Top 15 First Basemen (2019): A Position That’s Not As Deep As Perceived…

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First base has always been viewed as a deep position, and one that you can target in the later rounds of your draft.  While that’s still true, to an extent, it also isn’t quite as deep as it may be perceived so waiting may no longer be the best path to take. 

With that being said, here are a few things to remember as you review the rankings (and if you want to see even deeper rankings, make sure to order our 2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide that includes a Top 30, by clicking here):

  • A player being ranked #3 doesn’t mean you should draft him in that spot. In most cases you shouldn’t have to, it just shows the potential value that he holds.
  • These rankings are based on our projections and expected production for 2019.

Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings:

  1. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
  2. Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
  5. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox
  6. Matt Olson – Oakland A’s
  7. Edwin Encarnacion – Seattle Mariners
  8. Josh Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Max Muncy – Los Angeles Dodgers
  10. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
  11. Jurickson Profar – Oakland A’s
  12. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
  13. Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
  14. Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles
  15. Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers

Thoughts:

  • We recently took a look at Cody Bellinger, why he’s leapfrogged Rhys Hoskins and why he is a must target player for ’19.  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.
  • Anthony Rizzo was a perceived disappointment in 2018, though hitting .283 with 25 HR and 101 RBI is hardly a “terrible” season.  The drop in power was the biggest “issue”, and it stemmed from struggles against left-handed pitchers (.369 SLG in ’18).  That hadn’t been an issue previously and there’s reason to believe that he’ll return to prominence in ’19 (15.7% HR/FB in the second half of ’18).
  • Jurickson Profar was deployed as a utility player in ’18, which will work as a bonus for fantasy owners in ’19.  He enters the year with eligibility at 1B, 3B and SS (and for those who only require 10 games for eligibility, 2B as well though he should gain that early in ‘19) and should see full-time AB as a member of the A’s.  He’s coming off a year where he hit .254 with 20 HR and 10 SB, the power appears to be for real (11 HR in 215 AB in the second half) and the average should grow moving to the vast expanses of Oakland (44.6% Hard%, 27.3% Oppo%).  He may be a better fit at other positions, but don’t overlook him.
  • Surprised to see Josh Bell and Max Muncy in the Top 10?  That helps to show the “lack” of depth at the spot, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in the upside.  Bell has a strong approach and should see his average rise (.261 AVG, .305 BABIP).  He showed signs that his power returned, at least a little bit, towards the end of the season (HR/FB of 13.3% and 16.7% over the final two months).  The potential is there to be a .280 hitter with 20+ HR.
  • As for Muncy, it’s easy to assume that last year’s breakout wasn’t for real (.263 with 35 HR).  There are concerns about his strikeout rate (27.2%), but the underlying numbers support a better mark (a 32.7% strikeout rate in the second half skews the number).  He may not quite match last year’s power pace, but a 30 HR campaign isn’t unrealistic given how consistent he was.
  • There are alternatives that you can argue for the final few spots, including Jesus Aguilar, Eric Hosmer and Joey Votto.  Votto’s omission may be the biggest surprise, but he’s been showing a decline in power over the past year and a half (12 HR in ’18).  Maybe he rebounds a little, but fewer than 20 HR and a .290ish average isn’t ideal for first base.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

18 COMMENTS

  1. Votto’s omission isn’t a terrible shock. His main value lies in OBP leagues where I would say he probably slides in around the 5 or 6 mark. Hopefully a better lineup around him this year let’s him regain some value that he’s lost in the last couple years.

  2. I like the list and I’m waiting on Bell to show that 25+ pop also but Carp at 12 is way too low. He’s old and gets hurt but has hit over 20hrs every year the past 4 years, wont kill you, and may help in batting average. also had one heck of a year last year. streaky sure, but most players are these days.

    • I just wouldn’t pay for last year’s big power numbers. The key is going to be where he’s hitting in the lineup and how much he can chip in RBI/R

    • The key is in his AVG, and he hit .264 in the second half last year. Couple that with power in the middle of an improving lineup and there’s a lot to like.

  3. 1B is kind of like Catcher in that most guys contribute in only 2-3 Categories. This means the difference between the 8th guy and 18th guy are miniscule and makes 1B a position to punt until the final rounds.

    • All of the guys near the bottom, along with Aguilar/Votto, are all in the same tier. The problem with Aguilar, and it shouldn’t be ignored, is that he hit .245 in the second half and there are concerns that his strikeout rate could rise. If there’s any step back in his power, and it’s not impossible, we’re talking .240ish with 25-28 HR. Is that a locked in Top 15 option?

  4. There is no way that Carpenter deserves to be below Carlos Santana, Josh Bell, or Edwin Encarnacion unless you think he is going to completely bottom out to 2017 levels after a career year. He had better years than all three mentioned and, aside from the lingering traces of hype for Bell, none of them have shown that 2019 is supposedly going to be markedly better. That you didn’t mention Carpenter’s severe drop in the standings in the notes is bizarre, as a guy who hits 36 home runs one year to dropping below a mere 20 from Profar should have some reasoning behind it. Carpenter also walked 100+ times for the second year in a row, and even if Carpenter drops down to 25 home runs and .260, the strength in OBP should give him a leg up over those other three guys anyway. I dunno, Eric… this really looks like a mis-rank.

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