2017 Rankings (OBP): Top 15 First Basemen: Rizzo Rises To #2 & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There is a trend for leagues to move away from the traditional AVG category, and instead utilizing OBP or OPS.  How does that type of change impact our rankings?  In many cases it may not be a dramatic change, but there definitely are those who rise and those who fall.

When it comes to first base there aren’t any significant changes, outside of one player plummeting down the rankings.  Instead it’s more “minor moves”, so let’s take a look (the number in parenthesis is the players ranking for “standard” formats):

1. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks (1)
2. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs (3)
3. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers (2)
4. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves (4)
5. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles (7)
6. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds (6)
7. Edwin Encarnacion – Cleveland Indians (8)
8. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals (9)
9. Joe Abreu – Chicago White Sox (5)
10. Wil Myers – San Diego Padres (10)
11. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians (13)
12. Hanley Ramirez – Boston Red Sox (12)
13. Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants (14)
14. Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals (11)
15. Eric Thames – Milwaukee Brewers (17)


  • While they remain two of the best in the league, the change to OBP does lead to a flip of Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo on the rankings.  Cabrera is going to hit for a better average (.316 in ’16) and does draw walks (11.0% in ’16), but Rizzo is right there with him (.292 with a 10.9% walk rate).  While Cabrera had a big lead in average, the OBP is extremely close (.393 vs. .385).  With that gap closed, it’s Rizzo’s ability to chip in some stolen bases that gives him the ultimate edge.
  • No one is going to question the power potential of Chris Davis, and he’s also seen his walk rate rise for the past few seasons (culminating in a 13.2% in ’16).  Considering he’s had years with OBP of .370 and .361 among the past four seasons and with the change in format wiping out the average concerns, it should come as no surprise that he becomes one of the better options in the league.
  • Joey Votto’s spot on the rankings didn’t change, which may come as a little bit of a surprise, but his overall value does climb significantly.  Votto posted the second best OBP last season (.434) and his .437 over the past three seasons is by far the best in the league (there are only three other players with a .400 or better, with Paul Goldschmidt’s .416 being second best).
  • Jose Abreu is coming off a somewhat disappointing season, hitting .293 with 25 HR and 100 RBI.  It’s hard to complain about those numbers and as we’ve said before there’s reason to believe in a bounce back.  His value plummets with the change of formats, however, as the owner of a career 6.9% walk rate and .360 OBP (.347 and .353 over the past two seasons).  We also can’t forget that his power has fallen since his MLB debut, further hurting his appeal

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
Relief Pitcher01/02/17--


  1. CJ says:

    Are you down on Joey Votto this year? Figured he would get a boost on your rankings in an OBP league.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Never been the biggest fan, but he has a strong average and a stronger OBP. IT’s more that Davis’ power plus better OBP than AVG caused him to leapfrog Votto, keeping the latter’s ranking stagnant

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