As we move to the five and six category version of the fantasy rankings, many of you will notice the top eighteen first basemen are different than they were in the total points list. Unfortunately, different formats often produce different results. This is primarily because of the addition of negative events for total points. Players that rack up tons of strikeouts will find themselves out in the cold.
We don’t have those considerations here. When we add in second base next we will catch up and synchronize our lists starting with the third basemen. The rankings here are based on three year data. The wrinkle is that we are projecting playing time based on past performance and the current makeup of the roster the player is a part of. Players will have their past performance projected out over 400, 500, or 600 plate appearances. Later in the offseason we can adjust for roster changes and actual projections. From there, we rank them based on a six category composite ranking.
Paul Goldschmidt—St. Louis Cardinals
6 Category Projection: .295/27 HR/93 Runs/87 RBI/17 SB/86 BB
You might be tempted to give him extra credit because he moved to the Cardinals. You can get excited over joining Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna, and Yadier Molina. He’s leaving a roster just as talented. He finishes on top because of the combination of power, speed, and patience. That translates anywhere.
Freddie Freeman—Atlanta Braves
6 Category Projection: .300/27 HR/88 Runs/82 RBI/8 SB/72 BB
Does Josh Donaldson add a lot here? Typically, a supporting cast doesn’t mean a whole in terms of additional production. Sure, it might mean more runs and RBI, but it could also mean fewer of one and more of another. It could mean the same. You also have Nick Markakis likely moving somewhere else. In other words, look at past production and go from there instead of forecasting.
Rhys Hoskins—Philadelphia Phillies
6 Category Projection: .249/36 HR/87 Runs/99 RBI/5 SB/85 BB
This is based purely on a little more than one season’s worth of production. They’ve already added Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura and subtracted Carlos Santana. Could they add Manny Machado? Maybe. Maybe they add Bryce Harper too. Either way, I wouldn’t change these numbers much.
Joey Votto—Cincinnati Reds
6 Category Projection: .311/23 HR/82 Runs/79 RBI/4 SB/105 BB
And on the eighth day Joey Votto drew a walk. Votto might be the best pure offensive player at this position, but counting numbers are what they are. If you play in a league that counts walks or OBP he is well worth the selection, but in five category leagues it might be better to admire from afar.
Anthony Rizzo—Chicago Cubs
6 Category Projection: .281/26 HR/79 Runs/94 RBI/6 SB/69 BB
Rizzo might be in an opposite category from Votto. He is clearly a step behind the first four guys, but he does enough of what they do well to warrant a selection. The Cubs are still loaded and might be more so if they can get a full season from Kris Bryant and Javier Baez at the same time.
Edwin Encarnacion—Cleveland Indians
6 Category Projection: .256/34 HR/82 Runs/104 RBI/2 SB/77 BB
Welcome to Exhibit A in this article as to why certain statistics matter too much to voters for the Hall of Fame. No one drives in more runs than Encarnacion at this position. Does that make him the best first sacker in the business? Hardly. It does make him the most prolific one though. Will that continue on a diminished Indians roster?
Carlos Santana—Seattle Mariners
6 Category Projection: .249/24 HR/77 Runs/74 RBI/4 SB/88 BB
Sooner or later you stop pining for the player you think a guy should be and start accepting who he is. Santana is a .250 hitter that walks a lot. You would think his BABIP should improve and his average along with it. That thinking makes sense, but it never happens. That makes him a marginal starter in five category leagues, but an underrated player in six category leagues.
Jose Abreu—Chicago White Sox
6 Category Projection: .289/25 HR/72 Runs/87 RBI/2 SB/37 BB
Abreu is an interesting case study. He produced less than two wins a year ago, but he has produced around 100 RBI a year for the past five years. So, do you buy into the fact that he is a proven run producer or the fact that he is a flawed hitter? If you are a GM do you start a young player with no proven track record or try to acquire him? For fantasy players you focus on these numbers because there are few leagues that count WAR.
