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After drudging through an Andy Dufresne-type tunnel for the top 20 catchers for 2011, I find myself with a group that actually really hurt or helped your team depending on how you drafted. If you went wrong with your 1st baseman, it could kill your season.  Hey, Justin Morneau, no hard feelings from me.  We are totally fine.  Please enjoy these cyanide pills I made special for you.  If you went right, you might’ve won your league. To recap, this final ranking is from ESPN Player Rater with my comments. The Player Rater allows me to be impartial while looking at how I ranked them in the preseason. Anyway, here’s the top 20 1st basemen for 2011 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

1. Miguel Cabrera – Member when people were moving away from Swiggy Cabrera in the preseason and I said stop paying attention to preseason nonsense?  You need to turn down the treble and remove the noise.  I’m not sure if people run with these nonsense stories to sell pageviews or they really believe the tripe their slinging.  Either way, it made no difference.  Miguel’s breathalyzer never dips below .320, but his power was a bit down.  But II, The Return of But, he still gave you all that and a bag of breath mints for the long ride home.  Preseason Rank #2, 2011 Projections:  110/37/120/.320/5, Final Numbers:  111/30/105/.344/2

2. Adrian Gonzalez – Sure, I ranked him 5th for all 1st basemen in the preseason, but he was also ranked 10th overall with five first basemen in my preseason top 10.  People said I was crazy to stack my top 10 with 1st basemen and power hitters.  People said you can get 1st basemen later.  Grab Youkilis, people said.  Or Aubrey Huff.  Or Morneau.  Oh, wait, I was one of those people that said to grab Morneau.  Oh, well.  They ain’t all gems.  Hopefully that’s my last comment about Morneau for at least three blurbs.  Okay, one more Morneau comment.  In the preseason, I said, “Morneau’s more valuable than Youuuuuk if he can stay healthy, but put Morneau staying healthy in one hand and a fortune cookie that says, “Morneau never stays healthy” in the other hand and what do you have?  Exactly!”  And that’s me foreseeing crap and not even getting out of the way when Morneau started flinging it!  Preseason Rank #5, 2011 Projections:  100/37/110/.280, Final Numbers:  108/27/117/.338/1

3. Albert Pujols – I’m beginning to think that he could miss five of six months and still get 100/35/100/.300.  On a side note, he should open a bar in West Hollywood named Pujols.  It would give The Manhole a run for its money.  Preseason Rank #1, 2011 Projections:  105/37/115/.315/10, Final Numbers:  105/37/99/.299/9

4. Joey Votto – Another reason to take a first baseman very early in a draft.  How many of them flopped from my first 20 overall picks?  None.  There were shortstops that flopped.  Outfielders that flopped.  No 1st basemen.  Sure, Ryan Howard didn’t hit for a great average, but he still got 110+ RBIs and 30+ homers.  Preseason Rank #3, 2011 Projections:  95/32/110/.310/10, Final Numbers:  101/29/103/.309/8

5. Prince Fielder – Just another huge year on an odd-numbered year.  Making us saberhagenmetricians look smart.  Preseason Rank #4, 2011 Projections:  100/38/115/.280, Final Numbers: 95/38/115/.299/1

6. Michael Young – Another guy that had a ton of noise around him in the preseason.  “Ooh, Grey, your mustache is full and beautiful but don’t you think Young will be hurt by all of this trade talk.”  That’s you.  Me, “Stop listening to all this superfluous stuff.”  Only I didn’t say stuff.  I said shizz.  Preseason Rank #8 for 3rd basemen, 2011 Projections:  85/17/80/.280/5, Final Numbers:  88/11/106/.338/6

7. Lance Berkman – Said in the preseason that maybe Lance Berkman can give you a 2010 Konerko-type year (a big bounce back for a vet), but I really didn’t believe Berkman could do it.  Then for almost two months I continued to tell you he’d stop doing it or get injured while he was actually doing it.  Yeah, Berkman and I had our differences this year.  I don’t believe in Berkman for next year either, if you were wondering how obstinate I can be.  Preseason Rank #17, 2011 Projections:  65/20/75/.270/5, Final Numbers:  90/31/94/.301/2

