We've reached just past the midpoint of the season now with the All-Star break upon us, so what better time than now to look at each position and provide updated rankings for the rest of the season? We'll be going over each position this week, one-by-one, and up now are the first basemen. These rankings are not consensus this time around, but rather each writer's individual opinions on the players. As always, let's discuss players you think are ranked too high or too low in the comments, and maybe you will change some minds.
State of the Position
Overall, first base remains a position with a number of the top overall hitters, as expected. You have a clearly elite tier with the top three, essentially a tier 1A with Encarnacion and Bautista (we'll get to that in a minute), and then it gets a bit unclear. You could mix up the order from ranks #9 through #15 depending on how much you believe in one particular player over another.
Without further adieu, here are my top 25 first basemen for the rest of the season. All stats are through Friday's games.
#1 - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (Preseason Rank: #1) - .313/.372/.545, 14 HR, 74 RBI, 57 R
Cabrera started off slow this year, but has been rounding into form. He's probably not going to reach 40 home runs this year, but 30 should happen and with a high batting average and high counting stats to go with it.
#2 - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (PR: #2) - .312/.405/.556, 16 HR, 8 SB, 61 RBI, 66 R
Goldschmidt continues to hit and provide production in all five categories, and is well on his way to a .300+/25 HR/15 SB/100+ RBI/100+ R campaign. Not much to say here, really, Goldschmidt having a very nice Goldschmidt-type season.
#3 - Jose Abreu, White Sox (PR #19) - .287/.336/.624, 28 HR, 1 SB, 71 RBI, 48 R
The surprise of the year, Abreu leads the majors in home runs right now and could approach 50 before the end of the year. He's a top 15 overall talent at this point in my opinion, and only the lack of steals keeps him from being in the top 5.
#4 - Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (PR #5) - .277/.368/.519, 26 HR, 2 SB, 70 RBI, 57 R
Encarnacion is currently on the disabled list with a quad strain, which as Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter notes, could be a short or long injury. I'm hopeful that Encarnacion will return in a couple weeks, as he would be ahead of Abreu for me if he were healthy right now.
#5 - Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (PR NR) - .295/.412/.510, 17 HR, 4 SB, 54 RBI, 57 R
This one is a bit of a hedge right now, as Bautista has not qualified at first in most leagues yet, but has played there every day this week and look well on his way to doing so. He doesn't help you in stolen bases, but has the potential to go on a home run binge at any point, which is what keeps him ahead of my #6 first baseman right now.
#6 - Freddie Freeman, Braves (PR #7) - .300/.388/.504, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 62 R
Freeman is right on pace to approach his stat line from last year, although he's a bit behind the pace in RBI. Another contributor in four categories, he has hit well so far in July and could be heating up at the right time.
#7 - Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (PR #12) - .277/.384/.506, 20 HR, 2 SB, 49 RBI, 60 R
This is the Rizzo we've been waiting to see emerge since he was a top prospect in three different organizations, and could finish with 30-35 home runs and 90-100 runs scored.
#8 - Albert Pujols, Angels (PR #10) - .275/.323/.489, 20 HR, 4 SB, 62 RBI, 57 R
I did not expect this type of performance from Prince Albert at this point, especially after the dismal 2013 season. He's still not hitting for as much average as you might have hoped for, but this is probably the most likely scenario going forward as well. He's well on his way to 100 runs and 100 RBI, to go along with 30+ home runs.
#9 - Brandon Moss, Athletics (PR #20) - .268/.351/.518, 19 HR, 1 SB, 63 RBI, 43 R
Moss is essentially producing at the same level that he did last year, with a few more RBI and a slightly higher batting average to his name as well. I think 30 home runs is still well within his range for the year, and could reach 100 RBI for the first time in his career as well.
#10 - David Ortiz, Red Sox - .258/.356/.485, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 35 R
I included Ortiz in my rankings this go around since the question was asked during the offseason, and think he can still improve his batting average and hit another 10-12 home runs before the end of the year.
#11 - Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks (PR #13) - .212/.264/.494, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 12 R
Trumbo returned to action on Friday night, did not play on Saturday, and did play on Sunday. Your opportunity to buy low on him is dwindling by the minute, as he could still hit 12-15 more home runs before the end of the season fairly easily.
