End of the Season ’18: Top 30 First Basemen To Own In Dynasty Leagues

Brennen Gorman ends the season by breaking down the top 30 first basemen to own in dynasty leagues.

(Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire)

2018 End of the Season Positional Dynasty Rankings

The season may have ended, but dynasty baseball never stops.

Top 25 Catchers Top 60 Outfielders
Top 30 First Basemen Top 90 Outfielders
Top 30 Second Basemen Top 30 Starting Pitchers
Top 30 Shortstops Top 60 Starting Pitchers
Top 30 Third Basemen Top 90 Starting Pitchers
Top 30 Outfielders Top 50 Relief Pitchers

The Top 30 First Basemen

Rank Player Team Age Change
Tier One
1 Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves 29 +1
2 Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks 31 -1
3 Cody Bellinger Los Angeles Dodgers 23
Tier Two
4 Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs 29
5 Rhys Hoskins Philadelphia Phillies 25
6 Jose Abreu Chicago White Sox 32 +2
Tier Three
7 Jesus Aguilar Milwaukee Brewers 28 UR
8 Matt Olson Oakland Athletics 24 +5
9 Max Muncy Los Angeles Dodgers 28 UR
10 Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds 35 -3
11 Joey Gallo Texas Rangers 25 +7
12 Eric Hosmer San Diego Padres 29 -3
13 Tyler White Houston Astros 28 UR
Tier Four
14 Yordan Alvarez (P) Houston Astros 21 +6
15 Matt Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals 33 +13
16 Jake Bauers Tampa Bay Rays 23 +8
17 Luke Voit New York Yankees 28 UR
18 Ian Desmond Colorado Rockies 33 -1
19 Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers 35 -8
20 Peter Alonso (P) New York Mets 23 +5
21 Edwin Encarnacion Cleveland Indians 36 -11
Tier Five
22 Kevin Cron (P) Arizona Diamondbacks 25 UR
23 Nathaniel Lowe (P) Tampa Bay Rays 23 UR
24 Josh Bell Pittsburgh Pirates 26 -9
25 Matt Thaiss (P) Los Angeles Angels 23 UR
26 Jose Martinez St. Louis Cardinals 30 UR
27 Chad Spanberger (P) Toronto Blue Jays 22 UR
28 Bobby Bradley (P) Cleveland Indians 22 -6
29 Frank Schwindel (P) Kansas City Royals 26 UR
30 Josh Naylor (P) San Diego Padres 21 UR

Brennen’s Thoughts:

Tier One

  • Paul Goldschmidt’s stolen base count has steadily declined over the past three years and should continue to decline as he now enters his age-31 season. Freddie Freeman is two years younger, set career steals, and despite the fewest home runs per plate appearance since 2014 is a good bet to bounce back in 2019. Atlanta’s lineup will only get better over the next few seasons and there is some uncertainty as with Goldschmidt as he is a free agent after 2019.
  • Cody Bellinger saw a .100 point drop in his ISO this past year and was inconsistent with high-highs and low-lows. He managed to finish with 28 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Bellinger is still 23 years old, saw his strikeout rate decline, and is only a season removed from a 39 home run season – his best is yet to come. While he will cede quite a few starts to Max Muncy, Bellinger should safely have first base eligibility for years to come.

Tier Two

  • Anthony Rizzo is amazingly consistent and if not for a putrid March/April where he batted .149 and only one home run, would have been a good bet to repeat 31+ home runs and 100 RBIs.
  • Rhys Hoskins will not start the 2019 season with first base eligibility, but he came close. Hoskins is tentatively poised to at least split time at first in 2019 and projects as the team’s long-term first baseman after Carlos Santana’s contract expires. Hoskins is still looking for his ceiling and a 40+ season at .250 is well within reach.

Tier Three

  • Starting May 1, Max Muncy posted a .268/.399/.593 line with 33 home runs in 366 at-bats. Muncy has an aggressive ranking here after breaking out of obscurity, but at this point in the rankings, Muncy is well worth the risk.
  • Joey Votto at #10 is still giving some hope that he can turn it around in his age-35 season and is some degree of respect for the top-10 bat that he was in 2017. He should continue to fall even if he has a successful season as age is catching up with him. For dynasty teams expected to compete in 2019, Votto should be a great buy-low target.
  • Joey Gallo replicated his 2017 season, hitting 40 home runs, striking out at a 35% clip, and batting in the low .200s. Gallo derives nearly all of his value from his home runs (48% of runs & 62% of RBIs). I prefer a few fewer home runs for a more balanced average.
  • Hitting 28 home runs between Triple-A and the MLB, Tyler White should have a bigger role in Houston’s offense and eventually take over for Yuli Gurriel at first base full time.