8. Paul Konerko – For Konerko, I’m sick of predicting the end when the end just keeps running into the here and now.  That is not a line from Air Supply, but could be.  Preseason Rank #15, 2011 Projections:  70/24/85/.265, Final Numbers:  69/31/105/.300/1

9. Michael Morse – First totally out of nowhere name, which means if you decided to punt 1st base early in your draft, you had to get Morse or you were screwed.  BTW, his photo makes him look like the biggest doofus.  And, really, I don’t use the word doofus too much, except when it’s totally applicable like right now.  Looks like he should be saying, “Which way did he go, George; which way did he go?”  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  73/31/95/.303/2

10. Mark Teixeira – The average has really dipped recently (.256 in 2009), which I no longer think is an aberration, but three times in a row is a better pattern.  The rule of three yadda3.  As long as he’s on the Yanks and hitting in The House They Built In The Parking Lot Next To The House That Ruth Built, it’s gonna be hard to fault all the other stats.  Preseason Rank #6, 2011 Projections:  105/35/115/.280, Final Numbers:  90/39/111/.248/4

11. Mike Napoli – Went over Napoli in the top 20 catchers for 2011 fantasy baseball post.

12. Ryan Howard – I don’t buy that he was actually this low in value.  Again, this is somewhere the ESPN Player Rater and I don’t see eye to eye.  They overrate average and steals.  As for everyone who agrees that Ryan Howard wasn’t good this year and I’m crazy, I like to point you to a picture of my long-lost son.  Preseason Rank #7, 2011 Projections:  85/38/100/.265, Final Numbers:  81/33/116/.253/1

13. Eric Hosmer – Not bad for two-thirds of a season.  Not to scream fire in the theater of Razzball, but he kinda looks like the 2nd coming of Votto.  No, I don’t use those words lightly.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  66/19/78/.293/11

14. Howie Kendrick – Kendrick is such a cusp player.  I’ll explain.  If he gets 5 less homers or steals, he loses so much of his value.  It tends to be the case with guys who get a lot of value from average.  See Michael Young as another example.  Preseason Rank #14 for 2nd basemen, 2011 Projections:  65/12/85/.305/15, Final Numbers:  86/18/63/.285/14

15. Billy Butler – His season was decent, about what I’d expect (as you see from my preseason projections), but I’m not exactly altering my copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to a picture book with Butler titled, The Man with the Luscious Cans, because his cans were only saved by a 2nd half that was big like his badonkadonk.  Preseason Rank #13, 2011 Projections:  80/20/90/.310, Final Numbers:  74/19/95/.291/2

16. Michael Cuddyer – His real value came when he gained 2nd base eligibility.  Also, I do these top 20 listings in the order you read them, so I’ve only done the catchers and 1st basemen thus far.  I tell you this because I was just thinking that I bet Cuddyer is the only Twins hitter or pitcher to rank anywhere in these end of the season lists.  What a shizzshow in Minny.  At the end of the year, they should have a Worst Series, where the two worst teams square off in a best of seven.  Like you wouldn’t watch the Astros take on the Twins.  Preseason Rank #51 for outfielders, 2011 Projections:  85/20/80/.275/5, Final Numbers:  70/20/70/.284/11

17. Mark Trumbo – It’s a little weird how much I ignore average.  I looked at Trumbo and Hosmer’s season and really had no idea how Trumbo was below him in ranking.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  65/29/87/.254/9

18. Freddie Freeman – Having a hard time figuring out how his season was worse than Mr. Grapefruit, Billy Butler.  Feel free to share if you figure it out.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  67/21/76/.282/4

19. Carlos Lee – The one nice thing I can say about Carlos Lee is you didn’t expect anything and he didn’t disappoint.  Preseason Rank #18, 2011 Projections:  65/24/75/.260/3, Final Numbers:  66/18/94/.275/4

