2012 projections: top 10 first basemen

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Last night’s go at the catchers led to some hard feelings apparently, so let me make it clear, these are just OPS projections for 2012, they’re not meant for a hard statement on the game’s best at a position. Anyway, here are the top 10 at first base:

1.017 – Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) – 589 AB – 1.033 in 2011
.993 – Albert Pujols (Angels) – 596 AB – .906 in 2011
.990 – Joey Votto (Reds) – 567 AB – .947 in 2011
.946 – Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) – 604 AB – .957 in 2011
.921 – Prince Fielder (Tigers) – 563 AB – .981 in 2011
.873 – Mark Teixeira (Yankees) – 583 AB – .835 in 2011
.864 – Ike Davis (Mets) – 553 AB – .925 in 2011
.860 – Lance Berkman (Cardinals) – 485 AB – .959 in 2011
.850 – Ryan Howard (Phillies) – 380 AB – .835 in 2011
.846 – Paul Konerko (White Sox) – 551 AB – .906 in 2011

– I’ll rank Cabrera with the first basemen for now. He’ll open the season at third for Detroit, but I doubt he’ll finish it there. Of course, he would have topped that list, too. The 1.017 projection is the highest I’ve given to any player this year.

– I would have had Fielder higher had he stayed in the NL, but there will probably be an adjustment period with the league switch. Also, Comerica Park favors right-handed hitters over lefties, which will probably cost Fielder some homers. I have him hitting 32 this year after he finished with 38 last season.

– Just missing the cut were sophomores Eric Hosmer and Freddie Freeman. I have Hosmer improving from .799 to .836 in year two and Freeman going from .795 to .823.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.