2016 First Base Tier Rankings: April Edition

So a month has gone by since I tiered the first basemen for the preseason, which you can check out here:

2016 First Base Tier Rankings: Preseason Rankings

I tried not to be too reactionary by making massive changes unless somebody has garnered more playing time than expected, or suffered an injury or lost their role. In other words, my list is similar to my initial one since one month is not enough of a sample to make significant changes.

In honor of the NHL playoffs and my love for the New York Islanders, I have ordered my tiers by the players with the highest points per game in Islanders history. I welcome and encourage all feedback, but do note that these are subjective and still predictive in nature, as opposed to being reflective of one month. Enjoy!


Tier 1: Mike Bossy


Paul Goldschmidt

 So the batting average is lower than usual (.250), but so is his BABIP (.260). The rest of the numbers are in line with what we expect so there is no need to panic here.


 Tier 2: Pierre Turgeon


Anthony Rizzo


Miguel Cabrera

 Rizzo is having a similar and even more drastic experience than Goldschmidt batting .205 with a .135 BABIP. The power is even better this year and once those balls start dropping for hits, everything will go back to normal for Rizzo, with more power it seems.

Cabrera hasn’t put up the monster numbers just yet, and his BB rate and K rate are trending in the wrong direction. Still too early to start dropping Cabrera out of this tier just yet.


 Tier 3: Bryan Trottier


Edwin Encarnacion


Jose Abreu


Chris Davis

 All three of these players have not produced to the level we expect from them just yet, with Abreu having the slowest start. I’m a patient fantasy owner, so I’ll remain patient with this tier and expect big things from them still. If I had to choose one to go hard for, I’d say Encarnacion even though the rate stats aren’t where I’d like them to be, but the upside of his bounce back is very high and he still won’t kill you with his average. I’m disappointed with his on-base skills right now, though not overly concerned.


 Tier 4: Pat LaFontaine


Joey Votto


Lucas Duda


Adrian Gonzalez


Freddie Freeman


Prince Fielder


David Ortiz


Eric Hosmer


Brandon Belt


Joey Votto is my first drop in the rankings. He is definitely struggling this year, and I think he will find a way out of it. Might not be fair to still have faith in Abreu and then drop Votto, and I can see how that would be inconsistent. The main reason I dropped Votto is I just don’t see those RBI and Runs opportunities coming through, and I was probably overly optimistic to start the season as opposed to being overly pessimistic now.

Belt also moved up a tier, and I can see him continuing to rise if he continues to perform the way he has. His BB% has increased, while K% has decreased, which are excellent signs. This appears to be the Belt we have all been waiting for, but I’ll wait another month before I really make a significant bump with him.


 Tier 5: Ziggy Palffy


Buster Posey


Carlos Santana


Kendrys Morales


Victor Martinez


Justin Turner


Mark Teixeira


Chris Carter


Joe Mauer


Travis Shaw


Mark Trumbo


Most of my bold predictions have been pretty off so far, but my Chris Carter 100 RBI looks decent, especially if he keeps up his current performance. His BABIP is higher than normal (.341), but he is striking out less than usual so it is possible he has turned some corner. Wouldn’t call you out if you tried to sell high on him, though I’m still holding onto him for another month or two.

Trumbo has had a very strong start, but his BABIP of .434 will not last. He is also walking less than usual, which is scary. Still, I bumped him up to this tier because the power is always real and he is part of a nice line-up that will continue to provide RBI opportunities. Trumbo is also know to start very hot (his career RC + for April and May are 134 and 147, respectively), then tail off (never above 125 for his career in one month). Keep that in the back of your mind when valuing his performance


 Tier 6: Denis Potvin


Byung-ho Park


Albert Pujols


Wil Myers


Stephen Piscotty


Ryan Zimmerman


Mitch Moreland


Brandon Moss


John Jaso


Logan Forsythe


Tyler White


The power from Park is very nice, but the K rate is a little high so it will be curious to monitor him throughout the season. I am admittedly a little hard on Pujols in my rankings and I expect him to bounce back somewhat, but how much can we expect from a 36 year old? 40 home runs seems a little far-fetched like last year, yet his ISO is still high and his BABIP is extremely low so far.

After a scorching start, Tyler White has come back down to Earth, and although the power rates look solid, I don’t see the past evidence to suggest he will sustain that. He can still have value with a high walk and high contact rate approach, which he hasn’t shown just yet.

Wil Myers has also had a nice start, but I’m concerned with his (surprise!) BB% and K rate. They are not in line with his career numbers, which may be a good thing if he can put the ball in play more with better contact. He has a better line drive rate this season and is not pulling the ball as much hitting to center field 50% of the time. I can see him moving up the tiers.


 Tier 7: Steve Thomas


Mark Reynolds


Hanley Ramirez


Mike Napoli


Ben Paulsen


Justin Bour


Ryan Howard


Matt Adams


Stephen Vogt


Pedro Alvarez


CJ Cron


Mark Canha


A mix of playing time and slow starts makes up the 7th tier. Reynolds has had a nice start, as has Paulsen so choosing between the two is difficult. Bour and Alvarez are nice buy low options because you know the power will come at some point. Problem is always identifying when that will be. However, when it comes, it will come in bunches and you’ll forget about the slow April when looking at end of year stats.

Mike Napoli and Hanley Ramirez are getting a lot of playing time, and do have decent RBI opportunities in front of them. If they bounce back to their past performance, they could be good sneak picks, though I am still worried about Ramirez as I was here. Ryan Howard is also having a tough start, but he’s walking slightly more and his BABIP is low. He could get hot for a spell, or the end might finally be here. Be careful.


 Tier 8: John Tavares


Steve Pearce


Clint Robinson


Just Smoak


Yonder Alonso


Luis Valbuena


Darin Ruf


Dae Ho Lee


Jason Rogers


Marwin Gonzalez

 Underachieving group to say the least. I’m still interested in Clint Robinson, because I can’t see him having an even worse season. I think the key for Robinson is playing time, which I see coming with Zimmerman ahead of him on the depth chart.

Jason Rogers is on the short side of the Pirates platoon and put up nice numbers in AAA, and in a brief stint with the Brewers last season. He is a solid deep option, and may see full-time work if his numbers carry over and something happens to Jaso.


Tier 9: John Tonelli


Adam Rosales


Chris Colabello


Austin Romine


Logan Morrison


Kelly Johnson


Chris Johnson


Scott Van Slyke


Yangervis Solarte


Brett Wallace


Oy vey. Good luck.

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A note on Edwin:

Its early still, but his SwStr% currently sits at a career worst level of 12.8% and has been trending in the wrong direction since 2013. I dont know at what point a drastic fall-off occurs, but hes 33 and it could be close.


EE’s tier-mate, Chris Davis has a similar SwStr% of 12.4%. But in this case, it represents a career low. I think Davis has been a little unlucky both in strikeouts (maintaining the same career 31%) and babip. I think this could be a big year for CD.