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Fantasy Baseball: Early Top 30 First Base Rankings for 2015

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Ray offers an early look into his top 30 first base rankings for 2015. Check out where I rank Jose Abreu, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto and others.

Ed Zurga

Today, I continue with my early 2015 position rankings, ranking my Top 30 first baseman for next season. Yeah, it is early for rankings, and we have yet to see any free agent signings or offseason trades, so my rankings may change as a result. But, for now, here are my 2015 first base rankings, assuming any offseason free agent signings or trades won't have a material impact on my rankings.

Before we get into my first base rankings, here is a link to my 2015 catcher rankings:

Top 30 Catchers for 2015

There is no question who the top fantasy first baseman is for 2015, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. But he comes with some minor concerns. He had a terrific 2014 season, but it was his worst season in the power department in quite some time. Injuries certainly had something to do with the drop in power, so I will give the game's best hitter the benefit of the doubt here. Assuming good health in 2015, he should be the top first baseman off the board and a top 3-4 pick in all drafts.

Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt had his season cut short in 2014, but he should be healthy in 2015, and should return to be the 30 home run, 100 RBI, .300 hitter he was in 2013. Following Goldschmidt is the guy who could lead the majors in home runs, or at least the American League, if he can stay healthy, Blue Jays power hitter Edwin Encarnacion. He played in just 128 games, but still hit 34 home runs and drove in 98 runs, so if you were to tell me you wanted to rank Encarnacion ahead of Goldschmidt, I wouldn't argue. I may even move him up in future rankings.

I have included several hitters that qualify at other positions in my rankings, including several designated hitters - Red Sox DH David Ortiz, Astros DH Chris Carter, and Tigers DH Victor Martinez, Giants catcher Buster Posey, and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. They all played 20 or more games at first base in 2014, making them  eligible at first base in 2015. In the case of the designated hitters, I don't rank them since there are so few full-time DHs, so I included them here.

Below you will find my early 205 Top 30 first base rankings, along with 2014 player stats, courtesy of FanGraphs. Included in the rankings and stats provided below, I have included each players' 2014 wRC+, which is defined below, courtesy of FanGraphs:

Weighted Runs Created (wRC) is an improved version of Bill James' Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player's total offensive value and measure it by runs.  In Runs Created, instead of looking at a player's line and listing out all the details (e.g. 23 2B, 15 HR, 55 BB, 110 K, 19 SB, 5 CS), the information is synthesized into one metric in order to say, "Player X was worth 24 runs to his team last year."

Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures how a player's wRC compares with league average after controlling for park effects.  League average for position players is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than a league average hitter would have in the same number of plate appearances. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so a 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average.

For example, Jose Abreu's 165 wRC+ indicates he created 65% more runs than the league average hitter, or is 65% better than the league average hitter.

I included wRC+ because I think, along with others, that it is one of the single stats you can look at to tell you how good a hitter is vs all major league hitters, and it factors in park effects as well.

The first baseman ranked 14-20 all have a chance at 30+ home runs in 2015, with the exception of Rocking outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer. One player who easily could be ranked much higher here is Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder (ranked 14th). Fielder missed most of the 2014 season due to injury, after a sub-par 2013 season.

Fielder joins Reds first baseman Joey Votto who falls to 13th in my rankings. Fantasy owners want a power hitter when drafting first baseman, but Votto dealt with a bad quad injury last season and saw his home run total drop to 6 in 272 plate appearances. Over the last three seasons, Votto has seen his RBI total drop from 103 in 2011 to 56 in 111 games in 2012, to 73 in 162 games in 2013 to just 23 in 62 games last season. He could come at a bargain in 2015, but the 31 year old first baseman will have to prove he can stay healthy and hit for power to move up in my rankings in the next few seasons.

Rank

Name

Team

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

wRC+

1

Miguel Cabrera

Tigers

159

685

25

101

109

1

147

2

Paul Goldschmidt

Diamondbacks

109

479

19

75

69

9

155

3

Edwin Encarnacion

Blue Jays

128

542

34

75

98

2

150

4

Jose Abreu

White Sox

145

622

36

80

107

3

165

5

Adrian Gonzalez

Dodgers

159

660

27

83

116

1

128

6

Anthony Rizzo

Cubs

140

616

32

89

78

5

153

7

Victor Martinez

Tigers

151

641

32

87

103

3

166

8

David Ortiz

Red Sox

142

602

35

59

104

0

135

9

Albert Pujols

Angels

159

695

28

89

105

5

124

10

Todd Frazier

Reds

157

660

29

88

80

20

122

11

Freddie Freeman

Braves

162

708

18

93

78

3

140

12

Buster Posey

Giants

147

605

22

72

89

0

144

13

Joey Votto

Reds

62

272

6

32

23

1

128

14

Prince Fielder

Rangers

42

178

3

19

16

0

89

15

Lucas Duda

Mets

153

596

30

74

92

3

136

16

Carlos Santana

Indians

152

660

27

68

85

5

131

17

Michael Cuddyer

Rockies

49

205

10

32

31

3

151

18

Mark Trumbo

Diamondbacks

88

362

14

37

61

2

91

19

Chris Davis

Orioles

127

525

26

65

72

2

94

20

Chris Carter

Astros

145

572

37

68

88

5

123

21

Adam LaRoche

Nationals

140

586

26

73

92

3

127

22

Justin Morneau

Rockies

135

550

17

62

82

0

123

23

Ryan Howard

Phillies

153

648

23

65

95

0

93

24

Brandon Moss

Athletics

147

580

25

70

81

1

121

25

Matt Adams

Cardinals

142

563

15

55

68

3

116

26

Brandon Belt

Giants

61

235

12

30

27

3

116

27

Kendrys Morales

- - -

98

401

8

28

42

0

72

28

Allen Craig

Red Sox

126

505

8

41

46

2

69

29

Billy Butler

Royals

151

603

9

57

66

0

97

30

Eric Hosmer

Royals

131

547

9

54

58

4

99

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more rankings, whether it be fantasy baseball, football or basketball, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one site on the 'net for all things fantasy.