2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: First base

Here at SportzEdge.com, we know fantasy baseball.

I started playing it back in 2000, when I was talking trash to my eighth-grade friends and declining trade requests for Preston Wilson. Ah, the good old days.

We can’t wait for the season to get here, but when it does, we know you’ve got to be prepared. That’s why we’re ranking the best players in the major leagues at each position. First, we ranked the pitchers. Now, it’s time to look at the best first basemen in the game.

Check out our rankings below:

1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks. (.321 BA, 33 HR, 110 RBI, .435 OBP)

He’s the most underrated star in baseball, but not to anybody with a fantasy team. Goldschmidt is a beast in every category imaginable, from batting average to homers and RBI. He also finished fourth in the league with a .435 on-base percentage last year. His production has been consistently great for three years now, so there’s no reason to think he won’t hit another 30 homers and drive in another 100-plus runs. He’ll be a first-round pick in most drafts.

2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.338 BA, 18 HR, 76 RBI, .440 OBP)

Can you believe Miggy is only 32? Yeah, us either. Even though he’s already played 13 years in the bigs, Cabrera still figures to be in his prime (though he might be towards the end of it). Injuries have been a question the last few years, as he missed 43 games last season and hasn’t looked 100 percent healthy in a while. Still, we think there’s still a big enough gap between him and Anthony Rizzo, mostly because Miggy’s OBP is almost 60 points higher. That could change if he slogs through another injury-plagued year, though.

3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (.278 BA, 31 HR, 101 RBI, .387 OBP)

Batting average and on-base percentage are the only things keeping Rizzo from becoming one of the most valuable players in the game. The 26-year-old had a breakout season in 2014 and was even better last year, driving in 101 runs.

Edwin Encarnacion is a great pick if you need
Edwin Encarnacion is a great value pick in the second or third round of your draft. (AP Photo

4. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (.277 BA, 39 HR, 111 RBI, .372 OBP)

If you need home runs and RBI, this dude is a fantastic option–maybe even better than Rizzo, to be honest. His batting average is a little bit low, but he walks a lot (77 in 2015), and will continue to get pitches to hit in that stacked Blue Jays lineup.

5. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox (.290 BA, 30 HR, 101 RBI, .347 OBP)

The 2014 A.L. Rookie of the Year is one of the up-and-coming stars in the game, and he’ll really be valuable if the talented-yet-disappointing White Sox ever get their act together. Abreu’s production was slightly down last season from 2014, mostly because he drew fewer walks and was on base less often. Still, he’s a 30-homer, 100-RBI threat every year and a great plug-in-and-play option.

6. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (.314 BA, 28 HR, 80 RBI, .459 OBP)

Votto’s OBP was ridiculous last year (.459, 2nd in MLB), and he led the league in walks. Makes sense in that Reds lineup. With power threat Todd Frazier moving on to the White Sox, he may not have as many chances for ribbies, but should get avoided by pitchers more than ever. Encarnacion, Abreu and Votto all bring enough to the table for you to be happy with your first base choice.

7. Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers (.305 BA, 23 HR, 98 RBI, .378 OBP)

Fielder needed a bounce-back year in 2015, and he got it–racking up 187 hits and 98 RBI and finishing 10th in the bigs in on-base percentage. It seemed like he was always on base early in the year. He’s not as great an option as the top 7, as he’s slump-prone and probably won’t bash as many home runs, but has terrific value the deeper you get into the draft.

8. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (.244 BA, 40 HR, 95 RBI, .307 OBP)

‘The Machine’ (remember that nickname?) returned to his old form last season, mashing 40 homers to go along with 90 RBI. The only problem is that he hit just .244, which was 30 points off of his .272 average in 2014, and nearly 100 points off from his career seasons in St. Louis. We think there’s a chance he corrects that this season, inching that average closer to .275.

9. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers (.275 BA, 28 HR, 90 RBI, .350 OBP)

Gonzalez is still one of the best first basemen in the game, although he doesn’t quite reach the production-level of some of these guys. He’s still a great bet for a consistent, injury-free season, though, as he’s played at least 150 games every year since 2005, when he was a youngster with the Texas Rangers.

10. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals (.297 BA, 18 HR, 93 RBI, .363 OBP)

Hosmer could be in for a big year after his clutch postseason, which culminated in a World Series-clinching steal of home plate that Royals fans will never forget. The confidence boost that comes from winning a title can catapult players to stardom, and we could see that happening with Hosmer. He’s not going to hit 30 home runs, but driving in 100 runs and posting a .400 OBP are realistic goals.

11. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (.276 BA, 18 HR, 66 RBI, .370 OBP)

The 26-year-old has been on the decline since hitting .319 and driving in 109 runs in 2013. He also slugged .501 that season. Last year, in just 118 games, Freeman hit just .276 and drove in 66 runs. The Braves are going to be awful this year, too, so don’t expect big RBI numbers.

12. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (.262 BA, 47 HR, 111 RBI, .361 OBP)

The Orioles got their man back, but whether or not that ends up being a good thing, well…we’ll see. He’s got tremendous potential, having hit 47 homers and driven in 111 runs last year, but Davis hasn’t shown consistency year to year. In 2014, he hit .196. Last season, he struck out 208 times. He’s the classic all-or-nothing power hitter, but to be effective in fantasy, his batting average and OBP have to stay reasonable.

13. Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals (.390 BA, 22 HR, 106 RBI, .362 OBP)

Morales doesn’t actually play first base for the Royals very often, but he qualifies as a first baseman anyway. He had a terrific bounce-back season last year, knocking 22 homers and batting .390. He also played every day (158 games) and saw 569 at-bats, so he’s more consistent and durable than you might think.

14. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (.273 BA, 37 HR, 108 RBI, .360 OBP)

You really think Big Papi is going to go out limping? Nah, son. The ageless slugger hit 37 home runs last year and racked up 108 RBI, on a middling Red Sox team. Boston’s offense remains one of the best in the A.L., so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to give fans memorable moments. He’s not going to miss those opportunities.

15. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians (.231 BA, 19 HR, 85 RBI, .357 OBP)

Santana never quite became the prodigious, power-hitting catcher he was billed as when he was an Indians super-prospect back in 2009. But he’s still a dangerous hitter, though he’s far less valuable fantasy-wise at first base than he was behind the plate. His power numbers dropped off a little bit in 2015, as he hit just 19 homers compared to 27 in ’14. Still, he’s a consistent 80-plus RBI man who would be more productive if his batting average jumped.

16. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (.255 BA, 31 HR, 79 RBI, .357 OBP)

Teixeira was on his way to an A.L. Comeback Player of the Year award before he broke his leg and missed the final 50-plus games. Injuries are always the concern with Teixeira, and the main reason why he’s so low on this list. He’s also typically awful in April, and by the time he warms up, he gets hurt. Don’t count on him as your starting first baseman, but he could give you some nice production off the bench for a while.

17. Byung-Ho Park, Minnesota Twins (.343 BA, 53 HR, 146 RBI in Korean league)

This kid’s stats in the Korean Baseball Organization were video-game like, or at least big league like in the ’90s. No one is quite sure what to expect from the 29-year-old, and the Twins do have Joe Mauer also sharing time at first base, so he’s very hit-or-miss. Probably worth the gamble ahead of guys like Brandon Belt or Lucas Duda.

18. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (.280 BA, 18 HR, 68 RBI, .356 OBP)

He won’t give you a ton of offensive production, but the potential for a 20-plus homer season is there. Belt is 27 years old, so he might be entering his prime and could be a decent option in a deep league.

19. Lucas Duda, New York Mets (.244 BA, 27 HR, 73 RBI, .352 OBP)

Duda is extremely hit-or-miss, so only draft him if you don’t mind riding out the month-long cold streaks. He does hit a lot of home runs, so if you need help in that category, he’s a solid choice. His RBI numbers should increase in an improved Mets offense, too.

20. Steven Vogt, Oakland Athletics (.261 BA, 18 HR, 71 RBI, .348 OBP)

He’ll be ranked higher as a catcher, where he’ll be more valuable, but if you need to plug him in at first base, he’s not a bad option there. Even though last year was an out-of-nowhere career year in which he made the All-Star team, we think Vogt will keep up relatively the same production this season.

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