Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: First Base

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

After delineation, deliberation, and anticipation, here are your 2014 Philly.com Fantasy Baseball rankings. 

Over the next several weeks, we will unleash the top players at each position, culminating in a handy guide to help you through your draft. 

Last week, we took a look at the top 20 catchers.

Next week, we take a look at the top 20 second baseman.

More coverage
  • 2014 Fantasy Rankings: Catchers
  • In two weeks, we take a look at the top 30 third baseman.

    Today, first base.

    1. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

    2013: 159 G, .302 AVG, .952 OPS, 36 2B, 36 HR, 125 RBI, 99 BB, 145 K

    Paul Bunyan, née Paul Goldschmidt, is the premier first baseman and is a surefire first-round selection in all drafts. In Yahoo leagues, his average draft position (ADP) is 3.6. He broke out big time last year, plays in a favorable ballpark in Arizona, and is only 26-years-old. I see no regression as he could even reach the 40-42 home run mark this year.

    [On a side note, I stole him early last year in an Ervin Santana-for-Goldschmidt deal, straight up. It was one of my finer fantasy moments. But, enough about me.]

     

    2. Joey Votto, Reds

    2013: 162 G, .305 AVG, .926 OPS, 30 2B, 24 HR, 73 RBI, 135 BB, 138 K

    Consistency is Votto. He may not wow you with the power numbers, but that’s by choice. While that does hurt his value a bit for fantasy purposes, I wouldn’t worry too much. What he lacks in power, he makes up for with his consistency. He won’t strike out and he walks a ton, which his why Votto's led the league in OBP the last four years. He’ll always give you positive numbers. His 24 homers and 30 doubles in 2013 would be great at any other position, but first base is usually a place to lock down a power bat. I’d say he hits 25-28 this year, all while keeping that keen eye, and that type of well-rounded game is why he is falls so high on this list.

     

    3. Chris Davis, Orioles

    2013: 160 G, .286 AVG, 1.004 OPS, 42 2B, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 72 BB, 199 K

    Fluke? Or Freak? Davis smashed 53 home runs and 96 total extra-base hits last season, which came out of nowhere - although he’s always been a feast/famine guy. For 2014, it’s nearly impossible to expect 50+ HRs again (only 9 players all time have multiple 50-homer seasons). But I think 38-43 home runs is a good total to start with. I wouldn’t select him any higher than 7-8 overall, as I’m a little concerned that he could fall back to earth. However, that type of potential is still hard to pass on late in the first round.

     

    4. Prince Fielder, Rangers

    2013: 162 G, .279 AVG, .819 OPS 36 2B, 25 HR, 106 HR, 75 BB, 117 K

    Love the move to Texas. It should be a power-number rejuvenator, between the warm weather in Texas and the welcoming dimensions of newly renamed Globe Life Park. Despite hitting a career low 25 homers last year, power is the one thing owners go to Prince for. I expect a spike of 6-8 home runs this season, plus plenty of RBI opportunities behind Profar, Choo, and Beltre, among others. One thing to watch: durability. He’s only missed 13 total games in eight full seasons, and none over the last three.

     

    5. Freddie Freeman, Braves

    2013: 147 G, .319 AVG, .897 OPS, 27 2B, 23 HR, 109 RBI, 66 BB, 121 K

    Freeman is this close to busting through in an even bigger way than he has over the last two seasons. He’s smashed 23 home runs in each of the last two years, all while upping his RBI total and decreasing strikeouts since he’s been a full-timer. This guy has future MVP written all over him. I’m very bullish on Freeman – despite losing Brian McCann in the middle of the order – hitting 30 home runs and knocking in over 110 runs this season. He’s going around mid-to-late third round and I think he’s a steal in that area. Freeman is a star in the making, if he isn’t one already. And he just got paid.  

     

    6. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

    2013: 142 G, .272 AVG, .904 OPS, 36 HR, 104 RBI, 82 BB, 62 K

    There’s something I don’t trust about Encarnacion, and I can’t explain it. Guys have bust out seasons all the time, but for some reason, I’ve felt that his explosion of home runs in recent seasons has been fluke-ish. You can’t knock the numbers, however, and Encarnacion is a solid source of HR, RBI and OBP. Somewhat surprisingly, he doesn’t strike out often. STEAMER projections from Fangraphs have him at 33 HR and 100 RBI for the year and I think that’s a decent assessment.  

