Continuing the review of Orioles and their divisional rivals by position, here is my ranking and rundown of the first basemen in the AL East:
1. Mark Teixeira (Yankees) - Orioles fans are quite familiar with Mark Teixeira (and it's fair to say he knows how we feel about him). In 2009, the switch-hitting Yankee co-led the AL with 39 HR and hit .292/.383/.565. He'll likely be just as good in 2010, another big bat in a lineup full of big bats. I don't really have much to say about Mark Teixeira, except that I still get annoyed when I think about all of his double talk.
2. Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) - For all of the hoopla surrounding Teixeira, I honestly don't think he's all that much better than Kevin Youkilis. Offensively Teixeira is clearly superior thanks to his power but Youkilis gets on base a ton, has a killer eye for the plate, and if you put any stock in clutch stats it's worth noting that he hits the best when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. And as far as defense goes Youkilis is the better player (don't let Teixeira's gold glove fool you). Over the past three years Youkilis has put up UZR/150 of 10.3, 4.0, and 15.2 at 1B and his career UZR/150 at 1B is 6.5. Teixeira, conversely, put up a -5.2, 9.3, -4.1 and has a career UZR/150 of 1.7. If you're a fan of the Fielding Bible, Youkilis makes the top ten for first basemen nearly every year. Teixeira doesn't.
3. Carlos Peña (Rays) - While Peña isn't as complete a player as Teixeira and Youkilis, he's very good and I always feel a little bitter when I see his name. It's nothing against him, rather the bitterness is directed towards the Orioles. I searched high and low on the internet for the quote from Peña where he said the was in talks with the Orioles but they couldn't work anything out and thus he ended up with the Rays, but I couldn't. Did I dream that? Anyway, apparently the Orioles and Peña just couldn't come to terms so he signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for $800,000. Over the past three years Peña has played 422 games and put up a line of .252/.382/.553 with 116 home runs. Orioles first basemen in that same time frame have hit .263/.337/.442 with 64 HR. Good job, Orioles. Anyway, Peña is likely to hit at least 30 HR in 2010 and he's coming into a contract year so who knows.
4. Lyle Overbay (Blue Jays) - Lyle Overbay is no star but he's had a very solid major league career. He'll be 33 years old in 2010 and is coming off of one of his most productive seasons. The way the Blue Jays lineup has shaken out he'll probably be one of their most productive players.
5. Garrett Atkins (Orioles) - And now we get down to it. Atkins has been discussed to death here. I am hoping hoping hoping that Atkins makes the comeback that Andy MacPhail seems to think he's capable of. Atkins may be on the wrong side of 30 and coming off three straight years of declining production, but he's ours now so let's all pretend like he has a chance of being good.