Coming off the first year in his career in which he missed virtually the entire season due to injury, Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira is looking to have a bounce back year, and show fans of the Yankees and of MLB, that he’s not done yet. We will now take a look at Teixeira, and see where he ranks among the extremely talented group of starting first basemen in the American League East.
5. James Loney: James Loney enters 2014 as the starting first baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays. Although he is a solid option at first for the Rays, finishing 2013 with an average of .299, 13 homers and 75 RBI, he finds himself at the bottom of the list, due to the AL East containing possibly the best overall group of first basemen in the league.
4. Edwin Encarnacion: Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the few bright spots of the Toronto Blue Jays the last couple of years. While the Blue Jays themselves have been miserable as a team on the field, Encarnacion along with star outfielder, Jose Bautista, have carried the torch for them. Encarnacion has combined for 78 home runs and 214 RBI over the last two seasons, en route to being named an All-Star for the first time in his career last season. He finds himself #4 on our list.
3. Chris Davis: Although he had an absolutely stellar 2013 season, leading the league with 53 homers and 138 RBI, I personally am still not convinced he’s all that it’s cracked up to be. This was the first year he really burst onto the scene, and until he starts consistently for the next couple of years starts putting up 30 plus homers, and 100 plus RBI, I am not convinced he’s worthy of being named #1. However, he is still an extremely talented first baseman, who would certainly be a prize for any team. He finds himself #3 on the list.
2. Mike Napoli: Originally signed to be a catcher for the Red Sox last offseason, Napoli failed his physical exam, and was forced to restructure his contract with Boston, and switch to first. Despite never having any seasons in his career quite like Davis’ 2013, Napoli has been something in his career Davis hasn’t been; consistent. Napoli has never hit less than 20 homers in a season when playing 100 games or more. He has also been known to be a good postseason performer, helping the Red Sox to a World Series title last season. Napoli finds himself #2 on our list.
1. Mark Teixeira: Call me biased if you wish, but there are a couple excellent reasons why Mark Teixeira is still the best first baseman in the AL East. Although he is known to be a slow starter, Tex has always been able to pick it up and finish around that 30-plus homer 100-plus RBI range. He finished second in the AL MVP voting for the Yankees in 2009. While he did miss nearly all of last season with a wrist injury, Teixeira’s absence showed just how important he is to the Yankees. He’s always a big power threat from both sides of the plate, and plays the game as hard as anyone. But what he’s really known for, is his incredible defensive ability. He at times is like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up into his “gold” glove any balls that come near him. Tex is a 5-time Gold Glove winner, winning 3 with the Yankees, Thanks to that “gold glove” of his, coupled with that switch- hitting power, Teixeira has been a savior at first for a team that before Tex’s arrival, was trying to milk the last bit of life from Jason Giambi at first. Who knows how well Tex will do once he gets back from his injury this season? The bottom line is over the past five years Teixeira has meant the world to this Yankees team, and has earned the right to be called the best first baseman in the AL East, and possibly one of the best in the entire league.
So there you have it. The five starting first basemen in the AL East, ranked from worst to first. Comment with your opinions and/or any feedback you may have!