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Fantasy Baseball: 2015 Consensus First Base Rankings - Part 1

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Here is part 1 of our consensus fantasy first base rankings for 2015. Check out our thoughts on the first baseman ranked 1-15, including Buster Posey, Adam LaRoche and Carlos Santana.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Kantecki opened First Base week here at Fake Teams with the landscape of the position for fantasy purposes earlier this morning. Now we bring you our consensus fantasy first base rankings for 2015. We used a points system for each of the 30 first baseman ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

The writers who participated in this series are:

Ray Guilfoyle

Jason Hunt

Rob Parker

Brian Creagh

Timmy Kennedy

Daniel Kelley

Jack Cecil

Nick Doran

Alex Kantecki

Timothy Finnegan

We feel that providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently includes some biases. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings and player profiles for first baseman ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for first baseman ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Wednesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.

Along the lines of what I wrote about in part 1 of our 2015 Catcher rankings, the first base position includes some catchers, or former catchers, including Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, Victor Martinez and others, so the first base position gets that much deeper. I am not saying you should roster a Posey or Lucroy at first base, it's just that we have to include them in our rankings since they are eligible.

To repeat, don't roster a first base eligible catcher at first base unless you have Devin Mesoraco and Jonathon Lucroy in both of your catcher spots for those of you in two catcher leagues. In one catcher leagues, rostering a Posey at first base makes a little more sense, but he has too much value at the catcher position than at first base.

Digging deep into the position shows that the first base position in 2014 yielded the following:

  1. There were 57 hitters who hit 20 or more home runs last season. Sixteen of them were first baseman, so 28% of the 20+ home run hitters came from the first base position.
  2. 17 first baseman played 140 or more games last season, according to FanGraphs, but that list does not include the catcher eligible hitters.
  3. 41 hitters scored 80 or more runs last season, 7 were first baseman.
  4. 41 hitters drove in 80 or more runs in 2014, 12 were first baseman, and one of those guys was Ryan Howard.
  5. 39 hitters hit .290 or higher in 2014, seven were first baseman, including James Loney.
  6. 17 hitters put together a 20 home run, 80 runs scored, 80 RBI season in 2014, five were first baseman, including Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols.
  7. Most of these nuggets listed above does not include Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey and the first baseman who is getting too much love, in my opinion, Freddie Freeman. Goldschmidt hit .300, Posey did go 20-80-80, Freeman scored 93 runs and hit .288. That could change in 2015.
Now onto our Consensus First Base Rankings for 2015.

Consensus Fantasy First Base Rankings for 2015

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Jason Rob Brian Timmy Daniel Jack Alex Nick Timothy
1 Paul Goldschmidt ARI 295 2 1 1 1 3 1 2 2 1 1
2 Miguel Cabrera DET 283 1 4 4 3 1 6 1 1 4 2
3 Jose Abreu CHW 278 4 2 3 2 4 3 5 3 3 3
4 Edwin Encarnacion TOR 275 3 3 2 4 8 2 3 4 2 4
5 Anthony Rizzo CHC 263 6 5 5 5 2 4 4 5 6 5
6 Adrian Gonzalez LAD 229 5 9 9 7 12 9 10 7 7 6
7 Freddie Freeman ATL 228 12 6 7 6 17 5 7 8 5 9
8 Victor Martinez DET 224 7 8 6 14 10 11 9 6 8 7
9 Albert Pujols LAA 216 9 7 8 9 11 15 6 9 10 10
10 Buster Posey SFG 206 8 12 14 8 5 14 13 10 12 8
11 Joey Votto CIN 199 11 13 12 12 6 12 12 13 9 11
12 Prince Fielder TEX 191 13 10 13 13 16 8 8 15 11 12
13 Todd Frazier CIN 162 10 11 17 19 24 10 17 12 14 14
14 Carlos Santana CLE 148 17 14 26 11 25 17 11 11 15 15
15 Chris Davis BAL
141 16 15 10
29
30
7
14
16
13
19

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# 1. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.300 75 19 69 9
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
479 0.396 0.542 13.36% 22.96%

Goldy suffered a broken hand in early August, so his season ended early in 2014. He was very productive when healthy though, hitting .300-.395-.542 with 19 home runs, 75 runs scored, 69 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 479 plate appearances. He should be completely healthy entering the 2015 season, and is a first round pick once again. He was on his way to another 30 home run, 100+ RBI and 15 stolen base season when he was hit in the hand.

