To keep our minds off the fact that there is no more baseball until Spring, today we are discussing part 1 of the early Fantasy First Base Rankings.
While the following players have enough value to make these top 25 rankings, they were not included as they have more value elsewhere in your lineup:
Brian McCann, Todd Frazier, Buster Posey
25) Steve Pearce
Projection: .263/.351/.445 16 HR 65 R 70 RBI 6 SB
Pearce made the most of his 383 PA last year, hitting .293 with 20 HR. While I think he gets more playing time next year, I’m not sure he’ll repeat the numbers. He benefitted from having a BABIP 27 points above his career total and having a HR/FB rate (17.5%) which was well above his 10.3% career total. While I think double-digit HR totals is reasonable, a production level resembling 2014 is not.
24) Billy Butler
Projection: .285/.348/.414 14 HR 65 R 70 RBI 1 SB
Butler should see at least a small improvement from his .271 AVG in 2014. While he should get his HR total back into double figures, a repeat of his 29 HR 107 RBI output from 2012 is highly unlikely.
23) Brandon Moss
Projection: .240/.347/.439 23 HR 70 R 80 RBI 4 SB
With Moss, the batting average totals are always going to be weak. With him just turning 31, it’s likely that his power numbers are going to slowly start going downwards. Still, getting 20+ HR out of Moss is still reasonable.
22) Joey Votto
Projection: .282/.401/.458 17 HR 70 R 65 RBI 6 SB
While Votto has achieved more than many of the players ranked above him, I just don’t trust his ability to stay healthy. The first red flag is that injuries have limited to less than 500 PA in two of the last four years. The second red flag is this is happening as he moves towards the wrong side of 30 (31). The third red flag is his last 25+ HR season (2011) happened prior to each of these injury shortened seasons during the same time that his HR/FB rate appears to be trending downward. Honestly, I just don’t see a return to his prior MVP form.
21) Eric Hosmer
Projection: .272/.324/.444 19 HR 65 R 70 RBI 11 SB
While Hosmer has played very strongly in the playoffs, I’m still not convinced that he is a top-flight fantasy option. Granted, I think he’s going to have better numbers than last year but don’t expect superstar numbers. His AVG should stay in the .270 range but I think he can at least match his career high of 19 HR that was set in 2011.
20) Carlos Santana
Projection: .250/.368/.451 26 HR 70 R 80 RBI 4 SB
Santana should see a slight improvement in AVG (he had .249 BABIP in 2014 and I have him projected to have a .280 BABIP for 2015). With that being said, .250 AVG and this substantially decreases his value. However, he does appear to be in line for another 25+ HR season.
19) Justin Morneau
Projection: .293/.347/.442 14 HR 65 R 75 RBI 1 SB
Morneau had a nice bounce back season thanks to the confines of Coors Field. While his .319 AVG was BABIP fueled, an average in the .290s is reasonable to expect. As he turns 34 during next season, I think the power numbers to tilt downwards and further away from 2006-2009 when he hit 30+ HR three times.
18) Chris Carter
Projection: .229/.302/.491 37 HR 75 R 85 RBI 5 SB
While he is primarily at OF, he did put in 14 games at 1B last year. Carter hit 37 HR last year and he is very capable of repeating this as his HR/FB rate (21.9%) is only slightly higher than his 20.7% career total). Unfortunately, he is also very capable of repeating his .227 AVG from last year as his .267 BABIP was only 16 points below his career total.
17) Brandon Belt
Projection: .255/.325/.462 19 HR 75 R 80 RBI 10 SB
While I think Belt’s power numbers should be respectable, his value is constrained by modest AVG & his struggles to stay healthy over the course of a full season. The above numbers are based on 475 PA (2013 is his only season above 500 PA). A full healthy season for Belt would help him move up these rankings.
16) Mark Trumbo
Projection: .243/.297/.451 32 HR 75 R 90 RBI 1 SB
Trumbo makes it to #16 due to his ability to hit for power but fails to crack the top 15 due to his inability to hit much higher than .240. While he was limited to 362 PA last year, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of staying healthy as he played at least 144 games in the first three seasons in the majors.
15) Adam LaRoche
Projection: .260/.357/.433 23 HR 75 R 85 RBI 3 SB
Since LaRoche is getting older (he turns 35 in November), I’m anticipating a slight regression in power for 2015. Despite this, I still see him as someone who can hit at least 20 HR.
14) Matt Adams
Projection: .291/.330/.489 24 HR 65 R 75 RBI 5 SB
Adams is a player who I think will take a step forward in 2015. Last year, he hit a lower % of Ground Balls (44% to 34%) and an increase in line drives (19% to 24%) both trends which I think he is capable of continuing. He also managed to hit 15 HR despite a low 8.7% HR/FB rate. The projection of 24 HR is assuming that he can move his HR/FB rate towards his career total of 12.4%.
13) Anthony Rizzo
Projection: .258/.357/.476 27 HR 85 R 80 RBI 6 SB
Rizzo is one player that had a breakout 2014 season. While I believe he will continue to put up solid numbers in 2015, I’m not sure he’s quite going to match 2013. His BABIP (.311) was 28 points above his career total and adjustment for this will likely decrease his AVG (.286 in 2014). He did reach a career high in HR/FB rate at 18.8%. If this total moves closer to his career of 15.1%, he looks destined to have 25-30 HR power instead of 30+ HR power.
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Main Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Statistics referenced found on fangraphs.com