Welcome back only leaguers. Yesterday we covered the American League First Base Rankings and today we'll continue on with the National League. Unlike the AL, the NL first base player pool feels a little deeper to me. For example, in the AL we have players such as Byung Ho Park and A.J. Reed around the 20th mark in batting average ranks. Sitting around that same area in the National League we find players such as Brandon Moss (possibly) and Lucas Duda.
5x5 BA Rankings | 5x5 OBP Rankings
|1||Paul Goldschmidt||ARI||1||Paul Goldschmidt||ARI|
|2||Joey Votto||CIN||2||Joey Votto||CIN|
|3||Anthony Rizzo||CHC||3||Freddie Freeman||ATL|
|4||Daniel Murphy||NYM||4||Anthony Rizzo||CHC|
|5||Freddie Freeman||ATL||5||Matt Carpenter||STL|
|6||Matt Carpenter||STL||6||Daniel Murphy||NYM|
|7||Wil Myers||SD||7||Brandon Belt||SF|
|8||Eric Thames||MIL||8||Eric Thames||MIL|
|9||Brandon Belt||SF||9||Wil Myers||SD|
|10||Adrian Gonzalez||LAD||10||Mike Napoli||F/A|
|11||Tommy Joseph||PHI||11||Adrian Gonzalez||LAD|
|12||Mike Napoli||F/A||12||Chris Carter||F/A|
|13||Josh Bell||PIT||13||Josh Bell||PIT|
|14||Justin Bour||MIA||14||Justin Bour||MIA|
|15||Wilmer Flores||NYM||15||Adam Lind||F/A|
|16||Adam Lind||F/A||16||Tommy Joseph||PHI|
|17||Chris Carter||F/A||17||Lucas Duda||NYM|
|18||Ryan Zimmerman||WAS||18||Brandon Moss||F/A|
|19||Brandon Moss||F/A||19||John Jaso||PIT|
|20||Lucas Duda||NYM||20||Wilmer Flores||NYM|
|21||Sean Rodriguez||ATL||21||Ryan Zimmerman||WAS|
|22||John Jaso||PIT||22||Sean Rodriguez||ATL|
|23||Matt Adams||STL||23||David Freese||PIT|
|24||David Freese||PIT||24||Travis Shaw||MIL|
|25||Logan Morrison||F/A||25||Matt Adams||STL|
Like with the American League, there are a number of potentially ranked players that are currently free agents. This means the rankings could change when some of these players sign with American League teams. That said, the AL only list had seven free agents ranked in the top-25 (batting average ranks), while the NL has only five in the same set of rankings. This further shows the depth available in the National League format.
Matt Carpenter: To say that I'm all in on Carpenter this year would be an understatement. In my recently concluded 50-round Draft & Hold League, I bumped Carpenter two full rounds up from his ADP. The league format (no moves in season), along with his multi-position eligibility played a role in this decision, but so did the fact that I believe a huge season could be in store in 2017. Among all hitters with at least 550 plate appearances, Carpenter ranked 3rd in Hard% according to FanGraphs, with a 41.9% rate. Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera ranked 4th and 5th for perspective. Furthermore, using Statcast data we can see that Carpenter has an ideal launch angle for power with a 17.86 degree Average Launch Angle (league average angle is 9.97). A run at 35 home runs is not out of the question if this continues for Carpenter. Pay-up.
Honorable mentions: Eric Thames; Brandon Belt & Tommy Joseph
Josh Bell: As a former top-prospect, I suspect there will be at least one person in every NL only league that is willing to pay up for Josh Bell. The bat-to-ball profile and batting-eye were elite in his 128 at-bat MLB sample in 2016, however, it is what happens after Bell makes contact that has me down on his 2017 fantasy baseball production. Even with a .368 OBP last season, Bell was only able to muster up a .775 OPS, as the slugging was severely lacking, especially for a corner infielder. Statcast confirms his inability to drive the ball with an Average Generated Velocity rate of 0.85 MPH (1.45 league average), Average Distance of 196.34 feet (218.07 feet league average) and a horrible Average Launch Angle of 5.27 degrees (9.97 degrees league average). The launch angle is also shown in a 50% ground ball rate in 2016. With a strong batting eye, there's a chance that Bell takes a larger than normal step forward in the power department this season, however, his minor league track record confirms the power outage has been consistent throughout his pro career. Let someone else speculate here.
"Honorable" mentions: Adrian Gonzalez & David Freese
That does it for National League first basemen. Next up we will move back to the American League and discuss/rank second basemen. Please leave any questions, comments or other fantasy baseball related banter in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter using the icon at the top of the article and feel free to ask questions there as well.