Red Sox are out because they already have first basemen. The Angels are out now that they have Pujols. In terms of large market teams, that means that only the Mets, Cubs, and Phillies are left.

The Phillies are getting Ryan Howard back sometime next season, so they are out. The Mets have a possible opening, but they don’t have the money to do it. The Cubs have both the money and the opening, but the Cubs brain trust insists they are rebuilding. Out of the teams above, only the Blue Jays have the need, resources, and motivation. The Mariners and Rangers could flirt with it as well, but my bet is the Blue Jays.

2. Casey Kotchman– 61.7

Before this past season, Kotchman was a slick fielding, light hitting first baseman. He changed his swing mechanics and became a much better run producer. Mind you, he’s still not going to hit 40 home runs anytime soon, but he could produce as many as 20 if last season wasn’t a mirage. All things considered, I don’t see anyone giving him a multi-year contract because you just aren’t sure what you are getting. That means that someone like Cleveland or Milwaukee could snatch him up late in the game. Of course, he could also return to Tampa. This one is a wild card.

3. Carlos Pena– 45.9

Even though Pena produced less than Kotchman he is likely more coveted because he has a stronger track record. You can count on solid defense and 20+ home runs. You can also count on a solid OBP. At this point in his career he seems to be a vagabond. He’ll sign a one year contract somewhere. Any of the teams listed above fit the bill in addition to the Cubs. The Rays could also enter this fray as he did enjoy most of his success with them.

4. Derrek Lee– 13.7

I thought the Pirates were going to re-sign him in a nanosecond, but they keep insisting they are shifting things around. I’m not sure if that is posturing or a signal that they are moving in a different direction. Lee is nothing more than a place holder these days. He makes some sense in San Francisco for that reason. Of course, he would have to lower his asking price. He’d make some sense in Tampa Bay as well.

Scott Barzilla writes for thefanmanifesto.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @sbarzilla.

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