2012 projections review: first base

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This is the second of a position-by-position review of my 2012 projections. Along with looking at my top preseason top 10 (for fantasy purposes) from each spot, I’m highlighting some other interesting players. Any requests for players not covered can be made in the comments.

1. Albert Pujols – Angels
Projection: .306/.414/.586, 43 HR, 114 R, 117 RBI, 9 SB in 601 AB
2012 stats: .285/.343/.516, 30 HR, 85 R, 105 RBI, 8 SB in 607 AB

After finally settling in above the Mendoza Line on May 15, Pujols came in at .312/.374/.589 the rest of the way. The most striking thing about Pujols’ decline is the huge drop in his walk rate. He drew at least 70 unintentional walks every year from 2004-09 before dropping to 65 in 2010, 46 in 2011 and 36 this year.

2. Joey Votto – Reds
Projection: .314/.426/.564, 33 HR, 105 R, 107 RBI, 9 SB in 567 AB
2012 stats: .337/.474/.567, 14 HR, 59 R, 56 RBI, 5 SB in 374 AB

3. Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox/Dodgers
Projection: .318/.401/.551, 33 HR, 103 R, 118 RBI, 0 SB in 604 AB
2012 stats: .299/.344/.463, 18 HR, 75 R, 108 RBI, 2 SB in 629 AB

The move to Dodger Stadium will get Gonzalez a weaker projection next year, particularly in runs scored. I may have to ramp up the steals, though. Gonzalez had as many stolen bases in 36 games with the Dodgers (two) as he did in 1,140 career games previously.

4. Prince Fielder – Tigers
Projection: .278/.412/.515, 33 HR, 98 R, 113 RBI, 1 SB in 565 AB
2012 stats: .313/.412/.528, 30 HR, 83 R, 108 RBI, 1 SB in 581 AB

It figured that the move from Milwaukee to Detroit would take a chunk out of Fielder’s home run total. However, he made up for it by hitting .300 for the first time in his career. After such a quick adjustment to the AL, I’ll give him a somewhat better projection next year.

5. Eric Hosmer – Royals
Projection: .293/.365/.487, 24 HR, 89 R, 97 RBI, 8 SB in 598 AB
2012 stats: .232/.304/.359, 14 HR, 65 R, 60 RBI, 16 SB in 535 AB

Hosmer was such a huge disappointment after hitting .293/.334/.465 with 19 homers in 128 games as a rookie. All he seemed to do as a sophomore was hit grounders. The future is still bright, but the Royals need to bring in an alternative at first base and consider sending Hosmer back to Triple-A if he can’t fails to make adjustments next spring.

6. Mark Teixeira – Yankees
Projection: .260/.367/.504, 36 HR, 93 R, 108 RBI, 2 SB in 573 AB
2012 stats: .251/.332/.475, 24 HR, 66 R, 84 RBI, 2 SB in 451 AB

Teixeira’s OPS declined for the fifth straight season, and the Yankees are still on the hook for another four years. Orioles fans should stop booing him and start cheering the fact that their team isn’t the one paying him $22.5 million per year.

7. Ike Davis – Mets
Projection: .277/.363/.501, 29 HR, 81 R, 95 RBI, 1 SB in 553 AB
2012 stats: .227/.308/.462, 32 HR, 66 R, 90 RBI, 0 SB in 519 AB

I don’t know how much the Valley Fever had to do with Davis’s early struggles, but the fact is that he hit .158/.234/.273 with five homers in 183 at-bats through June 8 and then .265/.347/.565 with 27 homers in 336 at-bats the rest of the way. Regardless, he still needs to step up his game against lefties if he’s going to post quality batting averages from year to year.

8. Paul Konerko – White Sox
Projection: .278/.371/.480, 28 HR, 73 R, 98 RBI, 0 SB in 540 AB
2012 stats: .298/.371/.486, 26 HR, 66 R, 75 RBI, 0 SB in 533 AB

Hitting Konerko behind Adam Dunn didn’t really work out for the White Sox. He was still pretty good, but he lost 30 RBI from his 2011 total.

