Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

AL CENTRAL FIRST BASEMEN

Ranking of expected production for First Basemen is complicated by the fact that several teams split playing time at 1B between two players with the other being the primary Designated Hitter (DH). Discussion of 1B/DH in the AL Central is a littany of "IF's." If Sweeney/Thomas/Dmitri Young stay healthy. If Pena's pitch selection improves. If Morneau avoids the dreaded "sophmore jinx" and learns to lay off high fastballs. If Hafner starts hitting lefties. If Broussard produces for a full season like he did in the second half. If Harvey can hit for a full season like he did in the first half of last year.

Based on Paul Konerko having the closest thing to a reliable track record of the bunch I ended up with Chicago number one. Last year Konerko quietly put up some big numbers including 41 homers and 117 RBI. It was a difficult choice as Pena, Morneau, Broussard, Hafner, and Harvey have all shown some real serious potential. I couldn't seriously consider Sweeney since he has missed time to nagging injuries each of the last three years. However, if he only played against the Indians, Sweeney would be an MVP candidate.

Years ago players were considered to be in their prime in their mid-thirties. Well, Bill James tossed a lot of numbers into a computer to attempt to determine when a player is really in his prime. The result was that the great majority of players have their best seasons at ages 27 and 28 (We'll ignore Mr. Bonds for this discussion). Take it for what it's worth, but with that in mind here are the ages of the AL Central 1B/DH's (2005 seasonal age):
Frank Thomas 37
Mike Sweeney and Dmitri Young 31
Matt LeCroy and Paul Konerko 29
Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner 28
Carlos Pena and Ken Harvey 27
Justin Morneau 24

My final ranking of AL Central 1B/DH's is as follows
1. CHICAGO: Konerko/Thomas
2. CLEVELAND: Broussard/Hafner
3. MINNESOTA: Morneau/LeCroy
4. DETROIT: Young/Pena
5. KC: Sweeney/Harvey/Stairs A healthy Mike Sweeney could make this look pretty silly.

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