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The 5 Best First Basemen in Baseball Today
The Big Men of Baseball
When you think of first basemen in baseball, what comes to mind?
You think of big, burly guys. Typically, a first baseman is the largest guy on the field, towering over the infielders and umpires. And with that size often comes an impressive swing.
More so than any other position on the baseball field, it is expected that first basemen will hit for average, drive in runs and hit home runs. Usually a first baseman will bat cleanup or somewhere in the middle of the lineup and is often considered to be the best hitter on a MLB team.
While the focus for a first baseman may be on offense, that doesn't mean defense isn't important.
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Don't Discount Defense
Not only should a first baseman be able to field his position, but he also has to be able to scoop balls from the dirt or reach out on errant throws from his infielders while always keeping a toe on the bag. Too often defense is overlooked at first base, when in actuality, it might be the most important position in the infield.
A well-rounded first baseman who excels at the plate and in the field is a major asset to a MLB team and the ability to do both separates the good from the great.
The Best of the Best:
Some of the greatest first basemen of all time include players like Lou Gehrig, Eddie Murray, Willie McCovey, Jim Thome and Jeff Bagwell.
Today, there may be more excellent first basemen in baseball than ever before and one player has already cemented himself amongst the Top 10 First Basemen of all-time. For now, these are The 5 Best First Basemen in Baseball Today:
Boston Red Sox Gear:
5) Adrian Gonzalez
Chosen first overall in the 2000 MLB Draft by the Florida Marlins, Adrian Gonzalez possesses impressive power and an even better glove.
After four seasons in the Marlins Minor League System, Gonzalez was traded to the Texas Rangers in 2004 where he appeared in 69 games throughout the '04 and '05 seasons. Just prior to the '06 season, he was traded to the San Diego Padres where he enjoyed success through the 2010 season.
During the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings, Adrian Gonzalez was traded to the Boston Red Sox for four prospects.
There's Nothing Like a Change of Scenery:
PETCO Park in San Diego is considered to be one of the very worst stadiums for hitters, therefore, by heading to Fenway Park in Boston (one of the best hitter's parks), Gonzalez should see a dramatic improvement in his already excellent stats.
Not to mention a vastly superior lineup that will be surrounding him compared to in San Diego.
In his five seasons with the Padres, Adrian Gonzalez was selected for three All-Star Games. In 2008 and 2009, he won the Gold Glove Award at first base.
Were it not for playing in the same league as Albert Pujols, it is very likely Gonzalez might have a few Silver Slugger Awards and a MVP Award on his mantel.
Throughout his seven-year career in the Major Leagues, he has 168 HR, 525 RBI and 488 runs scored with a .284 AVG, .368 OBP and .507 SLG.
His best season came in 2008 when he hit 36 HR, 119 RBI and scored 103 runs to go along with a .279 AVG, .361 OBP and .510 SLG.
As a member of the Boston Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez should be poised for a lot of future success. Expect him to set career highs across the board in his first season in the AL and possibly battle for the MVP.
2010 Baseball Award Winners:
4) Joey Votto
The youngest player on this list, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds broke onto the baseball scene with his phenomenal 2010 season.
He made his Major League debut on September 4th, 2007 and appeared in another 23 games that season. Since then, his short career has been filled with major lows and highs.
Ups and Downs:
His father died in August of 2008 while making a push for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Due to the loss, Votto went through bouts of depression that caused him to miss 31 games of the 2009 season. Despite losing those at bats, Votto still went on to hit .322 AVG, .414 OBP, .567 SLG and 25 HR while finishing the season strong.
As it turns out, September of '09 was only a prelude to his sensational 2010 season where he would go on to lead the Reds to a NL Central Division Championship.
In 2010, Joey Votto made his first All-Star Game as the final fan vote, despite leading the NL in most offensive categories at the time. After the season, he won the NL MVP Award, edging out Albert Pujols, and the Hank Aaron Award.
Thus far in his career, Votto has 90 HR, 298 RBI and has scored 268 runs with the Reds. He has a career .314 AVG, .401 OBP and .557 SLG.
His best season was in 2010 when he hit 37 HR, 113 RBI and scored 106 runs. His .324 AVG was a career best and his .424 OBP and .600 SLG both led the NL.
Batting third in the Cincinnati Reds lineup, Joey Votto has plenty of opportunity to succeed in upcoming seasons. Surrounded by a strong core of young hitters and playing in a very hitter-friendly stadium, he is sure to see his name on more awards in the near future.
