As soon as the Boston Red Sox agreed to trade for Adrian Gonzalez, I seriously began to consider if the Red Sox finally had a more talented first baseman than the Yankees have. Both Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez have some serious power from the left-hand side of the plate. In addition, both players have won multiple Gold Gloves at first base. If you had to only pick one first baseman for the 2011 season, who would you select?

The Case For Adrian Gonzalez:

Finally released from hitter’s hell known as Petco Park, Adrian Gonzalez should thrive playing his home games at Fenway Park. Gonzalez only hit 11 of his 31 home runs at Petco Park last year, suggesting we can an expect an up tick in home runs this season. ‘Pesky’s Pole’ in right field may soon become ‘Gonzo Gashed’. Gonzalez has hit at least 30 home runs over the last four seasons, hitting in a lineup where Chase Headley and Jerry Hairston Jr. were his main protection. Remove those two average players and insert the immortal Kevin Youkilis, Big Papi, and Dustin Pedroia and Mr. Gonzalez should have plenty of opportunities to succeed in Beantown.

Playing in his eighth season, the 28-year-old Gonzalez has smacked 168 career home runs, is a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, and most impressively, carries a .368 career on-base percentage. He finished fourth in National League MVP voting last year playing on a team where he had to do all of the heavy lifting.

Let’s not forget that Mr. Gonzalez had to face quality pitching every night. The NL West boasts some of the game’s best young arms (Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez, Clayton Kershaw). He should be ready for the AL East’s best.

The Case Against Adrian Gonzalez:

Gonzo, you aren’t in San Diego anymore. Welcome to the Animal House known as the American League East. Welcome to the division that had four of its five teams finished above .500 last season. Welcome to the East Coast, where every game has meaning.

Gonzalez has played once in the post-season (2006), but history shows that sometimes, small market players have trouble playing under the bright lights. Gonzalez must also become accustomed to facing pitchers he has never seen become. Even though Gonzalez hit .337 against lefties last year, how will he fare against David Price, CC Sabathia, and other tough lefties in the division? How will he handle the pressure?

The Case For Mark Teixeira:

Mr. Teixiera, Mr. Consistency. The talented switch hitter has launched at least 30 home runs in his last eight seasons. On top of that impressive stat, he has never driven in less than 105 runs or had an on-base percentage below .365. Going into his ninth season, the 30-year-old Teixeira has secured four Gold Gloves and finished second in the MVP voting during the 2009 season. Teixeira currently has 275 career home runs and 906 RBIs. Barring injury, Teixeira will set personal milestones with his 300th home run and 1,000 RBI in 2011.

Teixeira is also battled-tested in baseball’s best division. In two seasons with the Bombers, he has cracked 72 home runs and driven in 230 runs.

The Case Against Mark Teixeira:

Post-season woes. Post-season woes. Post-season woes. Teixeira definitely has a flare for the dramatic, as he has clubbed two go-ahead home runs in the Divisional Series the last two years. However, outside of those home runs, Teixeira is 13 for 86 (.151) !!! Teixeira has definitely made his share of dazzling defensive plays during the playoffs, but his hitting problems have definitely been swept under the rug. (That whole World Series trophy and A-Rod’s 2009 post-season tear tend make people forget about everything else). Going forward, Mark’s post-season performance must improve if the Yankees want title #28.

The Verdict

This one is really, really close and I’m sure most teams outside of St. Louis would love to have either player on their team. Gonzalez is two years younger than Teixeira, but Teixeira is a more proven commodity. Defensively, both players are elite, but since Teixeira plays in the bigger market and I’m a little biased, I’ve never seen anyone field the position like he does. Gonzalez has more power from the left-side, but power hitting switch hitting players are not common in baseball. If Adrian Gonzalez steps in and crushes 50 home runs this year and leads Boston to the World Series, then I’ll be tempted to give him the nod.

Until that happens though, give me the smooth, switch-hitting first baseman from Saverna Park, Maryland (We were born at the same hospital, fun little fact). Teixeira it is.

Who would you take?