2008 Corner Infield Preview
The Fantasy Forecast
by Brooklyn Eagle (), published online 02-21-2008
By Moonlight Graham
BROOKLYN — “Who’s on First?” Had Abbott been able to pose this question to his fellow Roto owner, Costello, just a few years ago, Lou would have taken quite a while to answer. Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, Jason Giambi, Richie Sexson, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Delgado, Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn and Todd Helton were all virtual certainties for 40 HR and 100 RBI. The position was so loaded that owners never had to worry about reaching early. Moreover, it was standard practice to fill the Corner Infield spot with another First Sacker, as Third Basemen were not as abundant.
However, the list of First Base studs has dwindled dramatically in recent seasons. Throw in the fact that The Hot Corner has become ripe with superstar talent, and you can see why the smart Fantasy players have reversed field. So, what happened?
First came the dreaded eligibility issue. Ortiz, Hafner and Thome are strictly DH’s while Dunn has returned to the Outfield. Injuries have been a factor as Berkman has battled through knee problems, while Helton has been reduced to a singles hitter after back and shoulder issues. Lastly, age seems to have reduced Delgado, Giambi and Sexson to shells of their former selves.There are still solid options at the position, just not on the level of previous seasons. Justin Morneau won the AL MVP in ‘06 and Derrek Lee seems to have recovered from a severe wrist injury. Adrian Gonzalez had 100 RBI last season and Carlos Pena surprised everyone last year with 45 HR; a season not many think will be repeated. Where does that leave us?
There are three superstars to be had, but none will last very long.
Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Mark Teixeira are all primed for great seasons. You may ask, “What about Pujols?” Actually, he’s the best of the lot when healthy. However, he’s already stated that if his elbow acts up again in ’08, he won’t play through it. He’ll have the surgery. You can’t take such a big gamble on a Top 5 pick. My advice is to forget Pujols and grab one of the other three as early as possible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft two, if possible, and turn one into a few nice players in an early season trade.
As for Third Base, we all know the cream of the crop. Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera all merit first round consideration, while the next tier of Aramis Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Garrett Atkins and Chone Figgins should be gone before Round 7. My favorite sleeper candidates include: • Ryan Zimmerman, whose power numbers should soar with a healthy wrist and a new, hitter friendly park. • Adrian Beltre, considered a disappointment when Seattle first signed him. He’s now had two straight solid seasons and is still only 29 years old. • Mike Lowell, who may be discounted by many who don’t think he can repeat last year’s success. Those people must not know that he hit .376 at Fenway. I’d also advise taking a peek at Alex Gordon and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Next Week: Middle Infield.