Way Too Early Rankings: First Base by Brad Johnson October 27, 2016 Last night I had a nightmare. I couldn’t get into a draft room because it was on a new site and Battle.net wanted me to complete a quest first. I had the fifth pick and the first guy was already on the clock. It was the most stressful dream I’ve had in years. I think it’s pretty clear what Freud would say about it – my subconscious believes I’m not prepared for my fantasy drafts. Fortunately, I have another five months to get ready, and I’ve already built my Way Too Early Rankings. I started last week with catcher. We’ll move on to first base today. Oh, here’s what happened in 2016 at first base. As a reminder, these rankings represent my first reactions rather than a truly rigorous approach. I’ve used an absolutely objective technique called mental math to compile the lists. I’m assuming a standard 5×5 format. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold: to get an early start on 2017 rankings and to crowdsource missing or misranked players. That’s where you come in. Let your thoughts and feelings be known in the comments. Let’s tackle this in digestible chunks. The Top 11 First Basemen Player Rank Paul Goldschmidt 1 Anthony Rizzo 2 Miguel Cabrera 3 Joey Votto 4 Edwin Encarnacion 5 Freddie Freeman 6 Wil Myers 7 Chris Davis 8 Carlos Santana 9 Jose Abreu 10 Hanley Ramirez 11 So long as we ignore first base eligible Kris Bryant, Goldschmidt has topped the charts for two consecutive seasons. His latest campaign was a let down, yet he still returned nearly $30 of value. The stolen bases also really help with roster flexibility. There are three tiers in this top 11. Goldy, Rizzo, and Cabrera are all legitimate first round picks. The next four players are very acceptable consolation prizes. They each have their warts – either health, supporting cast, or both. The Davis to HanRam cohort should fall outside of the first couple rounds. It’s a volatile group. Any of the four could reasonably be expected to post a huge season. We’ll also nod knowingly if 2017 turns out badly for them. Overall, I don’t see much room for controversy with the top names. Perhaps you think Freeman’s breakout merits a slightly higher standing. Fine, I won’t object. I’m opting for the longer track records. Next! The Next 12 Player Rank Brandon Belt 12 Adrian Gonzalez 13 Victor Martinez 14 Albert Pujols 15 Kendrys Morales 16 Brad Miller 17 Eric Hosmer 18 Mike Napoli 19 Chris Carter 20 Tommy Joseph 21 Brandon Moss 22 Lucas Duda 23 Ok, some things are happening here. This entire lump of players is interchangeable. The bottom three should probably stay in the bottom three. Otherwise, feel free to shuffle the cards before you deal. If you find yourself needing one of these sluggers, you’ll have an opportunity to pick the stats you need most. Several offer mostly-empty power while others are run producers and/or OBP sources. I originally had Belt ranked ninth between Davis and Santana. I’ll admit to some Belt-favored bias. I own him in a couple OBP keeper formats where his value receives a lovely buff. It’s a shame he’s languished at AT&T Park for his entire career. AGon and VMart are still plugging away even though they’re well into the decline phase of their respective careers. The creatively nicknamed vets should remain productive if they can stay on the field and maintain their middle-of-the-order roles. The same goes for Pujols, although I worry about his concrete feet. Yes, I intentionally ranked Morales ahead of Hosmer. Obviously Hosmer has a much brighter future than Morales, but my prognosis for 2017 favors the 33-year-old. Morales’ 2016 numbers were hurt by an abysmal start to the season. If he can avoid the pit of despair, he’ll post superior power and near-identical run production to Hosmer. Napoli and Carter are coming off career seasons. Prepare for them to be over-drafted. Joseph showed 40 home run power, and he’s young enough to make some adjustments. His comments to the media about his approach at the plate are not reassuring. He’s a “see the ball, hit the ball” proponent. Next! The Grab Bag Player Rank Ryan Zimmerman 24 Josh Bell 25 C.J. Cron 26 Steve Pearce 27 Adam Lind 28 Mitch Moreland 29 Justin Bour 30 Matt Adams 31 Greg Bird 32 Byung-ho Park 33 A.J. Reed 34 Wilmer Flores 35 Travis Shaw 36 Dan Vogelbach 37 Logan Morrison 38 Joe Mauer 39 Jefry Marte 40 Marwin Gonzalez 41 Yuck. Any list beginning with Zimmerman is an ugly list. Frankly, I could just as easily started with Bell or Pearce or Bour. I went with Zimmerman because he’s the only one I’m confident will start most games – at least for the first half of the season. Bell has interesting upside, but I’m expecting a 110 game season out of him. The same is true of Cron, Pearce, Lind, Moreland, Bour, Adams…well you get the picture. I realize I may seem unfairly pessimistic about Bour. I consider Derek Dietrich to be a better hitter than Bour, and he’s more likely to contribute to the next Marlins contender (probably by being traded for a prospect). Bour simply isn’t the type of player teams pay to acquire. If he does play everyday at Dietrich’s expense, then I’d happily take him over Zimmerman. Since Pearce is a free agent, he’ll probably be signed to fill some kind of everyday utility role. Nobody likes to pay $10 million a season for a platoon guy. Once Pearce’s new home and role are set, he’ll probably move up the charts (slightly). After Adams, you’ll find an interesting trio of Bird, Park, and Reed. The birds play in the reeds at the park. There’s breakout potential to be had (with Vogelbach too). I just hope you won’t be counting on any of them. Lastly… The Leftovers Player Billy Butler Dae-Ho Lee David Freese Jason Rogers John Jaso Justin Smoak Kennys Vargas Mark Reynolds Ryan Howard Tyler Austin Tyler White Xavier Scruggs Here are the leftovers in no particular order. These 12 could produce more fantasy value than many of the names listed in the Grab Bag cohort. Playing time and a lack of talent figure to be a barrier to fantasy success.