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First Base - Early Points League Rankings and Tiers

It’s never too early to start looking toward the fantasy baseball season, so I’m here to kick off RotoBaller’s position-by-position rankings analysis series for points league and head-to-head (H2H) formats with the hard-hitting first base position. Traditionally a power haven, first base has a fairly clear top three tiers and then the floor starts to get frightful. It is recommended that you buy-in early or have several depth options ready to go.

Our mixed-league points staff rankings come straight from the minds of myself, JB Branson and Bill Dubiel (a.k.a. the fourth-most accurate MLB expert for 2017 on FantasyPros), and we’ve got them broken down into tiers for both the sake of digestible content and because your rankings should always be tiered. For this exercise, hitters get a bump for total bases, walks and take a hit for strikeouts.

Keep an eye out for all other positions to follow! In the meantime, you can also see all of our preliminary 2019 fantasy baseball rankings for mixed leagues here. Bookmark that page and come back for updates throughout the coming months as you prepare to dominate on draft day. Without any more delay, let's take a look at the 2019 first base points league rankings for January.

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2019 Fantasy Baseball Points League Rankings: First Base

Rank Tier Player Name Position Nick JB Bill
1 1 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 16 16 15
2 1 Freddie Freeman 1B 20 22 21
3 1 Anthony Rizzo 1B 25 23 26
4 2 Joey Votto 1B 38 30 23
5 2 Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B 41 39 39
6 2 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF 42 40 40
7 2 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 47 43 48
8 3 Edwin Encarnacion 1B 67 61 67
9 3 Daniel Murphy 1B/2B 71 78 72
10 3 Robinson Cano 1B/2B 79 77 82
11 3 Jesus Aguilar 1B 95 89 90
12 3 Travis Shaw 1B/2B/3B 96 94 97
13 3 Jose Abreu 1B 97 101 98
14 3 Carlos Santana 1B/3B 103 97 105
15 4 Matt Olson 1B 114 112 111
16 4 J.T. Realmuto C/1B 105 130 114
17 4 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 102 102 151
18 4 Ryan Braun 1B/OF 130 119 132
19 4 Jurickson Profar SS/3B/1B/2B 141 118 126
20 4 Eric Hosmer 1B 140 125 148
21 4 Buster Posey C/1B 143 138 153
22 4 Miguel Cabrera 1B 129 150 155
23 4 Jose Martinez OF/1B 149 151 141
24 5 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF 151 175 158
25 5 Ian Desmond OF/1B 179 172 144
26 5 Justin Smoak 1B 164 163 169
27 5 Yulieski Gurriel 1B/2B/3B 184 166 172
28 5 Miguel Sano 1B/3B 165 184 179
29 5 Luke Voit 1B 150 206 174
30 6 C.J. Cron 1B 224 224 220
31 6 Brandon Belt 1B/OF 221 240 218
32 6 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 232 221 230
33 6 Ryan Zimmerman 1B 237 233 238
34 6 Tyler White 1B 217 276 229
35 6 Josh Bell 1B 242 241 242
36 6 Peter Alonso 1B 261 263 236
37 6 Jake Bauers 1B/OF 283 269 279
38 6 Justin Bour 1B 300 271 290
39 6 Yonder Alonso 1B 295 279 295
40 6 Ryon Healy 1B 319 290 270
41 6 Albert Pujols 1B 313 285 284
42 6 Kendrys Morales 1B 297 289 297
43 7 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/SS/OF 320 306 316
44 7 Adam Duvall 1B/OF 322 312 317
45 7 Ryan O'Hearn 1B 317 339 314
46 7 Jay Bruce OF/1B 331 332 #N/A
47 7 Mitch Moreland 1B 341 354 340
48 7 Steve Pearce 1B/2B/OF 370 359 350
49 7 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 381 365 346
50 7 Ehire Adrianza SS/1B/3B 406 372 342
51 7 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 375 373 #N/A
52 7 Tyler Austin 1B 390 366 367
53 7 Eric Thames 1B/OF 400 376 372
54 7 Chris Davis 1B 388 429 #N/A
55 7 Ronald Guzman 1B 407 412 #N/A
56 7 Colin Moran 3B/1B 433 408 394
57 7 Tucker Barnhart C/1B 430 440 #N/A
58 7 Greg Bird 1B 444 430 #N/A
59 7 Rowdy Tellez 1B 456 444 #N/A
60 7 Jedd Gyorko 1B/3B 470 463 #N/A
61 7 Dan Vogelbach 1B 495 #N/A #N/A
62 7 Jose Osuna 1B/OF 499 #N/A #N/A

