First Base is the deepest position in fantasy baseball this year. A first baseman who swing for the fences are not hard to find in 2013. You add that group with the recent trend of young catchers playing their off days at first base and you understand why this area is so deep.
Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are in the second year of their American League switch. Will they see a stat increase or will pitchers figure them out?
A group of young first baseman are entering their prime. Will Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer or Ike Davis jump to the next level?
My rankings are based on a standard 5×5 league. If you have any specific questions about a different league, email me BobbyMcrib@gmail.com.
1. Albert Pujols – Los Angeles Angels – With one season under his belt, Pujols is ready to earn that big contract. His early season slump hurt his end of the year numbers, but his second half numbers were on par with his past. He’s going to have a monster year in 2013.
2. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds – Votto struggled with injuries in 2012. He still batted .337 with 14 homers in only 370 at-bats. Expect a .315+/30/100 season from the Canadian this year. He will be in the NL MVP discussion.
3. Prince Fielder – Detroit Tigers – Prince did not have any issues switching leagues. He should have an even better 2013 season with Victor Martinez back in the lineup. V-Mart will most likely bat behind him and help protect Fielder. Votto and Fielder are close and they could very well be 2a and 2b.
4. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants – If you draft Posey, who is first base eligible, you’re most likely playing him at your catcher position. You can find a better first base option than a backup catcher. If you have a top-5 catcher as a keeper and you want to use your first round pick on Posey, I could see a scenario where you would play Posey at first base. Posey will have another MVP season in 2013.
5. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays – Last year, if you drafted Encarnacion in the last few rounds of your fantasy baseball league, you probably won your league. Saying he had a career year would be an understatement. He doubled his previous career highs in every major category. Drafting him high this year does have risk, but he could be the next Jose Bautista. Let me remind you something, he’s only 30 years old. I think last year’s numbers of .280/42/110 with 13 steals will most likely be his peak, but he will still be a .260/30/100 year.
6. Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers – Gonzalez’s two seasons in Beantown’s most dramatic in recent memory. He was traded late last season in hope of him finding his power again. He had over 600 at-bats and only finished the season with 18 home runs. The shoulder injury he suffered in 2010 has affected his power. There’s not much risk with drafting Gonzalez as the sixth first baseman off the board. He will give you .300/25/100, give or take five dingers.
7. Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals – After being a doubles machine the last few years, Butler finally put it all together in 2012. He is both 1B and DH eligible, so the position flexibility breaks the tie between him and the next couple guys on this list. He turns 27 shortly after Opening Day, so he should be a fantasy baseball mainstay for the rest of the 2010s.
8. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – After looking like he’ll be an all or nothing guy at the plate, Goldschmidt finally improved his patience and contact rate. I don’t expect another .286 batting average, but I do predict a career year in his power numbers. He had 43 doubles last year, which was Butler’s problem before he took it to the next level. I believe this season is the year Goldschmidt puts a couple of those doubles over the fence. He will be Arizona’s source of power and finish the season with over 30 homers.
9. Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals – In his first season as an everyday player, Craig surprised everyone. He hit had a line of .307/22/92 in only 119 games (he some time due to injury). I expect a line of 30/105/.305 this season, so he’ll finish the year as a top 10 first baseman. He spent half the season at first base and the rest of the games in the outfield, so he’ll help in daily roto leagues.
10. Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – Having Teixeria at #10 on this list shows how deep the first base position is this season. He had a down year due to injuries, but he still finished with 24 homers, but his OPS was a career low .807. I want to notch that up to a down year and not a clear indication that his career is tailing off. His RBI numbers might not at the level of previous years, since I don’t expect the Yankees to be as efficient offensively. His line should be somewhere in the range of .265/32/90.
11. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves – I was in on Freeman from the moment he first put on an Atlanta uniform. He was known as a contact hitter when he was drafted and he changed his swing to drive the ball. He has 23 homers last season and I see those number trending up this season. Being surrounded with the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward, he will see good pitches. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had more than 30 dingers in 2013.
12. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs – I swear I’m now being a “homer” by listing Rizzo this high. He’s somewhere in this range in most of the preseason fantasy baseball rankings. He was the third most popular rookie last season, behind Angels’ Mike Trout and Nationals’ Bryce Harper. Unfortunately, like those guys, he will be drafted very early in the draft and may not be there when you pick. He should have a line somewhere around .260/30/90 in his first full season…not too shabby.
13. Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals – If you were making a list of fantasy busts from last season, Eric Hosmer would be one of the first players who come to mind. After his rookie campaign in 2011, he went into next season with a lot of fantasy buzz. He had an abysmal yeah thanks to a habit of pulling the ball and the use of defensive shifts. He has worked on that in the offseason and could be a fantasy bargain. I like him and you will see him in our section on sleepers.
