Today I'll be ranking the top 1st baseman fantasy keepers for 2014. I'll assume a fairly standard keeper league here for simplicities sake: 10 teams, and a simple keeper penalty in which the owner forfeits the round in which the keeper was originally drafted for the upcoming year's draft. For example: if a player originally drafted their keeper in the 11th round last year, choosing to keep them would force the owner to forfeit their 11th round pick in the upcoming fantasy draft.
First Base (1B) Keepers - Dynasty Leagues
2013 ESPN ADP: 2 (1st round)
2013 Stats: .348/.442/.636, 44 HR, 103 Runs, 137 RBIs, 3 SB
2014 (Predicted) ADP: 2 (1st round)
That Cabrera's name heads this list should surprise no one. Even with the injury that put a damper on the tail end of his 2013 season, he put up the kind of numbers that could carry teams most weeks. Moreover, one can hope that moving back across the diamond to his natural position as a first baseman will help preserve his health down the stretch. It's a less physically demanding position than 3rd and we can only hope that it will do an aging Miguel Cabrera some good. No matter what however, he'll be one of the first two players off the board in every league, and if you own him you should thank your lucky stars that you have the best first baseman in baseball going into 2014.
2013 ESPN ADP: 73 (8th round)
2013 Stats: .302/.401/.551, 36 HR, 103 Runs, 125 RBI, 15 SB
2014 (Predicted ADP) 4-6 (1st round)
As a long-time Giants fan, the fact that Goldschmidt's name ranks so high on this lists hurts me a bit, but not including him would be a crime. Still only 26 years old, he was truly a 5 category contributor last year, something all the more remarkable because it's relatively rare to see a 1st baseman with any speed worth discussing. Goldschmidt has that speed, and power, and average, and more. He's a 1st round talent going for a 8th round price; you don't have to think about it.
3) Chris Davis
2013 ESPN ADP: 150 (16th round)
2013 Stats: .286/.370/.634, 53 HR, 103 Runs, 138 RBIs, 4 SB
2014 (Predicted) ADP: 9-12 (late 1st to early 2nd)
Chris Davis homered his way into the hearts of fantasy owners all across the country last year in his breakout performance. He's also one of the harder talents to predict going into the 2014 season, simply because we don't know if he'll be able to sustain the improvements in his contract rates that allowed his big time power to make such an impact on his overall fantasy numbers. The beauty of Chris Davis though is that even though I expect some major regression in his overall numbers in 2014 when compared to last season (especially with regards to batting average), he's still a tremendous, tremendous value as a keeper. Going forward I see a .270 hitter with 35-40 home-run power and a ton of upside. At the cost of a 15th round pick, fantasy owners should be more than happy to take that. He's definitely the biggest 'value' in terms of the swing in ADP from year to year of anyone on this list.
2013 ESPN ADP: 85 (9th round)
2013 Stats: .319/.396/.501, 23 HR, 89 Runs, 109 RBIs, 1 SB
2014 (Predicted) ADP: 28-30 (late 3rd)
I like Freeman as a keeper for a couple reasons. The most obvious one would be his youth. He's been in the league for 3 years now so it's easy to forget, but Freeman is only going to be 24 next season. He's still got room to grow and develop, even after his breakout season in 2013. Even for someone so young he's remarkably consistent, having hit at least 20 home runs in each of his last 3 seasons. He'll be hitting 3rd or 4th in a good Braves lineup so the RBIs and Runs will be there. Some of his outstanding 2013 batting average was probably driven by an inflated BABIP (0.371), but you can't write it all off to fortune. Freeman is the type of hitter who can sustain unusually high batting-averages-on-balls-in-play because of how much hard contact he makes. Because of that, even with some regression to his career norms, he should still be an above average producer (Steamer for example sees his 2014 BA clocking in at 0.293). Pair that with consistent power, and no matter how you slice it, Freeman is a huge value at only 9th round cost, and should be a no brainer keeper in every league.
5) Eric Hosmer
2013 ESPN ADP: 114 (12th round)
2013 Stats: .302/.353/.448, 17 HR, 86 Runs, 79 RBI, 11 SB
2014 (Predicted) ADP: 37-40 (4th round)
Eric Hosmer's name, and not Edwin Encarnacion's, closes out this list because of the sheer value Hosmer presents as a 12th round cost keeper selection. For perspective, names like Michael Cuddyer and Anthony Rizzo will be going off the board around the 12th round, so snagging a 4th round talent that late is a steal in my opinion. Hosmer does come with question marks of course. In 2012, he hit a putrid 0.230 with only 14 home runs (though he did supply some value with his legs, swiping 16 bases that season). The 2013 numbers speak for themselves however, and that's after essentially punting the first two months of the season. I personally am a big believer in Hosmer. He has the youth, potential, recent success, and value that a top 5 keeper 1st baseman should have and that's why he's on this list.
Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion