Another repercussion of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder migrating to the American League is it severely thins out the All-Star ballot at first base for the National League.
With Phillies slugger Ryan Howard having been on the disabled list since opening day, two-time All-Star Joey Votto of the Reds might seem like the obvious choice. However, until Votto improves on his even-keel April – he has hit .289 with two home runs and 15 RBIs thus far – it’s tough to justify his deserving All-Star votes.
Based on 2012 performance, the NL first baseman most deserving of consideration at present is the Cubs’ Bryan LeHair. That’s right, Bryan LeHair.
This time last year, LeHair was an absolute unknown. A longtime minor-league journeyman, Lehair is in his 10th professional season. Previous to signing with the Cubs in 2010, the 6-foot-5 former Mariners prospect had spent a portion of just one season in the big leagues. During that 2008 call-up with the M’s, he struck out a ton while hitting just .250, and never saw the major leagues with Seattle again.
Last season, however, LeHair found new life, tearing up the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Iowa. He won two legs of the triple crown with 38 home runs and 109 RBIs, while finishing fifth with a .331 batting average, en route to earning PCL Most Valuable Player honors.
Then, after impressing in a September call-up last year, LeHair won the Cubs’ first base job this spring, and has yet to stop mashing. In April, the 29-year-old LeHair hit .390 with five home runs and 14 RBIs, pacing the Cubs in all three categories, while finishing the month on a 10-for-23 tear.
About the only other NL first baseman whose April could give LeHair’s a run for its money is Adam LaRoche of the Nationals, who hit .329 with four home runs and 17 RBIs on the month.