He hits plenty of line drives to keep his batting average in the .290-300 range, and unless we hear otherwise,  his power should not be impacted by the hand injury. I see him returning to the 30+ home run, 100+ RBI, 10+ stolen base levels in 2015, as his HR/FB% should remain in the 19-20% range. Should he begin to sacrifice line drives, and batting average, for more fly balls, he has the power to hit 35-40 home runs, especially playing half of his games in Chase Field.

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# 2. Miguel Cabrera (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.313 101 25 109 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
685 0.371 0.524 8.76% 17.08%

Miggy played through several injuries in 2014, and the injuries appeared to catch up to him, as he hit .313-.371-.524 with 25 home runs, 101 runs scored and 109 RBI. The surface numbers are still those of a first round pick, but fantasy owners are definitely concerned with Miggy in early expert league and mock drafts thus far in 2015. He fell to the 5th spot in the Mock Draft Army draft that I participated in last Thursday evening, and was drafted in the 9th slot in the recent FSTA experts league draft.

The concerns stem from the offseason surgery Cabrera had on his foot and whether he will be ready for the start of spring training or Opening Day. The question for fantasy owners heading into 2015 drafts will be whether he can "bounce back" to be the Miggy from 2012-2013 or whether he is in the beginning of a slow decline. He is still one of the best hitters in the game, probably THE best, but the drop in power last season is impacting his draft day value a bit in January.

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# 3. Jose Abreu (CHW)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.317 80 36 107 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
622 0.383 0.581 8.20% 21.06%

Abreu was one of the bigger surprises of the 2014 season, as I am not sure anyone outside of maybe USA Today's Steve Gardner, were particularly high on Abreu heading into last season. That all changes this season, as he is being drafted in the first round in early expert league and mock drafts. He was drafted with the 7th pick in the mock draft I participated in last Thursday, while Baseball HQ's Ron Shandler took him with the 3rd overall pick in the FSTA experts league draft in early January.

Abreu will seek to repeat his huge rookie season in 2015, where he hit .317-.383-.581 with 36 home runs, 81 runs scored and 107 RBI in 622 plate appearances. He may DH more in 2015 after the White Sox signed free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche in the offseason. But that necessarily isn't a bad thing to keep your power hitting first baseman fresh throughout the long 162 game grind.

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# 4. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.268 75 34 98 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
542 0.354 0.547 11.44% 15.13%

Encarnacion is coming off what could have been a monster season for him, as he hit .268-,354-.547 with 34 home runs, 75 runs scored and 98 RBI in just 542 plate appearances over 128 games. But, his season was cut short by a right quadriceps strain which forced him to miss 33 games in July/early August. He was on pace to eclipse 40 home runs and 125 RBI had he not been injured.

He has now hit 34 or more home runs in the last three seasons, becoming one of the premiere power hitters in the game. He turned 32 in early January, so age is starting to creep up on him. With that said, i don't see him regressing anytime soon, but as he gets older, the injuries could have a bigger impact on his performance at the plate.

Heading into 2015 drafts, E5 is being drafted in the first round of many drafts, as I selected him with the 11th overall pick in the Thursday's mock draft. His slugging percentage has remained above .534 in each of the last three seasons, and I don't see that changing in 2015.

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# 5. Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.286 89 32 78 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
616 0.386 0.527 11.85% 18.83%

Rizzo is getting lots of love this offseason, as he was taken with the 7th pick in the FSTA experts league draft in early January. He is coming off a breakout season where he put up the highest fWAR among all first baseman, hitting .286-.386-.527 with 32 home runs, 89 runs scored, 78 RBI and 5 stolen bases.

The power breakout resulted from an increase in his fly ball rate from 38% to 42%, and an increase in his HR/FB% from 12.6% to 18.8%. The fact that he hits plenty of fly balls is a plus, so there is a good chance he can duplicate his 30 home run season once again in 2015. He was one of 11 hitters to exceed 30 home runs last season, and he's only 25 years old. He has a bright future in Chicago.

