Top 10 First Basemen for 2018

Top 10 First Basemen for 2018

This is the third of an eight part series of position previews for the 2018 fantasy baseball season. Baseball season officially starts today, as the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers and catchers officially report to their respective camps. The rest of the league reports over the next couple of days. 

There is a lot of talent at the 1B position, and it’s home to some of the best power hitters in the game. Unlike catcher, there is plenty of value to be had outside of the top ten at the position. You really can’t go wrong with prioritizing some of the best hitters the game has to offer here, however.

Here are my top ten players in standard roto and points leagues at the position for 2018:

Rank Rotisserie Points
10 Eric Hosmer (Padres) Joey Gallo (Rangers)
9 Ian Desmond (Rockies) Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
8 Freddie Freeman (Braves) Eric Hosmer (Padres)
7 Edwin Encarnacion (Indians) Cody Bellinger (Dodgers)
6 Joey Votto (Reds) Freddie Freeman (Braves)
5 Rhys Hoskins (Phillies) Rhys Hoskins (Phillies)
4 Joey Gallo (Rangers) Edwin Encarnacion (Indians)
3 Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) Joey Votto (Reds)
2 Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
1 Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks) Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)

Player rank is always dependent on the scoring format of your league, but this is most easily observed (to this point in our preview series) at first base. The position plays far deeper in points league formats than in rotisserie in terms of elite level fantasy production.

Ian Desmond projects to be primarily a singles hitter, which doesn’t particularly matter in standard 5×5 roto leagues, but has a huge effect in standard points leagues, where the points correspond with total bases for each type of hit. As a result, he drops all the way to 19th at the position in standard points on my board.

Miguel Cabrera sits in 12th on my standard 5×5 roto rankings at the position, so his appearance in bottom of the points league top ten isn’t too surprising. Cabrera offers basically zero stolen base upside, which makes it easier for players like Desmond and Eric Hosmer (if he ever signs with a team) to bring slightly more upside than the 34 year old slugger. Update: Hosmer is a San Diego Padre as of 2/17.

As the best hitter in Atlanta, Freddie Freeman continues to be a great fantasy asset in either format. Edwin Encarnacion shows no sign of slowing down, and will serve primarily as a designated hitter in 2018 once again, allowing the power hitter to focus on his craft.

Players like Joey Gallo and Cody Bellinger project to strike out significantly more than their peers, which pulls them down in points leagues where each K counts negatively towards their performance. Gallo may prove to be tremendous value in standard 5×5 roto at his tenth round ADP. His 40+ home run upside more than offsets the low batting average it likely comes with.

Joey Votto’s high walk rate (122 expected in 2018) helps his points ranking, and explains his appearance in the top 3 in that format. In standard 5×5 roto where batting average and counting stats are the only things that matter, the walks don’t come into play.

A newcomer to this list for the 2018 season is Rhys Hoskins, who played just 50 games in his first season for the Phillies in 2017. Hoskins will be an outfielder this year, so I wouldn’t count on him at the position in dynasty formats at all. The 25 year old has tremendous power, as he finished his short 2017 campaign with 18 home runs in 212 plate appearances, good for a 50+ pace over a 162 game season. The projection models are more conservative than this with Hoskins for 2018, as they expect between 35 and 40 home runs out of him. Hoskins’ ceiling may more than warrant his ADP, which right now sits at a fifth round pick.

You truly cannot go wrong with either one of Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. Goldschmidt offers more stolen base upside than Rizzo, which is why he pulls ahead in standard 5×5 rankings. The overall difference is honestly negligible, as landing either slugger will put their fantasy owners in a position to succeed in 2018. Personally, I prefer Rizzo given that he can be had for a late second, early third round pick while Goldschmidt will almost certainly cost you a first rounder (and if you play on Yahoo!, he is second base eligible, which is crazy).