As we approach the second half of the 2011 season, it may be time to start looking at potential key moves to make a second half push toward your fantasy baseball league title. When considering the position of first base, there is no lack of players who are underachieving, overachieving, sleeper picks or possible ‘buy low’ or ‘sell high’ candidates. Let’s take a look at a few first basemen of note entering the second half of the 2011 MLB season.
Adam Dunn (CWS) –
Entering the 2011 season, Dunn was the mark of consistency. He’d hit between 38 and 40 home runs for 6 straight years, topped only by Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols during that span. Add to that the fact that Dunn was moving into U.S. Cellular Field which played as the best home run park in MLB in 2010. All signs pointed to another 39 HR, 100 RBI season. However, baseball is played on the field and that has not been the case so far in 2011 as Dunn has struggled badly. Very badly to be precise. Players of that consistency do not suddenly lose their talent overnight. Look for Dunn (as well as his teammates, for that matter) to bounce back with a big second half.
Lance Berkman (STL) –
Depending upon your fantasy baseball league rules, Berkman either qualifies at first base or soon will (19 GP). He enters the All Star break leading the NL in HR with 24, including the longest ball ever hit at the 6-year-old Busch Stadium. 35 year old players with recent knee problems are not the best candidates to have a career year. In spring training this season, Berkman suffered through elbow and calf issues which make him a risk to complete the entire season healthy. In addition, he has been steadily declining as the first half winds down. Throw in the fact that from 2008-2010, he hit 52 HR pre-All Star break and only 16 in total after the break. All signs point to decreased production in the second half of the year. Proceed with caution.
Carlos Pena (CHC) –
Battling through a thumb injury to start the2011 season hurting him out of the gate, but Pena has been heating up lately. Signed to a one-year contract in the off-season, Pena will want to prove his worth for a big contract opportunity. That should be motivation enough to provide a big second half. If he can get his ground ball/fly ball ratio down (currently at .73), he’ll really start seeing the ball leave Wrigley Field on a regular basis. Never one to hit for average, Pena’s game is all about power. When looking to fill your fantasy first base position, power is what you are after. Get him if you need help in home runs.
Brandon Belt (SF) –
Just activated off the disabled list, Belt has been assigned to Triple A-Fresno to work on getting his swing back. The Giants seem a little at odds about how to properly use Belt but he should be back with the big club shortly after the All Star break and could be a sleeper pick in the second half. If you are into taking a minimal risk with a potentially decent return, Belt is worth a look.
Gaby Sanchez (FLA) –
Many had thought Sanchez maxed out at .273-19-85 stat line of 2010. However, in the first half of this season, he already has hit 13 HR to go with 48 RBI and has added 20 points to his BA. With an increased walk rate, Sanchez is looking to be a nice first base option for the Marlins. He may not be the flashiest bat in the league, but if you are looking for a steady, consistent performer, Sanchez is a good fit.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) –
If you are looking for a first baseman on a hot streak entering the break, there may be none hotter than Freeman. In a recent series against the Colorado Rockies, the Braves’ rookie first basemen hit 4 HR and 7 RBI. In his last 8 games, Freeman has hit at a .423 clip (11 for 26). On a team with a nice blend of veterans (Chipper Jones), young players (Jason Heyward) and players in their prime (Brian McCann), Freeman is in a great situation to succeed.
Michael Cuddyer (MIN) –
If you are looking for flexibility, Cuddyer could be your man. Also eligible at the right field position, Cuddyer can help give you the ability to slot him into different roster spots, which is always a plus. In addition, he offers a bit of speed (7 SB so far in 2011, matching his total of all of last season) which is always a boost at the first base position. Cuddyer enters the break on a hot streak having hit .448 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 8 July games.
Regardless of your needs, there are several options at first base to help your fantasy baseball squad as we enter the second half of the 2011 season. It’s up to you to determine ‘who’s on first’ for your team.