Friday, December 28, 2018
Ranking all MLB first basemen
Previously, I ranked all catchers that had 300 Plate Appearances in 2018. After that, I wanted to continue the series with the next position, first base (1B). The requirements I set to be on the list were simple: 450 Plate Appearances in 2018, and at least 50% of games played at first place. That left us with 26 players. Starting off the list is a player coming off one of the worst seasons imaginable.
26. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Once known as a big time power hitter who hit 53 home runs in 2013 and 47 in 2015, Davis flopped on his face in 2018, having such a terrible season on such a terrible O's team. Davis has always had a high K rate, but his 36.8% was way worse than anyone else on the list. He only hit 16 home runs, and his -3.1 WAR speaks for itself. A .296 slugging percentage could make a statistician throw up. Even worse is his .539 OPS. A .168 batting average was also awful. No power, and no average. A bad, bad season.
25. Ryon Healy, Seattle Mariners
A player I was excited for entering 2018, Healy failed to expand on the promise he showed in 2017, barely dropping his home run total to 24, but drastically dropping his batting average to .235, and his OPS from .753 in 2017 to .689. He had a negative WAR (-0.8) as well. On the catchers list it wouldn't be terrible, but not good coming from a power position.
24. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
This one hurts. Pujols is a no-doubt hall of famer, and if I was ranking these players by their career, he would be number 1. But in a year where there wasn't any first basemen putting up terrible numbers outside of Davis, and a year where the aging Pujols has completely cooled off, he's number 24. He didn't hit 20 home runs, capping off at 19, the batting average was low (.245), the OPS was unimpressive (.700) and the WAR was negative (-0.2). It was a tough 2018 for the 38 year old.
23. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
While Bell's WAR (0.9) was higher than some players ahead of him on the list, he falls because of mediocrity. Nothing on Bell's 2018 line is very impressive. The homers are average at 12, so is the batting average at .261. His strong point is a .768 OPS. While others players higher than him have a worse WAR, they have at least one category that stands out more.
22. Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros
Gurriel falls under the same category as Bell. At a power position, a player that lacks power. With 13 home runs, only Bell and Joey Votto hit less home runs among players on the list. Gurriel's .291 batting average is his one number that pops out. That is what puts him at 22.
21. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
Say what you want about RBIs being a team stat, you still need to be good to have lots of them. Desmond ranked 4th among first basemen with 88, and hit a solid 22 home runs. But, he's brought down by his .236 batting average and .729 OPS, limiting him to number 21.
20. Brandon Belt, San Fransisco Giants
Just qualifying for the list with 456 Plate Appearances, Belt hit just 14 home runs in 2018, and hit .253. His stat that makes him special is his WAR, which was at 2.1. His .756 OPS wasn't bad either.
19. Justin Bour, Los Angeles Angels
The newest Angel, Bour was brought down by not playing full time after a late season trade to Philadelphia. The rest of 2018 he was rotting on a bad Marlins team. He hit 20 home runs in 2018, but has power for more. The .745 OPS will get better on a better team, and so will the 49 RBIs.
18. Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Mancini hit 24 home runs in 2018, which is top 10 among first basemen. Playing on an awful Orioles team, Mancini still drove in 58 runs. He has power, which is the most unteachable thing. Candidate for a better 2019.
17. Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox
Moreland's .758 OPS is good, and his .433 Slugging % is pretty good. His 459 Plate Appearances brings him down, since he could have hit 20 home runs opposed to his 15 in more than 500 Plate Appearances.
16. Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres
What a difference a year makes. After signing a big deal in San Diego, Hosmer disappointed, hitting just 18 home runs, with a .720 OPS. His best number was his .302 BABIP. I think he still has a lot of potential and is still in his prime, and has put up good seasons before, so it may be biased by that, but I'm ranking him at 16.
15. Yonder Alonso, Chicago White Sox
Alonso hit 23 home runs in 2018, and showed that his 2017 wasn't a fluke. While his .250 batting average isn't special, his .283 BABIP shows that he could have gotten unlucky. He also drove in a solid 83 runs.
14. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Abreu's power dropped off in 2018, hitting just 22 home runs. But, he still had a .208 ISO, and a .798 OPS. His 1.2 WAR drags him down compared to other players, though. His .473 Slugging % was also pretty impressive.
13. Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays
Smoak's 25 home runs in 2018 was enough for the Jays to pick up his option for 2018. He also had an OPS of .807, the first player on the list with a .800 OPS. His 1.7 WAR is lower than most of the players higher up on the list, and that brings him down.
12. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Back in Cleveland, I think Santana will play better. But that's not the reason why he's this high up. The reason is his 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, and .766 OPS. He had a higher walk rate (16.2%) than strikeout rate (13.7%), being one of the two first basemen to do so, and a 1.9 WAR.
11. Jose Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Currently, the Cards have three of the top 11 first basemen. Martinez has a case to be a top 10 player, with his 2.3 WAR, .305 batting average and .821 OPS. He also had a .351 BABIP, which is either good or bad, depending on if you look at it as a luck stat or a good contact stat. He gets slightly brought down by his teammates.
10. CJ Cron, Minnesota Twins
Cron should not have been DFA'd by the Rays this offseason. In his one season in Tampa, Cron hit 30 home runs, with an OPS of .816. His OPS was carried by a really good slugging percentage of .493. He also had a really good .240 ISO. It was a breakout 2018 for Cron.
9. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo hit 25 homers again in 2018, with 101 RBIs. His K rate was at just 12%, and he had a slugging of .470. Add that to his OBP of .376, and you have a .846 OPS. Plus, a .359 wOBA. A .283 batting average wasn't bad either.
8. Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers
Like Cron, Aguilar had a big breakout year in 2018. But, Aguilar's campaign was better. He hit 35 home runs, tied for second among first basemen, and drove in 108 RBIs. What brings him down is a 25.3% K rate, and a 3.1 WAR, the worst among the top eight.
7. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
It may come as a surprise to see Votto all the way down at number seven. The reason is because in 2018, Votto lost his power. He hit just 12 home runs, among the bottom of first basemen. What carries him to number seven is his classic Joey Votto stats. He had a good walk rate of 17.3%, which topped his K rate. He had a .417 OBP, leading first basemen, and a decent 3.5 WAR.
6. Matt Olsen, Oakland Athletics
Another breakout player, Olsen hit 29 home runs, sixth among first basemen. A .207 ISO was also good. What limits him to number six is his 3.4 WAR, and .788 OPS. But, Olsen is a good power hitter and a good fielder.
5. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bellinger rebounded off his rookie of the year winning 2017 by hitting 25 home runs, with a top five WAR of 3.6, and a .470 slugging percentage, and a .345 wOBA. He also had a first basemen leading 4.1 BsR.
4. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
There was a point in 2018 when it looked like Carpenter could win MVP. In the end, he wasn't a finalist. He led first basemen with 36 home runs and 111 runs, and was the only 100 run scorer in the latter. He also had a 5.0 WAR, and a .523 slugging percentage, capped off by a .897 OPS.
3. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
I'm a big Freeman fan. He led all first basemen in WAR, at 5.2, tied with the number two player. He also had a 18.7% K rate, much lower than the two ahead of him. He also led his position with a .309 batting average, plus a .388 OBP and .505 Slugging %.
2. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
The biggest surprise of the 2018 season, Muncy hit 35 home runs in 2018, with a .391 OBP and .582 Slugging %, which added up to a .973 OPS. Plus, a .319 ISO. Muncy's numbers are worthy of number one, but what just held him back is his 27.2% K rate, which is higher than all players on the list except for Davis.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
One of the newest Cardinals, Goldschmidt has been a consistent force throughout the years, and had a good 2018. He hit 33 home runs, with a .290 batting average, a .389 OBP and a .390 wOBA, and a .922 OPS. Those numbers were good enough to be the number one first basemen in baseball.