Monday, March 12, 2007

Sleeperville - the first basemen
Build the coolest fantasy team in the land

As we inch closer to the Major League regular season so many questions hang gently in the air like a Mike Mussina fastball. Will Barry Bonds head eventually simply catch fire? Does Alberto Callaspo have the coolest name in baseball? Who is Clayton Kershaw?

It is hard to build a dominant fantasy team and harder still to build a dominant fantasy keeper team. I am here to make that task that little bit easier. I am going to list the cool, chíc young/unheralded players that might not be obvious choices in your fantasy baseball draft. Stun your friends by grabbing those sleeper picks before anyone else.

Previously posted: Catchers.

Let's break it down. Starting with the first basemen. A list of potential sleeper first baggers and where they were picked in the .406 Club Forum fantasy keeper draft I took part in last month.

Remember, you won't find the 'usual suspects' here. Everyone knows about David Ortiz, Jason Giambi and Carlos Lee. These are the guys you might pick when working 'outside the box'.

71. Adam Laroche (1B-PIT)
89. Nick Swisher (1B/OF)
86. Prince Fielder (1B-MIL)
105. Howie Kendrick (1B/2B-LAA)
136. Adrian Gonzalez (1B-SD)
166. Conor Jackson (1B-ARI)
204. Mike Jacobs (1B-FLA)
233. James Loney (1B-LAD)

71. Adam Laroche (1B-PIT)
Laroche is one of those sneaky, slightly under the radar guys who puts up good numbers but plenty of people wouldn't know their name. Adam hit .285 with and impressive 30 home runs and 90 RBIs, all career-bests, in 2006. He seems ready to thrive in Pittsburgh away from the spotlight at Turner Field. Plus, at 27, his best years are ahead of him.

89. Nick Swisher (1B/OF)
Another Jeff Bagwell? Swisher was selected by the A's with the Boston Red Sox first round pick in 2002 as compensation for the loss of free agent Johnny Damon. A cocky, stylish player, Swisher is only 26 and has serious power and an eye for the clutch situations.

86. Prince Fielder (1B-MIL)
The son of former Major Leaguer Cecil Fielder got his break with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 and has grabbed it with both hands, much like the McDonalds triple cheeseburger which he used to actually be official spokesperson for. No, really, he was.

The regally named Prince has always had pop in his big bat. When his father played for Detroit, Prince would sometimes come along for batting practice; on one occasion, at the age of 12, he hit a home run into the upper deck of Tiger Stadium. After Lyle Overbay was traded Fielder became the Brewers' starting first baseman in early 2006, and he should be good for at least 30 long balls and a decent average in 2007. Plus he has a really cool name.

Here's what Dan Payn on FoxSports had to say about the man who would be Prince;

''We know "Son of Cecil" can rake: .524 career SLG in the minors and 28 bombs in his first season in the bigs. Fielder posted an OBP of only .320 in the first half of 2006, but after the break he authored a batting line of .278 AVG/.381 OBP/.490 SLG. That boost is mostly due to the fact that Fielder did a much better job of recognizing breaking pitches in the second half. Expect further progress in 2007. A 40-homer season isn't out of the question.''

105. Howie Kendrick (1B/2B-LAA)
Anybody who is a regular reader of Sports Guy on ESPN2 knows all about Howard Kendrick. Sports Guy has been high on Kendrick's potential since last year and has mentioned him several times in baseball columns. After destroying minor league pitching to the tune of a career .359 average Howie has made his splash in the majors and qualifies at both second and first base. With Adam Kennedy signing as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2006-07 offseason, second base will be all Howie's for 2007.

136. Adrian Gonzalez (1B-SD)
Those Texas Rangers aren't very good at the whole 'trading' thing are they? Adrian Gonzalez was part of a 2005 deal that saw himself, outfielder Termel Sledge and Chris Young go to San Diego in return for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuska. The Padres got the better of that one by a long way.

Once Ryan Klesko went down to injury the first base job was all Adrian's. With the bulk of the playing time at first base in 2006, Gonzalez continued to improve his hitting, and showed flashes of gold glove caliber defense. In his first full season, he led the Padres in batting average (.304) and home runs (24). He is only 24 and will probably shine in San Diego for years to come.

166. Conor Jackson (1B-ARI)
Another one of a new breed of young, exciting players hitting the major leagues, Conor Jackson is only 24 but projects to be the starting first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, a position he laid claim to after an excellent spring in 2006. Conor played the vast majority of first base for the D-Backs in 2006 and showed alot of potential. He is only 24 years old.

204. Mike Jacobs (1B-FLA)
I know the Mets got Carlos Delgado in return, but how on earth did they let this Mike Jacobs guy go? Aged 27 Jacobs burst into the public eye in 2006 with a stellar season for the Marlins.

The power threat was there from an early stage in Jacob's major league career. In making his major league debut with the Mets on August 21, 2005, Jacobs hit a stunning three-run pinch-hit home run against Esteban Loaiza of the Washington Nationals. He went on to hit three more home runs in his next three games, setting an all-time major league record for the most home runs by a player in the first four games of his career.

In only 30 games and 100 at-bats, Jacobs hit a very impressive 11 home runs and 23 RBI. Many people penciled him in as the Mets' first baseman for the future. However, on November 23, 2005, the Mets traded in exchange for Carlos Delgado. Worked out pretty well for both teams but in a couple of years when Delgado retires and Jacobs is still bashing long bombs, well, ask the Mets fans then who got the better deal.

233. James Loney (1B-LAD)
This kid (only 22!) has serious power potential. On September 28, 2006 in a game against the Colorado Rockies, Loney went 4 for 5 with 9 RBI's which tied a 56-year Dodgers franchise record for RBI's in a single game. The problem is of course, Nomar Garciapara stands in his way at first right now for the Dodgers. Loney probably showed enough in limited playing time in '06 though to stick to the big club and would have to fancy his chances of getting good playing time if Nomar went down. That's a pretty decent possibility considering Nomar's recent injury troubles.


Previously posted: Catchers.



2 comments:

Michael Bergerson said...

Hey Cormac,

For an update to Brendan's 2007 season go to msnsportsnet.com and click the baseball link. ...fairly impressive so far in two outings.

Happy St. Patrick's day to you, your family and everyone on the Ireland National Baseball team.

Michael Bergerson

Eklof 22 said...

Nice, thanks for that!

For those of you just tuning in, Brendan Bergerson is not only a pitcher for West Virginia University but also a star for the Irish National Baseball Team.

Click here for more on Brendan


Happy St Patrick's day to you too Sir!

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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