Last week in Dynasty Dugout, we ranked the top 50 fantasy baseball prospects. Now it’s time to rank everyone. Well, not EVERYONE. There are thousands upon thousands of players combined in the majors and minors. This list focuses on the impact, or potential impact, fantasy players.
We start with the position that has usually been incredibly deep with top power options. First base might be deeper than ever with the emergence of guys like Justin Smoak, Eric Thames, and Logan Morrison, but the stud options at the top are dwindling.
With power at an all-time high this year, low-average sluggers don’t carry as much fantasy value as they used to. To be high on these rankings, you’ve got to bring it in more areas than just power.
Without further ado, your mid-season first base keeper/dynasty rankings. Analysis on select players can be found below the rankings.
#1 Paul Goldschmidt – There’s only one first baseman that can do it all statistically and that’s Goldschmidt. He’s a true five-tool first baseman, which is rare. Last season, Goldschmidt swiped 32 bases, which is basically unheard of for a first baseman. He’s on pace for about eight steals less than that this year, but who’s going to complain about a 36 HR/24 SB first baseman? If you do complain, maybe fantasy baseball isn’t for you. Goldschmidt is the gold standard at the position.
#2 Freddie Freeman – Injuries suck more this season, don’t they? A fastball off the wrist put a screeching halt on Freeman’s blistering start to the season. In just 161 at-bats, Freeman is mashing .348 with 16 home runs, 33 RBI, 41 runs scored, and four steals to boot. If only he didn’t have to miss half of the games played thus far.
At 27, Freeman is in the heart of his prime and looks poised to go on a run of several seasons as an elite dynasty option. He’s even playing some third base now with Matt Adams in Atlanta. That will only help his already sky-high value going forward.
#3 Anthony Rizzo – The Chicago Cubs might be two games under .500, but Rizzo hasn’t been part of the problem. His average is a little lower than anticipated at .259, but he is on pace for 37 home runs, 103 RBI, 96 runs, and 9 steals. The lower average shouldn’t worry you as Rizzo is smack dab in the middle of his prime and has always been solid in the batting average category. Expect a few more elite seasons like this before he slows down.
#4 Cody Bellinger – It was incredibly tempting not to put Bellinger higher, but we all got to pump the brakes a little bit, myself included. His first 257 at-bats have been spectacular, but that’s all he’s had thus far. Over those at-bats he has mashed 25 home runs to go along with 58 RBI, 50 runs scored, five steals, and a .261 average. The power is real. Bellinger has a big 6’5 frame that could still fill out some as he matures. It’s possible he could be the top dog on this list within the next 12 to 18 months.
#5 Joey Votto – Early in the season I mentioned in one of my articles that Votto is too passive at the plate, which hurts his power output. Well, it looks like I might have irritated him as he is on pace for the best power season of his career. Votto has already cracked 26 home runs this season after having only 29 all of last year. He’s done this without sacrificing his patient approach either as he’s on pace for even more walks in 2017 then he had in 2016.
The biggest reason for the power spike is his elevated fly ball rate. Votto is hitting the ball in the air 41.2% of the time this year as opposed to only 29.7% last year. If he can keep this approach up, he’s going to remain an elite option for at least the next couple of years.
#6 Miguel Cabrera – Could we be seeing the start of Cabrera’s decline? It seems like we are to a degree, but by no means should we expect him to not still be one of the best fantasy first basemen around.
His .307 BABIP is 39 points below his career mark and he’s actually making harder contact this year. His current 49.5 hard contact percentage is 8.4% above last year and a full 10% above his career rate. If the Cabrera owner in your league is sweating the sluggish first half, try to buy-low on Miggy. He’s going to be fine.
#8 Jose Abreu – With first base lacking a lot of elite options, Abreu remains a top-10 option. Don’t expect him to magically start stealing bases, but Abreu is a strong contributor everywhere else. None of his current numbers jump out at you but he’s on pace for yet another .300-300-100-90 type season.
Note: Players 10 through 21 could be ranked a million different ways. There are strong pros and cons to each player, including track record concerns with players like Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, etc.
#10 Eric Hosmer – Meet the slightly better American League version of Brandon Belt. He usually has a decent average and hits for power when he decides to, which is sporadic. The days of thinking he might join the elites at the position are over. He is what he is.
#11 Logan Morrison – Out of all the breakout first basemen this season, Morrison is the one that inspires the most confidence going forward. He was a pretty promising prospect back in his Marlins days and appears to just be a late bloomer. His success this year can be attributed to his rise in both fly ball and hard hit percentages. Morrison also displays solid plate discipline which should help keep his average decent.
#12 Ryan Zimmerman – After tearing the cover off the ball in April and May, Zimmerman has slowed down considerably since the start of June. He’s hitting just .244 with two home runs over the last month. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good hitter, but don’t let him fool you into thinking he’s going to be an elite dynasty first baseman going forward.
#14 Eric Thames – After a blistering pace in April, Thames has quickly come crashing back to earth. He’s still on pace for over 40 home runs but the batting averaging is falling quickly. As MLB takes a quick break for all-star festivities, Thames’ average currently sits at .248 after hitting just .207 over the last month. Believe in his power, but not in much else.
#16 Hanley Ramirez – Without a doubt, Ramirez could be a top-10 option if he could stay both healthy and engaged for a full season. Having him on your team will drive you to drink, but he always has that one hot stretch each year when he’s one of the best hitters in baseball for a month or two. The numbers are usually solid in the end but the inconsistent way he gets there makes him a tough player to want on your team in dynasty leagues.
#17 Rhys Hoskins – Out of all the first base prospects currently in the minors, Hoskins has the highest potential. He has 40-plus home run power and should provide a respectable batting average. Hoskins doesn’t strikeout as much as most sluggers do and that should benefit him in the long run.
#19 Justin Bour – With his big frame, nobody should be overly surprised in Bour’s 2017 power surge. He’s just never been a full-time starter until this season. Don’t go hog wild and expect him to morph into a starting dynasty league first baseman, but the power is for real. At the very least, Bour should provide above average power totals for the next few years.
#24 Albert Pujols – This storied career is beginning to approach the end. Pujols is the active leader in home runs with 603 career blasts. Second is Cabrera, way down at 457. There’s no doubting Pujols is one of the best hitters to ever grace a baseball field. Unfortunately, he’s not much of a help anymore in fantasy baseball.
The power is still mostly there, but that’s about it. His average currently sits at a measly .239 and don’t count on him for anything that requires speed anymore. He’s also on pace for over 100 strikeouts for the first time in his career. Let’s all tip our caps to him, but you can do much better in dynasty formats.
#28 Josh Bell – He might have been a promising prospect, but Bell just doesn’t do enough to be a reliable option at the position. First, he hit for a good average without much power. Now that’s been reversed. There’s still time for him to figure it out but until then he’s not going to help you much.
#38 Greg Bird – Not too long ago, Bird was considered the first baseman of the future in the Bronx. However, injuries have derailed that notion for the time being. He won’t make an impact anytime soon, but keep this name in the back of your mind. Left-handed power hitters that play at Yankee stadium should always be on the fantasy radar to some degree.
Got a question about a player not covered here? Feel free to ask in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @EricCross04. Thanks as always for reading, and check back next Tuesday for another edition of Dynasty Dugout. On deck next week for rankings are middle infielders. Stay tuned.