Written by: Ray Butler
This was somehow almost as painful to write up as the catcher rankings. Position eligibility is a real thorn in my side. But how could I ignore it? First base is an extremely talented position that seems to be getting thinner and thinner each year (as power becomes less and less valuable). These rankings may seem a bit funky (because they are), but I gave it my best shot. Here you go.
#1. McKinnon Ray- First Basemen: Kris Bryant, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Belt
McKinnon takes the first base title on a positional eligibility technicality, but the guy is STACKED at the position with or without Bryant. He has the top first base-eligible player, his second best player at the position had a .434 OBP last season, and his third best player at the position hit 42 dingers last year. Brandon Belt is nothing to shake a stick at, either. Prediction: McKinnon will do what comes easiest to McKinnon and trade one of these first basemen away before the All-Star break (Yes, I’m keeping this in here because I continue to believe it even though McKinnon literally traded a first basemen within seconds of my first publishing of this article).
#2. John Morrison- First Basemen: Miguel Cabrera, Wil Myers, Buster Posey
Had Kris Bryant not earned first base eligibility during the 2016 season, John would have easily been number one on this list. Miguel Cabrera is about as consistent of a fantasy player as it gets, and Wil Myers (whose speed is a welcomed bonus at the position) made a name for himself last season. Will Myers (lol) be able to put together back-to-back healthy seasons? Buster Posey also holds first base eligibility (and is obviously a stud), but John needs to re-add Dusty Baker’s catcher before he could utilize Posey’s extra value.
#3. Ben Roach- First Basemen: Paul Goldschmidt and Todd Frazier
Todd Frazier started seven games at first base in 2016. Seven. But it was just enough to land Ben the number three spot in these rankings. Paul Goldschmidt (who had 27 (!) NSB in 2016) continues to be a fantasy monster who thrives playing in a hitters’ paradise in Arizona. Frazier hit 40 home runs, had 98 RBI, and also tallied double digit NSB last season, though his OBP keeps him from being a truly elite player.
#4. Gregg Morris- First Basemen: Anthony Rizzo and Bobby Bradley
Anthony Rizzo hits for power, drives in plenty of runs, gets on base often, scores a ton of runs, and doesn’t really strike out. He’s the girl who loves a lot of the same things you do and is also way hotter than you deserve. He’s the girl who pours you another whiskey and coke so you don’t have to get up and miss any MLB TV. If Bobby Bradley can ever find a way to not strike out a bazillion times every season, he wouldn’t be too far behind Rizzo.
#5. Caleb Stumpf- First Basemen: Freddie Freeman and Matt Carpenter
Freddie Freeman saw an uptick in the power department last season and also finished with a .400 OBP on the dot. He was at his best once the Braves traded for Matt Kemp and promoted Dansby Swanson to The Show (because pitchers actually recognized names in the Braves lineup other than Freeman’s). Freeman will bat in between Swanson and Kemp this season. Matt Carpenter should benefit from hitting behind on-base machine Dexter Fowler in the foreseeable future.
#6. Bobby Morrison- First Basemen: Daniel Murphy, Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Logan Morrison, Jed Gyorko
This is basically Daniel Murphy, Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols (kinda), and then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Isn’t Murphy’s transformation over the years amazing? Dude went from a solid fantasy player who hit for below-average power but had a nice OBP and never struck out to a guy who hits for way-above-average power and has a super OBP and STILL never strikes out. The Red Sox want to slot Ramirez at the DH more in 2017, where his career offensive stats are (insert fire emoji here). Pujols is still a serviceable fantasy player, too.
#7. Ray Butler- First Basemen: Jose Abreu and Chris Davis
Jose Abreu was a monster down the stretch of the 2016 season, though his home run and RBI totals decreased for the second season in a row. Chris Davis played almost the entirety of the 2016 season with an ailing thumb, and he finished with only 41 fewer strikeouts than he did total bases. That may not mean much from the outside-looking-in, but then you realize he had 260 total bases last season.
#8. Adam Stumpf- First Basemen: Ian Desmond (yeah, I’m ranking him), Brad Miller, Greg Bird, Jurickson Profar, Dominic Smith
Every time I rank something of Adam’s, I find myself liking his team more and more. This is a pretty underrated group. Desmond should have 1B eligibility five games into the regular season (and he now hits at Coors), Brad Miller (yes, that Brad Miller) hit 30 HR last season, and Jurickson Profar was finally able to flash his potential at the big league level last year and should see plenty of playing time this season. Greg Bird has the ceiling of a top 10 first baseman and Dominic Smith should be a fantasy regular as early as next season. Adam is certainly trending upwards at the first base position.
#9. Zach Gerhart- First Basemen: Carlos Santana, Jonathan Lucroy (I guess), and Tommy Joseph
Carlos Santana enjoyed a career year in 2016, and he’ll hit in an even-better lineup this season. Jonathan Lucroy holds first base eligibility, but it’s hard to utilize that value unless an owner carries a second catcher (Zach currently does not). Tommy Joseph seems to be trending upward, and no longer has to worry about Ryan Howard’s washed-up shadow.
#10. Matt Smith- First Basemen: Eric Hosmer and Yulieski Gurriel (?)
Eric Hosmer, like the aforementioned Carlos Santana, always seems to be an underrated fantasy asset at 1B. Hosmer is consistently above average, and I’m certainly intrigued to see where he lands during free agency following the 2017 season. Surprisingly, it seems as though Gurriel will earn 1B eligibility this season. He’ll hit in a stacked lineup, and I’m interested to see what a full season of MLB play looks like for the newcomer from Cuba.
#11. Frank Selesky- First Basemen: Ryon Healy, Josh Bell and Cody Bellinger
Young and talented. After undergoing a swing change at the midway point of last season, Healy kicked down the door of his big league entrance and hit 13 HR in only 269 MLB at-bats. He’ll transition to first base from the hot corner for the 2017 season. Josh Bell will likely be the Pirates’ Opening Day first baseman (if he continues to quickly recover from offseason knee surgery), and Cody Bellinger should make it to The Show sometime during the 2017 regular season. Frank has two future impact first basemen and should climb this list in the near future, but things could be a little shaky in 2017.
#12. Van Moore- First Baseman: Kendrys Morales
Hopefully playing for a championship in the 2020 season, it’s not all that important or surprising to see a rebuilding team ranked last in the positional rankings. You would think that a rebuilding team would carry a young, talented first baseman, but Van has plenty of time to invest at the position before it’s time to truly compete. Kendrys Morales will hit in a strong Toronto lineup, and he should continue to put up solid offensive stats across the board.
Next, we’ll rank the second basemen in The League of Ruthless Gentlemen.
Link to LORG 2017 Catcher Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/01/lorg-2017-catcher-rankings/