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Fantasy Baseball With PhDinWeed, Issue 2, 1B Rankings

Hello, fellow fantasy nerds. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Below are my rankings for 1B. If you missed my catcher rankings, you can see them here. Please note that in this section, I am only including players who either played 1B as their PRIMARY position last year, or are expected to this year. I am not including players like Carlos Santana or Mark Reynolds.

ELITE

Miguel CabreraMiguel Cabrera, Tigers

The 29 year-old Cabrera should challenge Albert Pujols as the overall #1 pick in most fantasy drafts. He had a stellar 2011, playing in 161 games and raking to the tune of .344/30/105. He also walked over 100 times, leading to an insane .448 OBP. Of course, everyone knows the Tigers signed Prince Fielder as a free agent, so Cabrera’s shift to 3B makes him, in my opinion, the best option at either 1B or 3B. Keep in mind your league’s rules, as he won’t be eligible at 3B before playing a predetermined amount of games at 3B. He has reportedly arrived to camp 25-30 lbs. lighter than last year’s 240 lbs. Despite playing in cavernous Comerica, I look for Miggy to approximate last year’s numbers and be a legit MVP contender. Obviously a top 5 fantasy pick.

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols, Angels

Must be nice to put up a .299/37/99 line and have that be considered a down year! The 32 year-old Pujols missed time with a broken wrist in 2011, but returned ahead of schedule to lead the Cardinals through the postseason and their World Series championship. Although Pujols seems to lack the lineup protection he had in St. Louis, there is no reason to think he won’t be able to put up a .320/40/100+ season in the AL, especially with the DH allowing him some days off from 1B. Again, obviously a top 5 fantasy pick.

Adrian GonzalezAdrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Although the HR barrage that was expected upon switching from Petco to Fenway never came to pass, Gonzalez still put up an excellent .338/27/117 in his first year for the Sawx. Entering his 2nd season with Boston, there should be a comfort level increase, and one has to think that Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia getting on base in front of him will result in plenty of RBI chances. (although he did lead the league in GIDP.)  Another year removed from shoulder surgery, look for the 29 year-old A-Gonz to crack the 30 HR mark and provide market value for an early-round pick.

Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds

What can you say about this guy? In 2011 he produced a .309/29/103 line, and for his career he gets on base at a .400 clip. He’s in his prime as he heads into his age 29 season and plays the game right, but I’m not sold on his surrounding cast, and that’s why he slots 4th in my breakdown.  Still worth an early-round pick.

Prince FielderPrince Fielder, Tigers

Fielder can thank Victor Martinez’s ACL for ending his free agency with a bang, signing a 9 year, $214 million contract, and placing him in the same lineup as sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, and Delmon Young. Fielder raked his way to a .299/38/120 season in 2011 and got on base at a .415 clip. Despite playing in Comerica, there’s just so much lineup protection that you have to believe he can duplicate, if not exceed, those numbers. The change of leagues and the pressure of the big contract has him sliding to #5 in my analysis, but there is no question he ranks among the elite. An early round pick for the 28 year-old is an automatic.

NEAR-ELITE

Mark TexieraMark Texiera, Yankees

The lone entry in my near-elite tier, batting average is the only thing keeping the 31 year-old Tex from making it to elite status in my roundup. Since hitting .308 in 2008, he has declined each year, culminating in last year’s .248, a career low. Even if the average doesn’t pick up, you know in Yankee Stadium he will get more than a few cheap HR. In 2011 he parked 39 while driving in 110, so he remains a high draft pick, but falls just short of the top 5 at the position.

ABOVE AVERAGE

Eric HosmerEric Hosmer, Royals

A huge contributor to my championship run last season, the 22-year-old Hosmer made the Royals call him up by mashing AAA pitching for a .439 mark. He did not disappoint as a rookie, contributing immediately. He started strong, hit a rough patch, and finished out the season on an absolute tear, hitting 9 HR and batting .352 over his final 150 at-bats. I have read various columns that state Hosmer is overrated, but as part of an exciting young Royals team, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve on the .293/19/78, and could find himself alongside the elites when all is said and done. If you can grab Hosmer anytime after the 7th round, consider it a steal.

Paul KonerkoPaul Konerko, White Sox

The 36 year-old Konerko started 2011 off on a tear, but the second half of the season saw him battling nagging injuries, and only 9 of his 31 HR came after the All-star break. New Chisox manager Robin Ventura has pledged to get Konerko some days off with the DH slot, so there may be reason to believe that Konerko can come close to duplicating his .300/31/105 marks, especially if Adam Dunn and Alex Rios bounce back from miserable seasons. A mid-round pick could yield excellent value.

