Can you handle a first baseman with power, but a sub-.225 batting average? Do you want to go safe with a player like Joey Votto or Freddie Freeman?
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. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – If Chris Davis didn’t have such an amazing year, Goldschmidt would have been the run away #1 overall first baseman this season. The addition of Mark Trumbo helps protect him better in the lineup. I expect another 35/120/.300 season from Goldschmidt.
2. Chris Davis – Baltimore Orioles – We all knew Davis had power, but he surprised everyone with his output in 2013. At one point in the season, he looked like he could surpass the Roger Maris home run record (I have a hard time acknowledging those who broke his home run record). Davis may see a slight decline since pitchers will do their best to avoid pitching to him.
3. Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers – Fielder had a ho-hum year in Detroit last season. Expectations were through the roof hitting around Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. Rumored personal issues derailed his season. Texas is a great ballpark for a power hitter. He will bounce back and put up the same numbers he had in Milwaukee.
4. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds – Votto had an odd year. He hit over .300 and had his usual high OBP, but only drove in 73 RBI. Players had issues getting on base in front of him. The loss of Shin-Soo Choo could further lower those totals, but I have hope Billy Hamilton will help Votto. He’s one of the safest first baseman picks. You know what you’re going to get with Votto.
5. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays – I like Encarnacion, but not as much as many other fantasy baseball analysts. He will hit 35+ homers, but his .272 batting average is a red flag for me. I don’t think he bounces back to a .300 hitter. He had wrist surgery in the offseason and I never like drafting power hitters with wrist issues this high in the draft.
6. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves – My boy Freeman got paid this offseason. I’ve been waiting for him to have a breakout season and he delivered last season. He somehow managed to drive in 109 runs with Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton batting under .200 in the lineup. He should have received the NL MVP just for that feat. Freeman will come through again this season.
7. Albert Pujols – Los Angeles Angels – This is the lowest I’ve ever ranked Albert Pujols. I think he is a sleeper candidate. If first base wasn’t strong this season, he would have been ranked higher. He dealt with plantar fasciitis in his left foot last season. As a right-handed hitter, that is hit plant foot. He says his foot is 99.9% healthy and I think he is a 30/100/.290 hitter in 2014.
8. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants – You know first base is deep when the top fantasy catcher comes in as the #8 ranked player with first base-eligibility. Posey will have a great year and he’s just as consistent as Joey Votto. There’s no risk with Posey.
9. Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals – Hosmer could have a very interesting season. He has all the tools to breakout and have a Freedie Freeman-type season, but I’m being conservative by placing him at #9. Worst case scenario, he still finishes the season as a Top 10 first baseman.
10. Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers – Gonzalez really loves the West Coast. After a disastrous tenure in Boston, he came back to the NL West and looked like his old self. The Dodgers lineup is stacked this season. He’s protected in the lineup and will have plenty of chances to drive in runs with runners in scoring position.
11. Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals had the best batting average with runners in scoring position ever (seriously, they broke the record). They hit .330 and was lead by Craig’s .454 RISP which was third best in the last 40 years (only George Brett and Tony Gwynn has a better RISP season). Was Craig’s season an aberration or will be as clutch this season? I don’t think he’ll beat that, but Craig is really good and has outfield-eligibility.
12. Matt Adams – St. Louis Cardinals – Man, the Cardinals really didn’t miss Albert Pujols. Adams came out of nowhere and filled in for Craig during a DL-stint. He never looked back and is slated to be the everyday first baseman in St. Louis. The guy is burly and doesn’t look like he’ll break down. I love Adams and think he could sneak into the top 10 by season’s end.
13. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians – I almost put Santana higher on the list, since he also has catcher eligibility. I love players who I can slot in different places in a lineup. The move to a corner infield position (I guess he’s also being put at third base some in Spring Training) will be easier on his body. His numbers will improve.
14. Mark Trumbo – Arizona Diamondbacks – Trumbo is boom or bust. He had stretches in Anaheim in which he looked like an All-Star, but then had long periods of inactivity. He starts off hot, but then runs out of gas after the All-Star break. If he can put together a full season, he will fit in nicely next to Goldschmidt in the lineup. It’s a huge maybe, but I like his skill-set enough to rank him this high.
15. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs – I always have to check my Cubs fan allegiance at the door when I do fantasy rankings. I’ve been known to be lower on Chicago’s players because I know them so well and see their weaknesses. I like Rizzo a lot, but he hit a wall last season. He had a ‘Trumbo-like’ season. His upside is too difficult to ignore. He could easily out-play his draft position.
16. Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox – I would have ranked Napoli higher if he still had catcher eligibility. I was really high on him last season and ranked him higher than anyone I know. He came through and think he has a shot at having an even better season.
17. Brandon Moss – Oakland A’s – I missed on Moss last season. I didn’t believe his last-season 2012 power output was legit. He proved me wrong and had a line of 30/87/.256. I see nearly an exact carbon copy from him this season, with a possibility of a slight regression.
18. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox – Many scouts believe Abreu is the best hitting prospect to come out of Cuba in a long time, even better than Yoenis Cespedes. Abreu could have an issue with playing time with Paul Konerko possibly taking away some at-bats. I’m ranking him here due to his upside.
19. Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants – I’ve owned Belt many times in his young career. He came into the league as an elite hitting prospect, but it wasn’t until last season that he proved he could do it in the Majors. If he played in any other ballpark, he could be a 30 homer a season hitter. It’s difficult to hit homers in left field at AT&T Park. Belt has a shot to have a slight increase in production, but he’s just a backup first base or a starting corner infield flex option in standard mixed leagues.
20. Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – How the mighty have fallen. A wrist issue kept Tex out of the lineup for nearly the entire season. Like I said previously, I hate drafting power hitters with wrist problems. He’s a notorious slow-starter and hit wrist may not even be 100% until midseason. He’s worth a stash since he could be a player who could help you late in the season. I ranked him in the top-20 for that reason alone.
21. Justin Smoak – Seattle Mariners – The Smoke Monster finally supplanted himself as the starting first baseman in Seattle. He looked like a bust, but found his swing last season. The lineup has improved with the addition of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, so you will see more RBI from him in 2014.
22. Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies – Injuries have killed Howard’s fantasy value. He was one a top first baseman just because his power numbers. He will always be a batting average risk, but the hate has went too far. I think he has a shot to once again hit 30 homers, but I’m not willing to draft him very high. He’s a big guy and once his legs start to break down, the rest will go, a la Mo Vaughn.
23. Adam Lind – Toronto Blue Jays – Lind isn’t a ‘sexy’ pick, but he’s solid across the board. He still struggles against lefties and is always at risk of being platooned. Lind will still get near 500 at-bats in a lineup that features Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, so he’ll get good pitches to hit.
24. Kendrys Morales – Free Agent – It’s hard to adequately rank Morales, since he currently doesn’t have a team. The reason he’s still out there is because the team that signs him will have to give up a draft pick. The team that does sign Morales will have a significant need on the team. A team wouldn’t give up a draft pick for a player designated to the bench.
25. Corey Hart – Seattle Mariners – Hart missed the entire 2013 season with a bad knee. He was a consistent hitter in Milwaukee, but most of his value was attached to his power and speed. I don’t see a double-digit steals season in his future, so his value takes a hit.
26. Nick Swisher – Cleveland Indians – Swisher will hit homers and drive in runs, but he’s a batting average risk. I know he has hit near .250 the last two seasons, but his season with the White Sox permanently ruined him in my eyes. I ranked him this low just because of my personal preference. He’s a solid backup corner infield flex option, but there are other guys on this list with more upside.
27. Adam LaRoche – Washington Nationals – This is where a large drop off occurs on this list. LaRoche seems to have a good season every other year. His batting average took a hit last season (.237), but still managed to hit 20 homers. He’s a nice streaming candidate.
28. Justin Morneau – Colorado Rockies – Can Morneau resurrect his career in the thin air of Denver? It’s a question you have to ask yourself. I wouldn’t mind drafting him late in a fantasy draft just to see how he starts off the season. He could surprise many and creep near a 30 home runs season. It’s a long-shot, but keep an eye on him.
29. Chris Carter – Houston Astros – If you can handle the batting average hit, he’s a nice source of power. I personally avoid players who bat lower than .225, but if you lack power, you should be able to get him cheap.
30. Yonder Alonso – San Diego Padres – Alonso is basically a contact hitter at this point in his career. PETCO Park did bring in the fences last year, but it didn’t help his numbers. He’s just an NL-only corner infield option.
31. James Loney – Tampa Bay Rays
32. Mitch Moreland – Texas Rangers
33. Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox
34. Ike Davis – New York Mets
35. Garrett Jones – Miami Marlins
36. Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox
37. Juan Francisco – Milwaukee Brewers
38. Logan Morrison – Seattle Mariners
39. Kyle Blanks – San Diego Padres
40. Jon Singleton – Houston Astros
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.