Tier Four

  • The only thing that could threaten Tyler White’s playing time at first would be if Yordan Alvarez sticks at first base. Alvarez will bounce between first base and outfield, but is the clear top offensive prospect at the position. Alvarez had 20 home runs in 335 at-bats, hitting .293 between Double-A and Triple-A. Alvarez should spend 2019 in the minors and could get a cup of September tea if he performs well enough.
  • Stolen bases at first base are a hot commodity, Ian Desmond is still a good bet for a 20/20 season even at a .240-ish batting average for the fifth time in eight years. Desmond just turned 33 and should retain fantasy relevance so long as he continues to steal.
  • In his sole healthy season in the past four years, Miguel Cabrera hit 38 home runs and batted .316. Chances of another full season from Cabrera are low, but despite being 35-years old could still be a key part of a weak Detroit lineup. At #18, Cabrera has his risk built in and could still produce in the top-15 at his position few years if healthy – and that is a growing if.
  • For a while, it looked as though Peter Alonso may have forced his way onto the Mets in 2018, but initially struggled to hit in Triple-A. His final month saw a .308 average and 12 home runs – most importantly, a decreased strikeout percentage (to a palatable 23%). Alonso finished his season with 36 home runs and is a good bet to be called up sometime in 2019.
  • Edwin Encarnacion continued his decline in 2018 and there are red flags everywhere – decreased power, increased strikeout rate, declined average. Encarnacion will be 36 years old and may well be in the final year of fantasy relevance with Cleveland unlikely to exercise his option in 2020 (at $20 million).

Tier Five

  • Kevin Cron has been a consistent source of power, hitting 20+ home runs each of the past four years and each as he steadily climbed through the minors. Had Cron played a full minor league season, he would have had a career-high amount of home runs and a did have a career-high batting average (granted, supported by a .359 BABIP). If Arizona opts to not retain Paul Goldschmidt after 2018 – Cron is the heir apparent.
  • Josh Bell saw a significant course correction in 2018. 2017 might represent career-high home runs, but Bell is an improving hitter that may yet end up an average power, high average player. That is not enough to warrant fantasy ownership in most leagues.
  • Chad Spanberger struggled once he was traded to Toronto, but prior to that he hit 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 92 games. A paltry 5% walk rate is keeping his value from being elite, but he has an intriguing mix of power and speed that few other prospects have. Spanberger is a bit older and will need to move quickly to stay relevant.
  • Frank Schwindel has a strikingly similar profile to Kevin Cron and after two years in Triple-A has only continued to refine his approach. Kansas City will be testing Schwindel out at a few roles, but he is a first baseman by trade and heir to Eric Hosmer more so than Ryan O’Hearn or Hunter Dozier.

Brennen Gorman

A lifetime Tigers fan (oh boy) getting ready to watch some good minor league baseball for the next few years. Liquor lawyer by trade, consumed by baseball statistics for pleasure? Yep. Seems about right.

20 responses to “End of the Season ’18: Top 30 First Basemen To Own In Dynasty Leagues”

  1. Bob says:

    I feel like you are WAY too low on carpenter, surely he is tier 2. I know he’s old but he hit near 40 homeruns last year, he isn’t going anywhere soon. True he’s old and probably only a few more good years in him, along with health issues. But still, for the next couple years, at least, he seems essentially locked in to be elite.

    • Brennen Gorman says:

      I am probably low on him, but I do not think “WAY” low on him. He had a career year at 32 years old and was really fantasy relevant for only two months when he hit over .300 and mashed 20 of his home runs. The closest he has ever come to elite was in 2014 when he hit 28 home runs and batted .272. I’m not buying an elite transformation, but put him on the list to acknowledge that he could to some degree repeat his success in 2018. I would not own him, but would stream him when he hits a hot streak.

      • Nicholas Gerli says:

        Carpenter’s value is very league dependent. I could see why people would be down on him in an AVG league, but in OBP leagues he’s a beast.

        In regards to this “transformation” – Carpenter had been trending to a more flyball, hard-hit centric approach for several years now. His peripheral batting data seems to support his slugging percentage and home run total. His HR/FB rate was a very reasonable 19%.

        He didn’t transform in 2018, he simply kept the same progression going and started to finally get on the right side of the luck ledger.

  2. theKraken says:

    Broken record here – Bellinger isn’t tier 1, but I wouldn’t argue with mid tier 3. 28 HR out of a 23 y/o is one thing, but it is 2018 and < 30 HR out of a 1B is close to free. I think there is a better chance that the opportunities begin to dry up at some point than that he blossoms into anything special. We have all seen him at this point – he has lots of problems offensively and he isn't trending the right direction. At some point the Dodgers will stop protecting him so much and then it could really fall apart. He has some high highs, but he spends the huge majority of his seasons as completely worthless, so I think that tempers the numbers even more. Consistency doesn't have a meaningful corresponding stat (BA is actually the best), but if it did Belly would have even less value.