 

First Base Points League Rankings: Upper Tiers

Tier One

While Paul Goldschmidt burned fantasy owners in April and May last season, he tore the cover off of the ball over the final two-thirds of the fantasy season to end up with a Goldschmidt-ian line. The only thing that didn’t return was his speed, as it was revealed that the D-backs weren’t running him in order to preserve him. If that carries over then he’s no longer a first-round lock, especially in points formats where pitchers get a bump. That said, he’s got a great eye and St. Louis should provide a chance at 200 R+RBI for his troubles.

Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are at their peak ages right now and find themselves surrounded by great lineups. There’s little to dissect here, as you should be thrilled with either of these guys as your first or second hitter, pending a pitcher being your first-round selection. Even though Rizzo posted a .187 ISO after living in the .234-.252 range for four straight seasons, his batted-ball profile is largely unchanged so I’d expect the 13.6% HR/FB rate to creep back toward his respective 16.2% and 16.9% marks from 2016 and ‘17 here.

Tier Two

I understand the desire to look at 35-year-old Joey Votto’s sharp decline in OPS (1.032 in 2017, .837 in ‘18) and decide the plate discipline isn’t worth the third-round trigger. As you can see, I have him 38th compared to Bill’s optimistic ranking of 23rd while JB splits the difference at 30. If you believe the cerebral slugger can return to his 30-homer form as Cincinnati infuses Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and (soon) Nick Senzel into the lineup around him then I think you have to pounce. He should remain the team’s three-hole hitter and his 17.3% walk rate outpaced the 16.2% strikeout rate. One thing is for sure, even the biggest hater has to expect positive regression for that 9.5% HR/FB rate that somehow occurred despite a career-high 41% hard-hit rate against his career 18.3% HR/FB mark.

Matt Carpenter, Rhys Hoskins and Cody Bellinger offer three exciting options before you start to wade into players with worrisome floors, as each of these players supplies myriad reasons to get excited. Carpenter’s midseason surge was no fluke, as his ridiculous 49% hard-hit rate was nearly 40 percentage points higher than his soft-contact rate -- a feat few can boast. Hoskins’ first full season saw him belt 34 homers with 187 R+RBI with a 13.2% walk rate despite his being stuck in the outfield. Now at first and playing with Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, he could explode. Bellinger also put up a double-digit walk rate (10.9%), but a slight dip in exit velocity cut his HR/FB rate by 10 percentage points from his wild rookie campaign. That said, he’s just 23 years old and a returning Corey Seager plus A.J. Pollock will keep the top of that lineup in formidable run-scoring shape.

 

First Base Points League Rankings: Middle Tiers

Tier Three

Here’s where you’ll get starting-caliber talent, but the question marks enter your mind. Can Edwin Encarnacion age gracefully? Will Daniel Murphy stay healthy? Could Robinson Cano produce at Citi Field? Was Jesus Aguilar’s breakout for real? Can Travis Shaw recapture his 2016 batting average? Will Jose Abreu rebound as the next generation of White Sox grow around him? And might Carlos Santana recover some of the 30 batting average points he lost in ‘18? Find out next time, on Dragon Baseball Z!

Seriously, though, you’re sweating a little with each of these bats. I’m not worried about age-36 E5 yet since he managed to top 100 RBI even with a DL stint and a lingering injury, but the odds of nagging issues increase as the body ages and we don’t want to be holding the bag when the next Jose Bautista crumbles. I’m confident in Murph and Cano posting solid returns at cost, and both Brewers are welcome on my team as well. I don't love Santana but he's consistently underrated due to lack of flash and the wide gap between his points league utility and traditional fantasy buzz. The plate discipline hasn't gone anywhere and swinging a left-handed stick in Cleveland is an automatic green light in DFS. It doesn't take much imagination, as Cleveland is exactly where Santana hit. 259 in 2016 and '17 before his Philadelphia adventure.

