In general, fantasy owners should look to corner infielders to deliver power numbers, home runs and RBI’s. There are a few who can also add in a nice batting average, and may even sneak a few stolen bases. With that in mind, below you will find the top 20 1B for dynasty leagues, and a few more thrown in for good measure. Keep in mind that while I play fantasy to win every year, these dynasty rankings are done with the 2018 season in mind, since you want to build a team that can be competitive now and in the future.
1. Paul Goldschmidt: In his second full season at the MLB level Goldschmidt proved that he is a worthy MVP candidate. With less than a week left to go in the regular season, Goldy has 36 homers and 15 steals (one of only 3 players with 30+ homers and 10+ steals), while driving in 124 runs, scoring 101 runs and batting over 0.300. A reduction in his K-rate and an uptick in his BB rate show increased plate discipline. A BABIP of 0.344 could be interpreted as a correction will be in order for 2014, but I will take my chances as he enters his 27-year old season.
2. Chris Davis: If you drafted in 2013, congratulations, you probably did really well in your league. If you want to own him going forward, be prepared to pay. How quickly we forget Davis, the once highly touted prospect from Texas, is only 27-years old. He quietly hit 33 home runs in 2012, and he boisterously mashed 52 home runs in 2013 (so far!). With 136 RBIs, Davis has been in the chase to win 2 legs of the AL Triple Crown all season. His K-rate is still around 30%, but you draft Davis for the power, not the average.
3. Joey Votto: If there is one thing you can say about Votto it is that he is a professional hitter. In 5 years in Cincinnati, Votto owns a 0.314 average (his 0.306 in 2013 would actually be his career low). He did not reclaim the stellar numbers from 2010, but in Votto you get a 0.300 average, 25 homers, a few steals, 80 runs, 80 RBI’s, and those are numbers you can count on. Factor in that next season he could have Billy Hamilton in scoring position ahead of him (and by scoring position I mean on base), and his production could go up.
4. Freddie Freeman: The second half of 2013 really opened my eyes to the potential of Freeman. In his 3rd full season, the 24-year old Atlanta 1B, Freeman has hit 14 homers after the All-Star break (and has been more than admirable as a fantasy fill-in for Albert Pujols, who has been living on my DL). Atlanta is a young, talented team, and Freeman is set to hit in the middle of that lineup for the next several years. While his ceiling is not Goldschmidt, his floor is high, so I see consistency here as well.
5. Prince Fielder: I am not sure how Detroit is going to feel in 2018 when they realize they have 3 more seasons with a 34-year old Prince Fielder. 2013 has been a down year for sure for Fielder. He is probably not going to reach 30 homers (something he has not done since 2006, his first full season). His runs (80+) and RBIs (100+) are in line with his production since Miguel Cabrera arrived in Detroit. Is he due for a rebound in 2014? His HR/FB% would certainly indicate he is (13.7% compared to a career average of 19.8%). Fielder certainly has a few more productive years left in the tank, though it will be interesting to see what Detroit does when he and Cabrera are more liabilities in the field.
6. Mark Trumbo: Trumbo will give you home runs. In 3 seasons in Anaheim he has hit 29, 32 and 34 homers. His batting average will be a drag in a roto-style league, but again, you are paying for power at the CI slot. He also may qualify as an OF in some leagues, so that flexibility may help when injuries hit your roster or if a daily league for streaming hitters.
7. Edwin Encarnacion: The power has always been there for Encarnacion, even in his days in Cincinnati, but the past 2 seasons have shown what he is truly capable of north of the border. He and Jose Bautista have become a Canadian Bash Brothers. Periodic starts at 3B may have given Bautista an extra eligibility slot in your league as well. His season-ending wrist injury leaves some concern for next season, keeping him out of my top 5.
8. Eric Hosmer: The 23-year old Hosmer was a trendy pick to bust out this year, but a slow April start derailed the Hosmer train (he was actually a free agent in at least one league I play in). But since then he has turned it back on. His monthly batting average has climbed (0.250, 0.269, 0.303, 0.324, 0.323, 0.341, 0.346) and is producing for you down the stretch. Hosmer will give you 15-20 homers, 10-15 steals and should score and drive in runs in a young and improving Royals lineup.
9. Brandon Belt: You can take a look at Brandon Belt’s batting line this year and nothing really jumps off the page (0.287/16HR/62RBI/74runs) especially for a corner infielder. Then you look at what he did in 2012 (0.275/7HR/56RBI/47runs) and you start to visualize the potential. He plays in a pitcher-friendly NL West, so you may need to temper expectations a bit, but Belt could give you 20-homer production with a solid batting average and peripherals.
10. Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo was the prize in the Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox deal a few years back. He struggled when he first arrived in the majors in San Diego, and was shipped off the Chicago Cubs. He showed solid power in 2012, with 15 homers in 368 at-bats. However, his batting average has hovered around 0.230 in 2013. He has still hit 22 homers, driven in and scored more than 70 runs in a bad Cubs lineup, and is entrenched in the lineup for the coming years. The power is there, and an average of 0.260 could push him solidly into the top 10.
11. Albert Pujols: The hardest guy to rank on this list is Pujols. He had been the best player in baseball since arriving in St. Louis in 2001. His superhuman numbers (homers, RBIs, runs, average, even steals in the double digits) vaulted him #1 draft positions in all leagues. A shift to a loaded Angels lineup was supposed to make him even more dominant. But Pujols struggled all season, with injuries and adjusting. He is rehabbing and says he will be ready for 2014. A healthy, productive Pujols is scary, but not as scary as the prospects of another year like 2013.
12. Adrian Gonzalez: Gonzalez is another 20 homer, 100 RBI first baseman, but the fact that he is in a very productive Dodger lineup gives owners hope for a jump in production. Gonzalez has a great swing, which usually translates into wickedly stuck gap doubles. If a small percentage of those doubles turn into HR, he could give you 20-25, but the days of 30 homers are probably in the rearview mirror.
13. Buster Posey: While you are drafting Posey today to play catcher, he could see a switch to 1B at some point in the future. He looks a bit like Joey Votto lite at that point (solid average, 20 homer potential, runs and RBI production), which is why he falls just outside the top 10 as a 1B.
14. Allen Craig: Craig can hit. He has owned a batting average solidly over 0.300 at all levels of ball. He will add some homers, probably in the 15-20 range, and in another productive lineup, will drive in and score runs. Additionally, he will play a few games at other positions and may get multiple position eligibility. He has some potential competition at 1B from teammate Matt Adams, who comes in just a few slots below Craig.
15. Jonathan Singleton: Singleton is the highest rated minor league first baseman on this list, in fact he is the only minor leaguer on this list. Houston is not going to rush him to the majors, but he is one of several young studs that will be landing in Houston in the coming years (George Springer and Carlos Correa as well).
16. Matt Adams: As recently as a month ago, the book on Adams was that he would be productive, if given a chance to produce. Well, he has had a chance, and he has delivered. He has 7 homers in the last 30 days, 5 in the last 15! The Cardinals have some interesting choices to make going forward, but if Adams is in those plans, he is a power source worth owning.
17. Yonder Alonso: It’s hard to find a player who was better off being traded out of Cincinnati and over to San Diego, but that was certainly the case of Yonder Alonso. Alonso was considered a top prospect in the Cincinnati organization, but had a clear path to the majors blocked by franchise player Joey Votto. His power has been hindered by Petco Park, though he may have a ceiling of 20 or so HR. He should hit some homers, steal a few bases and give you a solid average. Certainly a good baseball player, but not the fantasy stud you would like at 1B.
18. Michael Cuddyer: The 34-year old has put together 2 solid seasons in Colorado after being productive in Minnesota, even in a platoon setting. Next year will be a contract year for Cuddyer, and 20-homer season should be in the cards. A shift back to the AL may be beneficial so he can get some at-bats as a DH in the coming years.
19. Darin Ruf: Sleeper alert for 2014: If Ruf gets a starting role in Philadelphia; he could be in line to hit 25-30 HR.
20. Victor Martinez: He may be nearing the end of his productive stretch, but Martinez is still a 15-20 homer, 70+ runs and RBIs with one more year left in Detroit. A shift out of Detroit would allow him to grab a fulltime DH role.
21. Mike Napoli: To quote Dennis Green “They were who we thought they were”, and this is certainly the sentiment Red Sox fans hold after a 2013 from Napoli that saw 23 homers but 187 strikeouts. The power was a slight decline, but if Napoli can cut down on those Ks, 30 home runs is easily in reach.
22. Adam Lind: Another 20 homer producer, but nothing special, hence the middle of the road ranking.
23. Chris Carter: If Cart can get a better lock on the strike zone (he struck out an eye-popping 212 times in 2013) he will be a beast. 29 homers and 82 RBIs scream out his potential.
24. Brandon Moss: While his average will probably hover around .260, Moss launched 30 homers in 2013.
Here are a few more guys to keep in mind, especially in leagues with CI slots.
A note on DH’s: depending on the requirements for your league, players like David Ortiz and Billy Butler may qualify as 1B. If they do, then I see Ortiz as falling somewhere around 10-12 on this list, with Butler around 14-16.
A note on players with multiple position eligibility: as noted in the above ranks, some players listed also qualify at additional positions. Buster Posey is rated #14, but certainly you draft him as a catcher for now. The 1B rank takes into account the possibility of a move to 1B in the coming years, same with Santana and Mauer.
Check out the rest of the Dynasty League Rankings.