Brian Creagh opened First Base week here at Fake Teams with the landscape of the position for fantasy purposes earlier this morning. Today we bring you our consensus fantasy first base rankings for 2016. 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 the following:
We feel that by providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently may include some bias. 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 basemen ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for first basemen ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Tuesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.
We are dedicating a week to each position, but since there are so few designated hitters, we have decided to include them in our first base rankings. Most DH's play SOME first base, and rarely play the outfield, so first base seemed to be the most logical position to slot them in. That said, you will see the following DH's ranked: David Ortiz, Kendrys Morales, Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez and Victor Martinez.
In addition, our rankings are based on the standard 5 x 5 fantasy/roto baseball league scoring, including: batting average, runs scored, home runs, RBI and stolen bases for the hitters, and wins, saves, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts for the pitchers, relievers and closers.
Finally, we are using 20 games as our eligibility requirements to be ranked at a particular position, with the exception of first base. Your leagues may have fewer games played requirements to be eligible at a position, so keep that in mind when viewing our rankings.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt is my #1 overall pick for 2016 drafts, which is probably going against the grain of fantasy baseball industry. Most others will pick Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but Goldy is the only one of the three to put up elite stats across all five fantasy categories. Harper says he will run more in 2016, while Trout has seen his stolen base totals drop in successive season. Meanwhile, Goldschmidt continues to steal 20 bags while hitting .300 with 30+ bombs, and 100+ runs scored and RBI every season. I think we haven't seen his peak power yet either. He has a 40 home run season in him.
2. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is Goldschmidt-lite. He is another first baseman who is going to help you across all five categories in 2016. Last season, he hit .278-.387-.512 with 31 home runs, 94 runs scored, 101 RBI and stole 17 bases in 23 attempts. He may not steal 17 bases again, but should steal low double digit bags. He hit more fly balls last season, and more of them landed in the seats, so the home run total could see a slight increase in 2016.
3. Joey Votto, Reds
Votto surprised me with his power production last season, as he proved he was completely over his leg injuries that riddled his 2014 season. Votto was probably the game's best hitter in the second half of the season in 2015 and finished with a slash line of .314-.459-541 with 29 home runs, 95 runs scored, 80 RBI and 11 stolen bases, while walking more than he struckj out for the second time in the last four seasons. Votto is one of the more consistent fantasy hitters heading into 2016 drafts, as owners can count on a .300+ batting average, 22-27 home runs, 90+ runs scored and 80+ RBI. I doubt we see double digit stolen bases again, but the Reds may find it difficult to score runs in 2016, so he could once again get the green light on the base paths.
4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Cabrera will still get plenty of love on draft day, but he is coming with more and more risk as he ages. In 2015, he hit .338-.440-.534, but with just 18 home runs, 64 runs scored, and 76 RBI in 511 plate appearances. Granted, he missed time due to injury, and played injured as well, but he has been playing hurt for a few years now. We have seen his home run totals drop from 44 in 2013, to 25 in 2014 to 18 last season. His ISO and slugging percentage has been in steady decline over the last few seasons, so his owners may have to live with his high batting average but middling power going forward. That said, he is still a very valuable fantasy first baseman and one of the best hitters of our generation.
5. Jose Abreu, White Sox
I don't know about you, but it seemed we didn't hear much about Abreu last season, but all he did was hit .290-.347-.502 with 30 home runs, 88 runs scored and 101 RBI in 154 games. His batting average and power dipped a bit last season, but overall, he was basically the same hitter he was in 2014. If he slips in drafts as a result, I wouldn't hesitate to grab him as owners can count on him to hit for a high average, hit 30+ bombs and drive in closer to 100 runs, with a chance for a bit more.
6. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Encarnacion enters his walk year looking to continue his streak of 30+ home runs and 95+ RBI seasons. In 2015, E5 hit .277-.372-.557 with 39 home runs, 94 runs scored, and 111 RBI in 624 plate appearances. He has benefitted from playing in the Rogers Centre hitting 151 home runs with 423 RBI over the last four seasons. He is a solid late first or early second round choice in 2016 drafts, but will have to remain healthy to put up 1st-2nd round value.
