Because dynasty-league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
First base is the place you need to get offense these days if you want to compete, and after a strong first ten or so names, the rest of the options can get a little more dicey than you’d like to see. It’s not a particularly strong pipeline for prospects, but that’s not terribly uncommon for the position—the pipeline is often just as wide for players who have defensive deficiencies than it has been for strict first base prospects in the last decade or so. That won’t be any different in 2015, when Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer join the fold.
And now, your top 50 first basemen in dynasty formats:
The no doubt top choice here, it’s still a little disarming just how good Goldschmidt was in 2013. As I talked with Mike Gianella about on our latest episode of Flags Fly Forever, Goldschmidt earned over $40 in NL-only leagues last season—which is an incredible feat reserved for only the elite of the elite. He’s closer to Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera than anyone else behind him.
There’s really not much separating the players in this group, as you could make a pretty legitimate argument for anyone of these four guys at the no. 2 spot. Davis has the power and the upside. Encarnacion has just slightly less upside, but more of a track record. Fielder has the best track record of the group, he’s still in his twenties and he’s moving to Arlington. But I’ll take Votto’s consistency and the increased likelihood that he’ll age better than any other player here.
I wouldn’t call you crazy to want to lump Hosmer in at the back-end of the above tier, but I need to see more sustained performance out of him to do that. The last four months of 2013 were excellent (.318/.367/.494 with 16 homers and eight steals in 443 at bats), but it did come on the heels of a pretty tough season and a third. If he keeps this step forward and maintains this level, he has a great chance to be right behind Goldschmidt on the 2015 list.
This next group may make it seem like I’m down on Freddie Freeman, and maybe I am compared to the more vocal Freeman backers, but this is still a very strong ranking. I just happen not to believe that we’ve seen the death of Albert Pujols. Remember when we thought we’d seen the death of the no. 11 player on this list? I do. Gonzalez and Craig are good best for batting average and RBI, but where the power falls on both will swing the needle heavily for their values.
No, I don’t care that he’s 38 years old or that he’s only DH-eligible, Ortiz continues to rake and I do not see that slowing down in 2014.
There’s no shortage of upside in this five-some. Trumbo could hit 40 bombs in the desert. Abreu is the best Cuban hitter we’ve seen come to the United States—and given the success recent defectors have had, I don’t think anything would surprise us with the latest. Rizzo has the potential to do everything Freddie Freeman is doing; he just hasn’t put it all together yet. Butler’s ranking will look very low at the end of the season if his power from 2012 comes back—I just don’t think it will (at least not more than 20 homers). And that leaves Belt, the breakout darling of 2014. He’s a very good hitter, but I don’t see enough batting average or power to warrant the hype (and subsequent price) he has heading into Opening Day. But more about that tomorrow…
The next round of sluggers is a combination of old and young. Don’t overlook Brandon Moss and what he’s done over the last two seasons—and don’t think he can’t do the same thing in 2014 and beyond. Beware of chasing Adams’ power, as eight of his 17 homers last season were in September, against expanded rosters. He’s more of a natural hitter with some power than a true power hitter. And conversely, don’t underrate Singleton because of his thoroughly depressing 2013 season. He’s back in shape and is coming off a very strong winter ball campaign in Puerto Rico.
22) Dan Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs
I’m continuing to buy all the Vogelbach shares I can in dynasty leagues. His prospect star hasn’t caught up to the upside he can have for fantasy. He’s already a top-50 fantasy prospect in baseball and his stock is rising.
23) Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
24) Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
25) Ike Davis, New York Mets
26) Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres
27) Chris Carter, Houston Astros
28) Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians
29) Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
30) Corey Hart, Seattle Mariners
31) Dominic Smith, New York Mets
32) Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays
These next 10 names are a combination of former high-end fantasy options, lower-end current options and players with prospect pedigrees. As can be inferred by their rankings, I think Ike Davis and Chris Carter can continue to be strong sources of power, even if their other contributions remain feeble. Corey Hart should see his raw stats drop in Safeco and Justin Morneau should see the opposite happen in Coors Field.
33) Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
34) C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels
35) Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers
36) Logan Morrison, Seattle Mariners
37) Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
38) Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals
39) Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners
40) James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays
This is where things start to get a little ugly. Howard and Dunn have their best days well in their rearview mirror, and could be done as mixed league fantasy options any year now. Cron killed it in the Arizona Fall League, but that only raises my interest slightly—how his power will play through at the major league level is still a concern. And James Loney was a great story last year, but he’s just not much of a mixed league play at this level. Though he does make for a good deep league and AL-only value.
41) Lucas Duda, New York Mets
42) Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers
43) Gregory Bird, New York Yankees
44) Garrett Jones, Miami Marlins
45) Matthew Skole, Washington Nationals
46) Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies
47) Brett Wallace, Houston Astros
48) Japhet Amador, Houston Astros
49) Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres
50) Hunter Morris, Milwaukee Brewers
And this is where things get more ugly. Sure, maybe you get lucky with a guy like Bird or Skole, but it’s far more likely that any of these players aren’t worth the bandwidth their Baseball-Reference page takes up in fantasy value. If I had to roster one of these players, I might just take Amador for the jokes.