Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Around The Diamond: First Base

In todays game of baseball a 1st basemen's job is to hit for power.  Teams don't care if their first basemen lacks in other areas such as; fielding, running or throwing.  Most first basemen hit for average, know how to get on base and draw walks.  Also, a lot of first basemen strike out a lot. Am I saying that it's wrong to only have power hitters at first and not athletes like Keith Hernandez?  Not really.  This makes sense because the best play in baseball is the home run so power hitters will always find a position.  Why first base? Because first base is the least demanding position on defense.  

If you look around baseball almost all first basemen walk a lot, hit a lot of  homers, have a high ISO(isolated slugging=SLG-AVG), walk a lot and play crappy defense.  This is why first basemen like Mark Teixeira are so valuable.  Because he doesn't only walk and hit homers, he also has a great eye, hits for average and has many gold gloves while playing 1st base.  

This is why I don't understand the reason teams give huge contracts to the Adam Dunns, Carlos Delgados and Jason Giambis of the world.  There are so many other power hitters with the same skill set for so much cheaper out there(like in the minors or on waivers) that don't get recognized.  Remember how I wrote in my last post that power hitters peak at 26, well this proves that teams like the Yankees, Mets and the team that'll sign Ryan Howard are doing the wrong thing because they are investing so much cash into a guy who has 1-2 years left in the tank.  These guys were great in their prime but after the age of 31 they have nothing left because they only hit for power and the less tools you have the faster you decline.  Also players reach free agency at about age 27-29 so therefore only have a few years left.

So if you could get a guy like Mark Teixeira that's fine but if not don't go out and get some older guy that in a few years will be done.  Instead bring up a young guy(i.e. Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Shelley Duncan) that can rake(hit for power) and he'll be hitting for you for the next 5-8 years, then you let him go in free agency and pickup a couple of draft picks.