20. Mark Reynolds – After Bautista, Mini Donkey caused probably the biggest uproar in the preseason due to my ranking.  I ranked him 6th overall for 3rd basemen and he finished the year 8th overall.  Out of all the preseason projections for 3rd basemen (which will be up in a few days), Reynolds ended up coming in closest to where I thought he would.  Terrible average, good power and some light speed.  So far I’ve been more right about Reynolds than any other player through the course of his career.  It’s like I’m wearing Birkenstocks, loose-fitting sweats, doing Downward Facing Donkey pose and looking right through Reynolds’ third chakra.  Or something.  Preseason Rank #6 for 3rd basemen, 2011 Projections:  80/35/95/.235/12, Final Numbers:  84/37/86/.221/6

From Around The Web

  1. Black Beard says:
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    Grey, if you don’t read the internet…how do you research players for your articles?

  2. Matt says:
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    Good lord, reading this list I had to do a double-take because I clearly didn’t have any of these guys on my best team. Dunn-Helton-Lind-Duda with a side of Wigginton. And you know 3 out of the 5 worked out OK for the periods I had them…

  3. Eddy says:
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    @Black Beard:

    He consults his mustache.

  4. Racehorse says:
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    Grey,

    The Reds said the other day that they’re prepared to listen to offers on Joey Votto. Is this a dog whistle signal to Yonder Alonso owners in keeper leagues to start drooling into their coffee cups?

    Or is it just a bunch of noise, as referenced in your Swiggy & Michael Young posts?

    Kamsahamnida!

  5. Eddy says:
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    @Grey

    With the 2011 regular season over, I guess it’s time to turn my head to 2012. That means it’s keeper time. I decided to wait until the comments died down a bit because there’s a bit of ‘splaining to do.

    The rules:

    Five keepers. They can only be kept a maximum of three years. Their round inflates three rounds every additional year. Any player that was previously a 1st, 2nd or 3rd round keeper one year, cannot be kept again.

    The dilemma: We introduced picks this year, and the shit hit the fan. One team gave up his entire season in April and has amassed 17 picks in the first 8 rounds, including 2 in the first and 2 in the second. This league overvalues SP for some strange reason, and this dude is probably going to throw a wrench into everything by taking SP way earlier than necessary. I know another guy is keeping 4 SP. Pitching is not going to be abundant in 2012.

    My list:

    The round next to the player is the round I could keep the player next year.

    Joey Votto (1st round)
    Jacoby Ellsbury (6th round)
    Carlos Gonzalez (10th)
    Dee Gordon (23rd)
    Adam Lind (11th)
    Bryce Harper (23rd)
    Aramis Ramirez (6th)
    JJ Hardy (20th)

    Stephen Strasburg (23rd)
    Matt Moore (23rd)
    Clayton Kershaw (3rd)
    Jered Weaver (7th)
    Shelby Miller (23rd)
    Cole Hamels (4th)
    Zack Greinke (4th)

    League is as 12-team H2H, 5×5 with OBP instead of AVG.

  6. Tony says:
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    @Eddy: keep votto, ells, and cargo….. if you’re saying the league overvalues pitching then keep kershaw and either weaver or Strausburg….. straus would be nice because if he comes back strong and you have him as a 23rd rounder, but weaver’s more stable, just costs you a 7th, do u wanna gamble a litte, and what would u be looking at in that 7th round after guys have all kept 5 ya know?

    good luck….

    @grey: 1B is crazy deep, lots of good young guys coming up and appearing to look to take the next step in 2012, where do you see Hosmer being drafted next year? 5th round? 6th? earlier? later?

  7. Rank Stank says:
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    @Eddy: If everyone overvalues pitching, isn’t hitting the new market inefficiency?

  8. Eddy says:
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    @Tony:

    Tony, thanks for your input. Good to see we pretty much agree. My only question is which two of Kershaw/Strasburg/Weaver I’d keeper. I’m leaning toward the last two.

