Despite battling injuries for the majority of the 2014 season, the man they call “Miggy” managed to maintain his status as the most dangerous hitter in the game. I believe he will be the best hitter in baseball in 2015 as well. The addition of the power hitting Yoenis Cespedes, the re-signing of Victor Martinez and a 2nd full year in the lineup for Ian Kinsler should all play key roles in Cabrera having a stellar campaign in 2015.
The Cuban Slugger is hands down the best power hitter at the first base position. Injuries limited him to 145 games in 2014 and he still managed to put up 36 homers and 107 RBI as a rookie. He did that on a White Sox team that finished in 4th place in the Central Division. With the additions of Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to the lineup, expect big things from Abreu this year.
I think this guy is the best all-around 1st baseman in baseball. Although defense is not typically recognized in all fantasy formats, Goldschmidt is one of the leagues’ best in the field as well as at the plate. He possesses speed that most slugging first baseman do not. He has had seasons of 18 SB and 15 SB, numbers that are rarely seen from 1B. If not for injuries that limited him to 109 games in 2014 (which resulted in a lower number of home runs than we are accustomed to), he would probably be number 2 on this list. I expect him to look more like the player we saw in 2013, when he hit 36 home runs, 125 RBI, .302 BA, 103 R and a .401 OBP.
Buyer, beware. Although he is 4th on this list and one heck of a hitter, his numbers (GP, Runs, HR, RBI, BA, OBP and SB) have declined each season since 2012. If this trend continues it will be tough to justify having him ranked 4th, despite all the hitters parks he plays in and the incredibly talented lineup around him in Toronto.
Freddie is one of my favorite young players in the MLB. He’s got one of the sweetest swings around which is why it’s so hard to believe he’s only 25 years old. He has steadily improved over his first 5 seasons and proven to be a steady run producer with plenty of power potential. Look for him to put up similar numbers to what he did in 2013 when he posted 30 HR, 109 RBI and a .319 BA.
6. Joey Votto- Cincinnati Reds
Coming off the worst year of his career, many may be surprised to see Votto this high on the rankings. He is Canadian though and I guess you can say I have a soft spot for my fellow countrymen. In all seriousness though, the fact that Votto only played in 62 games last season is definitely a big reason why his numbers were well below his typical .300 plus BA and .400 plus OBP. I expect Votto to get back to his old ways while smashing 20 HR, scoring 85 R and driving in 90. To show you how consistent this guy has been, between 2007-2013 his lowest BA was .297 (his sophomore year). If you like consistency and the top 5 are gone, you don’t need to look any further (except for maybe the next guy on the list).
7. Adrian Gonzalez- Los Angeles Dodgers
It was a privilege to watch Adrian play live in 2014 at Dodger Stadium. He is a consistent producer who hits in the middle of a very talented Dodgers lineup. Since 2007, Gonzalez has recorded at least 99 RBI every season, many of which were played in San Diego which is known to be a poor hitters ball park. If you want HR, RBI, solid numbers across the board and don’t mind staying up late on the east coast to watch his AB’s, then A-GON is your man.
8. Albert Pujols- Los Angeles Angels
It’s hard to argue against Pujols in the top 10. The guy is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. He did it the right way, in an era where cheating was the norm. He showed last season that he can still mash the ball and if he gets protection from Josh Hamilton, he should see a rise in the number of hittable pitches he sees.
9. Chris Davis- Baltimore Orioles
If his HR total didn’t drop 50% from 2013 to 2014 and his BA didn’t drop 90 points as well, this guy would have cracked my top 5. He is still one of the most feared power hitters in the league, not to mention, he is only one season removed from a 53 HR and 138 RBI campaign. Expect his power to return, 35-40 HR, with 95 or more RBI being well within his range. I don’t see him eclipsing a .250 BA, which can be troublesome with players like Davis who see regular AB’s and hit for a low BA. It can and will negatively affect your teams overall BA, so if you draft him, keep in mind that you may want to take a player later in your draft to compensate for it.
10. Prince Fielder- Texas Rangers
It is easy to forget about Prince Fielder after he was traded to Texas and had his season ended shortly after by injuries. Prince is still and always has been a tremendous hitter, who should benefit from a healthy Rangers ball club in 2015 and a hitter friendly park in Arlington. Before his injury in 2014 and considering Fielder’s larger build, he was somewhat of an “Iron Man” at 1B, playing in over 150 games every year of his career. Keep in mind that for most of his career he played in the National League with the Brewers and did not have the luxury of getting AB’s as a DH. Expect 30 HR, 100 RBI, .275 BA.
