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2019 First Basemen - Early Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings

We continue our fantasy baseball tiered rankings analysis with the first base position. Even though it is only January, RotoBaller writers Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus, Chris Zolli, and I have come up with our initial pre-draft rankings to give you a sense of player values as early as possible. As the offseason progresses, these rankings are sure to change quite a bit over the coming months. We'll be updating our rankings on a regular basis, so be sure to keep checking in on our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard for the most updated lists.

The first base position has been a fantasy staple for years. But for the first time in a while, you will see first rounds come and go in your 2019 drafts with no first basemen taken. The emergence of five-category middle infielders and outfielders have elbowed their way past Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman, and Father Time has taken his toll on the future Hall of Famers like Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. The first base dominoes start falling in the second round and will have some serious momentum until the end of the fourth round. If you want to have a leg up on your league at this position, make sure you grab your starting 1B in this range with a Tier 1-3 guy.

In case you missed it, you can read about the shortstop position here. Without any more delay, let's take a look at the 2019 first base rankings for January.

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2019 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: First Base (January)

Rank Tier Player Position Nick Pierre JB Chris
1 1 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 19 26 17 17
2 1 Freddie Freeman 1B 23 13 24 20
3 2 Anthony Rizzo 1B 33 38 30 41
4 2 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 50 23 46 31
5 2 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 43 43 39 44
6 2 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 46 45 32 51
7 3 Joey Votto 1B 57 50 56 49
8 3 Jose Abreu 1B 69 44 67 53
9 4 Edwin Encarnacion 1B 82 94 80 73
10 4 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 92 91 75 93
11 4 Jesus Aguilar 1B 90 81 89 104
12 4 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 84 110 83 117
13 4 Matt Olson OF/1B 113 92 110 92
14 4 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 101 109 118 84
15 4 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 103 126 99 91
16 4 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 123 96 109 113
17 4 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 102 158 119 115
18 5 Ian Desmond OF/1B 135 175 108 142
19 5 Miguel Cabrera 1B 133 176 140 157
20 5 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 140 254 155 125
20 5 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 156 184 147 206
21 5 Eric Hosmer 1B 152 174 137 241
22 5 Buster Posey C/1B 194 179 188 153
23 5 Luke Voit 1B 122 188 221 184
24 6 Jose Martinez OF/1B 147 309 143 166
25 6 Justin Smoak 1B 192 182 173 222
26 6 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 166 207 160 258
27 6 Ryan Braun 1B/OF 144 324 138 213
28 6 Yulieski Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 234 206 214 182
29 7 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 213 279 217 205
31 7 Josh Bell 1B 198 284 240 225
32 7 Tyler White 1B 190 282 213 280
33 7 Jake Bauers 1B/OF 230 314 251 240
34 7 Ryan Zimmerman 1B 219 262 238 340
35 7 Peter Alonso 1B 273 315 237 242
36 7 C.J. Cron 1B 246 310 228 284
37 7 Yonder Alonso 1B 244 328 249 270
38 7 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 286 335 235 308
39 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 364 348 303 215
40 7 Jay Bruce OF/1B 264 326 334 329
41 7 Justin Bour 1B 272 342 323 324
42 7 Adam Duvall 1B/OF 254 346 319 345
43 8 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 356 311 393 315
44 8 Kendrys Morales 1B 285 337 331 433
45 8 Mitch Moreland 1B 303 386 377 322
46 8 Eric Thames 1B/OF 376 352 339 336
47 8 Greg Bird 1B 354 359 379 338
48 8 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 426 452 351 260
49 8 Steve Pearce 1B/2B/OF 353 443 385 319
50 8 Tyler Austin 1B 347 439 344 393
51 8 Ryan O'Hearn 1B 302 405 346 496
52 8 Ryon Healy 1B 417 332 345 504
53 8 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 391 460 473 277
54 8 Chris Davis 1B 333 366 430 500
55 8 Albert Pujols 1B 405 397 362 534
56 8 John Hicks C/1B 499 511 371 321
57 8 Ronald Guzman 1B 438 365 406 538
58 8 Dan Vogelbach 1B 473 474 #N/A 394
59 8 Jedd Gyorko 1B/3B 418 409 455 529
60 8 Colin Moran 3B/1B 467 471 467 409
61 8 Rowdy Tellez 1B 445 396 469 520
62 8 Jose Osuna 1B/OF 469 472 #N/A 448
63 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/3B/2B 504 425 481 513
64 8 Logan Morrison 1B #N/A 459 456 545
65 8 Ehire Adrianza SS/1B/3B 507 512 477 #N/A
66 8 A.J. Reed 1B 492 553 #N/A #N/A
67 8 David Freese 1B/3B 538 528 #N/A #N/A


Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

Tier 1

After being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt beats out Freddie Freeman by two spots as the top dog among first basemen this season. He has hit at least 33 HR with a .290 BA in three of the last four years, and his run-scoring numbers should look much more like 2017s in the Cardinals lineup. The only thing keeping Goldy outside the first round is the lack of SB that used to propel him to the fantasy elite. He attempted a career-low 11 SB last season and joins a team that attempted just 95 in 2018. Expect strong numbers in four roto categories from Goldy in 2019, as all four experts rank him as a second-round value. 