    @Rank Stank:

    I see where you’re coming from, but there are other owners who have more than 10 picks in the first 10 rounds. The one I mentioned was just the most exaggerated. So hitting will be flying as well. The only area where I can try and capitalize on pitching would be from rounds 14-23, where many have no picks. But you can only find so many Ian Kennedys there each year. This kind of forces me to keep at least 2 dependable SP to build my staff around.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Black Beard: I don’t read the internet for hahas.

    @Racehorse: I think it’s just noise. How can they trade Votto? Well, I guess they could but they would need to get a lot back… Really don’t see it happening.

    @Eddy: Seems silly to limit people to 5 keepers but they can have something like 17 picks. Votto, Ells, CarGo, Kershaw, Weaver…

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Eddy: Actually, I’ve already changed my mind. Strasburg and Kershaw…

  11. Eddy says:
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    @Grey:

    Completely agree on the picks thing. It’s already been nixed for 2012.

    Glad you threw Strasburg in there because I was hoping I didn’t cusp his balls on my roster since May for nothing.

    I’m curious to hear your reasoning for Kershaw over Weaver. I understand Kershaw is substantially better, but will one year of him in 2012 (because I can’t keep him past then) be better than Weaver in ’12 (7th round) and ’13 (4th round)?

  12. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Eddy: Better league, better xFIP, better K-rate… Who knows what happens to Weaver past next year, not worth worrying about 2013 with a pitcher.

  13. Jay says:
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    @Grey, how much do you think potential offseason moves (Prince, Pujols, Votto) could shake up 1B between now and March? Or do they hold their values pretty steadily since they already hit in pretty good lineups and in pretty good parks and probably aren’t going to Petco, Safeco (though maybe Metco)?

  14. Brad says:
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    Hi Grey,

    Thanks very much for all the help (via your columns) this year. I joined the Razzball fanclub about halfway through the year and never looked back. Good stuff!

    I had a question for you in regards to my keeper situation. I am in a 10-team league that keeps 5 players before moving on to the next season. For the 2012 auction draft we all are allowed $260. The players I am picking from are: Bruce ($21), Stanton ($30), Greinke ($21), Matt Moore ($10), Braun ($42), Teixeira ($35), Sandoval ($21), Morse ($6), Napoli ($19) and Ubaldo ($22). I was thinking that a five keeper group of Stanton, Bruce, Braun, Sandoval and Morse ($120 total) was the right way to go. I would have power up the wazu and would be in a position to try and go for Tulo or HanRam next year to finish off the core of my offense. Do you agree?

    Thanks again – I appreciate your help.

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Jay: I don’t think any of them will have huge hits in value unless they go to parks that you mention. I’m more worried about Prince’s on again off again season production.

    @Brad: No problem. I agree with the five you’re going with.

  16. Mark says:
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    I drafted Morse, but dropped him early so I could keep Brandon Belt. Hindsight may be 20/20, but in this case, foresight must have been 20/200. Whatevs though I still won my league in HR and tied for first in total offensive points, so that’s not what killed me. Pitching wasn’t quite as strong though so I finished second overall. Would have been better if Sabathia didn’t decide to take a nap right after I got him for Asdrubal and Hellickson at the trade deadline (I also got a blah outfielder, don’t even remember who but he didn’t pan out). Of course, I also managed to get Napoli and Pestano for Morrow and Ramos around the same time, which probably contributed to my HR success.

  17. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Mark: Yeah, there’s definitely room every league for some error if other breaks go your way.

  18. Chris says:
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    @Brad:

    I’d definitely go with Napoli over Sandoval. Now that the Napper is getting his proper PT in TEX, he’s the unquestioned #1 catcher in my eyes next year. A .300 AVG and 30 HR (with great R/RBI) from catcher, you gotta keep that especially at a fair price.

    Greinke over Bruce seems like it might be worth consideration too.

