Before the 2017 season begins, we will rank our top 15 fantasy players at each position for you. We might provide a projection. We might not. But take some notes, and if you’re lucky this will have you ready for the exam on draft day 2017. Today we look at First Basemen – some of the premier power men in all of baseball.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
I had Goldschmidt as my number one overall player last season in fantasy. His park is an un-glorified Coors field and he’s just a huge, great hitter who was in that age-28 season and primed for wrecking everything. He got off to a slow start and everyone ripped all their hair out. In true fashion of a great player, he rebounded so nicely. It’s incredible that he stole 32 bases, which almost made up for the 24 homers and 95 RBI where there was a shortage of numbers. He OPS’d just .899, making us a little weary of putting him here again. But he’s a great player, in a great park. His best season should still be out in front of him.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera is a sure-fire Hall of Famer who will always command respect in these parts. He’s always a threat to hit .320, 35 homers, and drive in 110 with ease. Without anyone really noticing or saying ‘that was a special year’. We love the guy. He will be 34 and is seemingly one of the safest hitters in the game of fantasy baseball.
3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
In a traditional 5×5 Roto league, Votto isn’t always the stud you hope for. Many good rotisserie leagues have moved to a 7×7 or 8×8 format that accounts and appreciates players like Joey Votto. If you’re in one of those leagues, he could be even higher on this list. Career on-base of .424 is pretty sexy. He will always hit .300, too; but the run production numbers will vary. Votto changes his approach and could see years where he hits just 20 homers. He might decide he wants to hit 37 again like his MVP season of 2010. He’s had 29 the last two years. He often scores over 100 runs from being on base so damn much. He can add 8-15 steals if he chooses. He’s a weird, frustrating, but very good player.
4. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
He’s been incredible the last three seasons and just seems to be on the cusp, entering his magical age-27 season which could very well be his best year ever. Wrigley is a hitters paradise most of the time. The lineup surrounding him should be the best it’s ever been. Last year against LHP, he hit .261 with just 8 home runs. That will definitely get the job done to keep him right here. In 2015 he hit .294 against southpaws. If he’s in that territory again with normal improvement that should take place against righties, he could be the number one at this position going away.
5. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
There aren’t words for how awesome Freeman was last year with his .968 OPS in a poor lineup and bad ballpark. He helped me win at least one fantasy title, that’s for sure. He just doesn’t get enough credit. He drew 89 walks last season and scored 101 runs. He added six steals as a bonus to go with the 34 homers and 43 doubles. His lineup is better this season, so let us see how the new park plays for the Braves. He is an unheralded fantasy star; but we are giving him mad props if you look at some of the guys we put him before.
6. Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland Indians
A very familiar face in a brand new place. Edwin has been living on another planet offensively since 2012. His strikeouts rose alarmingly to a career-high last season but he responded with 42 bombs and 127 RBI. One rule we live by in fantasy is never really rely on anything that hails out of Cleveland. We’re not changing now. Expect a small downturn in the numbers, because age and we say so.
7. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Davis enters his age-31 season with the chance to pull another leap year of incredible power out of his massive frame. I’m not sure there’s a guy in baseball who tantalizes us more with his easy power stroke. When he’s going good, the good times are going to go on forever. When things are going bad, you are never getting out alive with this guy and he’s pure poison. Still, we like Davis; damnit. He’s imperfect but there’s something beautiful about when he gets into one at Camden. Pack your adderall and head out to the park, he’s going deep 40-45 times in 2017 and will hit .250 or better.
8. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
Let us say this: Wil Myers is that guy who the poor owner in your league lucked out on last year. There was really little to no reason to like him as a sleeper. Just like Brian Dozier, people grabbed him because he was just there staring them in the face. He responded with a near 30/30 year and All-Star appearance. Still couldn’t manage an .800 OPS, the park is still death to bats, and his lineup is worse. Why do we even have him eighth? Too late to change this now. Not a huge fan and could marginally be in tier-four.
9. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
I’m only 27% sure that Jose Abreu is entering his age-30 season, and the termites have eaten the deck out from underneath his once solid home in Chicago. The lineup of veterans around him has suddenly disappeared and he’s been around long enough to become the veteran. His season numbers have always been good; not good like they were when he won Rookie of the Year, but in that territory. With almost 2,000 plate appearances under his belt, we can safely say he’s a good big league hitter. He’s just not a first round talent. If you’re looking to build your team around a first basemen; you go with a higher tier guy. If you’re looking to build your team around bats, wait on Abreu and make sure he’s part of the formula. He will not hurt you at his floor and his ceiling has the ability for more. Great offensive park on most nights.
10. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Falls into that Votto model where if your league counts on-base or walks; this is about the spot for him. Ours does, so this is where he lands. Career high 34 home runs last season, career high 89 runs. He’s a .365 career on-base guy. In a league that the walk is a lost art, he’s a pretty valuable player; in a way that Freddie Freeman is as well. Protection from Encarnacion and surrounding solid guys who just made a World Series run should help too.
11. Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Awfully quiet .286/30/111 last season in the shadows of Betts, Ortiz, and company. Great park – so why does he feel so unexciting anymore? Seems like everyone has owned some iteration of Hanley Ramirez at some point. Lets be honest, the bubble wrap is off and he’ll never have the gleam of 2007, 2008, or 2009 shorstop Hanley Ramirez. But he’s more than a solid option.
12. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
We always had such HUGE expectations of Eric Hosmer. We thought he was Joey Votto 2.0 when he came into the league. He’s going to be just 27 but the cement is starting to harden some. He’s hampered some by his home park. He managed 25 long ones and 104 RBI last season but he’s just kind of a .763 career OPS guy. His ceiling is probably somewhere around .820 in that category. There’s nothing that says he shouldn’t be a perennial .280 hitter. Not the worst option out there; but doesn’t find his way onto a ton of teams that win it all in leagues either.
13. Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers *SLEEPER ALERT*
Projection systems have this relative-unknown amongst some of the most elite power guys in the game. Milwaukee has some quiet thunder in their lineup that will cause some problems for people. This is solely on a gut feeling: Eric Thames comes over from Korea and hits 30-35 home runs for those Brewers and lands upon the scene like Jose Abreu did a few years back. It just has that feel to it, to us.
14. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Kind of a solid guy to draft after you have a first baseman to throw in your UTIL or Corner Infield spot. The counting stats probably won’t ever be huge, but there’s something to be said for a guy who can OPS .868 in that park. He’s a key cog in a lineup that just always seems to deliver in a dependable fashion. People think the Giants are going to be good again in 2017. For them to be good, Belt will have to keep on riding along at least at the same clip he has. Steadily improving with the arrow pointing up.
15. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
Desmond could face some position eligibility issues at this spot depending on how your league handles it. They maintain he’s going to play first base in Colorado. He’s never appeared there in a Major League game. He’s a great athlete, who went from shortstop in Washington to playing center in Arlington last season. Nice power-speed mix and his batting average and OPS should get a bump from being at Coors Field. This is why he cracks the top 15.
Best of the Rest: C.J. Cron, Mike Napoli, Brad Miller, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Bell, Greg Bird, Chris Carter
First base is just so deep. These guys that didn’t make the top 15 could easily all have a case made for them to be in the top 15, even into the third tier. If you don’t get one of the elite guys, this is a position group you grab multiple people from and boost your offense with. You can wait on one of these guys if you don’t grab someone from tier-one or tier-two.