First Basemen Outlook

by Tim Heaney on June 1, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


FIRST BASEMEN

Table: Do not bench list

Player
Team
Mark Teixeira
CHW
Justin Morneau
MIN
Derrek Lee
CHC
Prince Fielder
MIL
Todd Helton
COL
Albert Pujols
STL
Ryan Howard
PHI
Lance Berkman
HOU
Adrian Gonzalez
SD
Kevin Youkilis
BOS

UPPER ECHELON

Nick Swisher, Oakland Athletics

Schedule: 7 games - vs. BOS (4), @ SF (3)

Analysis: It's odd that a player who had a 30-homer season last year was considered a breakout candidate for 2007. A first baseman with 32 RBI and 24 runs through 158 at-bats certainly gives the impression of a 100-plus-RBI producer. The Dan Johnson buy-low corollary is still present in fantasy, but people forget how consistent Swisher has been in the power categories. He's played at least 131 games in the last two seasons, and at this point in his career is worth the investment as a reliable slugger. He should still hit at least couple home runs this coming week with four games at home and three games against his Bay Area rival. Play him, with no quarrels.

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

Schedule: 7 games - vs. NYY (4), vs. HOU (3)

Analysis: A run of seven home games presents a very optimistic week for Konerko owners, even the ones who are down on the slugger who is probably their starting first-bagger. Surrounded by Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye in his home park isn't exactly a burden. He has a homer, five hits and five RBI in his last three games, so he could be in store for a good run here. His power bat is just too good to give up on this early. You could do a lot worse here, especially against potentially weak pitching matchups. In the words of Simple Minds, "Don't you forget about him."

Carlos Delgado, New York Mets

Schedule: 6 games - @ PHI (3), @ DET (3)

Analysis: Delgado has been stealing the back pages of the New York media with his heroism, and he was a strong start to the season away from being included on the "Do Not Bench" List. One could argue the no Met in slots 1-6 in the order should be benched, especially the "Big 4," not even with Delgado's .236 average. He had four home runs and eight RBI in three games, including two two-homer efforts. With the righty mound matchups possible in Detroit, he'll have favorable advantages that will overcome the fact that Comerica Park favors the hurlers. His bat is still too explosive to stash on the bench. Start Delgado without fear, even against the lefties he typically has troubles with.

MIDRANGE

Lyle Overbay, Toronto Blue Jays

Schedule: 6 games - vs. TB (3), @ LAD (3)

Analysis: Consistently one of the more underrated fantasy producers, Overbay is still raking in Toronto. Despite batting .242 at home this year, he has five homers at the Rogers Centre. The Rays have the league's highest ERA at 5.55, so Overbay could go to town. He hit .296 in May, around his career average of .290, so he's on his normal pace. However, he is still perplexing his owners by hitting .218 against right-handers this year. Those with Overbay on their squad should bet on a turnaround. He has 27 RBI and 25 runs scored; that combined with the fact that he's hitting .365 lefties means he's still producing.

Dan Johnson, Oakland Athletics

Schedule: 7 games - vs. BOS (4), @ SF (3)

Analysis: Johnson has new life in the Bay Area, and he is once again relevant. His .315 average is reminiscent of what he gave owners in 2005 and not the shell of his potential that surfaced last year. He could continue to oblige against Boston, where he hit a homer and drove in three runs in nine at-bats off their hurlers earlier this season. The Giants' staff, however, has been rolling as of late and has the seventh-best ERA in the majors at 3.75. If he matches up with Zito or phenom Tim Lincecum, he might fall short. Play the matchups. 

Ty Wigginton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Schedule: 7 games - vs. KC (1), @ TOR (3), @ FLA (3)

Analysis: The return of Devil Rays third baseman Akinori Iwamura from the disabled list gives Wigginton some added value as he moves back to the designated hitter's role once the rookie returns. He has 15 multi-hit games this season, has hit 10 home runs, driven in 27 runs and scored 24. In other words, he's a productive utility hitter. He has also been batting cleanup for the majority of the season and will be facing three teams rife with pitching problems. You shouldn't let a cleanup hitter sit on your bench.

