We wrap up each week of positional coverage with our 2017 rankings. In addition to the rankings we will pose a number of questions to our panel covering topics such as reaches and targets, players to avoid and late round impact players.
Taking part in our rankings will be Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Ron Vackar, Josh Coleman, Andy Singleton, Mike Sheehan and Neil Kenworthy. Our seven “experts” each ranked their top 30 first basemen for the 2017 season.
Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 30 by that particular person. We used a 10 games started minimum requirement for eligibility, so if you do not see a player here that may qualify in your league, that’s why.
Ian Desmond does not yet qualify for first base, but the Rockies have stated he will be their starting first baseman so we ranked him accordingly.
If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a player’s ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.
First baseman you will reach for
if you don’t take Goldschmidt or Rizzo in round 1?
Jim: I hate being without a top first baseman so Encarnacion, Cabrera and Abreu, while not reaches, would be my top priority. After that it would be Freddie Freeman. I don’t see the power repeating, but he generally delivers a nice safe line of numbers.
Kevin: It’s not a reach, but you may as well take a strong veteran who should continue performing as a top-5 first baseman. That means Miggy or Votto.
Ron: Joey Votto was on a mission in the second half last year. I nearly ranked Votto ahead of Miguel Cabrera. Votto can be had late in the second round and possibly even the third round of most non-OBP leagues. I would take him as my primary first baseman on every single team in 2017.
Andy: To me, Freddie Freeman is the safest guy left on the board for me after the top-3. May have found a new power stroke as he enters his age 27 season. He’s solid, consistent, and even in a weak lineup accounted singlehandedly for 15% of the Braves scoring in 2016. The lineup figures to get a big bump in table setters, just as Freddie enters his prime.
Josh: I love my Top 5 and wouldn’t consider them being a reach at any point within the top-25. Matt Carpenter does stand out for me as a player who I’m willing to stick my neck out for. Solid plate discipline, a FB approach and improved hard hit rate make 30 HR in play, along with 200 combined runs and RBIs.
Mike: I really want one of Rizzo, Goldy, Edwin, Votto, or Miggy. If I miss on Rizzo and Goldy then I’ll gladly reach for any of the others as early as the second round.
Neil: Freddie Freeman is coming off a career year, and I expect more of the same in 2017. His floor is lower than Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto, but I’d happily spend a mid-second round pick on him anyway.
Which first basemen do you plan on avoiding in the draft?
Jim: Not that I’ll avoid them if the value is right, but I don’t want Chris Davis or Chris Carter (batting average drain), Hanley (too unpredictable for me), and Adrian Gonzalez (declining, but still worthy CI option).
Kevin: I’m still not in love with Freeman despite his power breakout. After hoping for 3 years he’d do more than he’d done, now that he’s finally done it, I want to make sure it’s legit. Also, remember that .300 average only pops up with very lucky BABIP (over .380).
Ron: I have seen enough of the Brandon Belt show. He finally played a full season and produced numbers you’d expect from your middle infield position. If he played 2B he would fall in the Logan Forsythe/Neil Walker range statistically, except he will likely go off the board as much as 75 picks before those two. This is unacceptable from my first baseman.
Andy: It’s not that I dislike Wil Myers, but we’ve seen promise from him before, only to be let down. If this were a dynasty league I’d take that risk. But, in a redraft league, I’m not spending a 5th round pick on a guy who may disappear on me. The steals were nice, but wasn’t something that was in his bag of tricks entering 2016. PetCo is a no no, if you have any doubts about a bat.
Josh: Edwin Encarnacion. Slight down turn in contact last season could lead to a slip in AVG. Two year increase in GB% combined with departure from Rogers Centre make 30 HR the new projection for me. Excellent player, good production, I simply just like others more.
Mike: I’ll probably avoid Wil Myers. I’m a big fan of his but am still not sure who he is.
Neil: This season I will be avoiding Chris Davis like the plague. He provides great power (85 HR past two years) with solid run and RBI numbers, his batting average can sink your team. While I do like some of the first basemen ranked around Davis, I’ll do my best to skip over him in drafts.
Who is your top CI target once your first base slot is filled?
Jim: I’m high on Josh Bell so I’ll target him if it looks like Clint Hurdle will commit to him in 2017. Eric Hosmer is next for his solid steady production. In an OBP league I like Carlos Santana where he’s much more valuable.
Kevin: I can live with a high HR, low BA guy like Napoli or Chris Davis if he’s not my primary first baseman. I’m also okay with a veteran like Adrian Gonzalez.
Ron: Most of my shopping at first base will take place early in the draft. I would be happy to make Carlos Santana my corner infielder. Depending on the league, locking up two elite or semi-elite first basemen could be an option. That is really a reflection of how thin the first base position has become.
Andy: First Base feels a little top heavy to me this year, and if Ian Desmond is in fact going to be at 1B in Colorado, I want him on my team. Even if he doesn’t qualify, it’s not a wasted pick, as his 2015 season (which wasn’t that bad outside of BA) is looking more and more like an outlier. 20 steals, above average average, runs, ribs, and a chance for career highs in HR?! Yes please.
Josh: I would have no issue filling the position with a 2nd top-10 1B should the draft day value present itself. Jose Abreu comes to mind as HR and Run totals decreased last season. Using the more standard CI approach, I really like Brandon Belt. The increased BB/decreased K cocktail is a personal favorite of mine. Huge FB rate bolds well for HR totals and low soft contact should minimize the AVG risk.
Mike: I love to target high-end production out of my CI, so I might actually target Ian Desmond if he goes where I think he will.
Neil: Daniel Murphy has been one of my favorite hitters to watch since his historic 2015 playoff run. His knowledge of the strike zone and ability to adjust to whatever is thrown his way makes him one of the best pure hitters in baseball. Murphy’s middle infield eligibility is just icing on the cake.
Late round pick that could make an impact?
Jim: Hands down Justin Bour. Everyone discounts him because he can’t hit lefties, but I’ll happily take his 20 plus homers from the right side. Also Tommy Joseph; he has sneaky power value and should fall low in drafts.
Kevin: CJ Crom may be a surprise in 2017. Brad Miller should continue producing, but maybe not at 30 HR. I left Kennys Vargas off my rankings, but as an endgame speculation he’s worth it.
Ron: Tommy Joseph, Greg Bird, and CJ Cron could all provide mid-20’s home run power without obliterating your team batting average. If one of them went off for 30 bombs it would not surprise me at all.
Andy: At a position where 25 HR seems to be the bare minimum, I can understand the concern with Josh Bell. However, this is a guy whose bat is valued enough to switch his position in order to ensure it’s MLB arrival. A career .300 hitter in the minors, there is 20+ potential in his swing, and he still drives in runs and scores them. At 24, I like the upside and opportunity he will have on what should be a competitive team.
Josh: If I’m really slumming and looking for a breakout give my Kennys Vargas. There are strikeout concerns, but the overall plate discipline improved, and he was certainly more fly ball prone in his brief time in the majors last season. Justin Bour seems like a good comparison, but without the platoon splits.
Mike: A.J. Reed was supposed to be some mix of Kris Bryant and Goldy but instead fell on his face last year. I expect better things in 2017, especially in that stacked lineup.
Neil: Greg Bird just screams upside. and I really like him as a guy you can draft late and stash. With his left handed stroke at Yankee Stadium I could see Bird hitting 30 plus homers if he’s healthy – and gets playing time.
That Wraps up our first base rankings. Check back next week as we bring you our top-30 Second Base options for the 2017 season.