Per a challenge from Salty, I have decided to write the article a little premature.
At the beginning of the season I wrote the following:
Looking at 1B in the NL East it’s hard to not let my biases show through. For one thing I hate the Phillies in general and have never been a big fan of Ryan Howard. Now with his injury to his overly large lower half I have to wonder how much his numbers will suffer. What is clear however is that his strangle hold on the NL East’s best 1B has loosened its grip or has it even disappeared?
Should we go last to first on this one?
#5 The Nationals: One would assume that their starting 1B will be LaRoche. I could go on and on how I think that this team missed the boat not offering Fielder the moon but that’s moot at this point. If it is indeed LaRoche then they need to hope he is healthy and just cover their eyes in the first half. Adam is a notoriously slow starter mustering up only a .246, .324, .435, .758 slash line for his career in the first half. Combine that with an injury plagued 2011 and a lot of bouncing around in 2010 and you get a big question mark. So why do I think that it may not be Adam roaming the 1st base bag? Davey wants him some Harper. If Harper does break camp will they go with Werth in CF? That certainly is not helping your pitching staff to have an OF of Morse, Werth and Harper. My prediction is that while Harper may not make the opening day roster, if LaRoche does not come to hit then Morse will be taking a long diagonal walk.
#4 Gabby Sanchez, the James Loney of the NL East. Tons of potential but he’s not a prospect anymore. It’s time for him to put together a stud season if he wants to move up this list. Gabby was able to ward off a sophomore slump last year in his 2nd full season but he certainly did not take another step forward either. So far his career slash line is almost identical to what he put up last year. .260′s BA with a mid .340′s OBP and around 15-20 HR. He does play decent defense but in a power position those numbers are just not going to get it done. However, I actually think this might be the year he puts it together. I expect him to make a push towards being more of a .275-.280 guy with 25 HR and 90 RBI. For now though he gets the #4.
#3 Freddie Freeman, this one was tough. At one point I had him below Gabby because he has only done it one year and at one point I was ready to put him ahead of Ryan Howard. Freeman is just a plain professional. Defensively he may be the Gold Glove standard for many years to come. Offensively in his first full season he put up an OPS+ of 118 with 21 HR and 32 doubles in a lineup that was often starved for other offensive contributions. After a red hot July he did limp to the finish last year with a mediocre August and awful September. Did he get tired or did he get figured out? That will be something to watch in early 2012.
#2 Ryan Howard, I told you I could not let my bias go on this one. I can’t stand the Phillies and think that Howard might be one of the more overrated players in the league… again one man’s opinion. For the 2nd straight year Howard’s BA, OBP, and SLG all took large hits. While he was still good for 33 HR and 116 RBI, his defense continued to be suspect and his hitting was pitiful away from the friendly confines of the Sandlot. That being said, based on numbers alone he should be ranked first so my next comment will be viewed as hypocritical of course. His injury is something that may effect him dramatically going forward. Howard is a BIG man and dealing with an Achilles injury for a guy his size is nothing to laugh about. After listening to Cliff Floyd on MLBN on this topic I really think he has something, it may take away a lot of power from a guy who was already seeing a decline.
#1 Homer Davis, I mean Ike Davis. Homer just describes me when it comes to Ike. I listen to a lot of MLBN due to my travel time. I find it a great listen regardless of the show and while I don’t agree with a lot of what they say, I agree with this one (go figure). At various points they have proposed that with Fielder and Pujols jumping ship Ike Davis may be 2nd to only Joey Votto. Now let me say this, if it is true then it may be a distant 2nd for sure. However, what’s not to like about how Ike started the season? A 155 OPS+ would put him near the top of the league for sure, can he maintain that level of offense while playing incredible defense as well? Who says there is nothing to watch for on the Mets this year?
Flash to today:
So a lot has changed this year,
End of story right?
How about just the last 30 days?
I know, I know, I am cheating now.
So what is the answer? Most likely somewhere in between so if I were asked today what those rankings would be, would they have changed? Yeah. A little. I can’t possibly have Ike as the number 1 ranked 1B in the NL East. Unfortunately he has to go out and produce again for a longer period before I can again post him at the top. The homer in me wants to throw him right back up there but man I just can’t do it yet.
Where am I today?;
#1 Freddie Freeman: You just can’t ignore what a solid season he is having and the defense that goes behind it.
#2 Adam LaRoche: Yeah, you could make a case for worst to first here. We know LaRoche can hit but since when does it do it for an entire year? I guess that’s one of the many reasons it’s the Nats to lose this year.
#3 Ike Davis: See I am still a slight homer. Ike’s 2nd half at least has me hoping and as NJ said if Ike can net you 26 HR and 77 RBI with 25 games left to go in a bad season? Think what he could do in a good one. For the future of the Mets, they need Ike to firmly plant himself back in the discussion of great young sluggers.
#4 Ryan Howard: Thing is looking at Howard I just see a guy going down not up. Of course that is the seal of doom and next year Ryan will win the Comeback Player Of The Year Award. Perhaps as always it is wishful thinking that he is in decline but there is something missing.
#5 Gabby Sanchez: Perhaps he too will do well now that he is out of the dysfunctional circus that is the Marlins. Hard to tell what effect a clubhouse like that has on a young hitter.
OK there Salty. Have at it. You’re up next!
Thanks to Fangraphs for the information.