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# 6. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.276 83 27 116 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
660 0.335 0.482 8.48% 16.97%

Gonzalez saw his power return in 2014, as his ISO exceeded the .200 level for the first time since 2011, as he hit .276-.335-.482 with 27 home runs, 83 runs scored and a league leading 116 RBI. The 27 home runs represented his highest total since 2011, yet he drove in over 100 runs for the fifth straight season, and seventh time in the last eight years. In fact, he led all first baseman in RBI last season.

Looking forward to this season, Gonzalez will bat cleanup for a revamped, albeit, better Dodgers lineup. Gone are Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, A.J. Ellis and Dee Gordon, and replacing them are rookie Joc Pederson, Jimmy Rollins, Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick. On the surface, one would say the Dodgers lineup will experience a drop in power/home runs in 2015, but the lineup is now deeper with better contact hitters, who work at bats.

Now that I explained all that, I don't see AGonz's counting stats changing much after all of the offseason changes, as he should come to the plate with more runners on base. What I am saying is, don't listen to other media types who say they think the Dodgers lineup will score less runs in 2015, and AGonz will be fine.

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# 7. Freddie Freeman (ATL)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.288 93 18 78 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
708 0.386 0.461 12.71% 20.48%

I have to say that I don't understand the love for Freeman this season. Maybe I am wrong about the fact that the decimated Braves lineup around him will impact his stats to the downside in 2015. The Braves have traded Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton this offseason, so I see his runs scored and RBI totals dropping. The Braves lineup will look something like this in 2015:

C - Christian Bethancourt

1B - Freeman

2B -  Alberto Callaspo/Jace Peterson

SS - Andrelton Simmons

3B - Chris Johnson

LF - Jonny Gomes/Zolio Almonte

CF - B.J. Upton

RF - Nick Markakis

Who is going to get on base in front of him? And when there are runners on, don't you think other teams will pitch around him more and pitch to the likes of Gomes or Johnson? I do. Freeman knocked in 78 runs last year in a much better lineup. How many RBI can we expect him to have with that lineup? And who will drive him in when he is pitched around.

He is currently the sixth first baseman off of draft boards according to the NFBC ADP rankings, and I don't get it. I think fantasy owners will be disappointed with his production this season.

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# 8. Victor Martinez (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.335 87 32 103 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
641 0.409 0.565 10.92% 6.55%

Martinez played 35 games at first base last season, so he is now first base eligible. He is coming off a very surprising season where he hit .335-.409-.470 with 32 home runs, 87 runs scored and 103 RBI. The 32 home runs and .335 batting average were career highs, coming in his age 35 season, so the chances he repeats either are very slim. Actually, I will predict with some confidence that he will not duplicate his 2014 performance.

And that is the question we have to answer heading into drafts this season. His 38% fly ball rate was his highest since 2011, while his HR/FB% was the highest of his career. I wouldn't expect 30 home runs from him again, but he could reach 20 in 2015. Barring injury, he should put up a .300 average with 15-20 home runs and 80+ RBI in 2015.

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# 9. Albert Pujols (LAA)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.272 89 28 105 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
695 0.324 0.466 6.91% 10.22%

Once the best hitter in the game, age and injuries have caught up to King Albert over the past few seasons. Once a slam dunk to exceed 30 home runs every season, Pujols has failed to do so in each of the last three seasons (He did hit 30 home runs in 2012). While his numbers are down from several years ago, he did hit .272-.324-.466 with 28 home runs, 89 runs scored and 105 RBI, all very good stats to own in the new low run scoring environment we now live in in major league baseball.

While his power is down, his 28 home runs ranked 6th among fantasy first baseman last season, while his runs scored and RBI ranked fourth. He is fast becoming a solid value play among first baseman, as he was drafted in the fifth round in Thursday's mock draft. He was the 8th first baseman off the board, behind a few guys like Freddie Freeman and Carlos Santana.

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# 10. Buster Posey (SFG)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.311 72 22 89 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
605 0.364 0.490 7.77% 11.40%

Fake Teams writer Jack Cecil recommended readers to stay away from Giants catcher Buster Posey in drafts this season, and he presented a solid case, but I think I might be on the other side of that argument.

I wrote about Posey last week in our top 30 catcher rankings.

