Adrian Gonzalez Heads Pack of AL East First Basemen, Carlos Pena Adds Intrigue

by NESN Staff

February 14, 2012

Adrian Gonzalez Heads Pack of AL East First Basemen, Carlos Pena Adds IntrigueEditor's note: Didier Morais will review each position in the AL East every day through Feb. 20. This edition highlights the first basemen.

There was no need for the Yankees and Red Sox to splurge on prized free agent Prince Fielder.
After trading for Adrian Gonzalez in 2010, the Red Sox already lured their first baseman for the foreseeable future. With Mark Teixeira locked in for New York, the Yankees have a cornerstone piece to patrol first base for years to come.

Once Carlos Pena — who played for the Cubs last season — returned to Tampa Bay this offseason, it gave the American League East three All-Star first basemen.

1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox
2011: 27 homers, 117 RBIs, .338 average, .548 slugging and .957 OPS (159 games)
In his first year in Boston, Gonzalez sustained the All-Star level he displayed in San Diego. Although his home run total dipped after averaging 35.5 homers over the last two years, Gonzalez was an RBI machine for the Red Sox and also tallied a career-high in hits and batting average. He showcased polished fielding by claiming his third career Gold Glove.

2. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
2011: 39 homers, 111 RBIs, .248 average, .494 slugging and .835 OPS (156 games)
A quick glance at Teixeira's home run and RBI output would trick someone into vaulting Teixeira to the top of the list. But the Yankees slugger's batting average continued its great decline for the third straight year. Despite those drawbacks, Teixeira's power is unquestioned and the 31-year-old is capable of piecing together another All-Star campaign.

3. Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays
2011: 28 homers, 80 RBIs, .225 average, .462 slugging and .819 OPS (153 games)
He's back. After leaving the Rays for the Cubs last year, Pena has returned to Tampa Bay, where he enjoyed the best years of his career. At 33, his 40-home run days are likely behind him. His familiarity with the AL East and its pitchers should make for a seamless transition. As a previous Gold Glove winner, Pena will give the Rays a defensive boost.

4. Adam Lind, 1B, Blue Jays
2011: 26 homers, 87 RBIs, .251 average, .439 slugging and .734 OPS (125 games)
Three years ago, Lind set a benchmark for his career, slamming 35 home runs and 114 RBIs. Now 28, he still has power, but it remains to be seen if he can claw his way back to his best season. After erupting early in 2011, Lind cooled off dramatically, hitting .210 or under during the last three months of the year.

5. Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
2011: 5 homers, 19 RBIs, .266 average, .402 slugging and .707 OPS (59 games)
The Rangers traded Davis to the Orioles last summer, giving Baltimore a 25-year-old hitter to build around. Although Davis brings pop — in 2009, he slugged 25 homers — he's a questionable fielder, totaling eight errors in his limited stint in 2011. Davis will get his chance to start this year and it's worth watching whether he can replicate his 2009 season.

AL East position breakdowns: Catchers

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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