  19. chata says:
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    @Grey:

    in my 14 team league , last year my 6 keepers were :
    a-gon , cano , hamilton ,
    kershaw , felix , & hanson .

    finished in 1st place in 2010 , so i had 14th and 15th picks and took
    andrus and rasmus .

    this year i finished in 3rd place and will have the 12th and 17th picks
    (reverse snake) .

    thinking about tossing hanson back into the pool and going with
    andrus as my 6th keeper and maybe hoping that hanson falls to me
    later in the draft , though with readers vinko and steve in this league
    this might not be possible .

    what do you think …. keep andrus over hanson ?

    ideally would like to package felix and a lesser (melky or raburn)
    for bautista , as my 2011 team was lacking in the power categories .
    like that idea ??

    i guess the question is ==> would you trade felix , straight up , for
    bautista ???
    i know you weren’t high on bautista before the start of 2011 , but now
    that it seems like his power numbers are legitimate and repeatable ,
    is this a dumb idea ????
    am concerned about the age difference (i could keep felix forever) ,
    and the fact that it took bautista 43 home runs to rack up 103 rbi
    and score 105 times ……
    i think i just answered my own question …. but am interested in
    what you have to say .

  20. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @chata: Andrus over Hanson, yeah. Sure, if you can get Bautista in that scenario it would work. Don’t worry about his runs and RBIs. Could have 35 homers and 120 RBIs next year.

  21. Lance Berkman says:
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    >:O

  22. OaktownSteve says:
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    51% of rookies improve slightly on their numbers in their second full season is the number I saw. The old sophomore jinx thing is overstated (which doesn’t surprise). All of which adds up to, I am going to have Hosmer in several leagues next year.

    The guy passes the eyeball test. Nothing to suggest he’ll be anything but excellent for years to come.

  23. Steve says:
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    Holland normally has an 8-run lead by now.

  24. chata says:
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    benoit balls .
    just think that’s humorous .

  25. Erik Forstell says:
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    Paul Goldschmidt is not top 20 worthy? Definitely think he has more upside then some players at the end of your list.

  26. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @OaktownSteve: Yeah, I like Hosmer, but where is this 51% improve stated? That seems arbitrary.

    @Steve: We got a barn burner in Texas.

    @chata: That is humorous.

  27. royce! says:
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    You know that song they’ve been playing every five minutes or so during the playoffs? It asserts that something was “written in the stars, a million miles away.” Every time I hear that song I wish that the author’s mistaken calculations were correct; were we a million miles from a star, life on earth would have never existed. Sure, the universe may have therefore been bereft of sentience, but if all we’re doing with that sentience is writing horrible songs, well, let it burn!

  28. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @royce!: That’s hilarious. I miss McCarver with the addition of Francona.

  29. chata says:
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    strike zone has been expanded for the extra frames

  30. chata says:
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    cruz .. batting 7th in the order ….
    how is this game close ?

  31. chata says:
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    just …. foul

  32. chata says:
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    fair …. this time

  33. Steve says:
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    That Rangers bullpen could carry them a long way.

  34. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @chata: He’s such a monster if Cruz could only stay healthy…

    @Steve: Tigers bullpen isn’t terrible either, but it hasn’t shown as much thus far.

  35. Steve says:
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    Nice to see His Phatness doing some work in the playoffs.

  36. royce! says:
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    @Grey: Yeah. I did like Francona’s burn on Wakefield though.

  37. Terrence Mann says:
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    Valencia has to be top 20, right? 3b is a bigger abyss than Jenna Jameson.

  38. royce! says:
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    @Terrence Mann: According to the player rater, he just missed- 21st. There’s some insane talent in 10-20- Longoria, Wright, Arod, Youk, Zimmerman. Gonna be a fun write up.

  39. chata says:
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    if the cards prevail over the brewers , i don’t see any way that they
    could afford to let pujols go .

    imagine the curse THAT move would put in to place .

  40. Steve says:
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    Now the Brewers know what it feels like when you grab Loe or Estrada off the wire looking for a Hold.

  41. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @royce!: Didn’t hear it… What did he say?

    @Steve: Ha!

  42. Mike says:
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    Only five keepers in my league, and 6 viable choices: Tulo, Tex, Kinsler, Cruz, Beltre, Napoli. Who is the odd man out?

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