Top 15 First Basemen (2019): OBP Formats: Who Rises & Who Falls?

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Obviously when we change the format of our leagues the rankings need to be altered. One of the popular changes going to day is the move away from AVG and towards OBP as a league category. So who rises and who falls?

As with AVG formats, 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 for OBP formats, 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.

Who are the names we should trust?  Who should be ignored? Let’s dive in and take a look:

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

Thoughts:

  • Does it come as a surprise that Matt Carepenter jumps up the rankings when we switch from AVG to OBP?  While there are questions about him being able to maintain his power surge from 2018 (25.0% HR/FB for three consecutive months), he hasn’t posted an OBP below .365 in the Majors (excluding his 7 game debut in 2011).  He’s been at .374 or better for three straight seasons, thanks to an elite walk rate (15.1% in ’18), and there’s no reason to think he’s not going to continue as one of the best in the league for OBP formats.
  • Joey Votto is another player who sees a significant jump in value with the change in format.  The power may never rebound, and a first baseman with 20 HR or fewer is never going to be ideal, but he hasn’t posted an OBP below .390 since ’08 and only once in that span has he been below a .414 mark.  Even his down 2018 led to a .417 OBP and that’s going to lead to him as a strong option in these formats due to the advantage he provides.
  • One of the players who drops a few spots is the White Sox’ Jose Abreu, who went from #5 to #7.  Over the past four seasons his best walk rate was 6.8% and he saw his BABIP fall in part due to a more pull heavy approach (21.0% Oppo%).  Maybe he’s able to correct the issue, but any advantage he had in AVG over Matt Olson and Edwin Encarnacion is wiped out due to the format change regardless.
  • You could argue that Paul Goldschmidt should be the top option in AVG formats, though in OBP formats it’s easy to make the switch.  He’s had a 13.0% walk rate or better for each of the past six seasons, leading to an OBP of .389 or better (reaching a mark of .435).  Even as he “regresses”, there’s a lot to like.
  • It’s easy to overlook Carlos Santana, but in OBP formats there’s some interesting upside that shouldn’t be ignored.  He may not climb the rankings, but there’s no questioning the ability to draw a walk (including a 16.2% walk rate in ’18) and he’s always carried an OBP of .350 or better.  All he needs to do is find a way to get his AVG up, even just a little bit, or see a boost in his power (24 HR in ’18) and he could post a .370 OBP or better.   It’s something to not overlook.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Professor,

    12 team H2H, 6×6 with Average and OPS, no OBP. Your thoughts on Cody, Carp, and Olson in that format would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Bellinger remains the top option for me, as he has the most power and maintains a strong OBP. Carpenter/Olson are close, but Olson should have a solid OBP and a little bit more power so he’s going to get the slight edge.

      Bellinger
      Olson
      Carpenter

  2. Hi roto Professor. Are you having a tough day? On what planet would Joey Votto be ranked 12th 1rst basemen off the board in an OBP league?

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