2011 Projection Review: First basemen

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What follows is a review of some of my 2011 projections for Rotoworld.com. I’m highlighting my preseason top five for each position and some other notables.

If you missed the catchers last week, click here. I hope to bang the rest of these out a lot more quickly.

First Basemen

Preseason Top 5

Albert Pujols – Cardinals – $41 – #1
Projection: .322/.435/.609, 40 HR, 112 R, 119 RBI, 11 SB in 562 AB
2011 stats: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 105 R, 99 RBI, 9 SB in 579 AB

That Pujols barely missed out on another .300 season got some attention, but it was his OBP that really tumbled. His previous low mark was a .394 back in 2002, and he had finished at .414 or better every year since. Pujols walked just 61 times this year after coming in over 100 each of the previous three years. As a result, he actually had more at-bats than my projection called for despite missing 15 games.

Miguel Cabrera – Tigers – $36 – #2
Projection: .315/.400/.586, 39 HR, 103 R, 117 RBI, 3 SB in 577 AB
2011 stats: .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 111 R, 105 RBI, 2 SB in 572 AB

Cabrera’s remarkable season resulted in a mere 105 RBI because the Tigers got OBPs of .311, .329 and .317 from the top three spots in the order. It certainly wasn’t Cabrera’s fault: he hit .388 and slugged .673 with RISP.

Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox – $31 – #3
Projection: .308/.394/.550, 35 HR, 104 R, 116 RBI, 0 SB in 607 AB
2011 stats: .338/.410/.548, 27 HR, 108 R, 117 RBI, 1 SB in 630 AB

Gonzalez’s shoulder problems sapped him of some power as the year went on, but he had an incredible season anyway. Plus, even though his swing was supposed to be tailor-made for Fenway Park, 17 of his 27 homers and 26 of his 45 doubles came on the road.

Joey Votto – Reds – $30 – #4
Projection: .296/.400/.545, 32 HR, 100 R, 103 RBI, 12 SB in 558 AB
2011 stats: .309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 101 R, 103 RBI, 8 SB in 599 AB

One of these years I’ll stop underestimating Votto’s ability to hit for average. Of course, Votto didn’t get a whole lot of help this season. He had to hit .339 with runners on and .383 with RISP just to get to 103 RBI.

Mark Teixeira – Yankees – $29 – #5
Projection: .289/.391/.545, 37 HR, 105 R, 118 RBI, 1 SB in 589 AB
2011 stats: .248/.341/.494, 39 HR, 90 R, 111 RBI, 4 SB in 589 AB

I’d be more optimistic about Teixeira going forward if it was some sort of lengthy slump that produced the poor average. However, the fact is that he was the same hitter all year long. He had a .264 average in his best month of 2011. He has some work to do on his swing this winter if he wants to get back to hitting more singles and doubles.

Others

Lance Berkman – Cardinals – $8 – #22
Projection: .271/.387/.442, 15 HR, 69 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB in 439 AB
2011 stats: .301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 90 R, 94 RBI, 2 SB in 488 AB

I’m not completely stunned that Berkman reemerged as one of the NL’s top hitters this year, but I never thought he’d manage to play in 145 games as an outfielder.

Adam Dunn – White Sox – $22 – #8
Projection: .247/.357/.516, 40 HR, 94 R, 111 RBI, 1 SB in 562 AB
2011 stats: .159/.292/.277, 11 HR, 36 R, 42 RBI, 0 SB in 415 AB

I believe this was my biggest OPS miss since Javy Lopez posted his crazy .328/.378/.687 season with the Braves in 2003.

Prince Fielder – Brewers – $27 – #6
Projection: .281/.400/.548, 39 HR, 94 R, 118 RBI, 2 SB in 566 AB
2011 stats: .299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 95 R, 120 RBI, 1 SB in 569 AB

Freddie Freeman – Braves – $4 – #29
Projection: .267/.329/.418, 13 HR, 54 R, 57 RBI, 3 SB in 479 AB
2011 stats: .282/.346/.448, 21 HR, 67 R, 76 RBI, 4 SB in 571 AB

I was down on Freeman in part because the Braves started off hitting him eighth. Fortunately for his owners, that lasted a mere 10 games. He ended up batting fifth more than anywhere else.

Ryan Howard – Phillies – $26 – #7
Projection: .272/.357/.528, 39 HR, 92 R, 120 RBI, 2 SB in 585 AB
2011 stats: .253/.346/.488, 33 HR, 81 R, 116 RBI, 1 SB in 557 AB

Howard bounced back a bit in the RBI department, but he posted a career-low OPS for the second straight season. He hit 105 homers in his first two full seasons, 93 the next two years and just 64 the last two.

Paul Konerko – White Sox – $14 – #13
Projection: .266/.352/.473, 29 HR, 76 R, 94 RBI, 0 SB in 545 AB
2011 stats: .300/.388/.518, 31 HR, 69 R, 105 RBI, 1 SB in 543 AB

Konerko had the best season of his career at age 34 in 2010 and now the second best at age 35. These kinds of things can happen without steroids, apparently.

David Ortiz – Red Sox – $13 – DH #3
Projection: .261/.358/.500, 27 HR, 78 R, 94 RBI, 0 SB in 490 AB
2011 stats: .309/.398/.554, 29 HR, 84 R, 96 RBI, 1 SB in 525 AB

Ortiz bouncing back to hit .309 definitely qualifies as one of the most surprising stats of the season. He came in at .264, .238 and .270 the previous three years, and the .270 season in 2010 came in spite of a career-high strikeout rate.

Carlos Pena – Cubs – $11 – #20
Projection: .231/.365/.480, 31 HR, 73 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB
2011 stats: .225/.357/.462, 28 HR, 72 R, 80 RBI, 2 SB in 493 AB

Gaby Sanchez – Marlins – $12 – #17
Projection: .276/.349/.442, 19 HR, 73 R, 86 RBI, 4 SB in 561 AB
2011 stats: .266/.352/.427, 19 HR, 72 R, 78 RBI, 3 SB in 572 AB

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.