Ryan Garko, Cleveland Indians

Schedule: 6 games - vs. KC (3), @ CIN (3)

Analysis: The highly touted youngster has a hit in 16 of his last 18 games. He hit five home runs in May. With designated hitter Travis Hafner and catcher Victor Martinez hitting in front of him, he will see better pitches, which he is already capable of punishing. He's facing the Royals at home for three games. When spoken aloud, his name has a fun ring to it. Garko is not one to be taken lightly, both as an opposing pitcher or a fantasy strategist.

OTHERS FOR CONSIDERATION

Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners

Schedule: 6 games - vs. BAL (3), @ SD (3)

Analysis: The old Richie Sexson adage goes: avoid like plague before July, then get him in a trade and enjoy the party. The version of Adam Dunn without the propensity for contact, Sexson has rebelled against his label of first-half loser by racking up 30 RBI in 164 at-bats. He also has 20 runs, which is plenty for a .195 hitter who only has seven homers. He had a .346 on-base percentage in May, so he is showing improvement there. He's still too much of a free-swinger to be a first priority. He's facing two strong pitching staffs this week, so those who have the option might want to hold off on the big man.

Nomar Garciaparra, Los Angeles Dodgers

Schedule: 7 games - @ PIT (1), @ SD (3), vs. TOR (3)

Analysis: The disparity in power numbers is typical of the elder Nomar. He has one homer this year (off a right-hander) but has knocked in 31 RBI nestled in the middle of a potent Dodgers' lineup. Nomar could be a hot play this week - he already as four RBI against San Diego this year and three against Pittsburgh. He's hitting .333 at home so far, and facing Toronto's struggling staff could only accentuate his average. Nomar hasn't faced the Blue Jays since 2003, so it's unfeasible to compare those stats to the present. You have no reason not to at least consider him this week.

Adam LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates

Schedule: 7 games - vs. LAD (1), @ WAS (3), @ NYY (3)

Analysis: LaRoche has been somewhat of a burden with his .213 average this year, despite his 27 RBI thus far. Hitting as high as fourth against righties and as low as sixth against lefties. He has eight hits in his last five games, including three multi-hit efforts. He should have a good run against the Nationals; he has 26 career RBI against them, tied for second highest among all major league opponents. He has the chance to hit one or two home runs at Yankee Stadium with the good old short porch and the short list of quality Yankee pitching outings this year.

Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Schedule: 7 games - vs. KC (1), @ TOR (3), @ FLA (3)

Analysis: Another member of the crowded Devil Rays infield has been making a mid-range fantasy impact. Pena has three homers and seven RBI in his last 10 games. If you don't own Wigginton, Pena can a useful backup option if you're in a deeper league or marred by injuries. Consider him a situational matchup player otherwise.

Aubrey Huff, Baltimore Orioles

Schedule: 6 games - @ SEA (3), vs. COL (3)

Analysis: Huff has not hit a home run since May 9 and seems to be following his career pattern of first-half slacking. He is far from what he used to be but can still deliver an RBI or two once in awhile. He does have a hit in eight of his last nine contests, so it's not as if he's wasting away. He only hit .091 with one RBI against Seattle last season and hasn't faced Colorado since 2002. This week, don't take a chance by inserting him into weekly lineup leagues.

Scott Thorman, Atlanta Braves

Schedule: 7 games - vs. FLA (3), vs. CHC (4)

Analysis: Thorman generally hits in the bottom third of the order. You never know who's going to produce in Atlanta as they have made fantasy contributors out of normally unworthy players. His 25 RBI came earlier in the season as he only has four RBI in 10 games. The lefty hitter is batting .200 with three RBI against southpaws, around what would be expected for him. The home stand might help him but not enough to consider him this week.

Conor Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Schedule: 6 games - vs. SF (3), vs. BOS (3)

Analysis: Jackson might be moving out of this section soon with the emergence of Mark Reynolds in the eyes of Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Worse, he might be the victim of the dreaded "P" word, a possible target of platoon delegation after the return of Chad Tracy. The sad part is that he didn't exactly hurt his campaign during the transition. He has seven RBI in his last four games, and has a hit in nine of his last 10 games. It's a guessing game for him at this point, so keep an eye out for the coming week, along with future weeks. He could be valuable if he gets normal playing time.

KEY PLAYERS ON DL

Mike Jacobs, Florida Marlins - Out until early June

Nick Johnson, Washington Nationals - Out until July

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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