First baseman celly. This is how all first baseman should celebrate (20 seconds in, I encourage you to watch all 40 seconds):
11. Anthony Rizzo- Chicago Cubs
Rizzo finally put it all together last season and should now be recognized as one of the best young first baseman in baseball. Like Rizzo, the Cubs also appear to be on the rise. Look for Rizzo to build off last season’s success at the plate. Expect a .280 BA, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 85 R and a .390 or higher OBP. With a young and talented offense around him, Rizzo should also benefit from the added protection in the Cubs lineup.
12. Justin Morneau- Colorado Rockies
The former MVP and long time Minnesota Twin seems to have found a new home in the mountains. He appears to have fully recovered from the injuries that plagued him between 2010-2012. Prior to the 2014 season, Morneau left Minnesota and Target Field (not hitter-friendly) for Coors Field in Colorado (the most hitter-friendly) and his numbers drastically improved. He won the NL batting title in 2014 so expect him to hit for a high BA again and as an added bonus, I expect him to regain the power he had earlier in his career. 25 HR is a realistic goal for the Rockies slugger.
13. Joe Mauer- Minnesota Twins
For years, Mauer was the undisputed number one pick at the catcher position. Over time, injuries caught up with him and a decline in his offensive statistics followed. He now has a full year of playing 1B under his belt and will have the luxury of seeing AB’s at DH as well. The Twins are an improved ball club who will look to Mauer to be their leader on and off the field. Expect Mauer to regain his super star status and put up solid numbers across the board.
14. Ryan Zimmerman- Washington Nationals
When he’s able to stay on the field, Zimmerman has always been a consistent run producer who also has a solid BA. Injuries have definitely been a problem for the longest tenured National, however, his switch from 3rd to 1st base should help to keep him healthier and therefore in the lineup consistently. The Nationals appear to be the most complete team in MLB heading into 2015. I expect them to live up to the hype and for Zimmerman to play a large role in it. This is a player who some may forget about as a 1B.
15. Matt Adams- St. Louis Cardinals
After 2 solid campaigns in 2013 and 2014, Adams is poised for a breakout season. The Cardinals were so impressed by Adams in 2013 that they moved World Series hero Allen Craig to RF in 2014 to clear 1B for Adams. Craig was traded later that season and Adams is now one of the key cogs in the Cardinals lineup. This August, he will turn the magical age of 27. I expect his power numbers to rise (22 HR or more). Even with the rise in power, I believe Adams is gifted enough as a hitter to maintain his career .280 BA. Traditionally, a rise in HR results in a decline in BA. This will not be the case with Matt.
1) A throwback to an all-star first baseman with a stellar moustache
2) Throwback to when the Mets had a chance to win it all entering a new season
3) Shout out to one of my all time favorite Seinfeld Characters.
Now, back to player rankings..
16. Carlos Santana- Cleveland Indians
Despite his .231 BA last season, Santana put up monster power numbers. He posted career highs in HR and RBI in 2014 and I expect those numbers to improve again in 2015. I could live with Santana hitting for a .250 BA if he does indeed post big power numbers. It’s encouraging that his OBP has been a solid .370 over the last 3 seasons. If his BA does improve, it should impact all of his offensive numbers in a positive way.
17. Brandon Belt- San Francisco Giants
With Pablo Sandoval leaving for Boston, Belt will be given more of an opportunity to drive in runs for the defending World Series Champions. Expect Belt to eclipse the 20 HR mark for the first time in his career, post a BA over .280, and drive in over 80 runs. The Giants should be in the middle of the pack when it comes to runs scored, however, Belt has the ability to be a difference maker in their lineup.
18. Mark Teixeira- New York Yankees
Wrist injuries have negatively impacted his last 2 seasons. It was, however, encouraging to see him post the power numbers he did in 2014. He was in and out of the lineup often due to inflammation in his injured wrist and was never able to fully hit his stride. Perhaps the most encouraging information regarding Tex is that fellow slugger Jose Bautista dealt with a similar injury one year prior to Tex. It took 1 full season after surgery for Bautista to return to his former self, and I expect Teixeira to do the same in 2015. He is still one of the games most feared switch hitters and has a swing that was made to hit in Yankee Stadium. Expect 30 HR and 90 plus RBI.
19. Adam LaRoche- Chicago White Sox
LaRoche is just one of the many quality additions the White Sox made this offseason. He is coming off 3 straight very productive seasons and I think that will continue. Look for him to hit 25 HR and drive in 85 runs. Clearly not outstanding numbers, however, he still provides production at a premium position and will surely be available in the later rounds of your draft.
