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“In Lou Of”- 2016 MLB Corner Infielder Ranks (10-1) Part 3 of 3:

Happy weekend everyone! We’ve finally arrived at the cream of the crop, The 10 best 1B and 3B in MLB. These are the guys that everyone knows about, who everyone wants to draft and the players who will be the stars of your fantasy rosters. You cannot go wrong with any player on this list, regardless of age, years of experience or the MLB team they play for. This is the last week I’ll be doing player rankings before I move over to individual team breakdowns and analysis. I hope you enjoy!

 
First Baseman:
10. Albert Pujols- LAA
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Albert is not the same player who won multiple NL MVP awards with the Cardinals. He had a fantastic first half of 2015, but followed it up with one of the worst second halves of his illustrious career. 2016 may be the year that knocks him out of the top 10 altogether. Don’t let his 40 HR in 2015 fool you. He also set career lows (in a full season) in hits, batting average and OBP, and did so even with the luxury of hitting behind Mike Trout. I expect a mediocre season from Albert this season, at least mediocre for a player with his track record.  Look for a stat line of .240 BA, 32 HR, 89 RBI, 81 R, .310 OBP and 145 H.
 
9. Adrian Gonzalez- LAD
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He is still one of the more consistent contributors at the position. He will never be the best, but is one of the most durable and reliable options out there. He hits in the cleanup spot for the Dodgers, a team that will be competing for the NL West crown all season long. I’m predicting a stat line of .280 BA, 25 HR, 97 RBI, 80 R, .348 OBP and 159 H. If everything goes right, he may even hit 30 HR and 105-110 RBI. He lead the National League in RBI in 2014 and has driven in at least 100 runs seven different times.
 
8. Freddie Freeman- ATL
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Freeman is the only real bright spot offensively for the Braves, who are in a complete rebuild mode for the first time in a long while. It was an injury shortened 2015 for Freeman. However, considering his lack of a supporting cast, he’s was pretty productive. I’m not sure if he can reach his 2013 numbers, but hopefully he can do better than his 2014 and 2015 seasons. I expect career highs in HR (25) and H (180). Couple that with a .300 BA, 85 R, 90 RBI and a .380 OBP and Freddie will be an all-star for the third time in 2016. There have been rumors about him being traded to a contender. If that comes to fruition, his numbers will only be improved.
 
7. Joey Votto- CIN
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Votto bounced back in 2015 with a vengeance. He lead the National League with 143 walks and had an unbelievable .459 OBP. He also batted .314, with 29 HR, 80 RBI, 95 R, 171 H and finished third in the NL MVP voting. The ball park in Cincy is as hitter friendly as can be and as long as Votto stays healthy in 2016, he should have no problem duplicating his production from 2015. His stat line was that of a top five player at the 1B position and the only reason why he’s not there is because he didn’t hit 40 HR or drive in 100 R like the players ranked higher than him.
 
6. Edwin Encarnacion- TOR
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I really expected Edwin to fall in the rankings last year after he had been gradually declining since 2012. Instead, he had the second-best year of his career and was a key cog in the Blue Jays lineup, which was the top offense in MLB. He’s entering a contract year in 2016 and will likely have another terrific season. With a 2016 stat line of 150 H, .275 BA, 35 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R and a .365 OBP, Edwin should cash in on the free agent market next season. He is only 33, making it possible that he may even land a 4-5 year deal to strictly be a DH.
 
5. Chris Davis- BAL
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The man they call “Crush” signed a very lucrative free agent deal to remain in Baltimore for a very long time. Although he was likely overpaid, staying in Baltimore will only help his career and adds to his fantasy value, thanks of course to the hitter friendly Camden Yards. He did lead the American League in strikeouts last season, but with 100 R, 47 HR and 117 RBI, being fifth on this list is well deserved. I don’t see him reaching 47 HR again in 2016, but I think it’s safe to expect 30+ HR, with 90R and 90 RBI in the worst case scenario.
 
