The motley collection of starting catchers in the AL East shouldn’t deserve a ton of hype. However, the AL East’s first basemen, while not spectacular, at least deserve to be starters on a major league team (for the most part).
1. Mark Teixeira- New York Yankees: Despite a disappointing and injury-riddled year in 2012, Mark Teixeira remains a bona fide star at his position. He batted .251/.332/.475 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs in 123 games for the Yankees. The 33 year old switch-hitter should continue to put up big power numbers in the lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium along with his trademark good defense. While it’s true that Teixeira is no longer elite, he’s still the best first baseman in the AL East.
2. Chris Davis- Baltimore Orioles: The emergence of Chris Davis was a surprise to many in 2012. After a slow start to his career, he finally channelled the power which made him a top prospect with the Rangers a few years ago, clubbing 33 home runs to go with a .270/.326/.501 slash line. There’s no doubt that the power is there for Davis, but there are questions surrounding him such as a high strikeout rate (30.1%) and questionable defense–the only reasons he isn’t first on this list.
3. Mike Napoli- Boston Red Sox: It took the Red Sox six weeks, but they finally signed Napoli to a one year deal worth $5 million plus incentives. That looks like a small deal, but it’s one that could pay huge dividends should Napoli stay healthy. Although his .227/.343/.469 slash line doesn’t look impressive, he has flat out raked in Fenway Park during his career. With his swing tailor-made to Fenway Park, Napoli is a prime bounceback candidate to hit 30 home runs as long as he stays healthy.
4. Adam Lind- Toronto Blue Jays: Lind’s career has been in a tailspin ever since he hit 35 home runs back in 2009 and 2012 was just the latest chapter. For the third straight year, he put up excessively lackluster numbers with a .255/.314/.414 slash line to go with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. With relatively average defense and average peripheral stats, Lind is basically an average player. Unfortunately, first base is just about the worst position to have an average hitter and that’s why Lind is no more than a replacement player.
5. James Loney- Tampa Bay Rays: Once a can’t-miss prospect, Loney’s career has pretty clearly missed his potential. Throughout his career, Loney has been a pretty average player that has typically hit around .280 with 10-15 home runs. However, he was considerably below average between the Dodgers and Red Sox in 2012– batting just .249/.293/.336 with 6 home runs and 41 RBIs. At a position like first base, being an all-glove, no-hit player is simply not an option. The Rays had better hope that the Tropicana magic affects Loney like it did Casey Kotchman in 2011, because otherwise they have a well below average option at first base.