First base has always been a power spot, with just a couple of exceptions. The greatest first basemen are a collection of the greatest hitters in history, with eight of the 10 in the Hall of Fame, and the other two almost certain to be in Cooperstown at some point in the 21st century. A look at the top 10:
1. Lou Gehrig
New York Yankees (1923-39)
The "Iron Horse" played in a then-record 2,130 consecutive games (since eclipsed by Cal Ripken Jr.), but that's only a small part of the greatness of Gehrig, who batted behind Babe Ruth through most of his career and hit .340 with 493 home runs. He had 13 consecutive seasons with 100 runs and 100 RBI, averaging 139 runs and 148 RBI. He hit 23 career grand slams and his teams won six World Series titles.
2. Jimmie Foxx
Philadelphia A's (1925-35), Boston Red Sox (1936-42), Chicago Cubs (1942, 1944), Philadelphia Phillies (1945)
Foxx was overshadowed by Gehrig through most of his career, but only Babe Ruth hit more homers in the first half of the 20th century. He had more than 100 RBI for 13 consecutive seasons from 1929-1941 and had a career slugging percentage of .609 (fifth all-time). He won the Triple Crown in 1933 (.356, 48 HR, 163 RBI) and was a three-time MVP. His A's teams also won two World Series.
3. Eddie Murray
Baltimore Orioles (1977-88, 1996), Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-91, 1997), New York mets (1992-93), Cleveland indians (1994-96), Anaheim Angels (1997)
A consistent force, he's one of just three players all-time to have more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. (Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are the others.) A switch-hitter, he drove in at least 75 runs for a record 20 consecutive seasons. He also played more games at first base than anybody in history. A three-time Gold Glove winner, he won one World Series with the Orioles (1983) and advanced to two others (1979 and 1995 with Indians).
St. Louis Cardinals (2001-)
He's still building his Hall of Fame-worthy resume, but he already deserves to be on this list, and will likely climb higher. Already one of the greats, he has three NL MVP awards as of 2010, and has never finished out of the top 10 in the voting in his 10 big-league seasons. His career batting average entering 2011 is .331, with 408 home runs and 1,230 RBI. And this was all achieved at just age 30. His Cardinals team won the 2006 World Series.
Detroit Tigers (1930, 1933-41, 1945-46), Pittsburgh Pirates (1947)
A two-time AL MVP, he hit 331 home runs and batted .313 in 13 seasons of a career cut short by service in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Hit 58 homers in 1938, two short of Babe Ruth's record at the time, and was the first Jewish sports star. He won two World Series.
Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1954-74), Kansas City Royals (1975)
At age 31, he had more home runs (380) than Babe Ruth had at that age, but injuries slowed that pace. Still, "Killer" hit 573 homers, drove in 1,584 and was AL MVP in 1969, when he batted .276 with 49 homers and a career-best 140 RBI. An 11-time All-Star, he hit more than 40 homers in a season eight times, and led the AL in homers six times.
St. Louis Browns (1915-27), Washington Senators (1928), Boston Braves (1928-30)
The greatest player in the history of the St. Louis Browns came up as a pitcher, but like Babe Ruth, was too good as a hitter to stay out of the everyday lineup. He was a graceful and complete first baseman, and hit .340 lifetime. He had six seasons with more than 200 hits, 2,812 hits in his 15-year career, and his 257 hits in 1920 was the best single-season mark until surpassed by Ichiro Suzuki 84 years later. He hit just 102 homers, but had 164 triples and 425 doubles. He was MVP in 1922, when he batted .420. Also had 375 stolen bases.
San Francisco Giants (1959-73, 1977-80), San Diego Padres (1974-76), Oakland A's (1976)
One of the great power hitters of the second half of the 20th century, McCovey hit 521 homers and drove in 1,555 in his career. He was MVP in in 1969, when he hit .320 with 36 homers, one of three seasons in which he led the NL in homers. He also is the only player in history to hit two home runs in one inning twice.
9. Rod Carew
Minnesota Twins (1967-1978), California Angels (1979-1985)
Carew did everything well, even if he didn't hit for much power. He also would belong on the list of greatest second basemen, but actually played more games at first base (1,184) than at second (1,130). Carew won seven AL batting titles, hit .328 lifetime, and hit better .300 in 15 consecutive seasons (1969-83). Only Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and Honus Wagner exceeded that achievement. He was AL Rookie of the Year in 1967 and MVP in 1977, when he hit .388. He also had 348 career stolen bases.
10. Jim Thome
Cleveland Indians (1991-2002), Philadelphia Phillies (2003-05), Chicago White Sox (2006-09), Los Angeles Dodgers (2009), Minnesota Twins (2010-)
Thome, who started his career at third base and moved to first in the late 1990s with Cleveland, enters 2011 with a great shot at becoming the only player on this list with 600 career home runs. He has 589 HRs and 1,624 RBI entering 2011 and a career .278 average. He also has 17 postseason home runs.