     

    7. Albert Pujols, Angels

    2013: 99 G, .258 AVG, .767 OPS, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 40 BB, 55 K

    It was bound to happen, and after years of destroying baseballs, the baseballs finally fought back against Pujols in 2013. Since leaving St. Louis, his once prolific career has been in decline, but last year's foot problems caused him to miss 63 games. He says he’s healthy for 2014, and if he’s 100 percent - or close enough - you can expect roughly 30/100 with a decent batting average. But he’s missing some tread, so be careful and patient. Look for him in the fifth to sixth round, but no earlier.

     

    8. Buster Posey, Giants

    Since he is also available as a catcher, he was discussed last week as part of those rankings. Click here to check them out.

     

    9. Eric Hosmer, Royals

    2013: 159 G, .302 AVG, .801 OPS, 34 2B, 17 HR, 79, 51 BB, 100 K

    Hosmer had a great breakout season in 2013, his third with the Royals, and seems primed to take the next step, joining some of the more elite names at the position. He’s probably not a perennial 30-homer guy, but he can give you 35-40 doubles and 25 home runs, plus a solid OBP. He’s a multi-category filler, even stealing 38 bases over the last three years.

     

    10. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

    2013: 160 G, .233 AVG, .742 OPS 40 2B, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 76 BB, 127 K

    Rizzo’s first full season was inconsistent but it also showed that he’s almost there. He smacked 23 home runs and has 35-homer talent that should develop with time. I’m a bit more bullish on him than some (Yahoo's pre-season ranking has him 97th) but Rizzo should be able to turn a few of those 40 doubles from last season into hits over the wall. The Cubs rewarded him with a seven-year, $41 million deal and he should reward you with good value in the sixth-to-seventh round.

     

    11. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

    2013: 157 G, .293 AVG, 803 OPS, 32 2B, 22 HR, 100 RBI, 47 BB, 98 K

    Gonzalez is slowing down, but he still provides solid value as a second or third-tier fantasy first baseman. He no longer provides the same pop, but is consistent throughout many categories, and doesn’t strike out as much as some of his first base brethren. He’s playing in a stacked Dodgers lineup, too, so RBI opportunities shouldn’t be hard to come by. I like Fangraph’s STEAMERS projection of about 25/95.

     

    12. Carlos Santana, Indians

    Like Posey, Santana is also available as a catcher, and can be found here.

     

    13. Allen Craig, Cardinals

    2013: 134 G, .315 AVG, .830 OPS, 29 2B, 13 HR, 97 RBI, 40 BB, 100 K

    Because of his solid average and OBP, Craig should be thought of more highly in category leagues than points leagues. His low home run total would move him down several spots in those drafts.

     

    14. Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks

    2013: 159 G, .234 AVG, .747 OPS, 30 2B, 34 HR, 100 RBI, 54 BB, 184 K

    Trumbo moves from the AL West to the NL West in an offseason deal with Arizona, a hitter-friendly park, which should play well for his numbers. I see a slight uptick in average and a hold-steady with that career-high homer total. Expect a lot of strikeouts to go with that abundance of power.

     

    15. Brandon Belt, Giants

    2013: 150 G, 289 AVG, .841 OPS, 39 2B, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 52 BB, 125 K

    Belt is a bit of a casualty of spacious AT&T Park in San Francisco, which will continually keep his home run totals down. But last season was a breakout year at age 25 and Belt should continue a slight upward trend. I like him for 20-22 HR and 85 RBI this year, with a solid average. He’s well rounded and won’t hurt you much in any one category.

     

    16. Matt Adams, Cardinals

    2013: 108 G, .284 AVG, .839 OPS, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 23 BB, 80 K

    The Cards are likely to give Adams an opportunity to play every day in 2014, which should boost his home run total and his RBI opportunities. However, he’s a strikeout machine, and doesn’t walk a lot which lowers his value in category leagues. He could, however, give you a nice source of power in the middle rounds and could be a candidate for a big season if all goes properly.

