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AL First Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League First Basemen without Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
B = Bats.  T = Throws.  Age = Player's Age as of October 1, 2006.
Proj. = Rotohelp's projected 2006 stats and fantasy values for each player.
2006 = Each player's final 2006 stat line and fantasy values.
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2006.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement; aRAR = RAR adjusted to
consider a player's 2006 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players by position in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed all players in the league where they began the season.

22.  Carlos PenaBOS Red SoxAge: 28B:L   T:L

Released by the Tigers at the end of spring training, Pena quickly signed with the Yankees, spending the first few months of the season at AAA Columbus(IL), where he registered a merely respectable .260/.370/.454 performance with 19 HR, 66 RBI, 65 R, 4/4 SB%, and a 63:89 BB:K in 391 AB. He opted out of this deal in August, joined the Red Sox, and spent two weeks crushing the ball at AAA Pawtucket(IL) to the tune of .459/.523/.865 output. Boston promoted him for the stretch run, and Pena registered decent, albeit hardly spectacular numbers. Current reports indicate he'll accept an NRI with the Devil Rays, giving no more than a small chance of seeing any time in the majors before summer. Pena isn't a bad player, but due to continuing contract problems and no more than mediocre power, his best hope for another extended big league tour involves mastering pinch-hitting as soon as possible.

23.  Travis LeeTB Devil RaysAge: 31B:L   T:L

Through two weeks of the season Lee ranked among the most valuable players in baseball with his four homers and an average hovering near .300, yet by the end of the month he remained stuck at four homers and owned a .185 BA. He finished the first half owning .197/.281/.291 averages that aren't acceptable for a backup catcher, forget about a starting first baseman. While his performance vastly improved after the break, he began ceding increasing amounts of playing time to Ty Wigginton and Greg Norton, eventually earning his release three weeks before season's end. The minor league contract he signed last week with Washington places him in line to start the year at first due to Nick Johnson's lingering injury issues, however even an expected rebound doesn't make Lee a good choice in any league. Treat him solely as a Dollar Days COR option for teams that run out of money.

24.  Dan JohnsonOAK AthleticsAge: 27B:L   T:R

Although the Athletics haven't given Johnson a fair chance to establish himself in the majors, his awful first half also played a primary role in necessitating another second-half surge to make the playoffs. Despite solid plate discipline, a low batting average and unacceptable power numbers rightfully cost him his job at the break, though at least he rebounded at AAA Sacramento(PCL), posting a .314/.424/.527 performance with 7 HR, 44 RBI, and a 31:27 BB:K in 169 AB. He still possesses the skill foundation necessary to emerge as a $20 player, but since he doesn't even own a likely starting job at the moment, only bid beyond $5 if you see some assurances from Bob Geren that Johnson will receive regular at-bats in the Athletics' offensive rotation.

25.  Kendry MoralesLA AngelsAge: 23B:S   T:R

At least Morales carried his solid AA numbers with him to AAA Salt Lake(PCL), where he managed a .320/.359/.516 performance with 12 HR, 52 RBI, and a 14:40 BB:K in 256 AB. However, he didn't impress anyone during his extended first-half audition in Los Angeles, so following Juan Rivera's injury, the Angels quickly signed Shea Hillenbrand to DH, relegating Morales to a spring training battle with Casey Kotchman for the first base job. Given the youngsters' respective minor league records, Kotchman deserves to start in the majors, and while Morales shouldn't struggle if given the opportunity, additional seasoning similarly wouldn't hurt him. Expect him to receive perhaps another couple hundred at-bats in the second half as he stakes his claim for the 2008 DH job in Los Angeles, which only merits him a high-round reserve pick for now.

26.  Brandon FaheyBAL OriolesAge: 25B:L   T:R

Barely a solid AA infielder prior to the year, Fahey joined the Orioles at the end of April after posting a .279/.402/.324 performance with 0 HR, 3 RBI, a 4/7 SB%, and a 10:5 BB:K in 68 AB for AAA Ottawa(IL). He spent most of the next month as a starting middle infielder, subbing first for Miguel Tejada and then for Brian Roberts. However, he then slipped down the bench, and while he finished the year as a platoon starter in left field, he added nothing to the Orioles beyond David Newhan's contributions from the previous two campaigns. The departure of Newhan seemingly leaves the utility job available for Fahey, but given his limited speed, unimpressive plate discipline, and limited power potential restrained by a 2.40 G-F, he neither belongs in Baltimore's regular lineup rotation nor yours.

27.  Roberto PetagineSEA MarinersAge: 35B:L   T:L

While Petagine at least broke camp in the majors, the Mariners barely deployed him at all, letting him see the field perhaps two days each week in the first half. They DFA'd him at the break, and he left the organization two weeks later with little hope of seeing another chance in the majors. Few players lost more money due to management myopia over the last two decades in Petagine, who probably could have compiled better career numbers than Mark Grace if any club ever just let him play.

28.  J.T. SnowBOS Red SoxAge: 38B:L   T:L

Released by the Red Sox in June after perhaps his three worst months since his 1992 debut, Snow unsurprisingly retired last month after failing to attract much attention on the open market. He concludes his 15-year career with .268/.357/.427 averages, along with six Gold Gloves and one very memorable save of Darren Baker at home plate in the 2002 playoffs.

29.  Jack HannahanDET TigersAge: 26B:L   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Detroit for my comments on Fahey.

30.  Casey KotchmanLA AngelsAge: 23B:L   T:L

With an impressive skill foundation and solid numbers up the minor league ladder, Kotchman deservedly won the Angels' first base job last spring. Unfortunately, the mononucleosis that affected him last winter never allowed him to capitalize on his great camp. He headed to the DL in the second week of May, and although he spent a little time back at AAA Salt Lake, he basically missed the rest of the season. Yet he stayed healthy in the Puerto Rican Winter League, holding a high average while demonstrating impressive plate discipline. I'm inclined to simply treat his case of mono as a season-long traumatic injury, assuming he'll rebound in similar fashion to Jason Kubel in 2006, albeit with a lower power ceiling unless Kotchman can cut his 2.32 career ground-fly rate. He remains a better fit for the Angels at first base than Kendry Morales, and unless they somehow can swing a deal for Todd Helton, Kotchman will receive every chance to claim the position. I expect him to push double-digit value, so feel free to target him for your corner slot if you can grab him in the $6-8 range.

First Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: A wide range of former prospects dominates today's article from Roberto Petagine through Travis Lee and Carlos Pena to a couple of guys that just lost their rookie status in Casey Kotchman and Kendry Morales. The latter two probably possess the most upside here, and whichever Angel wins the first base job should emerge as a nice value. Dan Johnson also merits plenty of attention as another post-hype sleeper capable of vaulting to double-digit value if Oakland simply gives him five hundred at-bats this summer.

Click here to read the previous article.

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