MLB Fantasy Tier Rankings: 1st Base

By: Noah Wright

 

Among all the positions in baseball, first base is probably the most deep. In your fantasy league, you probably won’t want to draft a 1B early. There are other positions with much less depth than 1B. However even with it’s deepness, it still has it’s fair share of stars.

Tier 1:

1.) Paul Goldschmidt:

Goldschmidt has been the definition of consistency throughout his career. You can almost guarantee about 35 home runs, a .295 batting average, 90-110 RBI’s, good defense, and even some stolen bases. Last season was no different. Though the former D-Back now Cardinal came out of the gates struggling, he ended the season with a .290/.389/.533 batting line with 33 home runs, and 83 RBI’s. Though his stolen bases slipped to just 7 last year, I’d still expect around a dozen from him in the coming seasons.

2.) Freddie Freeman:

Atlanta’s all star is just about as good as Goldy. He bring power, contact, and walks to the table, and definitely isn’t slow. During his 2018 year, Freeman recorded 23 home runs, 98 RBI’s, 10 stolen bases, and a .309/.388/.505 batting line in 707 plate appearances. Though the power numbers are a bit down from recent seasons, there is almost no reason to think that he couldn’t bring his slugging % and home run total upwards of 30 bombs.

Tier 2:

1.) Anthony Rizzo:

Anthony Rizzo is a borderline tier 2 first baseman. However that shouldn’t discourage you from this all star caliber 1B. Rizzo turned in another terrific season, batting .283/.376/.470 in 665 plate appearances with 25 home runs and 101 RBI’s. Like Freeman, Rizzo did see a dip in power numbers, but should be able to bounce back in the slugging category in 2019.

2.) Joey Votto:

At the beginning of 2018, Votto would probably top this list. But 2018 proved to be a bit of a challenge for the veteran Reds’ 1B. He still kept the good batting average and OBP (.284/.417) but Votto saw a massive drop in power. He turned in just 12 home runs and a .419 slugging %. Votto is entering his age 35 season, so it’s possible this is the beginning of the end for this former MVP. However, Votto did state that he was working hard on regaining that feared slugging power he showed in seasons prior. Though Votto may no longer be a 35 home run candidate, I’d still would trust him to turn in a good total runs scored total, and 20-25 home runs in 2019.

3.) Jose Abreu:

Sure Abreu had struggled some in 2018, but that’s after 4 straight seasons of 25+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s. Abreu did bat only .265/.325/.473 with 22 home runs and 78 RBI’s, but it’s not like Abreu is going to be in his late 30’s. He’ll only be 32 next season, and has not had a significant injury in his career yet. So I’d expect his numbers to bounce back next year.

4.) Rhys Hoskins:

Hoskins showed that impressive power he flashed in 2017 (18 home runs in 50 games), in 2018. The 1B turned LF turned 1B blasted 34 home runs with 94 RBI’s in 660 plate appearances. Hoskins also drew 87 walks making him valuable for both power and OBP. Hoskins may never be a .300 hitter, but I’d expect him to raise his average a bit, maybe within the .260-.270 range. He’s very similar in terms of ceiling to the guy I’m going to mention next.

5.) Matt Olson:

The Oakland A’s followed up a prolific power display in a small sample size of games (24 HRS in 59 games in 2017) with a not as powerful, but still very good 2018 season. In total, Olson turned in a .247/.335/.453 batting line with 29 home runs and 84 RBI’s in 660 PA’s. What really gives Olson the edge over the next guy I’m going to talk about is his age. Olson is entering his age 25 season, and his ceiling is still very high. Expect a big power breakout from this kid in 2019.

7.) Jesus Aguilar:

Aguilar was one of 2018’s big breakout stars, as he batted an impressive .274/.352/.539 in 556 plate appearances. His 35 home runs and 108 RBI’s made him a valuable sleeper in last year’s fantasy scene. There isn’t too much reason to think that he couldn’t repeat his 2018 performance. He’s not super old entering his age 29 season, and he had shown the power potential in the past in the MLB when he slugged 16 home runs and batted for a .505 slugging % in 311 plate appearances back in 2017.

8.) Max Muncy:

Rounding out the second tier, we have another breakout star of 2018, Max Muncy. In just 395 plate appearances, the now main Dodger 1B cranked 35 home runs, drove in 79 RBI’s, and scored 75 runs himself. In total, he batted for an impressive .263/.391/.582 line. His ability to draw walks also makes him valuable in any line-up, and he’ll likely have eligibility to start the season at second base, and third base.

Tier 3:

1.) C.J. Cron:

During his tenure with the LA Angels, Cron always showed a good amount of power potential. However he never got a chance for a full season, always being blocked by players and suffering from injury. After getting traded from the Angels to the TB Rays, Cron finally had a place to show off his power. In 560 plate appearances, Cron delivered 30 home runs, 74 RBI’s, and a .493 slugging %. Cron probably won’t help you too much in terms of batting average or OBP. He has a career .260 BA, and .311 OBP, so 2018 may be his ceiling. However now that he’s been placed in the middle of a decent Twins line-up, we could see an increase in RBI total, so maybe give him a flyer pick late in the draft.

2.) Justin Smoak:

Smoak turned in another productive season in 2018, crushing 25 home runs, with 77 RBI’s. Smoak also hits a good amount of doubles, and his walk rate helps his runs scored. However he’s entering his age 32 season. 2018 is about his ceiling with being and 2017 being an outlier. There’s a handful of batters who can produce around what Smoak can produce.  

3.) Josh Bell:

The Pirates 1B had a terrific rookie season in 2017, but the same can’t be said about 2018. He saw a large dip in power (2017 slg %: .466 2018 slg  %: .411) and defense. However, Bell did improve in making hard contact and drawing walks. If he can raise his power stock back to around 20 home runs, this 26 year old could be a useful asset.

4.) Brandon Belt:

Belt may not be a slugger like many on this list, but he’s definitely not a bad pick-up. Drafting Belt means a guaranteed 18 home runs, 70 RBI’s, 35 doubles, and 75 runs, that is if he’s healthy. He hasn’t played more than 120 games since 2016, and was injured for part of last year. So if you draft Belt, just be prepared to select a guy from the tier 4 category, just in case.

Tier 4:

Tier 4 is fairly deep. There’s ton of just platoon level guys, and bounce back candidates, so there won’t be too much analysis for this level.

1.) Jose Martinez

2.) Carlos Santana

3.) Yuli Gurriel

4.) Ryan Zimmerman

5.) Justin Bour

6.) Ryon Healy

7.) Matt Adams

8.) Wilmer Flores

9.) Ian Desmond

10.) Lucas Duda

11.) Logan Morrison

12.) Mark Reynolds

13.) Eric Thames

 


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