4. Jose Abreu- CWS
 Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox
I predicted an AL MVP award in 2015 for Abreu, and although he put together his second straight fantastic season, it wasn’t nearly MVP worthy. The White Sox as a team struggled mightily to score runs and Abreu was really the only constant in their lineup. His numbers were actually down from his rookie season in 2014, but with the addition of Todd Frazier, Abreu finally has the protection in the lineup that he so desperately needed last year. In 2016, look for him to hit 30+ HR, with a .285 BA, 100+ RBI, 90 R, .350 OBP and 170 H. He does have immense power, making it possible that he even reaches 40+ HR. If he does, he will be higher in these ranks come seasons end.
3. Anthony Rizzo- CHC
 Anthony-Rizzo
This is my pick for the NL MVP in 2016. Not only are the Cubbies one of the best teams in the NL, but Rizzo is their most complete offensive player. He not only produces in every important offensive category for a corner infielder, but he also added 17 SB in 2015; something you only see from a few players at the first base position. The Cubbies have young studs all around Rizzo and as lofty as these expectations below may seem, he’s been getting better every year and is entering the prime of his career. Look for him to hit .285, 170 H, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 105R, .390 OBP and 15+ SB. Those numbers have MVP written ALL OVER THEM!
2. Miguel Cabrera- DET
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Miggy has been de-throned as the number one 1B in MLB. This is not because of injuries or due to a drop in his level of play, but the man ranked above him was just THAT good in 2015. Miggy is one of the best hitters in MLB and definitely one of the best of my generation if not in the history of the game. He is a 10 time all-star, six time silver slugger award winner, two time MVP and the most impressive stat of all, he’s driven in over 100 runs in 11 of his 13 MLB seasons (11 of 11 if you count full seasons). Just to toot his horn a bit more, he’s lead the American League in hitting four of the last five seasons and is a favorite to win the MVP in any given season. You cannot lose by having him on your team and hopefully he will play a full season in 2016 after only playing 119 game in 2015.
 
1. Paul Goldschmidt- ARI
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After an injury shortened campaign in 2014, Goldy had a phenomenal 2015. If anyone is going to give Rizzo a run for his money as NL MVP in 2016, it’s going to be Goldschmidt. Goldy can do everything that players like Miggy, Crush Davis, Abreu and Encarnacion can, but he also added 21 SB last season. Don’t forget about his silver slugger award or his gold glove defense at 1B. He may be the most complete player in MLB, even more so than Mike Trout. If you don’t believe me, look at their stat lines from 2015. My boy Zak Sauer, who is currently ranking outfielders, may disagree. In 2016, expect Goldy and the newly improved D-Backs to compete for the NL West crown all year long. Not only will he likely steal 15-20 bags, but he’ll hit over .300, over 30 HR, over 100 RBI, score over 100 R, 180+ H, 100+ BB, and have an over .400 OBP. This guy is the complete player, anyway you slice it. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your squad, congratulations, you’re an instant contender.
 
Third Baseman:
 
10. Maikel Franco- PHI
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I want to start by saying that the only reason why he’s ranked above Miguel Sano (who is 11th) is because Sano is moving to the OF and Philly is a much hitter friendly ball park than the one in Minny. Franco is one of the games best young hitters. He’s only 22-years-old and is the future of a Phillies team that is in a complete rebuild. Although he has a small sample size in MLB, he did not fail to disappoint in the field or at the plate. In 2016, look for him to have a stellar sophomore campaign. The youngster should hit .275, with 25+ HR, 90+ RBI, 85+ R, 160+ H and a .340 OBP.
 
9. Anthony Rendon- WSH
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After what appeared to be a break out season in 2014, Rendon had an injury riddled season in 2015. He, like every other Nationals player not named Bryce Harper, struggled last season and was one of the biggest fantasy busts of 2015. In my humble opinion, 2016 will be similar to Rendon’s fantastic 2014. He can contribute across the board and has eligibility at 3B and 2B, which of course adds to his value. This season, Rendon will hit .280, with 23 HR, 86 RBI, 97 R, 180 H, .350 OBP and 15+ SB.
 
8. Adrian Beltre- TEX
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Although he’s getting up there in age, and at 36 years old he’s only going down from here, Beltre is still one of the more dynamic and reliable players out there. The biggest reason why he’s ranked 8th rather than 10th is because of his track record and consistency. He will always hover around a .300 BA, 20+ HR, 80+ RBI, 80+ R, .340 OBP and 165+ H. None of those numbers necessarily jump out at you, but when you consider they are minimums, you’ll gladly take this guy on your roster. It also helps that he gets to play half his games in Texas, a place in which the ball flies.
 
7. Matt Carpenter- STL
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What a monster season put together by Matt Carpenter in 2015 for the Cardinals. He set career highs in HR (28) and RBI (84) while maintaining his batting average, OBP and scoring over 100 runs. The Cardinals remain a top team in MLB and all signs point to Carpenter having a successful 2016. Look for him to hit at least .270, with 25+ HR, 80+ RBI, 90+ R, 160+ H and a .360 OBP. In most leagues, he is strictly a 3B, but some formats will give him 2B eligibility. If you’re in a league like that, take advantage.
 
