Fantasy Baseball 2013 NL-Only Rankings: First Base

Tasos Katopodis

Ray Guilfoyle takes a look at the Top 20 first baseman in NL-Only leagues.

We completed our 2013 Consensus Position Rankings last week, finishing off our 2.5 month long rankings project with our Top 40 Relievers. We kicked off our NL and AL-only position rankings this week with the NL and AL-only catcher rankings, and now we move onto our NL-only first base rankings. In case you missed our consensus first base rankings, here is Part 1 and Part 2, and Bret Sayre laid out the landscape of the position here.

First base in NL-only leagues used to be a position with several first round choices like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Joey Votto. Now, we still have Votto, and Adrian Gonzalez has returned, but there are several players that fantasy owners can debate about all day long. I am pretty high on Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, but we still haven't seen what he can do in a full season of at bats. Adrian Gonzalez left San Diego two years ago and has hit 45 home runs since, five more than he hit in 2009 alone. In Petco Park!. Did the shoulder surgery sap the power from his swing? Paul Goldschmidt has been getting lots of love from some sites (Razzball ranks him 20th overall...yes, overall), but he comes with his own question marks.

Let's take a look at my top 20 first baseman in NL-Only leagues for 2013:

Rank

Player

Age

Tm

1

Joey Votto

28

CIN

2

Allen Craig

27

STL

3

Adrian Gonzalez

30

LAD

4

Buster Posey

25

SFG

5

Paul Goldschmidt

24

ARI

6

Ike Davis

25

NYM

7

Ryan Howard

32

PHI

8

Anthony Rizzo

22

CHC

9

Freddie Freeman

22

ATL

10

Adam LaRoche

32

WSN

11

Michael Cuddyer

33

COL

12

Todd Frazier

26

CIN

13

Corey Hart

30

MIL

14

Yonder Alonso

25

SDP

15

Brandon Belt

24

SFG

16

Garrett Jones

31

PIT

17

Logan Morrison

24

MIA

18

Tyler Colvin

26

COL

19

Carlos Lee

36

MIA

20

Mat Gamel

26

MIL

I have been pretty vocal about my concerns with Reds first baseman Joey Votto and his drop in power last season. He was injured for a good part of the second half last season, but he hit exactly zero home runs in 76 at bats once he returned from knee surgery. Could the recovery from knee surgery have affected him in the power category? Absolutely. Spring training will be very telling for what we can expect from Votto in 2013.

Another highly ranked first baseman with questions about his power is Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. There are reasons to be concerned with AGonz as his power, as measured by ISO, is trending in the wrong direction, as is his walk rate and outside the zone swing percentage:

2007: .220 ISO/ 9.00% BB/ 28.2% O Swing%

2008: .231/ 10.6% BB/ 28.0% O Swing%

2009: .274/ 17.5% BB/ 23.1% O Swing%

2010: .213/ 13.4% BB/ 31.8% O Swing%

2011: .210/ 10.3% BB/ 35.5% O Swing%

2012: .164/ 6.1% BB/ 37.3% O Swing%

The trends are very alarming and makes me, as a Dodgers fan, questioning whether he can return to the power hitter he was just 3 seasons ago. The 37.3% outside the zone swing % might be the highest I have seen, but I decided to check, and AGonz ranked 22nd in this stat in 2012. Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton lead the majors with a 45.4% O Swing% last year. Fantasy owners will want to see improvements in his walk rate and O-Swing% for the power to return in 2013.

I had Brewers first baseman Corey Hart ranked as my 8th NL-only first baseman before his knee surgery last week. He has been one of the more consistent power hitters over the last three seasons, yet gets little love from the fantasy community. Did you know he has hit more home runs over the last three seasons than Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen and David Wright, among others? Yes he has. He is a solid pick in keeper leagues and for fantasy owners looking to rebuild in 2013 as his draft day value will drop due to the surgery.

I might be the leader of the Allen Craig fan club with this ranking, but I just love the bat, and want to see what he can do with 600+ at bats in 2013. I can see a 30-100-.300 season from him if he can stay healthy. That might be optimistic, but over the last two seasons, covering roughly 670 at bats, he has hit 33 HRs and driven in 132.

If you have questions about other first baseman on this list, feel free to post a question here or on my Twitter account at@faketeams.

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