Tier Four

Let’s get this out of the way: You’re not drafting J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey to play at first base. They’re eligible, sure, but don’t do it. I’ll let the catchers article chat about them.

Matt Olson, Max Muncy and Jose Martinez are all powerful guys whose bats demand playing time. Olson and Muncy are better fielders than JoMart, who will need to produce or risk losing playing time due to his subpar glove. Olson is a nice value and those in auction leagues can probably get a discount thanks to a disappointing .788 OPS after he topped 1.000 in his brief 2016 showing. His hard-hit rate jumped seven percentage points to 47.4% yet his HR/FB rate predictably regressed from 41.4%, but it went too far, dropping all the way to 16.1%, with his true potential lying closer to 25% methinks.

The biggest question here is Miguel Cabrera. You can see I’m in more than my colleagues, who are baking in post-surgery risk for a guy that turns 36 in April a little more than me. The tenth round is exactly where I’m willing to take a risk, and I’ve already waited this long for a 1B so I at least need Miggy’s top-50 upside. Even with the diminished lift, he put up a .299/.395/.448 line over 157 PAs last season with a 14% walk rate. The 83.6% zone-contact rate was his worst mark since 2004 and the 20.4% fly-ball rate was over 10 percentage points lower than any other year, but I’m okay chalking that up to his biceps.

Tier Five

Will Joey Gallo draw three walks and hit a 480-foot moonshot, or will he don a platinum sombrero and torpedo your day? It’ll be the latter more often than not, but the back-to-back 40-homer campaigns covered up some interesting slips in his sophomore year. His walk rate went from 14.1% to 12.8% with a slight increase in his chase rate, which could just be noise but is worth noting. The real trouble is in his fly-ball rate, which fells 4.6 percentage points. He needs fly balls to provide his one valuable asset. He also went 3-of-7 on steal attempts in ‘18 after going 7-of-9 in ‘17, which doesn’t bode well for the green light moving forward.

Those seeking a bounce back story can try to snag Miguel Sano late, as he's another high-walk rate and big power guy, but you're eating a 35% strikeout rate no matter what. If he doesn't rebound from his disastrous .199 batting average last year then that K rate is going to burn you immediately. And you can also get a piece of the potent Yankees lineup that is coming off of its historic HR-hitting pace in Luke Voit, though he needs to hold off Greg Bird and a deep infield that could push Miguel Andujar or DJ LeMahieu to first base at times, especially once Didi Gregorius returns. But Voit's upside made itself known down the stretch in 2018, with a wild 15 homers and 1.067 OPS over 47 games in pinstripes, so I'm all for taking a shot there.

 

First Base Points League Rankings: Lower Tiers

Tier Six

These make for murky waters, but you can still find hitters capable of hot stretches that you’ll want to start, or at least showing a few skills that point to a potential breakout. Belt has only topped 600 PAs once in his career and hasn’t reached 500 since 2016, but posts walk rates above 10% and is one year removed from a .228 ISO.

If you’re in a 14-team league and need a CI then I’d want Tyler White or Josh Bell for their upside. White and Yuli Gurriel should be a nice 1B/DH combo in a star-studded Houston lineup. Meanwhile, Bell’s power slipped in 2018 from his 26-homer 2017, as he popped just 12 homers in his age-25 season with a HR/FB rate that more than halved despite improvements in his soft- and hard-hit rates, line-drive rate and fly-ball rate. He upped his walk rate from 10.6% to 13.2% in the process and I won’t be surprised by an OPS above .800.

Tier Seven

Time for some Hail Mary action! You’re here to find reliable playing time, or at least a platoonable bat to lean on four times a week. Ryan O’Hearn has power, but the strikeouts and KC run totals are going to burn you. Marwin Gonzalez has yet to find a home and may not hold down a full-time starting role where he ends up, not to mention his production slip in ‘18. Niko Goodrum is eligible nearly everywhere but is better in rotisserie leagues. Ryan McMahon is a victim of Rockies GM Jeff Bridich’s legendary mismanagement of young bats. Ronald Guzman holds some intrigue in hitter-friendly Arlington, but the power isn’t actionable yet.

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