As of the 2011 baseball season these ten players are my picks as my all-time favorite first basemen to have played the game. Hopefully I live many, many more years and baseball survives as well and some new greats get to make the list, but for now, these are the guys. As part of my criteria in making the list all of the players had to have been players I’ve actually seen play.
10. Prince Fielder: Spoiler alert: Cecil Fielder a former first baseman for the Detroit Tigers makes my top ten list and Prince Fielder here is his son. Prince is not quite as big as his dad, but he is on the hefty side indeed. Prince has a lot of personality and that can get under the skin of some, but if he were on my favorite team I would be applauding his power numbers right along with his occasionally controversial “attitude” moments.
9. Fred McGriff: Fred McGriff was the first baseman for the Atlanta Braves who were in winning dynasty mode for a portion of my childhood. What I liked about Fred McGriff was what he did with the baseball bat during his swing because it gave me a unique trait to add to some of my swings when I was playing baseball games in my room with cards and stuffed animals.
8. Cecil Fielder: Growing up Cecil Fielder and Mo Vaughn were the hefty guys in the game, the Refrigerator Perry’s of the baseball world if you will. Cecil Fielder could launch some moonshot homers and that was captivating for me as a baseball card collecting kid who landed some cool insert cards of him.
7. Jim Thome: When I was a kid I collected and played games with baseball cards. The Beckett value of cards was what helped us first pick out or favored players and I recall the discovery of my Jim Thome rookie card being worth a few bucks. Those cards are not valuable really anymore, but Jim Thome as remained a valuable talent for major league baseball, hitting is 600th homer in 2011.
6. Adrian Gonzalez: When Adrian Gonzalez was with the Padres I disliked seeing him come up to bat against my favored team of the National League West: the San Francisco Giants. However, when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox I was allowed to enjoy his amazing talents more and I pegged him as my pre-2011 season MVP.
5. Will Clark: The bold attitude of Will “The Thrill” Clark is fun to hear about and quotes from him are a treat as I am a San Francisco Giants fan currently and Will Clark is royalty that the game announcers bring up from time to time.
4. Jeff Bagwell: Jeff Bagwell was another power hitting first baseman that reigned during my childhood. His unique batting stance is an eye-catcher and I think he did his legacy well by retiring having only worn the uniform of a single team, the Houston Astros.
3. Albert Pujols: As a Missouri born and raised person it is scandalous that a Saint Louis Cardinal is not my number one pick for this list. Furthermore, some may cry foul to see that Mark McGwire is not on my list. Albert Pujols has been a better face for the club in my opinion and a true breakout star. I saw an interesting “60 Minutes” piece on Albert Pujols and his origins and that only furthered my liking for the guy as a player.
2. Kent Hrbek: The very first baseball card I recall owning as a kid was a 1987 Topps card featuring Kent Hrbek of the Minnesota Twins. I instantly became a Kent Hrbek fan before I even knew too much about him, but the fact that the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1991 helped justify my liking of the team and Kent Hrbek.
1. Frank Thomas: When I was a kid the baseball world was ruled by Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr.. My brother was in the Griffey camp and I was a big Frank Thomas fan. The Chicago White Sox were my team of choice during Frank Thomas’ reign, not only because of their cool black uniforms, (I liked the color black.) but because Frank Thomas would often light up the scoreboard with the long ball. Thankfully I was not “into” baseball after Thomas’ glory days, when he got shuffled away from the White Sox and ultimately retired. Frank Thomas handled celebrity status rather well and I hope he is inducted into the Hall Of Fame in his first year on the ballot.