2015 Fantasy Baseball First Base Rankings: It's Where the Bashers Call Home
Well, you didn't come here for the steals, right?
As usual, this year's collection of first basemen are heavy on homers and light on the "little ball" stuff, but that's what you want from your fantasy first baseman. You want a guy you can bank on getting you close to or more than 30 homers and 100 RBI. And in today's pitcher-dominated game, power is in increasingly short supply at most other positions. So this is where to come to grab some.
Because most leagues are based on a 5x5 scoring system, our rankings are determined by what we call our "numberFire score." In short, we use a bunch of algorithms to determine how a player is going to perform across all the relevant scoring categories, and also factor in position scarcity.
Here is who we like at first base this season. Bombs away!
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt is one of four first basemen to rank in our overall top 10, and is third overall in our projections. Last season he hit .300/.396/.542 with 19 homers and 69 RBI in only 109 games after getting hit on the hand by a pitch last year, ending his season early. In 2013, he led the NL in homers (36), RBI (125), slugging (.551), and OPS (.952), and he finished second in the NL MVP vote. He's a guy who provides a high batting average, lots of homers, and hits in one of the friendliest parks for hitters in baseball. The rest of his team stinks, but Goldschmidt is among the safest guys to grab in fantasy this year.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera also has eligibility at third base, which makes him a particularly valuable player to have. However, he has some injury concerns, which is why our projections are a bit lower than his career numbers. They reflect more what he did last year when his batting average dipped 35 points from 2013, and his 25 home runs were the fewest in any season since his rookie year. But he's still a darn good offensive player, and led the league last year in doubles with 52, so perhaps some of those two-baggers will turn into homers. He's also ranked No. 4 in our overall projections, but bear in mind, the decline may be upon us.
3. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Ranked number five in our overall rankings, the Cuban slugger is coming off a sensational rookie season with the South Siders, and there's no reason not to expect an encore performance in 2015. We see Abreu's batting average coming back a bit from the .317 he put up a year ago, but we like his home run and RBI numbers to stay strong. There's simply not a lot of risk with a guy who came into the league last year, made the All-Star team, won the Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting. If you miss out on Goldschmidt or Cabrera, you won't be shorting yourself much with Abreu.
4. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion was on his way to having another stellar season for Toronto last year, slugging 34 homers and 98 RBI before injuries limited him to only 128 games. Over the last three years, Encarnacion has hit 42, 36 and 34 home runs, second-most in baseball over that span (tied with Baltimore's Chris Davis and just one dinger behind Detroit's Cabrera). What knocks Encarnacion below the three players ahead of him on this list is a lower batting average. He's a career .265 hitter, although our projections have him a bit higher this season.
5. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Most people will be grabbing Posey at the catcher position, and it's possible in some leagues he will lose eligibility at first base if he doesn't play enough games there this year. Last season, Posey played 33 games at first base and 110 at catcher, just FYI. Position scarcity at catcher means he'll likely be gone before you'd ever consider grabbing him at first, but if he's there, even at first base his projected .303 batting average, .864 OPS and 22 homers are enough to warrant him in this spot. That positional flexibility also plays in his favor. He good.
6. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
If you're conducting a dynasty draft, Abreu is probably the initial first baseman I'd take off the board. But the 25-year-old Rizzo would be a very close second. He emerged as an All-Star for Chicago last season, hitting .286 with an OPS of .913, 32 homers and 78 RBI. He should see those RBI totals increase this year as some of the young positional talent around him gets better, too. And given his youth, he could absolutely surpass our projections for him in 2015.
7. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
I guess it's fair to say Marty Brennaman won't be drafting Votto here. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Joey Votto conundrum, that being a first baseman that gets on base a ton but doesn't hit a lot of homers or drive in a lot of runs. While my argument remains true when it comes to winning actual real baseball games, in fantasy, you want first basemen with solid power numbers. We project Votto for a 22-homer season, but remember, he does have a 30-plus homer season to his credit (2010). The only other worry is his health, as Votto has only played a full season in one out of the last three years.
8. Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
Martinez is 36 years old, but he's never been better. Last year's MVP runner-up in the American League hit .335 with a league leading OPS of .974, 32 homers and 103 RBI, all while playing half his games in what is generally known to be a pitcher's park, Comerica Field. Those 32 homers were a career high though, and we're projecting that total to come down a bit, more in line with his career averages. Still, that makes V-Mart one of the best first basemen available.
9. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Gonzalez isn't the 35-40 homer guy he was in his prime, but he's still a player who will knock 20-25 balls out of the yard, hit for a decent average and knock in some runs in what should be a potent Dodgers offense. He did lead the league in RBI with 116, and also provides the security blanket of health, playing in at least 156 games every year since 2004. He's not the sexiest pick around, but he's a safe one if your strategy was to focus on other positions early in your draft.
10. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
You couldn't blame Freddie Freeman if he felt kind of like a little kid who was ditched by his friends and left all alone at the mall. Freeman is one of the only players left from the rebuilding purge that Atlanta underwent this winter, but it's easy to see why he's sticking around. He doesn't load up any one stat column in particular, but he's a steady 20-25 homer guy, will knock in 80-90 runs and hits around .280 or so. You could do worse.