It's 'bout that time, eh chaps? The Winter Meetings have come and gone. With it, some of the biggest offseason dominoes have already fallen. The 2017 fantasy baseball draft board is beginning to come into focus. Now it's time to delve into player rankings. We'll continue with our 2017 first base fantasy baseball rankings for December.
This first round of rankings features picks from Kyle Bishop, Nick Mariano, Bill Dubiel, and me. I know I've had my initial lists in place since mid-October, and my colleagues here weren't too far behind me.
This year, we'll begin by presenting our rankings then share a few thoughts round table style.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: First Base
Are there any picks you want to defend?
Brad: It would seem I'm the only one in the group who believes Morales will do big things while batting cleanup for an actually productive offense in a division littered with actual hitter friendly parks. Sure, the Jays lineup won't be the same without Encarnacion and Bautista, but it's still an above average offense. More importantly, it's a much better situation for Morales who should have no problem repeating 30 home runs and could reach 100 RBI. He's boring, old, low risk, and low cost.
Kyle: I'm surprised to be the optimist on Pujols. He's certainly not what he used to be, but the veteran still has life in his bat. Over the past three seasons, he's fourth in homers, seventh in runs scored, and second in RBI among first basemen. He's even top 10 in stolen bases. He doesn't hit for average anymore, but with those counting stats, he doesn't really need to.
I'm also the Debbie Downer on Myers. Questions about his health, his lousy second half, and skepticism about him running that much again are enough for me to push him outside the top 10.
Nick: The highest one that jumps out to me is Brandon Belt, who was a solid OBP asset but nothing special in 5x5 leagues in 2016. At first glance, it looks like he's reached a clear plateau. But his selectivity at the plate didn't lead to a huge drop in hard-hit rate (still 36.4% from 39.8%), yet an 8.1% rise in fly-ball rate was mitigated by an uncharacteristically low 9.3% HR/FB rate. Even if it was just 2014's 13.6%, you'd feel better here. I'm feeling alright about his chances here.
Bill: I love Matt Carpenter at any position, so perhaps that's affecting my judgment here...nah, sticking by it. Carpenter missed some time last year, but still put up a very solid season (.271-21-68). It certainly appears that his power-for-average swap is going to stick, so we'll probably never see that .318 batting average from 2013 again. However, if he can get back to playing 150+ games, we could definitely see him threaten 30 homers and get the batting average back above .280. That's a rare power/average combo at the first base position (outside of the top four or five).
Which picks by others look overly bullish/pessimistic?
Brad: I'll point out Bill's ranking of Joseph only because it matches what I expected of the consensus. I thought I'd be high man on the totem pole, but Kyle and Nick agreed he's a solid late-round option in 12 team leagues with a corner infield slot. Bill sees him as the guy you grab off waivers when somebody blows a knee.
Kyle: Belt is the epitome of "better IRL than in fantasy," and I honestly have no idea why Brad and Nick have him ranked as highly as they do. He's never hit .290, never hit 20 home runs, his modest run production totals last year (77 runs, 82 RBI) were both career bests, and he was 0-for-4 in stolen base attempts. Oh, and he's entering his age-29 season and has played more than 150 games only once in six seasons. Does his home park hurt his numbers? Sure, but last I checked, the Giants don't plan to trade him. His awesome OBP means nothing in a standard league.
Nick: Kyle having Holliday down at #24 while the rest of us sit in the #18-19 range seems out of place, as his move to the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium where he can stay fresh at DH should keep that bat alive. He's had some durability concerns flare up over the last two years, but New York has finally learned how to treat their veteran bats.
Also Bill's #30 ranking for Brad Miller feels way too low. I know he doubled his HR/FB rate from 10.3% to 20.4%, but I believe some of that growth is genuine. He could finally find a groove in an everyday role in Tampa, and 20 homers with a few steals while regular batting cleanup should be worth more than #30.
Bill: Brad looks a bit too low on Greg Bird for my liking. He has a clear path to the first base job in New York, although he and Matt Holliday will likely swap on and off a bit at 1B/DH for what it's worth. In 2015, Bird hit 11 homers and knocked in 31 RBI in just 46 games, so the power is legit. He has a career .222 ISO across all levels, and now that he's back to full health he has a monster ceiling. 40 homers this year is probably out of the question, but I'm optimistically (and perhaps naively) projecting him for 30 bombs, 80+ RBI and around a .260 batting average--your prototypical first baseman. I'd take him on draft day over guys like Brad Miller and Tommy Joseph for sure.