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Justin Morneau, RBIs and 1B Tiers

Justin Morneau checks in with an ADP of 20 in the latest rankings from Mock Draft Central. That makes him a mid-to-late second-round pick. However, it also ranks him as the sixth-best first base option for fantasy players. Should a fantasy owner really spend a second-round pick on the sixth-best option at a non-OF, non-P position?

Morneau has a first and a second-place finish in the MVP race in two of the past three years, thanks in large part to big RBI numbers. Those RBI numbers are obviously quite valuable in fantasy, but they have the disadvantage of being relatively unreliable. After having 130 RBIs in 2006, Morneau “slumped” to 111 in 2007.

It is always nice if big RBI men can buttress their fantasy case with consistent production in other categories. One of the big arguments for Ryan Howard is you know he is going to give you HR production. But with Morneau, we see inconsistent production in average and declining HR rates.

In 2006, Morneau had a FB% of 40.6 percent and his HR/FB rate was 16.4 percent. Last year those numbers were 37.6 and 11.2, respectively. After hitting six home runs in April, Morneau hit just 17 in the following five months.

Late in September, Morneau disclosed that he had been playing with a sore knee. It certainly could help explain the declining power production but it was not serious enough for him to miss a single game last year.

However, if you want something to feel optimistic about, Morneau underwent laser eye surgery in November. Perhaps a healthy knee from an off-season of rest and improved vision will allow Morneau to get back to his 34-HR, .321-AVG ways of 2006. Otherwise, you might want to hold off on drafting a bottom-second-tier first baseman with your second-round pick.