Each week, the Assembly will put together their positional rankings for keeper/dynasty leagues. Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see Paul Goldschmidt ranked ahead of Miguel Cabrera that does not necessarily mean that we believe Goldschmidt will be the superior short-term option.
The first base position is absolutely loaded with impact fantasy players. As a result, we decided to rank the top 25 players instead of 20. Despite ranking extra players, talented youngsters like Kennys Vargas, 37 HR hitter Chris Carter, prospect Matt Olson and useful veterans like Steve Pearce and Mark Teixeira did not receive enough votes to make the cut. On this list, you will find some legitimate franchise cornerstone bats along with plenty of useful contributors capable of holding down your CI spots for years to come.
Our 6 experts, with over 100 years combined fantasy baseball experience, each ranked the first base position, and here are the results:
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kevin: Any player who can hit .300, reach 30 HR, and get double-digit SB is a cornerstone player. And despite netting only 400 AB in 2014, he was still in the top-70 players according to CBS’s 5×5 rankings.
Ron: A first rounder for the next five years.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Jim: While numbers may slip some come 2018, he should remain on top for the next 3 years.
Tommy: I would confidently take Cabrera ahead of the other 1Bs in a redraft, but he is getting older and his recent injuries worry me about long-term decline. Goldschmidt and Abreu are too good and too young to pass on them in a keeper format.
3. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Paul: His contact rates don’t scream .315 hitter to me, but he has awesome power and should be able to continue hitting 30+ home runs per year. A 27-year-old rookie may not have as much “growth” to come, but 30/100/.285 with upside for even more home runs is exactly what you want at first base.
Ron: Apparently Cuba knows a thing or two about hitting. This is what a power corner bat looks like.
4. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Kevin: I was confident he could bounce back from 2013, and he did. He’s a good bet for 25+ HR and a .280+ BA every year moving forward, and if the Cubs put together an offense, then his R and RBI totals could be high as well.
Will: If the Cubs lineup improves (as is expected with their other prospects starting to appear in Wrigleyville) start penciling Rizzo in for the 40 home run club. Mark it down.
5. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Paul: EE missed close to six weeks of the season and still may finish with 35 home runs and 100 RBI. He’ll carry some risk heading into 2015 as he ages and is injury prone, but he measures up quite well with the top hitters in the game when he’s healthy.
Will: E5 is coming off his 3rd straight 30+ HR campaign and he missed at least 20 games in both ’13 and ’14. Look for at least 2-3 years of 30+ dingers if he stays healthy and should be good for at least 25, every season, for the next 5.
6. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Kevin: I love his bat and his overall ability, but he hasn’t been amazing yet, with 2013 being his best year and 2014 dropping off. That being said, he’s still young enough to invest in as a future stable presence at 1B. Drop in HR from 2014 at least partly due to his lowest HR/FB and a three-year decline in FB%.
Ron: We have to remember that this guy just turned 25 in September. Expecting anything north of 25 HR from Freeman is foolish but he’s likely to remain a steady source of stats in four categories for years to come.
7. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Paul: As disappointing a season as anyone in the majors in 2014, Votto has been impressing in batting practice of late. Likely one of the hardest players to project for next season, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic. 90/15/80/.300 with a .400 OBP. Not as valuable in 5×5 leagues, I’d move him down a couple of slots there.
Kevin: I respect his eye and his walks, but they only help in some formats. This year he sported a bad BA, and it’s hard to attribute that all to his quad injury. He’s not young anymore, but he’s not old, either, so if he can approach or surpass 20 HR and a .300 BA, then he still has keeper value. The risk is high on him moving forward, though.
8. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
Jim: When healthy, Pujols can still deliver above average numbers runs and RBIs and can still hit 25 or more home runs. Problem is he will be 35 in 2015 and has a bum foot which acts up at times along with other injury concerns.
Tommy: Pujols is clearly on the downside of his career, but he still finished 2014 as the 4th best fantasy first baseman according to Y!’s player rater. Pujols bats in the middle of a great lineup and still possesses 25 HR power. Don’t let him slip too far.
9. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kevin: If he were a bit younger, I’d rank him higher. Also, it’s hard to know what to expect from him. In 2012-13 his BA was good, but he hit fewer HR. In 2014 he got back above 25 HR, but at the expense of 20 points off his BA. The RBI will be good in LA’s loaded lineup, but I’d rather have a bit more consistency and youth in my dynasty 1B.
Paul: Gonzo keeps doing what he’s doing despite my best efforts to write him off the past two seasons. 20-25 home runs and 100+ RBI seasons keep mounting for this consistent 32-year-old first baseman.
9. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Jim: I’ll give Davis a mulligan for 2014, but his Mark Reynolds approach at the plate should worry owners. I would trade him if I owned him.
Will: Should still be good for 30+ home runs going forward, but could hurt you in the AVG department.
9. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Jim: I have the same worry this year that I did last season, and that is Santana’s ability to hit for average. A .270 average moves him up, but a .230 puts him in the ranks with Chris Carter and Brandon Moss.
Ron: His catcher eligibility is gone but for now he has a nice 1b/3B combination and can be a healthy fixture in the Cleveland lineup for the foreseeable future.
12. Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers (Free Agent)
Jim: A career year in 2014 shouldn’t blind you to the fact that Martinez will be 36 in 2015. The soon to be free agent can still hit for average and power, but don’t expect anymore 30 home runs season (and be happy if you get 25).
Tommy: VMart was arguably the best hitter in baseball this season. His K rate was a ridiculous 6.6% and although his 16.2% HR/FB rate appears out of line with his career numbers, it is fully supported by his average fly ball distance. Victor may be old, but he has a couple years of elite production left in his bat.
13. Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers
Kevin: He’s a wild card for 2015, but I think we should give him a mulligan for his poor stats in 2014 before he went out with his injury. His body may not age well, but he’s in a hitter’s park. With health I don’t see why he can’t get back to 2013 level, but 2011-12 may be out of reach.
Will: Coming off the injury he suffered, with his body type, I expect we’re all about to be witness to the Decline of a Prince. Or he could end up being his old self and being the steal of 2015.
14. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Paul: In 4 seasons, Hosmer is averaging 70/15/70/.275 at just 24 years of age. Not the kind of numbers you need from the 1B slot, but he has youth and ability on his side. Hosmer has always shown flashes of brilliance; this year since July 1st he’s hit .342/.396/.542
Ron: Looks to be more James Loney than Freddie Freeman. Keeping him on the list is the fact that he’ll be just 25 years old in his 2015 season.
15. Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals
Jim: He needs to show he can hit for more power than he did in 2014, otherwise a solid first year for Adams who has a solid fantasy future.
Paul: Adams really can’t hit LHPs at all, and his power was disappointing as his ISO went from .220 in 2013 to .168 in 2014. The BB/K rate is disastrous and the only thing keeping him on this list is his youth.
16. Lucas Duda, New York Mets
Kevin: Between Duda and Ike Davis, one was bound to break out eventually. Duda claimed the throne and displayed his power, but in terms of long-term investment, he’s risky. Inconsistency in past plus his age when he broke out mean you won’t want to build a team around him, but he’d be a good CI or DH option.
Ron: Seems like a younger, healthier version of Mike Napoli who should continue to be available on the cheap.
17. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Ron: What would a healthy 2014 have looked like for Belt? It seemed like he was on the verge of a breakthrough but he’ll keep us on pins and needles until we see how he bounces back in 2015.
Will: April is looking more and more like a fluke.
18. Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics
Tommy: Moss is going to give you strong power numbers, but he is terrible against lefties and his K rate is going to lead to a poor average. Moss’ poor second half along with the presence of Matt Olson make me question how long he will be fantasy relevant for.
Will: You absolutely know what you get with Moss….a one-dimensional masher.
19. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals (Free Agent)
Kevin: Don’t buy into a big rebound. His GB% is going up, and if you throw out his career year in 2012, his HR/FB and homer totals aren’t that great. If you can buy very low after his career worst season, he may be okay as a DH, but I don’t see any reason to invest more than a buck or two in him moving forward.
Will: You’ll need Doc Brown to fix your flux capacitor, because without seeing the future, you can’t predict Country Breakfast’s hot streaks.
20. Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros
Paul: I actually found someone who had a worse year than Chris Davis. Singleton struck out 37% of the time in his debut in 2014 with a batting average of .168. Just 23, there’s no denying the home run power as he hit 13 in just 300 at bats. Singleton will be given plenty of leash to grow for the Astros and I think there’s a couple 30 HR seasons in his future.
Tommy: Singleton has good power, but is he an elite power source? Unless he makes substantial improvements on his 37.3 K% and his batted ball profile, he will struggle to reach a .200 average. The potential is there, but I want to see some progression before I am willing to invest.
21. Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
Tommy: Morneau is a former MVP playing at Coor’s Field. He posted a career best 10.9% K rate in 2014, is only 33 years old and he absolutely crushed right handed pitching. He should have a couple more big seasons in him as long as he can stay healthy.
Will: Not just the thin Colorado air helping him, in ’14. Counting stats almost identical to 2012 and 2013
22. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Paul: Essentially he’s Alcides Escobar without the stolen bases, but he might surprise with a .320 year still.
Tommy: Mauer’s Ks are up, and his power has all but disappeared. If you seek a first baseman who can deliver a near .300 average with about 5 HRs, then be my guest and take Mauer. You will not find him on any of my rosters.
22. Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox
Jim: The Jeckel and Hyde of first basemen. Will he hit for a good or bad average? Will he have power this year or not? Can he play a full season? Too many questions for me to consider.
Ron: He’s falling apart like a guy who spent too many games behind the dish.
24. C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels
Jim: He has an all or nothing swing but is young enough to make corrections. The questions are, can he improve enough to matter in fantasy and will the Angels commit to him long-term?
Tommy: I am concerned with Cron’s lack of patience, but he has 25 HR power and is capable of hitting enough line drives to post a solid batting average. As long as he can get enough ABs, he will be useful.
25. Adam Laroche, Washington Nationals (Free Agent)
Kevin: He’ll catch on somewhere, and he has another few years of decent production in him. But for dynasty league formats, he’s more a rental if you can get him cheap and on a short contract.
Tommy: Laroche is a patient hitter with legitimate 25 homer power. Aside from one down year, he has been remarkably consistent and was arguably the Nationals’ best hitter in 2014. His value will depend on his landing spot, but do not forget about Laroche on draft day. Players like him usually get overlooked in keeper leagues.
Each of the top three on this list are top half of the first round keeper league options and are a cut above the rest. The next three names complete the second tier, and again, there is a substantial dip in value from Freeman to Votto. Personally, I will try to get one of the top six bats on every one of my teams next season.
The next tier appears to be a lot bigger and is filled with seasoned veterans. This group goes all the way from Votto to Duda before there is another large drop off. While there is certainly a difference in ability between the top of this tier and the bottom, all of these players are strong bets to be fantasy assets for the next three to five years.
The final tier has a good mix of young players with potential to be the next breakout stud and productive vets on the downside of their career. Do not overlook the vets in this group, as they can all make excellent short-term assets for your squad.
Overall the quality and the depth of the first base position is outstanding. I recommend drafting from this pool early and often. First base is an excellent place to seek your CI and UTIL players.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2015 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.