Yesterday, we went over the top twenty catchers for ‘08 to draft here to add to our top ten overall and our 11 thru 20 draft list. Thankfully, we’re moving onto a meatier position as we go around the horn to our 1st basemen draft list for 2008. Also, if you want to check out our 2007 Player Rater, it’s here. Yeah, screw you ESPN and your ESPN Player Rater. Or look at that one here. We forgive you.
4. Travis Hafner – Pronk listed here might get me the most grief, but last year was not the norm with only 24 homers and a .266 average. I see a major bounce back. Besides having the best nickname currently in baseball, he can mash in the middle of great lineup, he knows how to take a walk and he has an indeterminate race. If Hafner doesn’t have 1st base eligibility in your league, I’d move him below the next three. Projections: 100/40/110/.300
5. Mark Teixeira – With a last name that hard to spell, he better be good. So, it’s I before X, except after… Whatever. His 1st halfs have not been what they should for two years now. Starting to look like a trend, but he still has good pop in his bat, just don’t expect 43 homers again. BTW, I need to add an FYI here. FYI, Tex, Derrek and Berkman are very close in value. They ended up in this order because Tex is the youngest and has the most upside, Derrek has a better lineup than Berkman, and Berkman’s at #7 because he seems racist to me. (I wonder what Berkman would think of Hafner?) But I digress. Tex’s Projections: 110/35/120/.305
6. Derrek Lee – In the 2nd half last year, he finally regained his power that was so badly missing after his wrist injury. Post-All-Star break in ’07, he hit 16 of his 22 homers. Watch this trend continue into ‘08. Projections: 110/30/115/.290/5
7. Lance Berkman – The addition of Tejada can’t hurt. Maybe he can introduce Lance to the clear or the cream or whatever it is they’re flagellating on themselves nowadays. I don’t think we’re ever gonna see ’06 type numbers from him again, so act accordingly. Projections: 100/30/115/.310/5
8. Justin Morneau – He doesn’t take enough walks to grab those MVP numbers ever again, but he is young and has enough natural ability to put up nice numbers. Beware of his average, he won’t hit .300 without a whole lot of luck. Projections: 90/35/110/.275
9. Adrian Gonzalez – On one hand, he plays at Petco. On the other hand, he’ll be only 26 in ’08. And on your final hand, assuming you have three hands, I can’t imagine anyone hitting 40 homers at Petco, so we’re looking at a ceiling of 35 homers. Not awful, but he did strikeout a lot from June on last year. Projections: 90/33/105/.280
10. Paul Konerko – The White Sox flat out stunk last year. Nothing went right. Konerko’s season was no different. He’ll only be 32 in ’08. Look for a bounce back, but keep expectations in line. He’s not going to hit 40-plus and .300-plus. Projections: 90/35/110/.275
11. Carlos Pena – I wanted to rank him higher, but my better senses wouldn’t let me. He needs to do what he did last year again before he moves up the rankings, but he might come as a steal in some drafts. Then again, he might be one of the bigger busts of ‘08. No risk, no reward, but remember he was allergic to walks before last year. I don’t trust him and won’t have him on any of my teams. Projections: 85/22/80/.260 and he falls into a platoon.
12. Todd Helton – He has no upside, but, fortunately, I don’t see much downside either. He’s about as unexciting as a 1st basemen can be while still offering something of value. Projections: 90/15/90/.315
13. Carlos Guillen – The people over at Faketeams.com have Guillen way higher than this at number three overall for 1B. They run a good site, but on this point, I think they missed the mark. Their thesis statement is Guillen will give you a little bit of everything. That’s true. It fails to realize there’s much more reliance on power at 1st base. As you can see from our article, How Do You Value Fantasy Hitters?, the Best Available Option at 1B beats Guillen’s 162 game average in homers and nearly equals in RBIs. Not to mention, Guillen isn’t young and he is often injured. Now if you’re using Guillen at SS or MI, then that’s a different story. Projections: 95/15/75/.300/8
14. Kevin Youkilis – Is it me or does he look like he should be hitting 35 homers every year? Well, he won’t. He needs to hit twenty first. Projections (assuming he’s at the top of the lineup instead of the six hole):115/21/90/.290/3
15. Nick Swisher – We finally got some great upside here as Swisher takes his carefree attitude over to the White Sox and gets to hit in a much better lineup. He needs to stabilize his average, which is odd for a man with a good eye, but there’s major sleeper potential here. I’m high on Swisher this year and these numbers are low-balling him. Projections: 95/30/100/.275
16. Mike Jacobs – Here’s some more upside for you. The Marlins will be dreadful, but Jacobs could be a bright spot. Jacobs maintained a 2:1 BB:K last year as he struggled with a thumb injury. This year could be the year the power comes-a-callin’. I think it is. Projections: 70/30/95/.285
17. Carlos Delgado – The best has left the building. As someone who watched more Mets games last year than I care to admit, Delgado flounders against lefties to the point where I think a platoon might work. And, if the Mets don’t do a platoon, you should seriously consider sitting him against lefties if you draft him. Projections: 70/28/95/.260
18. Adam LaRoche – In December of ’07, he had his 2nd MRI on his knee and decided to rest rather than surgery. This is not a good thing. Avoid him and go for one of the next three if you find yourself scrambling for a 1st basemen in the later rounds. Projections: 70/27/100/.265
19. James Loney – He’ll be 24 in ’08 and he has the natural skills to take him to the top ten of 1st basemen for ’09. Major sleeper potential. Hopefully, Torre plays him like he should. Every day. Projections: 95/22/85/.315
20. Casey Kotchman – Well, it only took him a year and a half to recover from mono (Magic beat AIDS in less time). This is the year Kotchman lives up to the potential. Projections: 80/22/80/.300
21. Ryan Garko – Meat, I couldn’t not tell you to get on the Garko wagon. He may not break camp as the starter, but keep a close eye on him. Projections (if he starts by May): 65/27/80/.280
After the 21, lots of people obviously, but avoid:
Richie Sexson – Last year was an aberration. He won’t be that bad again in ’08. You still don’t want to draft him. He’s a batting average drain when he’s playing well. Find thirty homers elsewhere. You’re welcome.
Tomorrow, the top twenty second basemen for 2008.