This list is a testament to the depth of first base this season. There aren’t many sleepers, but there are a few possible busts. Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Let’s take a look…
Adam LaRoche – It is well documented that LaRoche is a slow starter. From 2007-2009 his pre-all-star AVG is .246 and .309 post-all-star. However, over that time he has hit about the same amount of home runs pre and post all-star break. Now, LaRoche takes his left handed stroke to Chase Field, which has always been a great hitter’s park. While he’ll never be a star, LaRoche has a very good chance of hitting a few more home runs and settng a career high in RBI hitting in the middle of an up-and-coming lineup.
Nick Johnson – There will always be an injury risk when it comes to N.J., but becoming the Yankees full time DH may help that issue a bit. If he ends up hitting second in that lineup, as he should, he could easily score 90-plus runs as well as benefit from the protection of Teixeira and A-Rod. Given a low-low draft position, Johnson could provide some descent value as a corner in mixed leagues and be extremely valuable in AL-only and OBP leagues.
Chris Davis - Everyone’s favorite breakout of 2009 (guilty) turned out to be a major bust. Davis was on pace to strike out more often that Mark Reynolds before a trip to the minors kept him out of the record books. In danger of being lapped by top prospect Justin Smoak, Davis showed improvement in his strikeout rate and returned to the majors with a better plate approach. Davis’s power potential remains immense and his draft stock has been lowered significantly. That could make him a big value on draft day and a great sell high candidate should he start the season blasting home runs like he can.
Derrek Lee - Given his top ten round draft status, Lee could very well end up a bust in 2010. It’s hard to imagine that Lee’s 2009 home run total was the second highest of his career. He also hit fly balls at the highest rate of his career. The odds say he won’t repeat his power numbers and his AVG should regress closer to his career average of .284. Lee could still provide value, but not as a top ten round pick.
As stated above, first base is deep and there are not a lot of surprises. This only means that you don’t have to reach on one early if you’d rather grab a top-flight third baseman like Evan Longoria or David Wright.