14. Ike Davis – New York Mets – Once again, to prove how deep the first base position is this year, a guy who is expected to hit 30 homers this year, is 14th. He wasn’t healthy at the beginning of last season, but the last 2/3rd of the season, he was one of the best first baseman in baseball. Freeman, Rizzo, Hosmer and Davis are all interchangeable in the rankings. They will all be productive and at least one of them will breakout and have an insane season.
15. Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies – I’ve never been a Ryan Howard guy, because I put a lot of emphasis on batting average when constructing my fantasy team. That being said, if Ryan Howard is there when backup first baseman are being picked, I would love to draft Ryan Howard. I doubt he’ll fall enough for me to draft him, but I think he’ll bounce back this season. He won’t bounce back to have 50 homers, but he’ll hit at least 30 homers and bat somewhere in-between .230 and .245.
16. Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox – While putting together my rankings, I look for outliers and odd facts to help me break ties. I once had him much higher on this list…then I realized the most important thing about Konerko’s 2013. On March 5th, Paul he turns 37 years old. Does he have one more great season left in him or will he show signs of slowing down? I believe he will show a little wear and tear, but he’ll be a candidate for 30 homers, but he could fall short of that total, but hit just shy of .300.
17. Mark Trumbo – Los Angeles Angels – I owned Trumbo in every fantasy baseball league I joined, literally every league. He was a great value, but fell off in the second half of the season. If he had a cemented place in the lineup, he would be much higher. He does find his way into the lineup in 90% of the games. He’s a DH-OF-1B utility player, which is irreplaceable player on the Angels. He will have a good year and you can find him later in your draft as a very underrated player.
18. Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox – In my fantasy baseball catcher rankings post, you can read why I’m convinced Napoli is in for a nice season. He’s not consistent and he hasn’t showed that he can be in the Majors yet. The first base position is so deep that just because of that, his ranking fell down to #18. He’s going to have very good numbers at Fenway Park this year.
19. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – Here’s another catcher with first base eligibility. I am much, much lower on Mauer than most people. A lot is expected of him and I don’t think he’s a guy who will put up numbers to fill a box score. He will have a great batting average, but the expected power won’t be there. He is always drafted higher than his end of the year numbers add up. He will still give you .315/12/80, so his batting average can help you win your league.
20. Adam LaRoche – Washington Nationals – LaRoche came back from an injury-plagued 2011 season with a crazy .271/33/100 season in 2012. He’s back on a very talented Nationals team and I expect a similar season. I don’t see him touching those numbers, but he’ll have a line somewhere around 28/90/.275.
21. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
22. Todd Frazier – Cincinnati Reds
23. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles
24. Kendrys Morales – Seattle Mariners
25. Kevin Youkilis – New York Yankees
26. Michael Young – Philadelphia Phillies
27. Tyler Colvin – Colorado Rockies
28. Nick Swisher – Cleveland Indians
29. Lance Berkman – Texas Rangers
30. Justin Morneau – Minnesota Twins
Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles – Davis came into the Majors with a lot of fanfare and high expectations. He flamed out with the Texas Rangers and had a few lean moments on his current team, the Baltimore Orioles. He has an unexpected breakout season last year with a line of .270/33/85. I don’t see him duplicating those numbers. I need to see him do it again before I’m sold.
Lance Berkman – Texas Rangers – Berkman’s name has been flying around as a possible sleeper this season. The move to hitter-friendly Arlington is one of the reasons. I believe he will struggle with American League pitching. The 37-year old has only played in the AL during a short stint with the Yankess. After a fantastic 2012 season with St. Louis, he is a bust candidate this season.
Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants – After being a sleeper the last two seasons, many people have written Belt off as a guy who may not live up to the hype. He hit for power in the minors, but for some reason, it hasn’t transferred over the the Majors. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t seem to be sold on him either. He hasn’t received consistent playing time, but without a veteran first baseman on the roster, he’ll get his at-bats.
Yonder Alonso – San Diego Padres – The San Diego Padres moved in the fences inside PETCO Park. The ten to twelve feet won’t make it a hitter’s park, but expect an increase in homers. Yonder Alonso will a player who take advantage of the move. You can pick him up for a $1 in a mixed-league or for $5 in an NL-only league.
Chris Carter – Houston Astros – The Astros are going to be bad…really bad. They acquired Chris Carter from Oakland this offseason in the Jed Lowrie trade. He will be one of the lone bright spots in Houston this season. If you can handle his low batting average, he is a cheap source of power. There is a lot of value in Carter, since he’s expected to go for a $1 in mixed leagues and $3 in AL-only leagues.