9. Freddie Freeman – Braves
Projection: .282/.348/.476, 24 HR, 73 R, 87 RBI, 3 SB in 561 AB
2012 stats: .259/.340/.456, 23 HR, 91 R, 94 RBI, 2 SB in 540 AB

10. Paul Goldschmidt – Diamondbacks
Projection: .246/.329/.485, 30 HR, 74 R, 85 RBI, 8 SB in 532 AB
2012 stats: .286/.359/.490, 20 HR, 82 R, 82 RBI, 18 SB in 514 AB

One of my most unusual misses: I was off by 40 points of average, 10 homers and 10 steals, yet by only 35 points of OPS and five runs+RBI.

11. Adam Dunn – White Sox
Projection: .230/.347/.489, 37 HR, 80 R, 92 RBI, 1 SB in 538 AB
2012 stats: .204/.333/.468, 41 HR, 87 R, 96 RBI, 2 SB in 539 AB

Dunn was a great story early on, but he was a below average DH over the final four months. In the end, his comeback ranked as only the White Sox’s third best behind Alex Rios and Jake Peavy. While my projection turned out OK, I’ll be going lower next year.

15. Ryan Howard – Phillies
Projection: .261/.350/.499, 21 HR, 51 R, 65 RBI, 0 SB in 337 AB
2012 stats: .219/.295/.423, 14 HR, 28 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 260 AB

17. Justin Morneau – Twins
Projection: .269/.361/.473, 23 HR, 71 R, 82 RBI, 0 SB in 490 AB
2012 stats: .267/.333/.440, 19 HR, 63 R, 77 RBI, 1 SB in 505 AB

It’s great that Morneau was able to return from post-concussion syndrome and become a solid contributor. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite resemble the old Morneau at the plate. Even though he was limited to 134 games, he still set a new career high with 102 strikeouts, and he had his worst full season from a power perspective. I expect I’ll give him a similar projection next year.

18. Kendrys Morales – Angels
Projection: .293/.346/.497, 20 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 1 SB in 433 AB
2012 stats: .273/.320/.467, 22 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB in 484 AB

As a fantasy projection, this one is pretty great. As far as actually projecting production, it’s a little off; I expected Morales to reach those run and RBI totals in 50 fewer at-bats. Considering that I was projecting a guy who had missed 1 2/3 seasons with a busted leg, I’ll take it either way. Morales had his best two months in August and September, which would seem to be a good sign for next year.

19. Justin Smoak – Mariners
Projection: .258/.350/.440, 22 HR, 70 R, 74 RBI, 0 SB in 539 AB
2012 stats: .217/.290/.364, 19 HR, 49 R, 51 RBI, 1 SB in 483 AB

Smoak was sitting at .190/.258/.316 through the end of August. He hit .341/.426/.580 with five homers in September to seemingly guarantee himself another shot as the Mariners’ first baseman next year.

21. Adam LaRoche – Nationals
Projection: .257/.332/.442, 19 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 1 SB in 475 AB
2012 stats: .271/.343/.510, 33 HR, 76 R, 100 RBI, 1 SB in 571 AB

LaRoche hit .172 with three homers in 151 at-bats before undergoing shoulder surgery in 2011. All he did this year was come back with the best season of his career at age 32.

29. Mark Trumbo – Angels
Projection: .248/.297/.460, 16 HR, 39 R, 49 RBI, 4 SB in 315 AB
2012 stats: .268/.317/.491, 32 HR, 66 R, 95 RBI, 4 SB in 544 AB

I’ve been a big skeptic with Trumbo, and I was looking like a big fool with him hitting .307/.358/.630 with 27 homers through 85 games this year. Then he suddenly collapsed to .213/.258/.293 the rest of the way. My feeling is that the flaws in his approach were exposed, and he’s going to have to start laying off bad pitches to survive. That said, he has some of the best power in the league and he can still crush mistakes. He can’t be completely written off.

Previous 2012 projection reviews: catcher

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.