Brian, Debate, Feature, First Base, Jared, Poll

First Base Debate Class: Howard vs. Teixeira

Rotobrian for Ryan Howard

Over the past five seasons, when you talk about upper echelon first basemen, you’ll always hear Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira in that conversation. Both of these guys are superb hitters.

Teixeira has been known for his fantastic second half play. His numbers will always be 100 R, 30 HR, and 100 RBI. Every year. Without fail. It doesn’t matter how slow he starts, his numbers will be there in the end. And some will argue that since a large portion of his stats will come in August and September, when fantasy seasons are being determined, that he’s one of the most valuable first basemen. “Who cares about April?” Teixeira backers will say. And it’s true, if you told me I had to choose one month for my players to stink it up, I would absolutely take April over September.

But here’s the thing: last year Big Tex didn’t just take April off, he also took September off (partially due to an injury). His second half numbers in 2010 (50 R, 16 HR, 48 RBI) are actually worse than the first half (63 R, 17 HR, 60 RBI). In 2009, his first year with the Yankees, he also had similar splits, and lo and behold, the first half numbers were better. So it’s quite possible what people perceive to be true about Teixeira is different from what is actually true.

Shifting gears, Howard has been a steady player his whole career. You don’t have to worry about him struggling through a first half slump. You don’t need to worry about an epically bad April.

Consider this: last year was a “down” year for the big man. He only hit 31 HR with 108 RBI. His previous two seasons? In ’09 he hit 45 HR and 141 RBI and in ’08 he had 48 HR with 146 RBI. To put those numbers in perspective for you, Albert Pujols won the NL MVP in ’09 (47 HR, 135 RBI) and ’08 (37 HR, 116 RBI). Now, I’m no mathematician, but I’d say Howard’s numbers are MVP-esque.

Could you say the same about Teixeira?

Backdoor Slider for Mark Teixeira

When you are drafting your fantasy baseball team, you will notice that first base is one of the deepest positions in the draft. There are several first basemen that have a similar skill sets and almost equal fantasy production therefore on draft day you will have to make a decision on which player you will want to own in 2011. Two players with similar repertoires that are being drafted around each other are Teixeira and Howard. Either of these two quality veterans will make you happy on draft day but deciding between the two could be tough, until now…take Teixeira.

Mark Teixeira, the man of seven consecutive seasons of at least 30 HR and 100 RBI, has consistently proven he is one of the elite players in the league as he turns 31 this April. Last season, the switch hitting slugger posted career highs in Runs (led the AL) and walks (3rd in AL), while his 33 HRs ranked 4th in the AL. He plays in a great home ballpark in Yankee Stadium with a powerful lineup around him. I can guarantee he will score runs and have chances to hit with runners on base. Although he struggles heavily in April, and when I say ”heavily” I mean hitting at the Mendoza line proves to be a tough feat for him, he still manages consistent fantasy numbers by the end of the season. As the weather heats up, so does Teixeira. In 2010, he hit .344 with 8 HR’s and 26 RBI’s in the month of July. It may be tough to wait for him to warm up and you may consider benching him in early April, but once he finds his swing he is one of the best sluggers this league has ever seen. He also doesn’t have injury concerns and has really never had a significant injury over the course of his career.

Overall, Teixeira provides consistency in a better hitting lineup than Howard. He doesn’t strikeout nearly as much as Howard and he gets on-base at a higher clip. Last year, we saw the lowest statistical numbers from Howard since his rookie season in 2005 with 87 R, 31 HR, and 108 RBI. I know he suffered from the bad ankle in 2010 and missed 3 weeks but his numbers were already on the decline from his career averages. Take the steady and reliable Teixeira and you will not be disappointed.


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