Lance BerkmanLance Berkman, Cardinals

Another 36 year-old, Berkman put a sub-par 2010 to rest with an All-Star 2011, swinging to the tune of .301/31/94. Moving from the OF to 1B should keep Big Puma healthy, and despite the naysayers lamenting the loss of Pujols, if the starting cast in St. Louis can stay healthy, the Cards will score their share of runs. If you can get Berkman in the later middle rounds, don’t hesitate to scoop him up.

Michael MorseMichael Morse, Nationals

I have no problem with late bloomers. Morse followed up a solid 2010 season with full time at bats in 2011, and blasted his way to a .303/31/95. The 30 year-old Morse could use to cut down on the K’s (126 in 2011) but the power numbers seem to be legit. With Ryan Zimmerman and a hopefully resurgent Jayson Werth in the same lineup, you should expect more of the same in 2012, though he will spend the majority of his time in the OF.

Freddie FreemanFreddie Freeman, Braves

The 22 year-old Freeman looked overmatched early in 2011, but rebounded to finish with a very respectable .282/21/76. Another year of experience can’t hurt, although he MUST cut down on his strikeouts (142 in 2011). If he improves his plate discipline and the rest of the Braves lineup (I’m looking at you, Heyward) can stay healthy, Freeman can be counted on to be a fantasy starter. Target him in the later middle rounds.

AVERAGE

Ryan HowardRyan Howard, Phillies

How the mighty have fallen. The big man is trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and he’s already had a setback. If he comes back right, sure, he can help you with some power numbers, but his batting average is what it is, and he strikes out a TON. Under the best of circumstances, he was to miss most of April. Do you want to reach for him before the late middle rounds in hopes the 32 year-old comes back in May and puts up 30 jacks? I’m saying no.

Ike DavisIke Davis, Mets

I really am pulling for this kid. Hope he made the right decision to not get surgery on his injured ankle and opt for extensive rehab. If the 24 year-old can make it through the spring with no setbacks, he could pick up where he left off when he rolled that ankle and end up being one of the top 10 1B in the league. A late round pick could pay major dividends.

EVERYONE ELSE

Don’t forget players like Carlos Santana, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Young, etc. who have multipositional eligibility and could very well be a starting 1B for a fantasy team. Here’s some quick thoughts on other first basemen:

Adam Lind, Blue Jays – 20 HR and 80 RBI’s don’t cut it for a starting 1B job in fantasy, and it’s pretty clear that’s what you’re going to get with this guy, plus a ton of strikeouts. Late rounder.

Gaby Sanchez, Marlins – another .280/20/80 guy. If the other players in the Marlins lineup come to play, those numbers could grow. Buy low in hopes of being pleasantly surprised.

Justin Morneau, Twins – Sad story. I think that concussion in 2010 did him in. Don’t expect much.

Kendrys Morales, Angels – The slugger is said to be progressing well from his 2010 injury, and if he sees regular ABs at DH and spelling Pujols, he could be in for a huge year. Monitor his progress through the spring.

Mark Trumbo, Angels – The Angels are working him out at 3B. Playing time could be an issue. Keep track of him during the spring, as he showed last year he can be a cheap source of power with full time ABs.

Adam Dunn, White Sox – He can’t possibly be as bad in 2012 as he was in 2011, right?

Carlos Pena, Rays – Comes back to Tampa, where he had his best years. As long as you don’t mind a guy hitting in the .230s, he could be in line for 30 taters.

Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks – Skipped AAA and came up to the big club, where he showed nice power and the ability to take a walk, but also struck out a lot. Worth a look in very deep leagues.

Brandon Belt, Giants – will be given every opportunity to win the starting 1B job in the spring. Hasn’t lived up to his gaudy minor league numbers, but things should start to click eventually, no?

Justin Smoak, Mariners – Still young, but still plays for the Mariners. Look at this guy in the late rounds in deep leagues in the hopes he lives up to his potential.

Mitch Moreland, Rangers – Could be a significant fantasy contributor, but playing time likely to be an issue. Keep an eye on the Rangers’ camp. If someone goes down with an injury, Moreland could be a huge find.

So there you have it. Let me hear back from you, the reader. Leave me a comment, or better yet, follow me on twitter @phdinweed.

Be a Hero, Adopt an Animal!

