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Five Bold First Base Predictions for 2019

A changing of the guard is in effect at first base.

Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

This is an interesting year at first base. We have some promising rookies and young talent coming up, and on the flip side you have ‘older’ players such as Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto and Matt Carpenter. Who do you trust more?

1 . Miguel Cabrera has at least 80+ Runs and RBIs as well as a .300+ avg. for the first time since 2016.

Justification: Miguel Cabrera is going to do his best rendition of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail “I’m not quite dead yet” and surprise quite a few people. Persistent injuries really derailed his last two seasons, but he’s healthy and ready to take 2019 by storm. The injury bug will always be a concern, but he was able to take the time to get fully healthy and his raw talent is still there. In a number of projections he is seen outside the Top 15 and some of the names ahead of him include Ian Desmond (33 years old), Edwin Encarnacion (36 years old), Jose Abreu (32 years old), Matt Carpenter (33 years old), Joey Votto (35 years old) and Paul Goldschmidt (31 years old). Each of the aforementioned—with MAYBE the exception of Encarnacion—have shown years with struggles and I would argue Cabrera has a longer track record of success.

2. Jake Bauers finishes as a Top 10 first baseman.

Justification: For context, Jake was promoted midway through last year and played 96 games with Tampa Bay. He had 11 home runs, 48 runs, 48 RBIs, and six stolen bases. His .201 batting average, however, was less than ideal. I have seen him recently in the general 15th – 25th range. I want to let everyone in on a secret. The Cleveland Indians, as of late, have a strong tendency to bring out the best in their pitchers and their first basemen:

Mike Napoli
2014: 119 games, 17 home runs, 49 Runs, 55 RBIs.
2015: 133 games, 18 home runs, 46 Runs, 50 RBIs
2016: 150 games, 34 home runs, 92 Runs, 101 RBIs (the one full season in Cleveland)
2017: 124 games, 29 home runs, 60 Runs, 66 RBIs

Carlos Santana
2016: 158 games, 34 home runs, 89 Runs, 87 RBIs .259 avg (Cleveland)
2017: 154 games, 23 home runs, 90 Runs, 79 RBIs .259 avg (Cleveland)
2018: 161 games, 24 home runs, 82 Runs, 86 RBIs .229 avg (Not Cleveland)

Yonder Alonso
2016 156 games, 7 home runs, 52 Runs, 56 RBIs
2017: 142 games, 28 home runs, 72 Runs, 67 RBIs
2018: 145 games, 23 home runs, 64 Runs, 83 RBIs

Edwin might be the one exception but he still exceeded 100 RBIs with 30+ home runs each year, and he is also over the age of 35.

3. Jesus Aguilar finishes outside the Top 15 first basemen.

Justification: He came on strong at the start of the season and became a fantasy favorite. If you dig into his season there was a steady decline over the second half of the year, which tells me one of two things happened. Either he got tired as the season carried on, or pitchers made adequate adjustments to his hitting style and they have figured parts of him out. Either way, in his second full season, I think we see a sophomore slump.

Mar/Apr: 23 games, 1 home runs, 8 Runs, 8 RBIs, .378 Avg
May: 25 games, 8 home runs, 18 Runs, 22 RBIs, .272 Avg
June: 23 games, 10 home runs, 15 Runs, 24 RBIs, .313 Avg
July: 25 games, 6 home runs, 10 Runs, 20 RBIs, .202 Avg
Aug: 26 games, 6 home runs, 17 Runs, 19 RBIs, .270 Avg
Sept/Oct: 26 games, 4 home runs, 12 Runs, 15 RBIs, .266 Avg

4. Cody Bellinger swipes more than twice as many bases as the next closest first baseman.

Justification: Yeah. That bold enough for you? Last year Ian Desmond had 20 stolen bases, Bellinger had 14, and Freddie Freeman was third with 10 stolen bases. I think Ian is on the decline this year, as Colorado finds themselves in the precarious situation of figuring out how he fits into the roster with Ryan McMahon and Daniel Murphy. Freeman had a great year last year, but while his bat may stay hot he is 29, which is around the time Paul Goldschmidt declined. Meanwhile, Cody will increase his 14 stolen bases to 20 this year, as he should have ample opportunity to steal. His team is as talented as they are and while the Dodgers don’t steal the most bases, they don’t hold their players back from stealing (LAD has the 8th highest stolen base % in the league).

5. Luke Voit finishes as a Top 10 first baseman. (Currently projected in the 20s)

Justification: As I wrote last year, I am all aboard the Luke train. I think he is the Ozzie Albies of this year. What I mean by that is that a ‘good’ prospect but not ‘elite’ prospect has a phenomenal August – October, but it actually goes somewhat unnoticed due to the amount of people who are out of contention and who tune out at that point in the season. During those two months, Ozzie had an avg of .286 with six home runs, eight stolen bases, 34 Runs, and 28 RBIs over 57 games. Luke had a .333 average, 14 home runs, 28 Runs, and 33 RBIs over 39 games. Oh, and I didn’t even touch on the fact that he is on an excellent Yankees team.

That’s it for today, but be sure to come back tomorrow for more information on first base.