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# 11. Joey Votto (CIN)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.255 32 6 23 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
272 0.390 0.409 17.28% 18.01%

Speaking of Votto, I might be the low man on his ranking this season, and actually, if he falls to the sixth round of drafts like he did in Thursday's mock draft, I might be a buyer if I don't have a first baseman by then. I have been pretty down on him the last few seasons and the main reason is due to his drop in power and RBI totals, but also due to the fact that he was being drafted so early in most drafts. Now that he has dropped, he is more of a buy for me than in the past.

Should Votto be healthy in 2015, and there is no reason to think he won't since he should be past his distal quad strain that forced him to miss 100 games last season. That said, he has missed 50 or more games in two of the last three seasons, so there is risk of another injury, and he isn't getting younger. If healthy, he should return to the 20 home run level, but he hasn't driven in 75 runs since 2011. Looking back at his whole career, he has never been a big RBI guy, but brings solid value due to his batting average, runs scored and on base percentage (for those in OBP leagues).

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# 12. Prince Fielder (TEX)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.247 19 3 16 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
178 0.360 0.360 14.04% 13.48%

After missing just one game in the previous five seasons, Fielder missed 120 games last season due fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. I am not sure how to value him heading into the 2015 season, as I am not sure if anyone has had this type of surgery before, or how they returned from it. Maybe someone has, but I cannot recall.

Fielder is one first baseman on this list who has dropped significantly in our rankings, but could easily be ranked in the top 5 at the end of the season. What a difference a year makes, huh?Some will say he has begun the decline phase of his career, but he has hit 25 or more home runs in each of his eight healthy seasons, and driven in 100+ runs in six of those eight seasons.

Fielder could prove to be one of the more profitable fantasy first baseman in 2015 as he is currently being drafted as the 9th ranked first baseman according to the current NFBC ADP rankings.

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# 13. Todd Frazier (CIN)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.273 88 29 80 20
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
660 0.336 0.459 7.88% 21.06%

I don't think anyone saw Frazier hitting 29 home runs last season, let alone the hugely surprising 20 stolen bases. The question we ask ourselves is can he steal double digit bags again in 2015. I think he can, but doubt he approaches 20 stolen bases again. He finished the year hitting .273-.336-.459 with 29 home runs, 88 runs scored, 80 RBI and 20 stolen bases. A fantastic season, a breakout of sorts.

Heading into 2015, we don't know whether he will run more or less, but what we do know is that he has huge power, so he should be able to hit 25 home runs. In addition, he could drive in more runs, assuming Joey Votto is back to being Joey Votto who gets on base 40% of the time. Frazier still has plenty of value due to his power and RBI totals, but has more value on your fantasy roster as a third baseman since third base is rather thin this year. Saying that, he will be more expensive this season than last as a result.

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# 14. Carlos Santana (CLE)

Photo Credit: Lance Iversen - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.231 68 27 85 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
660 0.365 0.427 17.12% 18.79%

Like Buster Posey and Victor Martinez, Santana is now first base eligible in 2015 drafts. Santana put up his best power season since 2011, hitting .231-.365-.427 with 27 home runs, 68 runs scored, 85 RBI and even threw in 5 stolen bases.

I am not sure if he will ever hit for a high average, so he will probably be a guy who hurts your batting average going forward, but as long as he is hitting 20+ bombs per season, he has value, but not as much value as he had as a catcher. Guys like Posey and VMart are ranked higher because they will hit .300, hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 or more.

One possible explanation for the low batting average is the fact that Santana walked more than any other qualified hitter in the game last season, as measured by his 17.1% walk rate. In fact, he has ranked in the top five in each of the last three seasons. He's a stud in leagues that swap batting average for on base percentage.

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# 15. Chris Davis (BAL)

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.196 65 26 72 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
525 0.300 0.404 11.43% 32.95%

Davis is coming off a season where he hit below .200 but still managed to hit 26 home runs and drive in 72 runs. But with the power came a lot of strikeouts. Last season, Davis struck out in a third of his plate appearances last season, up from 29.6% in 2013.

He hits a ton of fly balls, and his HR/FB% is consistently in the 20%+ range over the last three seasons, so he seems like a slam dunk to hit 25 home runs in 2015, but I think he hits 30+. His .196 batting average was all BABIP driven, so as his batting average regresses to the mean/increases in 2015, so should his power numbers.

One concern is the fact that he is swinging at less balls inside and outside the zone, making less contact and seeing more first pitch strikes, so I wonder if he was thinking/guessing at the plate last season.

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