7. Chris Davis, Orioles
You invest in Chris Davis for the power and the power only, as he won't hit for a high average and will strike out a ton. Davis is the best power hitter in the game as he has hit 126 home runs over the last three seasons. The player most people think of as the best power hitter in the game, Giancarlo Stanton, has hit just 88 over the same time period. Last season, he hit 29 of his 47 home runs at home, but the prior two seasons, his home run production was basically split between home and road games.
8. Freddie Freeman, Braves
The Braves are in complete rebuild mode, so they may have trouble getting on base and scoring runs in 2016. Freeman is a top 10 fantasy first baseman, as he is basically a Joey Votto clone, as he will hit for a high average, hit 20 home runs and drive in 80+ runs. That said, if he is still a Brave on Opening Day, his runs and RBI totals could stand to drop a bit, as that Braves lineup might be worse than it was last season, and that is saying something.
9. Prince Fielder, Rangers
Like I mentioned in the intro, we are including designated hitters in our first base rankings, and Fielder is one of our top 12. Fielder doesn't hit for the big time power he once did, but he is still a very good hitter at the plate. Last season, he hit .305-.378-.463 with 23 home runs, 78 runs scored and 98 RBI in his first full season after neck surgery. Could he return to being the 30 home run hitter he was a few seasons back? Sure. If not, he is AL version of Joey Votto with fewer runs scored and fewer walks.
10. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers
Gonzalez is not getting any younger, but he continues to put up 25 home runs and 90 RBI seasons year after year. Last season, AGonz hit .275-.350-.480 with 28 home runs, 76 runs scored, and 90 RBI in 643 plate appearances. He has hit 22 or more home runs in nine of the last ten seasons, has driven in 90 or more runs in nine consecutive seasons, and has played 156 games in ten straight years. Consistent.
11. David Ortiz, Red Sox
Ortiz enters his final season in the big leagues as the probably one of the top two designated hitters to play the game. Even at the age of 40, Ortiz is still hitting 30+ homer and driving in 100 runs. I actually moved him higher in my rankings as I wrote this. He is just an amazing hitter for a 40 year old. Invest with confidence, as you can expect another 30 home run, 100 RBI season in his retirement year in a stacked Red Sox lineup.
12. Eric Hosmer, Royals
You knew after I jumped off the Hosmer bandwagon last offseason that he would have a nice bounce back season, didn't you? Of course you did. Hosmer triple-slashed .297-.363-.459 with 18 home runs, 98 runs scored, 93 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 2015, easily improving upon his .270-54-9-58-4 line from 2014. Hosmer is entering his age 27 season, dates a hottie (Kacie McDonnell) and should put up another 15-20 home run season in 2016 with 80-90 runs scored and 80-90 RBI. He will have to learn to hit more balls in the air to exceed the 20 home run barrier.
13. Buster Posey, Giants
I wrote about Posey in my catcher rankings, but here is what I wrote:
Posey proved that he is the most consistent fantasy catcher in the game once again, hitting .318-.379-.470 with 19 home runs, 74 runs scored and 95 RBI in 150 games and 623 plate appearances. The 150 games was a career high, and he has played 147 games or more in each of the last four seasons, as manager Bruce Bochy does a great job keeping him fresh playing him at first base and DH throughout the season. He caught just 106 games last season, playing first base a total of 42 times, so it appears Bochy is using him at first base more and more.
His splits indicate he can hit right handers and left handers, hit at home and on the road, hit in April, May, June, July ....well, you get the picture. He can hit and he walked more than he struck out for the first time last season. His power is topped out at around 18-23, but a move to first base on a full time basis could change that.
14. Albert Pujols, Angels
Pujols had his worst season of his career at the plate, but still managed to hit 40 home runs and drive in 95 runs, but that came at the expense of a .244-.307-480 slash line. His ability to square the ball up dropped last season, as his hard hit rate dropped to his lowest since 2011, so if this trend continues, I see his home run total to drop to the low 30 range, at the least. He comes with some risk on draft day as he is coming off offseason foot surgery and may not be ready for the start of spring training.
15. Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
Ramirez is the one guy who could end the season as a top 5 hitter at the position, or fall out of the top 20, as he just can't stay healthy anymore. The 32 year old has played more than 130 games just once since 2010, and is coming off a season where he battled all sorts of injuries and will now have to learn a new position for the second consecutive season. Ramirez is coming off a season where he hit .249-.291-.426 with 19 home runs, 59 runs scored, 56 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 105 games. I think we have seen the best from Hanley as he may struggle to hit 20 home runs going forward.
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