New York Yankees Gear:
3) Mark Teixeira
After only eight seasons in the Major Leagues, Mark Teixeira has already played for four different baseball teams.
Teixera made his debut in 2003 with the Texas Rangers. Midway through the 2007 season, Teixeira was traded to the Atlanta Braves, then, midway through the 2008 season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he would go on to help lead the team to the AL West Division Championship and a 100 Win Season.
New York State of Mind:
Following the '08 season, Mark Teixeira signed a 8-year, $180 million contract with the New York Yankees. In his very first season with the team, the Yankees won the AL East on their way to the World Series Championship. Were it not for the record-breaking season by Joe Mauer, it is likely Teixeira would have won the AL MVP Award.
Considered the best defensive first basemen in baseball, Teixeira has won four Gold Glove Awards in his career along with three Silver Slugger Awards and two All-Star Game selections.
Mark Teixeira has hit 275 HR, 906 RBI and scored 782 runs over the course of his career. He has a .286 AVG, .377 OBP and .536 SLG.
His best season came in 2009 with the Yankees when he hit 39 HR, 122 RBI and scored 103 runs. During that season, he maintained a .292 AVG, .383 OBP and .536 SLG (all above career averages).
As with most New York Yankees players, Mark Teixeira is in a prime position to succeed as an individual and teammate. He should continue to bat in front of Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, and the New Yankee Stadium suits his switch-hitting abilities well.
Who is the Best First Baseman in Baseball Today?
2) Miguel Cabrera
At only 27 years old, Miguel Cabrera has started over 100 games as a third baseman, left fielder, right fielder and first baseman. Since April 22, 2008 he has primarily played first base with the Detroit Tigers.
Cabrera started his career with the Florida Marlins and played there from 2003 through 2007. In his first season, the Marlins went on to win the World Series Championship. After the '07 season, he was traded to the Tigers with Dontrelle Willis.
The Sky is the Limit:
By starting in the Major Leagues at such a young age (20), Miguel Cabrera is on a Hall-of-Fame pace very early in his career.
According to the Bill James 2011 Handbook, he already has a 37% chance of reaching 3,000 hits and is the only player under 30 with such a high percentage. He also has a 3% chance to beat Barry Bond's HR record and a 13% chance to surpass the 2,297 RBI hit by Hank Aaron.
Miguel Cabrera has already been selected to five different All-Star Games. Has won three Silver Slugger Awards and was the AL Home Run leader in 2008.
Over the course of his eight-year career, he has hit 247 HR, 879 RBI and scored 741 runs. He has a .313 AVG, .388 OBP and .552 SLG.
Thus far, his best season was in 2010 when he hit 28 HR, 126 RBI and scored 111 runs. In that season, Cabrera hit .328 AVG, .420 OBP and .622 SLG.
Despite Comerica Park favoring pitchers, Cabrera continues to put up impressive numbers season after season. Entering his prime in the 2011 season, and with the addition of Victor Martinez from the Boston Red Sox, expect another All-Star season and potentially his first AL MVP Award, although with Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira in the mix, that could be a challenge.
St. Louis Cardinals Gear:
1) Albert Pujols
Forget about the best first baseman in baseball today, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is the best player in the game and climbing the charts for the best of all-time.
According to The Bleacher Report, Pujols is currently the 3rd Greatest First Baseman of All-Time. Baseball Pages has him ranked 12th. ESPN and Sports Illustrated voted him as the Best Player of the Past Decade (2000-2009).
The Perfect Player:
There is almost nothing Albert Pujols can't do on the baseball field. He leads all current players in AVG, OBP and SLG and has never hit less than 30 HR or 100 RBI in a season.
He has played all 10 of his Major League seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and made his debut in 2001 as a third basemen for the team. He would later move to left field before ending up at first base in 2003. In 2006, he led his team to their first World Series Championship in 24 years.
Albert Pujols has won almost every baseball award imaginable, including three National League MVP Awards, the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year Award, six NL Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Glove Awards and two Hank Aaron Awards. He has received an All-Star Game selection in all but on of his MLB seasons.
Over the past 10 seasons, Pujols has 408 HR, 1230 RBI and has scored 1186 runs. His .331 AVG, .426 OBP and .624 SLG are all currently the best in baseball.
His best season (although, he hasn't had a bad season) came in 2006 when he hit 49 HR, 137 RBI and scored 119 runs. In that year, he hit .331 AVG, .431 OBP and .671 SLG.
At only 30 years old, and with no signs of slowing down, it his hard to imagine just what kind of numbers Albert Pujols is capable of putting up before the end of his career. At this point, no record is safe.
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