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Atlanta Braves in 2019, as the team boasts an explosive offense filled with young firepower plus the addition of "The Bringer of Rain" Josh Donaldson. Freeman will be at the heart of it all, hitting over .300 for the fourth straight season while being a serious threat for triple-digit Runs and RBI. The main factor that drops Freeman below Goldy in 2019 is the regression of power. He hit just 23 bombs last season, as his ISO and HR/FB rate reverted back to their 2015 counterparts. The elite consistency in the BA and run scoring, plus the modest dabble of SB keeps Freeman as a safe top-25 pick. He should leave the draft boards shortly after Goldschmidt is taken.

Tier 2

Anthony Rizzo joined his best bud, Kris Bryant, in having a down year last season, but averaged 32 HR and a .282 BA from 2014-2017 and is still 29 years old. Just a slight uptick in his HR/FB ratio towards his career average, plus another off-season of improving for KB, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber will have Rizzo right back among the top-three fantasy first basemen.

Rhys Hoskins smashed 34 dongs in his first full MLB season and will be greatly aided by batting behind the Phillies two newest additions, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen. The raw power mixed with extreme pulled fly-ball tendencies suggest there is plenty of room for improvement on the 16.0 HR/FB% we saw from Hoskins last season. Pierre's ranking shows the second-round ceiling, while Nick's fifth-round ranking represents the floor thanks to a lackluster BA.

Matt Carpenter enjoyed a career-year in 2018, going yard 36 times and scoring 111 runs. Carp has always been one to tear the cover off the ball, but he has taken it to new heights after leading the entire league with an absurd 49.0 Hard%. We'd love to say we expect HR regression in 2019, but when someone is doing that to the baseball where do you expect it to go other than the stands?! His 19.1 HR/FB% was actually the lowest among hitters in the top-five Hard%. Like we mentioned previously, the Cardinals lineup should produce plenty of runs this year, and their powerful leadoff hitter will thrive again. I've always been a Carpenter fanboy thanks to the hard-hit rates and OBP, but the multi-position eligibility really boosts his value for me - hence the fourth-round ranking. He finished 2018 as the 35th ranked player in fantasy and has the top first basemen in baseball hitting behind him this year.

Tier 3

Cody Bellinger was unable to live up to his lofty second-round fantasy expectations last season after hitting 39 HR in 132 games as a rookie in 2017.  Some would call it a classic “Sophomore Slump”, but the power certainly regressed for the 23-year-old. He hit just 25 taters in 2018, as his HR/FB ratio dropped 10 points from the rookie campaign. But despite the HR totals, Bellinger still showed plenty to be excited about for 2019. He swiped 14 bags and was only caught once all year, lowered his strikeout rate by 3% while raising his contact rates, and maintained a hard hit rate over 40%. Expect positive regression in his ugly LHP and Home splits in 2019, leading to a spike in HR and a big bounce-back for the Dodgers stud. I seem to be the biggest believer in Bellinger this year and would gladly take him at the end of the third round.

Joey Votto shocked the fantasy world last season with a career-low 12 HR and "just" a .284 BA after hitting 36 and .320 the year before. Do not be fooled though, because the 9.5 HR/FB% was also a career-low while his 41.0 Hard% was a personal best. The power will rebound and his supporting cast looks much better for 2019 after the acquisitions of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. As the seventh-ranked 1B, the BA and run production alone will be worth the risk.

On the surface, it appears Jose Abreu took a big step back in 2018, setting career lows with a .265 BA, 22 HR, and a 114 wRC+. But when you peel back a layer, you realize his peripherals look fairly identical to his previous four consistently productive seasons. The main difference was missing 30 games due to a terrible-luck injury that will make any male wince. Go look up the diagnosis if you don't remember, and then you will understand the man having a bit of a "down" season. With the batted ball statistics all in line with his career averages, there's no reason to expect anything in 2019 other than what Abreu gave fantasy owners since joining the MLB. He is still a top-10 fantasy first baseman, and represents some value at his current ADP, especially when Manny Machado joins his lineup...


Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

Tier 4

Edwin Encarnacion was part of Cleveland's money-saving operation this off-season, and will now be playing home games at Safeco in 2019. Despite 2018 feeling like a down year for the veteran, it was the SEVENTH straight season EE hit at least 32 HR and fourth straight with 100+ RBI. The BA has slowly decreased each year as his K% steadily increases and the speed evaporates, but there is a lot to be said about the power consistency. View him as the Nelson Cruz of first basemen. Through 27 career games at Safeco, Encarnacion has hit 13 XBH with a .966 OPS, and he lands just out of the top-75 in our rankings.

Robinson Cano is back in New York sans-pinstripes and Daniel Murphy gets to see his ball play in the thin air of Coors Field. Cano missed half the 2018 season due to a PED suspension but looked completely rust-free upon his return. His half-season translates to a 20 HR, 88 R, 100 RBI campaign with a BA hovering around the .300 mark. In his 14 career games at Citi Field, Cano hit nine XBH with a .298/.344/.561 slash. If the 36-year-old's body can hold up all year, you're looking at a slightly poor man's Freddie Freeman fantasy season that you can possibly grab outside the top-100 right now.

Daniel Murphy is generating a lot of buzz right now, as most players do when they join the Rockies. Injuries derailed his 2018 season, but he is just one year removed from back-to-back campaigns with at least 23 HR and a .322 BA. He is projected to hit behind Charlie Blackmon and in front of Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. Talk about a fantasy boost. Through 120 career PA at Coors Field, he has hit 15 XBH but with a monstrous .330/.358/.536 line. If DJ LeMahieu can hit .348 at Coors, one can only imagine what kind of boost Murphy will provide your fantasy team's BA in 2019. It looks like the Coors move got me more excited than the other experts, so hope your league is like my colleagues and lets you scoop Murph up past the eighth round, where he will be a steal.

Matt Olson had a very similar year as Cody Bellinger in 2018. Coming off a heroic 2017 rookie performance with 24 bombs in just 59 games, he was a major fantasy buzz-kill when he only hit five more over an entire season. But also like Bellinger, Olson decreased the strikeouts and raised his Hard% a whole seven points to a sexy 47.3%. If this LHB played in Yankee Stadium he could be putting up Joey Gallo HR totals. But unfortunately, he plays in Oakland where he hit just .227 in 2018 and pairing with Bellinger yet again, struggled taking southpaws deep. The Athletics have a sneaky-good top two-thirds of a lineup for 2019 and we expect the powerful hard-hit rates of Olson to translate to a higher HR/FB% with a large sum of RBI in his second full season. If you are looking for sheer upside at this point in the draft, you can wait out Cano and Murphy and ride the 24-year-old.

Tier 5

Well at this point you've waited too long to grab a first baseman, and now comes the punishment. The fifth tier is loaded with disappointment. Eric Hosmer landed a huge eight-year contract last offseason and returned the favor with a 95 wRC+. Buster Posey can no longer be trusted as a fantasy first baseman, and then there's Miggy. Miguel Cabrera was looked at as the top bounce-back fantasy player of 2018 after hitting a career-low .249 with just 16 HR the year before. But instead, injuries kept him off the field for all but 38 games. Now 36 years young in April with a less-than-appealing lineup around him, Miggy can't be trusted with more than a CI slot to help you in the BA department. Getting a no-doubt future HOF in the 12th round isn't ever a terrible idea.

Speaking of disappointment, I was personally burned by Sano in multiple places last season as I predicted him to rebound from his knee surgery and hit a massive amount of HR in 2018. Instead, he had the worst season of his career, and failed to stay up with the big league club or hit above the Mendoza line. His 38.5 K% was the worst in the bigs among hitters with at least 250 PA, EVEN CHRIS DAVIS. He is greatly aided by the recent signing of Nelson Cruz, who now can serve not only as a hitting mentor (hopefully) but also lineup protection as Sano works on his approach at the plate. The talent and untapped power are still there, and he's never owned a Hard% under 40%. Still just 25 years old, Sano could prove to be a HR sleeper if you are looking light in the category in the middle of your fantasy drafts. The dual-position eligibility doesn't hurt either.

The fifth tier is not all bleak and dreary, however. Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the 2018 season, Max Muncy exploded for 35 bombs in under 500 PA for the Dodgers after not hitting more than 25 in any of his six seasons in the minor leagues. There is no way he duplicates the 29.4 HR/FB% over a full season, but you can't discredit a guy that owned a 47.4% hard-hit rate hitting in a potent lineup. It's fitting that Muncy and Travis Shaw are right next to each other in our rankings because I view them as having very similar 2019 seasons. Both are CI and MI eligible (depending on your league), which will be a great value boost once the injury bugs start biting your lineups, and both carry big power upside. I don't trust either as my starting first baseman, which is why you want to fill that slot prior to reaching this tier.