Eric Hosmer—San Diego Padres
6 Category Projection: .279/20 HR/74 Runs/80 RBI/5 SB/55 BB
There’s the aggregate and then there is reality. Hosmer doesn’t exist in the aggregate. He exists on the extremes between borderline all-star performance and borderline replacement level performance. I’d bet on all-star performance because it’s an odd number year. Like with Microsoft operating systems and Star Trek movies he is good every other time out. Last year was bad, so this year must be good. Sure, makes total sense.
Matt Olson—Oakland Athletics
6 Category Projection: .246/35 HR/80 Runs/86 RBI/1 SB/66 BB
If it weren’t for being an Astros fan, watching the A’s come of age last season would have been a blast. Couple him with Matt Chapman and Khris Davis and they have as potent a middle of the order as anyone. They may not have the pitching next season, but with a new stadium on the horizon they may raise enough money to keep this nucleus together for a while.
C.J. Cron—Minnesota Twins
6 Category Projection: .262/27 HR/69 Runs/86 RBI/3 SB/36 BB
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Cron is flawed but as long as you know that going in you will like what you get. The Twins are okay rolling the dice on him for one season. Heck, maybe they play good enough and the Indians take two or three steps backwards. Maybe the rest of the league drives into a ditch. Anything is possible.
Jesus Aguilar—Milwaukee Brewers
6 Category Projection: .264/27 HR/65 Runs/88 RBI/0 SB/46 BB
Okay, why 500 plate appearances? Well, they still have Eric Thames and there is no telling what happens when he goes through the league again. Sometimes players take a step back and sometimes they emerge again. Thames is a perfect cautionary tale. He still produces, but he has never approached this first few months when the league didn’t know him. I’m betting on regression here.
Justin Smoak—Toronto Blue Jays
6 Category Projection: .248/29 HR/71 Runs/77 RBI/0 SB/75 BB
I like Smoak and the fact that they’ve moved on from so many of their underperforming assets is a positive sign. He might be one of them before the winter is over. He has proven he is productive enough to be a fantasy starter the last two seasons, but with so much in flux it is hard to completely trust him.
Max Muncy—Los Angeles Dodgers
6 Category Projection: .239/28 HR/70 Runs/66 RBI/2 SB/74 BB
See Jesus Aguilar. Heck, see Cody Bellinger. I’m not sure what to make of Muncy and his individual situation. You still have Bellinger there and you have David Freese there as well. Then, you get the rumors surrounding Bryce Harper and it’s impossible to make heads or tails of anyone on the Dodgers.
Jose Martinez—St. Louis Cardinals
6 Category Projection: .309/17 HR/63 Runs/71 RBI/2 SB/45 BB
He is also eligible in the outfield. I throw that out there because I think a lot of people will be surprised to see him rated at any position. Goldschmidt just stole his slot and he is about as viable an outfielder as Nick Castellanos. He would be a very viable DH and if he found himself there he could a very under the radar fantasy star.
Ian Desmond—Colorado Rockies
6 Category Projection: .271/15 HR/71 Runs/64 RBI/17 SB/36 BB
You have to suspend disbelief a little in fantasy sports. First, he is eligible in the outfield in all leagues and could potentially add shortstop and third base if he plays some there. Secondly, he adds some stolen bases. Add those two elements together and you have a valuable fantasy bench player. Additionally, if you are in a five category league you can ignore his lack of patience.
Miguel Cabrera—Detroit Tigers
6 Category Projection: .288/21 HR/58 Runs/70 RBI/0 SB/55 BB
Ah, the perils of long-term contracts. If Cabrera could be counted on to play 150 games he would be a definite fantasy starter. If I had a million dollars in the bank I wouldn’t have to wake up at five in the morning every morning. He might be able to give you 120 good games and if that is the case he would be worth a late round flier.
Yuli Gurriel—Houston Astros
6 Category: .291/13 HR/60 Runs/69 RBI/4 SB/20 BB
Gurriel is slated at 500 plate appearances because there is always the chance that the Astros upgrade at first base and turn him into a utility guy. If that happens becomes valuable as a fantasy bench guy. If he plays full time he adds a few more home runs, runs, and RBI. I’d hope for the flexibility.