This story started for me and my family on May 30th, 2011. It was Memorial Day weekend, and my wife wanted to go out and do something. For those of you who may not be familiar, my wife and I are parents of two autistic boys, and holiday weekends (or any day where there is no school) are pretty trying. My wife, who for 4 decades wanted a dog, decided to plan a trip to Little Shelter Animal Adoption Center in Huntington, NY. Of course, this trip was “just to look.”

I will admit my jerkiness on this trip. I was tired, it was hot, and I spent the 15 minute drive listing all the reasons why we should not get a dog. Upon arriving at the shelter, my wife had to fill out  a rather long questionaire, and a shelter employee talked to us about what type of home we owned, whether we had a yard, how often our potential pet would be left alone, etc. My oldest son, “K”, definitely appeared to be a cause for some concern on the part of the shelter employee, as he is quite aloof. We took a labrador mix named Hibiscus on a short walk over the shelter grounds.

Hibiscus was very friendly and calm, but was pretty large and would require a lot of exercise. My wife told the shelter employee that she was looking for the kind of dog that would curl up in her lap and just want to be loved. The shelter employee looked at his co-worker, and they both said, in unison, “Shelly.”

Here’s where my jerkiness kicked into high gear. They brought Shelly out, and I rolled my eyes. Shelly was (is) a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix, or Pomchi. This was the type of dog that always irritated me: a dog for old ladies that just incessently yaps at everything. I went back to the car with K to sit in the air conditioning while my wife and my other son “B” took Shelly for a walk. I was texting my wife rapid-fire telling her I hated the dog, that I had no desire to own that kind of dog, etc. After sitting in the car for about 10 minutes, I went back outside with K to see what was going on. I found my wife and B sitting on a bench, with Shelly taking up residence on B’s lap. B looked up at me and said “I love her,” and that was that. I love her too, and can’t imagine our house without her!

Pomchi Chiranian

Shelly's first day home

The Little Shelter is very strict on their adoption procedures. We were not able to take Shelly home that day. They had to check our references. They also did a home visit to ensure our home was adequate for Shelly’s needs. Apparently, our references gave us glowing reviews, because while I was at work, the shelter called and told my wife she could come pick up Shelly for a “trial adoption.” It was during this trial adoption that we learned Shelly’s history of abuse.

The date: September 1st, 2010. An automatic fire alarm at 168 Chichester Road in West Hills, an exclusive enclave in Huntington, NY, summoned authorities to the 33-acre property. They were sickened as to what they found when forcing open the front door to the property: a smell of urine so awful special respiratory equipment had to be used to enter. Upon entering, they found a house of horrors: upwards of 100 animals packed into the disgusting house, fighting and killing each other for the meager amounts of food and water available to them.

As if that wasn’t horrific enough, officials found 30-40 dead animals, mostly dogs. Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said it was impossible to determine how many dogs had been in the house due to the presence of skeletal remains and partial carcasses that were also found. Some were in the kitchen sink, and some in the bathtub. The urine-soaked home was in danger of collapse, and a pony, crippled from malnourishment, was also found on the property, along with 3 goats and a cat.

The owners of the house, Michael Gladstein, a dermatologist, and his wife, Marilyn Gladstein, were each charged with several misdemeanor animal cruelty counts and one count each of felony aggravated cruelty to animals. You can watch some of the videos of the story below. We think the dog in the last shot of the 2nd video might be Shelly!

We further discovered that Shelly was taken from this house of horrors to the Town of Islip animal shelter, where she would have been euthanized if someone from The Little Shelter hadn’t rescued her. My wife also managed to find the owner of another dog rescued from the house. The dog in question? Sprinkles, Shelly’s father!

pomchi chiranian

Shelly's Father, Sprinkles!

This story has a happy ending for some of the animals involved, but nationwide, millions of animals are not so lucky. 3 to 4 million dogs or cats are euthanized yearly, according to the best estimates of the ASPCA. How can you help? I’m glad you asked. First, DO NOT BUY DOGS OR CATS from a pet store or a breeder. There are tons of animals at a shelter near you that are available to adopt. Secondly, SPREAD THE WORD. If you know of someone who is considering buying a pet, urge them not to! Send them to a local pound or shelter. If you own a pet, HAVE THEM SPAYED OR NEUTERED. Lastly, you can DONATE or VOLUNTEER! Find a no-kill shelter near you and give ’em some dough or some of your time.

pomchi chiranian

How could you say no to this face?

 

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