Another week, another position. Today we start tackling those big ol’ mashing first basemen by looking at five things that surprised us in the 2012 season.
1. Edwin Encarnacion sees the plate 644 times
Before 2012, Encarnacion averaged just 474 plate appearances in his six pro seasons and never topped 582 thanks mostly to his inability to stay healthy for an entire 162-game season. This is why his 644 PAs in 2012 were the real surprise and not his .280 average, 93 runs, 42 home runs, 110 RBI and 13 steals. He’s a top-20 player if guaranteed 600+ PAs, but that’s just not something you can ever guarantee.
2. Chris Davis has a starting job keeps a starting job hits 30 home runs has a fantasy relevant season
There were many surprising facets of Davis’ 2012 season, but the fact that he was simply a solid starter takes the cake. He didn’t abandon his free-swinging ways (30.1 K%, 6.6 BB%), but when he made contact he made it count with a 23.2 LD% and 25.5% HR/FB. Sadly, these stats make a repeat unlikely.
3. Eric Hosmer struggles in his sophomore season
Seeing as I traded Andrew McCutchen for Hosmer in our Baseball Professor keeper league, it’s safe to see that I didn’t see this one coming. I thought at worst Hosmer would hit for a good average with around 20 home runs and 90 RBI with double-digit steals. Don’t worry, I got McCutchen back later in the season, but my lesson has been learned.
4. Adam Dunn hits 41 home runs, but slugs .468
How can someone who hits 41 home runs have a worse slugging percentage than Dexter Fowler (42 extra-base hits)? Well there are two lessons to be learned here; (1) Slugging percentage is a far inferior stat to ISO when trying to determine power (Dunn .263 ISO vs. Fowler’s .174), and (2) Dunn’s batting average is just oh-so-nasty (in a bad way).
5. Prince Fielder leads all first basemen in batting average
Fielder was never known for his batting average but that might change now that he’s in Detroit and has the benefit of Miguel Cabrera wearing down pitchers before he gets to the plate. Next year Fielder will also have Victor Martinez presumably batting fifth, which just means Fielder will see more strikes thrown his way. He may never again break out for 40+ HR in that home park, but he may have just added another weapon to his already loaded arsenal.