     

    17. Jose Abreu, White Sox

    No MLB stats available; Played in Cuba last year

    Abreu is a Cuban defector who signed with the White Sox in October. What we do know is that he raked in Cuba, is 27-years-old, and is listed at 6'2", 258 pounds. Two seasons ago he hit 35 homers in just 71 games. But how will he translate to the majors? That's the big question. I think you should expect at least 20 homers.

     

    18. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies

    2013: 130 G, .331 AVG, .919 OPS, 31 2B, 20 HR, 84 RBI, 46 BB, 100 K

    Cuddyer should be eligible as a 1B in many leagues after starting 13 games there a year ago. If he is, you’ll be getting 15-20 homer power and a high average hitter playing in the friendly confines of Coors Field. Tread lightly, however, he is entering the season at 35 years old.

     

    19. Nick Swisher, Indians

    2013: 145 G, .246 AVG, .763 OPS, 27 2B, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 77 BB, 138 K

    Swisher is always in the mix for 20-25 homers, a middling average, and some decent RBI numbers. Very unspectacular but makes for nice depth on any fantasy team.

     

    20. Mike Napoli, Red Sox

    2013: 139 G, .259 AVG, .842 OPS, 38 2B, 23 HR, 92 RBI73 BB, 187 K

    Napoli fit in well with that potent Red Sox order a year ago, and figures to post similar numbers across the board in 2014. I don’t see much of a change forthcoming as you can expect a good OBP, a high strikeout total, and a HR total north of 20. He could lose out on some playing time - that Sox offense is loaded with talent - meaning his RBI total could take a hit.

     

    21. Justin Morneau, Rockies

    2013 (with MIN/PIT): 152 G, .259 AVG, .681 OPS, 36 2B, 17 HR, 77 RBI, 50 BB, 110 K

    The former MVP is now playing in the thin air of Colorado, which could very well boost his figures. He’s no longer the 30/100 guy he was in his prime as he’s clearly slowing, but if he gives you 22/85, it’s worth a late selection for your bench.

     

    22. Ryan Howard, Phillies

    2013: 80 G, .266 AVG, .784 OPS, 20 2B, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 23 BB, 85 K

    It’s hard to get a feel on where he really should go. You can certainly take a chance on Howard - but that's all it is - as he looks and feels healthy after two injury-plagued seasons. If he can give you 125 games, 30 homers isn’t out of the question. Don't be blinded by your allegience to the Phillies. I’d take a flier, but I won’t overpay for the once Big Piece.

     

    23. Brandon Moss, A’s

    2013: 145 G, .256 AVG, .859 OPS, 23 2B, 30 HR, 87 RBI, 50 BB, 140 K

    The former Phillie has launched 51 homers over his last two seasons in Oakland. He's a very cheap source of power, but a regression to the norm is also very possible. Look for a dip back to something closer to 20 homers – which is not a bad backup option.

     

    24. Victor Martinez, Tigers

    2013: 159 G, .301 AVG, .850 OPS, 36 2B, 14 HR, 83 RBI, 54 BB, 62 K

    No longer a catcher, Martinez played 11 games at first base in 2013, so he may not be eligible in all leagues. If he is, he's good for a .300 average and a little pop for your category league.

     

    25. Chris Carter, Astros

    2013: 148 G, .223 AVG, .770 OPS, 29 HR, 82 RBI, 70 BB, 212 K

    He’s good for one thing, hitting bombs. Carter's at-bats result in three true outcomes: home run, walk, strikeout. Unfortunately, it tends to be the latter more often than not...

     

    5 More, Just In Case:

    26. Yonder Alonso

    27. Adam Lind

    28. Ike Davis

    29. Garret Jones

    30. Corey Hart

     

    Notes: Joe Mauer will reportedly play first base only this season for Minnesota, but is not yet eligible is most leagues after playing just eight games at that position last year. David Ortiz and Billy Butler are DH’s who may be eligible for 1B in your respective leagues. Ortiz would slide into the 14-17 draft range with Butler in the 18-22 rank area.

     

    Contact Pat on Twitter: @PatGallen_975

    Pat Gallen For Philly.com
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