20. Lucas Duda- New York Mets
If Duda puts up 30 HR and 92 RBI again in a ball park where hitters only go to die, then I made a mistake by ranking him at 20. The 30 HR he put up in 2014 is double what his previous career high was and I don’t see him hitting that number again. 22 HR and 80 RBI would be a solid season for a guy entering his 5th full season in MLB.
21. Adam Lind- Milwaukee Brewers
Which Adam Lind will we see in 2015? The one that had a .321 BA last year but only managed 6 HR, or the guy who is capable of 25-30 HR? He has done it before, but that was in the American League and as a DH. He’s now in the National League with a new team. No doubt that he is a gifted offensive player, it’s all the question marks surrounding him that have him ranked in the bottom 1/3 of these rankings.
22. Mike Napoli- Boston Red Sox
He’s had injury problems in the past, yet Napoli is still one of the best RH power hitting 1B in baseball. His approach at the plate makes him a perfect fit for Fenway Park. Boston spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their offense, so look for Napoli to benefit from the added depth and skill. 20 HR, 90 RBI and an OBP north of .370 is what I think Napoli is capable of in 2015.
23. Chris Carter- Houston Astros
Power, power and more power. Next to Jose Abreu, Carter possesses some of the most pure power you will see at the 1B position. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, with great power usually comes a low BA and a ton of strikeouts. He is a lock for 30 or more HR if healthy, but can you live with a BA that is likely going to be in the .200-.225 range?
24. Brandon Moss- Cleveland Indians
If his BA wasn’t declining every season, he would surely be higher on this list. I feel that with his move from Oakland to Cleveland, he should see an increase in HR, simply due to the change of scenery and a more hitter friendly home ball park. Moss could reach the 30 HR plateau again which of course is fantastic production. If he can replicate his 2013 numbers (30 HR, 81 RBI, 70 R), then you should definitely buy in to moss.
25. Pedro Alvarez- Pittsburgh Pirates
Moving from 3rd base to 1st base can be a difficult adjustment for any player. That’s what Alvarez is doing this season and like I do with Ryan Zimmerman, I expect for Alvarez to flourish. He is the definition of a LH slugger and his bat is most suitable at 1st base. He is a consistent source of HR and RBI and has very talented players hitting in front of him in the Pirates lineup. This may be the year that Alvarez owners have been waiting for.
26. Eric Hosmer- Kansas City Royals
As a highly touted prospect, Hosmer has always had very high expectations, yet in many ways he hasn’t lived up to them. He may have had his coming out party in the 2014 postseason for the AL Champs, however, until he establishes himself as a player who can consistently hit 25 HR, he will continue to be a below average player at his position. Even with a relatively good BA and above average speed, Hosmer is more of a wait and see kind of guy or even a last resort.
27. Ryan Howard- Philadelphia Phillies
The 58 HR, .313 BA version of Ryan Howard is a distant memory. His 2014 season does offer some hope to those who want to take a flier on him though. He smashed 23 HR and drove in 95 runs for a lonely and depressing Phillies team. As long as he’s still in Philadelphia, who is now without Marlon Byrd and Jimmy Rollins, his value will remain exactly where it is. On the other hand, I believe that a trade to an American League team to serve as their DH would rejuvenate Howard and allow him to focus entirely on his offense. If a trade does occur, expect an increase across the board in Howard’s Production.
28. James Loney- Tampa Bay Rays
I have never been high on James Loney and that is not about to change. As far as 1B go, he is average or below average in every offensive category. He also plays for the Rays who are one of the worst offensive teams in the American League. Perhaps I am wrong about Loney and the Rays, but do you want to take that chance?
29. Mike Morse- Miami Marlins
Morse is a fine hitter who seems to miss time due to injuries every year. It’s his lack of playing time that really HURTS his value (pun intended). He now plays in one of the biggest ball parks in baseball and will likely see a decline in his offensive numbers. He may prove to be productive while in the lineup, just don’t rely on it.
30. Justin Smoak- Toronto Blue Jays
At this point in the rankings, I find myself choosing from average players, none of whom necessarily deserve to be on this list. I decided to go with the switch hitting Smoak because of his high ceiling and the fact that he now plays in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre rather than Safeco Field. Expect a break out power season from Smoak, a trend that we have seen over the years when players begin a stint in Toronto.
These are 5 notable players that did not make the cut. These guys are players who I either expect to bounce back from a poor 2014 season or have a break out 2015 season:
1) Allen Craig 2) Mark Trumbo 3) Nick Swisher 4) Yonder Alonso 5) Jonathan Singleton
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for any baseball or fantasy baseball related questions. Please enter “sports talk” in the subject line.
(Click Blue Link Below to Listen Live)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday February 15th from 7pm-8:30pm EST for this years first episode of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers during the show at 646-915-8596.