In our "Best of" from 2000-09 for first basemen, there's Albert Pujols and then there's the rest. Since he first came into the league in '01, he's completely dominated the first base landscape. While the rest of the league featured some impressive first baseman during that time, they pale in comparison.
As I mentioned in the catchers article, there's some people on this list who may have been 'enhanced', including one certain finger-wagging fellow who did get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Again, I am just going to go by the numbers, even if later on it does make me feel physically ill to include certain people (Hint: his name rhymes with 'Larry Ponds').
Also, for those wondering, Adam Dunn is primarily an outfielder/DH now and he didn't start more than 37 games at first during the time span we are examining, so his exclusion is not an oversight.
We're talking about a man who hit over 40 homers six times and who never hit fewer than 32 homers from his rookie season through 2009. He averaged 36.6 homers a year. He also didn't collect fewer than 177 hits a season during that span, averaging 191 hits a year. He won three Most Valuable Player Awards and a Gold Glove award in that time. Yes, Sir Albert is a clear-cut No. 1!
From 2000-09, Delgado mashed an average of 32.4 homers, drove in an average of 104.5 runs and finished in the Top 12 of MVP voting in his league 5 times. He also hit above .300 three times, including hitting .344 in '00. He was a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner. That's pretty impressive. Those totals help him move above the other candidates, in my mind.
3. Jim Thome
You'd think that someone who didn't hit fewer than 42 homers in a four-year span would be No. 2, right? Thing is, Thome shifted to a full-time Designated Hitter - DH in 2006, which reduces his 1B numbers a bit, but his body of work overall still makes him the No. 3 first baseman in my mind. He also finished in the Top 20 of MVP voting five times.
4. Todd Helton
Say what you will about Coors Field inflating numbers, but Helton had a very impressive run from 2000-04, crushing no fewer than 30 homers and culminating with 49 in 2001. No one-dimensional hitter, he hit between .327 and .372 during that five-year-run. He was in the top 20 of MVP voting five times, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers.
Morneau was an offensive beast when he became a starter in '04 and he even won the MVP in '06 and placed second in '08. He won two Silver Sluggers and was selected as an All-Star three times, though ironically not in the season that he won the MVP. Though injuries have currently derailed him, from 2006-09, there were fewer feared hitters.
6. Paul Konerko
After bouncing around the National League and then settling in with the Chicago White Sox, Konerko finally became a true leader for the Pale Hose. He hit 40 or more homers twice and at least 30 three times. He finished in the Top 25 of MVP voting three times.
7. Mark Teixiera
Teixeira was an offensive force ever since coming into the league in 2003, averaging 34.6 homers a season through '09. He also won three Gold Gloves and Three Silver Sluggers from 2000-09.
The fact that he only played from 2000-05 and that whole embarrassing end to his career knocked him down to seven, he did average 34.7 homers a year during that six-year stretch. He was No. 14 in American League MVP voting in 2001.
While many view Youkilis as a third baseman now, he played first for most of the time from 2004-09 and even won a Gold Glove at first in 2007. He placed in the top six in MVP voting twice and was a two-time All-Star.
10. Derrek Lee
Lee has had a more of a consistent rather than flashy career, and it showed during that time span from 2000-09. Most of the time he hovered in the 20-homer range, though he did break out four times, hitting 31, 32, 47 and 35 homers respectively. He won three Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger.
Check out our previous entries on the Best MLB Players of the 2000's:
Think we missed someone or disagree with any of the picks? Comment below!