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positional-preview-first-base | December | 2007 Articles

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Positional Preview: First Base

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I'm going to move on with the 2008 positional previews with a look at our first base situation. First base was at two ends of the extreme last year. The Braves turned to a platoon of Scott Thorman and Craig Wilson after shipping Adam LaRoche off to Pittsburgh. Needless to say, the platoon failed miserably as the tandem produced almost nothing at the plate. Thorman and Wilson combined for a paltry .208 average and 76 strikeouts before the All-Star break. Wilson was let go pretty quickly and Thorman rarely saw playing time in the second half. A bold move by John Schuerholz around the deadline brought Mark Teixeira, the most sought after trading commodity, to Atlanta for a package of prospects. The Texas slugger and former Georgia Tech standout took Atlanta's first base situation from pathetic to more than they could ask for. Teixeira had been nagged by some injuries, however after the trade, the first baseman went on an offensive surge, becoming a fan favorite with his own youtube hit.  "Tex" announced his arrival to the NL East with three long balls in his first three games and ten in his first month with his new team. He finished up his first season with the Braves with a line of .317/.404/.615 along with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in only 54 games with the Braves. First base is definitely one of the positions that really has no question marks going into next season. Even if Teixeira doesn't completely keep up the production he had with Atlanta last year -- and he more than likely won't-- the consistency,  power, and defense he brings to this team will make him one of Bobby Cox's most valuable players. Before you jump all over me for saying he won't enjoy the same production as last year (yeah, I know half of you are already writing a comment about it), look at the numbers. His best previous season was in 2005 when he hit .301/.379/.575. In his time with Atlanta, Teixeira's average was 16 points higher, his OBP was 25 points higher, and his slugging percentage was 40 points higher. I understand that he could have a better season than that but I really don't expect that over a full season, Teixeira could replicate these type of numbers playing at a home field that is much less hitter-friendly than Arlington. Bill James has Teixeira at .289/.382/.545 for next season with 36 home runs. To me, that is a slightly conservative prediction and I think he'll be just a bit better than that. I have him down for .305/.390/.570 for next year with around 39 home runs. Just by itself, his offense would make him one of the best first basemen in baseball and then on top of that he provides gold glove defense. We can say what we want about the impact of his acquisition, but one thing no one can deny is that he is a force to be reckoned with while he's here.

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