Tier 6

Luke Voit is quite the polarizing figure and yet another monstrous human-being in pinstripes. After joining the Yankees, he smacked 14 HR in just 39 games while boasting a .333 BA and 1.095 OPS. In 62 big league games with the Cardinals in 2017, he hit just four dingers with a .246 BA. His .350 ISO from last year is absolutely unsustainable, as is his laughable 40.5 HR/FB%, even in that little league stadium. He's not a big fly-ball hitter, but his 28.0% line-drive rate and 47.0% hard-hit rate prove this dude is no bum. Plus, he should be hitting fifth or sixth for the Yankees. The SwStr% is comparable to Khris Davis and Giancarlo Stanton, but the ox still showed good discipline with an O-Swing% that would have ranked Top-50 in the league over a full season. If you truly believe 2018 was a glimpse into the future, like our expert Nick, you pull the trigger in the ninth round and save all your league's snide chat comments to shove in their face at the end of the season. But if you are like the rest of us, let him slide at least five more rounds to give yourself a good value opportunity.

Carlos Santana returns back to Cleveland where HR are handed out to LHB (or switch hitters facing RHP, you get the point) and where he will bat behind two top-five fantasy MVPs. The modest power and RBI potential will prove beneficial at the CI slot or backup 1B in standard leagues, even with the atrocious BA. But if you are in a league of advanced gentlemen and play with OBP instead of BA, bump this dude up two tiers!

With Goldy moving into town, Jose Martinez won't be seeing much time at first base this year, but that doesn't mean we won't be using him there in fantasy. Heading into 2018, Martinez was a vastly popular sleeper pick in the fantasy community, and he didn't disappoint out the gate. He smashed 13 HR in the first half, and it appeared that a late-blooming star had been born. Unfortunately, the power quickly faded after the All-Star break, and he ended with just 17 bombs. The good news is the stellar 2017 BA accompanied by an absurd .350 BABIP appears to be legit, as his encore performance last year ended with a .351 BABIP and .305 BA. Martinez hits a high number of hard-hit line drives, which will continue to reward fantasy owners with a shiny average. Pierre has concerns about playing time, but despite the modest level of power, the run production and BA is a great value to fantasy lineups at this point in drafts.


Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Tier 7

The seventh tier is a fun one and will be a popular place for grabbing low risk/ high reward flyers at the end of fantasy drafts this season. Five of the names are on new teams. Jay Bruce joins a new-look Mariners offense and looks to stay healthy and get back to his 2016-2017 ways where hit smacked 33 and 36 bombs, respectively. Jake Bauers joins Carlos Santana in Cleveland (remember, lefties mash in CLE), as Yonder Alonso leaves the tribe for the south side of Chicago. C.J. Cron becomes the everyday first baseman for the revamped Twins offense fresh off a breakout campaign in which he hit 30 HR, and Justin Bour looks to finally capitalize on the power potential in LA with Mike Trout.

Tyler White looks to take over DH duties for the Astros this season, after hitting .276 with 12 HR in just 237 PA in 2018. He won't blow you away in any category, but hitting anywhere in that lineup can produce runs. In leagues with daily roster moves, you can take full advantage of White's prowess against LHP, where he boasted a 176 wRC+ and 1.010 OPS last year.

Trey Mancini is going to hit you 23-25 HR and should be the everyday lead-off hitter, albeit for the worst team in baseball. His BABIP took a huge dip from 2017, which resulted in a rather ugly .242 BA. He doesn't hit the ball hard enough, and he is nowhere near fast enough to turn a 54.6 ground-ball rate into a decent BA. But like I said, he's a lead-off hitter who also carries OF eligibility. We can find a use for that.

Despite all the exciting names in exciting new places in this group, it's all really just a distraction. Tier seven is the Peter Alonso show, and by the time March comes around, he could be a top-150 draft pick in fantasy. The highly-touted prospect hit 36 HR with 118 RBI across two levels of the minors last year, after hitting 18 HR in less than 400 PA the previous season. Many would look at the short success Jeff McNeil had last season, plus the addition of Robinson Cano and say that there is currently no opening for Alonso. But Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has repeatedly given Alonso high praise and stated he is giving the 24-year-old every chance to win the starting first base job this spring. We all know the Mets will most likely make the business decision of waiting 12 days into the season to save valuable service time - but it's hard to imagine Alonso not being in the Mets starting lineup once that day passes.

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