He’s Rounding First…
After discussing pitchers and catchers, I decided to take the field. So if you play fantasy baseball, or just want to get caught up for this upcoming season, here are my watch-out first basemen.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks
Disclaimer: I am not Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein.
When my team is on the clock in any fantasy draft, I quickly look for two qualities in a player: consistency and the ability to do everything. Year in and year out, one name always fits those exact and exceptional requirements: Paul Goldschmidt. Aside from 2014 (when Goldschmidt’s season was shortened due to a broken hand) he has averaged 31 home runs over the past three seasons. Those dingers are habitually served with an astronomical batting average and a side of substantial RBI’s. Over those three seasons, Goldschmidt has averaged a .297 batting average and 95 RBI’s or more. The 4x All Star is coming off his second NL Silver Slugger and Gold Glove of his young career.
In addition to his .411 On Base Percentage (2nd amongst MLB first basemen), Goldy led all first basemen in stolen bases for the fifth consecutive season. His 32 SB’s ranked 9th amongst all MLB players.
Ability to do it all? Check.
What more can you ask for in a player?
Well, he is only 29 years old.
ESPN and Yahoo appropriately rank Goldschmidt high (5th and 6th, respectively). If you have a high pick and are looking for someone who can do it all, Goldschmidt is your guy.
Edwin Encarnación, 1B/DH Cleveland Indians
The 34 year old is showing no signs of slowing down. After turning 33 last January, Encarnación extended his birthday party into a year long event by erupting in the box score. Critics claim that he’s too old. He responded by:
- Being named an All Star
- Eclipsing 100 RBI’s. Again (127-career high).
- Hitting 42 home runs
- Setting career highs in hits (158) and runs (99)
He’s looking to build off that monster season and should benefit from his new home. Progressive Field is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks. Don’t sleep on the oldie. ESPN has him ranked 31st and Yahoo ranks him at 28th.
Hanley Ramirez 1B, Boston Red Sox
If you’re looking for a sleeper in your fantasy baseball draft, add Hanley Ramirez to your draft que ASAP. The 33 year old had a stellar season that reminded us who, once upon a time, won consecutive NL Silver Slugger awards. He smashed 30 home runs for the first time since 2008 and eclipsed 110 RBI’s for the first time in his career. His high batting average (.286) defied the social norms of first basemen. Ramirez ended the ’16 campaign red hot. During the second half of the season, he led all first basemen in home runs and RBI’s (22 and 63). Despite his resurgence, both ESPN and Yahoo rank him at 69. Expect Ramirez to start off the ’17 season even hotter.
Freddie Freeman, 1B Atlanta Braves
To take a word out of Shaquille O’Neal’s dictionary, the Atlanta Braves were horrawful. They drunkenly stumbled their way through the 2016 season by scraping the undersurface of the NL East, 26.5 games out of first place. Yet, in the midst of the gloomy blackness that concealed Atlanta, there was one candle that never went out: Freedie Freeman.
Freeman never let the Braves’ downfall affect him. He finally reached the 30 home run milestone this past season, swatting 34 home runs, along with 91 RBI’s. If those power numbers don’t seduce you, maybe his .302 batting average and .968 On Base Percentage+ Slugging (OPS) (2nd amongst first basemen) will. Hitherto, Freeman has been a consistent force of fine performances. In 2016, he elevated his game to the elite class, and does not show signs of looking back. ESPN ranks Freeman 24th, Yahoo has him at 30.
Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati Reds
Remember when I mentioned that Freddie Freeman’s OPS ranked 2nd amongst first basemen? Or that Paul Goldschmidt’s OBS ranked 2nd amongst first basemen? Guess who was number one in each category?
The 33 year old first baseman is proving how inexorable he is. He hit 29 home runs and hit over .300 for the second straight season. Votto also can be relied on to score. He crossed the plate 101 times last season. There’s a reason why he finished 7th in the MVP voting last year. ESPN ranks Votto 21st and Yahoo has him at 18. I see him as a strong second round pick.
Wil Meyers, 1B San Diego Padres
“WHO was selected to the All Star Game?” “Wil what?!?” “Who IS this guy?”
If you asked any variation of any of those questions, raise your hand (guilty).
After winning the 2013 AL Rookie Of The Year award, Wil Meyers plummeted into the sea of unknown baseball players. The following two seasons he hit a disgraceful .222 and .253. He was merely an afterthought.
Then, 2016 rolled around.
Meyers bursted onto the scene, hitting 28 home runs (that’s more than all the home runs he hit in his first three seasons, combined.) and 94 RBI’s. Unlike the players listed above, Meyers is far from complete. He hit .259 and struck out 160 times. He’s looking to up his game and will be a top player in fantasy baseball. However, know what you are getting yourself into by selecting him. ESPN (51st) Yahoo (56th).