    • Brennen Gorman says:

      I would agree that Bellinger isn’t worthy of a Tier One status, yet, but if he lands somewhere between his 2017 and 2018 season then I think he justifies the ranking at only 23 years old. Tiers are more of a guideline and I would not get too hung up on them. I still would have had him as the #3 first baseman, even if he were in Tier Two. I am really high on Anthony Rizzo, but I think Bellinger’s ceiling, stolen bases, and age push him higher in dynasty leagues.

    • King Donko says:

      Writing off a 23-year old top prospect who has demonstrated his ability to adjust to advanced pitching and had a .933 OPS as a 21-year-old is an awfully hasty take.

    • Nicholas Gerli says:

      A lot of Bellinger’s value comes from his speed. 14 SB from first is a very big deal. Without the speed I would tend to agree with you, but his floor is essentially Wil Myers, which is pretty good. His upside is huge.

      His ranking at #3 is more a sign of his the top-end of the first base spectrum has thinned a bit over recent years.

  3. theKraken says:

    I am not as high on White as you are. I don’t think they are necessarily itching to trade Gurriel out for White and I don’t think Alvarez is going to spend the entire season in AAA. I think White is placeholder at best. If they really are set with White, you have to think that they might go and acquire someone – maybe create some kind of platoon or something? When you look at it through that lens, isn’t he effectively 30+ y/o – in that he doesn’t have a future? In any case, that is fringe starter territory and it gets pretty mucky around that point… there are probably 5 guys I would rather have over him ranked below him, but none are sure things except Matt Carpenter.

    • Nicholas Gerli says:

      I’ve been calling for Houston to trade Gurriel for a year now. He is a redundant asset. Tyler White is better, and Alvarez and JD Davis also provide depth at the position.

      Why would you need a platoon for White? He crushed both lefties and righties last year. Additionally, White’s plate discipline (sub 8% swtk) indicates he has a pretty high floor.

  4. obie says:

    Spanberger was traded to the Blue Jays

  5. Chandler Gaddis says:

    Did Travis Shaw just not make the list or did he not keep his 1B eligibility for next season? He is listed as 1B 2B 3B on ESPN, so I was just curious.

    • Brennen Gorman says:

      To a degree, player’s positions are dependent on our outlook of their future. Plenty of players eeked out eligibilities at multiple positions, but we make our rankings based on where we see them playing consistently enough. Travis Shaw had 17 games at first base and most of those came on a shift. He could gain 1B eligibility next year, but his future is at third base (maybe second base if Milwaukee signs a third baseman in the offseason).

  6. maris says:

    No Justin Smoak?

  7. Padawan Gonzalez says:

    Great work!

    What I like the most – where you’ve ranked Tyler White. Given the opportunity, the kid is going to be a stud.

    I also like where you’ve ranked Matt Olson. All the metrics suggest that he underperformed last year. I think the ceiling here is huge. That being said, I’m probably in the minority of those who believe Matt Olson is, and will continue to be, better than Bellinger. Agree with theKrakens take on Bellinger’s trajectory.

    Seriously though, Carpenter that low? Hot take I guess, but seems so far off from reality. Then again, I’m in an OBP league so that probably skews my perception some, but his advanced metrics suggests he’s one of the best hitters in baseball. Period. Tier 2 for the next 2-3 years IMO, and should you really be planning for any further out than that?

    Also, Smoak is demonstratively better than Hosmer (and like 20 other guys on this list). Would love to hear why he was omitted? Assumed playing time issues next year maybe?

    Anyway, thanks for doing this. Definitely generated a reaction from me. Nice job.

  8. Southern Marylander says:

    I remember the folly of my youth when I thought Justin Bour could be good for good OBP and SLG with 30+ dingers and 100 RBI, even on a terrible team like the Marlins. Then he sucked. Then he got traded to a team that already had too many 1B. Then he sucked even worse.

    I am stupid.

  9. Tight Buchholz says:

    Miggy as a Top-20 player in dynasty? It was borderline droppable in 12-team redrafts the last two seasons. His last three seasons have trended downward (as do most when they hit 32) with walk-rate has decreasing (15.1,11.0,10.2%) and his K-rate going up (16.0,17.1,20.8%). And since turning 32 in 2015, he’s only gained years and is now 35.

  10. KB says:

    Nice work. Like your approach.

    Curious about why Ron Guzman isn’t hitting this list.
    Especially in a dynasty league.
    Youthful, good power, consistently showed improvement at all levels in the minors.
    Projected as opening day starter at first base (MLB depth charts) in a homer happy ballpark.
    Put up promising numbers in the majors last year.
    Texas is high on this kid.
    Decent glove, can also dh. Rangers need the bat with Choo aging and Beltre a free agent.
    Unlikely Gallo plays much at first with more pressing needs at other positions.

  11. BigH says:

    No love for Voit? curious on all your opinions of him.

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