6. Kyle Seager- SEA
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There is a lot of talk about his younger brother, Corey, who is one of the top young prospects in all of baseball. In my opinion, Kyle doesn’t get enough love. He’s steadily improving year in and year out and I think 2016 will be his best season yet. His HR total has gone up every year since 2012 and he could reach 30 in 2016. Overall, I expect him to hit .278, with 31 HR, 94 RBI, 87 R, 173 H and a .335 OBP. The Mariners also will look to bounce back from an underwhelming 2015 season and look for Seager to be right in the middle of everything they do.
 
5. Todd Frazier- CWS
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The “Todd Father” was traded this offseason from the Reds to the White Sox. He is leaving one hitters ballpark and moving to another. There may be an adjustment period from the NL to the AL, but Frazier strikes me as the kind of guy who won’t be phased by something like that. He has tremendous power and set career highs in HR (35) and RBI (89) in 2015 and is poised for another good season in 2016. I believe he will hit better than the .255 he hit in 2015, and should score 80+ runs with 30+ HR and 85+ RBI as well. The White Sox lineup is much deeper than that of the rebuilding Reds, which will only help Frazier.
 
4. Kris Bryant- CHC
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I do not foresee a sophomore slump for Bryant, who is the reigning NL ROY. He burst onto the scene in mid April in 2015 and was a huge reason for the Cubs success. It would be nice if he could cut down on the strikeouts, he lead the NL with 199 last season. The Cubbies are built to win now and Bryant’s bat in the middle of their lineup will play a major role in any success they have this season. In 2016, look for him to hit .280, with 31 HR, 108 RBI, 92 R, 164 H and a .370 OBP. He, like his teammate Anthony Rizzo, could compete for the NL MVP this year.
3. Manny Machado- BAL
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He has always been a very good young player but in 2015, Machado put it all together. He’s established himself as one of the games best all around hitters and fielders. He set career highs in R, H, BA, HR, RBI, SB and OBP last year and he will likely duplicate those numbers in 2016. I expect him to contend for the AL MVP award, posting a stat line of 190 H, .302 BA, 104 R, 98 RBI, 37 HR, 22 SB and a .367 OBP. If it weren’t for incredible year from the two players ranked ahead of him, he’d easily be the top ranked player on this list. Hey, he might be next year!
2. Nolan Arenado- COL
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2015 was easily the best year of Nolan’s career. He was an all-star, silver slugger award winner and gold glove award winner. He lead the NL in HR and RBI while also scoring 97 R and hitting for a .287 BA. The most interesting stat to me is that Arenado actually hit more of his 42 HR away from Coors field in 2015. It’s scary to think that if he has that much success on the road in 2016, he could reach 50 HR playing in Colorado. I’m the first to admit that I ranked him way to low heading into last year. However, this year I don’t think anyone is more deserving of the second spot in these rankings. Look for 2016 to be another monster year for the 24 year old. I’m expecting a .292 BA, with 47 HR, 135 RBI, 103 R and a .334 OBP.
 
1. Josh Donaldson- TOR
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Donaldson made the most of his first season in Toronto, winning the AL MVP and helping the Jays reach the post season for the first time in 1993. Leaving the big ball park in Oakland for the hitters friendly Rogers Centre in Toronto certainly helped, but I attribute even more of his success to joining a Blue Jays lineup loaded with super stars like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. He smacked 41 HR last year, hit .297 and had 184 H to go with his league leading 122 R and 123 RBI. There is no reason why JoDo won’t replicate those numbers in 2016 and put together another MVP caliber season. After this year, he might be the face of the Blue Jays franchise and if I was a Jays fan, I’d be thrilled about that.
This wraps up the 2016 MLB Corner Infield Rankings. Next week, I will begin to break down individual teams. I hope these rankings help you in your drafts and that you’re able to put together a championship caliber roster. Don’t forget to tune into Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly, every Thursday at 8pm EST. I’ll be hosting alongside fellow writer Kyle Amore. Have a great rest of your weekend and keep it real! You can follow me on Twitter @In_Lou_Of or on Facebook at Lou Landers. 

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly Show:  Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #2 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will be discussing the Outfield positions. Our Thursday show will cover the American League OFs from fantasy and MLB perspective. Our Sunday show will tackle the N.L. side of that topic.

Our guests this week are Bryan Luhrs and Hernan Batista. Bryan is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com and the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports. Hernan is a verteran owner in our baseball leagues, and he is an excellent researcher of statistics.

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join  Corey D Roberts on Sunday, February 28th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will be breaking down the National League outfielders from a fantasy and MLB perspective.

Our guests this week are Kyle Amore and Jesse Ellison. Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, former college player, and pro in Italy. He is also the co-host of our Thursday night shows. His articles publish every Tuesday. Jesse is a good child hood friend mine, fantasy baseball fan, and is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction which he founded in 2011. I encourage everyone to check out his organization.

 

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