2017 Rankings: Top 15 First Baseman (Don’t Sleep On Carpenter/Cron & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

First base is generally viewed as the deepest position in fantasy baseball, though you can make the argument that’s no longer the case.  There are ample good options, but once you get past the first few names are there any guarantees?  There’s potential, but the names start to become a bit more interchangeable (especially once you get past the Top 8).  Who are the players to target?  Where is the upside after the top few names?  Let’s take a look:

1. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
3. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
4. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
5. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox
6. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
7. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
8. Edwin Encarnacion – Cleveland Indians
9. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
10. Wil Myers – San Diego Padres
11. Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals
12. Hanley Ramirez – Boston Red Sox
13. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
14. Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants
15. C.J. Cron – Los Angeles Angels
 

Thoughts:

  • The biggest complaint will likely be slotting Jose Abreu as a Top 5 option.  While there were struggles during 2016 he still finished the year hitting .293 with 25 HR and 100 RBI and an 18.4% HR/FB in the second half (14 HR over the final two months) while improving his strikeout rate (20.3% to 15.2%) shows just how good he can be.  He needs to find consistency, but there’s a lot to like.  We previously took an in-depth look at him, which you can read by clicking here.
  • Matt Carpenter appears primed to open the season as the St. Louis Cardinals’ starter at 1B, though his bat will be more valuable at 2B (he’ll also have eligibility at 3B).  He proved last season that the power was for real, with 21 HR (along with 36 doubles and 6 triples), and we all know his ability to hit for a strong average.  The versatility and upside makes him one of the better players to own.
  • It was a fantastic season for Daniel Murphy, but does anyone believe that he can maintain a .347 average (he benefited from a .348 BABIP)?  How about his 25 HR pace (he regressed to 9 HR in the second half)?  Don’t pay for last season’s numbers, but that doesn’t mean don’t buy.
  • It’ll be easy to overlook C.J. Cron, but he appears primed to spend significant time at first base after Albert Pujols was forced to undergo another surgery on his foot.  A quietly productive ’16 (.278 with 16 HR) and entering his age 27 season, there’s a lot working in his favor.
  • Wil Myers is coming off a 28/28 season, but don’t assume he’s going to be able to replicate that success.  We recently published our 2017 projection, which includes a regression, which you can read by clicking here.

*** Pre-Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***

Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Last Updated
Catcher01/09/17
First Base01/16/17
Second Base01/23/17
Third Base02/06/17
Shortstop02/13/17
Outfielder12/05/16
Starting Pitcher12/13/16
Relief Pitcher01/02/17

14 comments

  1. Tim says:

    Why so low on Edwin? I haven’t seen him outside the top 5 anywhere.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I wouldn’t call is being down on Encarnacion, just slightly higher on the others. The group from Abreu to Encarnacion is a tier, and one of the more interchangeable ones.

  2. Mark M. says:

    I’m baffled by the Chris Davis ranking. Encarnacion outperformed Davis in every category other than tying in runs and Wil Myers had more rbi,better, ba and sb’s. Davis hit .221 and .196 in two of the last three seasons. Davis hit .263 in a contract year.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      They are interchangeable, but my “concern” with Encarnacion may be a drop in the runs slightly as the hitters behind him won’t be as strong. Also, here’s an excerpt on the Davis writeup from the draft guide, just to help the point:

      “the biggest problem being a drop in his line drive rate (22.9% for his career, 19.8% in ’16). A few dismal months (10.6% in July, 13.1% in August) dragged the overall number down, so don’t push the panic button. That’s not to say that he’ll suddenly hit .300, but he should produce closer to .250.”

  3. Austin M says:

    Curious, where does Hosmer land in your rankings?

  4. Steve says:

    I love CJ Cron. He was fully breaking out before a HBP broke his hand. Last offseason he got in a lot better shake, visibly slimmer and improved pitch selection.

    I think the full on breakout happens this year for the full season. I find his situation very similar to that of AJ Pollock a couple years ago, who broke out, broke his hand on an HBP, then came back and continued his breakout the following season.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Agreed 100% on Cron. He’s definitely a player that is going to be overlooked, but the injury to Pujols locks him into a significant role. It wouldn’t surprise me if he performed like a Top 10 option this season

  5. Austin says:

    Where does Hosmer land in your rankings? He is a pretty consistant in fantasy and no bum. I mean, I’ve been looking into Cron for adding him into my team for 17′ as I think he’s been getting better and better and stats have been climbing each year (just needs a full healthy season). But I scratch my head at the thought that Hoz didn’t make the top 15 and Cron did.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      My problem with Hosmer is that I still don’t buy the power. He continues to post an inflated groundball rate (24.7% fly ball rate last season). He needed a 21.4% HR/FB to get power last season, and ultimately that helped to cost him in the AVG department. For me, he’s a name that people are drawn to, but there are far too many risks.

      I’ll add him to the list of players to cover, so we can take an in-depth look at my thoughts soon!

  6. Sean D. says:

    Could Greg Bird potentially be one of the biggest steals of this season?

    • Ray Kuhn says:

      I do like his upside, and it’s possible he’s forgotten about in some leagues, but I wouldn’t go that far. The Yankees are going to go with the hot hand at first base, and he could have periods where he slumps. He is worth targeting as a reserve round sleeper in standard leagues though.

  7. Mike says:

    TOo bad Luis Valbuena will be taking most of his AB’s..

    Angels general manager Billy Eppler said this week that he expects Luis Valbuena to be in the lineup “very regularly and the entire time against a right-handed pitcher.”

    Once Pujols back anyone taking Cron early will lose out.

    • AJ says:

      Yeah, Valbuena is the reason I’m cooling my jets on Cron, even though I am a fan of his. I had already drafted Cron as my 1B/Util backup in my 16-team H2H salary league – and I’m not getting rid of him by any means – but I think I’ll take another similar bat as well just in case.

      • AJ says:

        Of course it’s also beneficial to remember that Cron will plug in if just about any injury affects the infield, including a prolonged absence for Albert. But it’s obviously hard and unrealistic to ‘hope’ for an injury.

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