A good year for first basemen
No big surprises at this point; after all, we've been following guys like Ben Zobrist and Troy Tulowitzki and Kendry Morales for some time. I was a little surprised to find Derrek Lee in the No. 4 slot, though.
Lee, as any real Cubs fan can tell you, got off to a lousy start. As late as the 17th of May, Lee was sporting a nifty .198/.278/.337 line. One Cubs fan of my acquaintance wrote an impassioned plea for Lee's immediate benching. I almost published that plea, with my full endorsement.
You know that saying, "Sometimes the best e-mails are the ones you never send?" Well, this was the best e-mail I never posted. Because since the 17th of May, Lee's been phenomenal: .332/.417/.644 ... which isn't quite Pujolsian, but is the next best thing. For all the things ailing the Cubs this season, Derrek Lee is certainly not one of them. Lee, who turned 34 a few weeks ago, is enjoying the second-greatest season of his career.
And while I don't suppose it's a huge surprise, I couldn't help but noticing that first basemen are having a great year. Of the top 11 OPSers, nine are first basemen. At the top you've got Pujols, then Prince Fielder and Lee, then a tight group consisting of Adam Dunn, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez.
That's why I'm amused by anyone arguing for an American League first baseman as Most Valuable Player. Really? Which one, exactly? You'd have to dig real deep to find any qualitative difference between Youkilis, Teixeira, and Cabrera ... and all three are (probably) going to the playoffs. Teixeira's the only one of them who's attracted any MVP buzz, but that's mostly because he's the only one who's driven in 100 runs ... and that's almost entirely because of their teammates, as Youkilis and Cabrera both have better clutch stats than Youkilis.
It's just been a good year for first basemen. But then, most years are good years for first basemen. That's why they call them first basemen. And that's why Joe Mauer (No. 2 in the majors in OPS) deserves a long look as MVP, as do Hanley Ramirez (No. 5) and Chase Utley (No. 12).
Hey, I like home runs, too.