#12 - Chris Davis, Orioles (PR #3) - .200/.312/.385, 14 HR, 2 SB, 46 RBI, 36 R
This one hurts, as you had to pay the first round price to get Davis and the hope that he would at least hit 35-40 home runs again this year after an amazing campaign last year. To date, it hasn't happened (which was predicted by our former writer, Joe Pytleski), and while a lot of his peripheral numbers are in line with his career norms, his BABIP (.253) is lower than career norms, and he is actually hitting more line drives this year. If you're looking for a bounceback candidate for the second half of the season, Davis may be your best shot. Just be mindful that your best-case scenario might be a lot of strikeouts and 12-15 home runs.
#13 - Justin Morneau, Rockies (PR #27) - .309/.342/.503, 13 HR, 59 RBI, 36 R
Coors Field can really do wonders, can't it? Oh wait, here are his splits for the season:
Home: .314/.346/.517, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 22 R
Away: .303/.337/.487, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 14 R
Guess it's not nearly as pronounced as you would think at first glance. This looks an awful lot like a lite version of the former MVP. Don't sleep on him in the second half.
#14 - Joey Votto, Reds (PR #4) - .255/.390/.409, 6 HR, 1 SB, 23 RBI, 32 R
Sigh. Votto is on the disabled list right now, but the performance has not been good to this point. I'm not convinced that Votto will hit for a lot more power than he has the rest of the way, which is what keeps him down this far on the list.
#15 - Matt Adams, Cardinals (PR #23) - .333/.347/.541, 11 HR, 3 SB, 40 RBI, 30 R
Adams is playing pretty much everyday at this point with the pronounced struggles of Allen Craig, but still isn't great against lefties and could still lose playing time down the stretch if it becomes an issue.
#16 - Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers (PR #8) - .250/.313/.430, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 46 R
Gonzalez has had a career low BABIP of .266 (normally he's around .315-.320), which helps to explain some of the batting average struggles. I don't think he necessarily gets back into the .300 range for the rest of the year, but should be a bit better than this.
#17 - Brandon Belt, Giants (PR #16) - .242/.298/.459, 10 HR, 3 SB, 22 RBI, 21 R
Belt has missed significant time due to injury this year, but is back on the field now and appears to be healthy. It's only been eight games back so far, so I want to see more before determining if he won't return to form.
#18 - Adam LaRoche, Nationals (PR #30) - .290/.395/.475, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 39 R
I don't know if we believed that LaRoche would get consistent playing time this year for the Nationals, but he has and is making the most of it. There's no reason now to believe that the team will bench him on a consistent basis, and should reach 20 home runs again this year.
#19 - Mike Napoli, Red Sox (PR #15) - .265/.388/.435, 10 HR, 2 SB, 34 RBI, 29 R
Napoli missed a couple weeks earlier in the year, but is hitting similarly to last year. The counting stats are suffering as the Red Sox continue to struggle unfortunately, as he seems unlikely to approach last year's RBI and R totals.
#20 - Allen Craig, Cardinals (PR #11) - .243/.293/.357, 7 HR, 1 SB, 43 RBI, 34 R
Even with his struggles, the Cardinals are trying to get Craig in the lineup all over the field (1B, RF specifically), in the hope that he will get his bat going. He isn't playing everyday any more though, and if that continues his value to fantasy owners will evaporate even further.
#21 - Mike Morse, Giants (PR NR) - .275/.325/.493, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 33 R
Morse has hit better while playing first base than the outfield, but the return of Belt should keep him from playing there too often. He's been a nice addition for the team and likely for his fantasy owners as well, and should finish with 20+ home runs this year.
#22 - Carlos Santana, Indians (PR #17) - .209/.351/.394, 14 HR, 2 SB, 37 RBI, 39 R
The experiment to move Santana from behind the plate and play him at third base did not go well, but Santana had a great month of June (.308/.426/.590, 6 HR, 15 RBI), and has returned to primarily playing first base, where he has hit the best.
#23 - Eric Hosmer, Royals (PR #9) - .268/.316/.382, 6 HR, 3 SB, 41 RBI, 44 R
It's hard at this point to think that he's going to turn it around this year to the point that he is a top 10 first baseman, especially given the lack of power production. The potential is still there, which is what keeps him up on the list, but I wouldn't bank on it down the stretch.
#24 - Mark Teixeira, Yankees (PR #21) - .237/.334/.459, 17 HR, 1 SB, 47 RBI, 39 R
Do you remember when Texieira was considered a top 10 first baseman, capable of hitting for a high batting average and a bunch of home runs? Sigh.
#25 - Chris Carter, Astros (PR #25) - .203/.280/.470, 19 HR, 39 RBI, 33 R
You like home runs, right? Carter continues to hit them in bunches. Just not a lot else though at this point.
Other Interesting Names: Lucas Duda, Steve Pearce, Buster Posey