Top 25 First Basemen for 2015 Fantasy Baseball

*The order of these rankings are based on a valuation system for a 5×5 roto scoring league with 5 games played minimum for position eligibility.  This is not necessarily the order I would draft these players in, as different factors should impact which player to choose.

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  1. Paul Goldschmidt – Goldie had his 2014 season cut short after Ernesto Frieri threw a pitch that broke the left hand of the Arizona slugger. This season he is going to wear a protective pad under his batting glove.  Remember when Jeff Bagwell had that ginormous bulge sticking out of his batting glove after his left hand was broken in three consecutive years?  I don’t think Goldschmidt’s batting glove will be quite like that, but Goldschmidt actually reminds me of a Jeff Bagwell type of player.  Bagwell never struck out as much as Goldschmidt does, but I think that they are very similar in most other ways.  Goldie should continue his sexy fantasy ways this year and I view him as the clear cut top first baseman due to his ability to steal bases.  2015 projection:  .295 AVG, 30 HR, 104 RBI, 99 R, 14 SB, 146 K, 86 BB in 569 AB
  2. Miguel Cabrera – Cabrera, Rizzo, and Abreu are all really close in value according to my projections, so I don’t think you really could go wrong with any of them. But you know how we saw the beginning of the decline of Albert Pujols in his age 31 season in 2011 when he “only” hit .299/.366/.541 with 37 HR, 99 RBI, and 105 R?  Well, we saw something similar from M-Cab last year in his age 31 season.  Perhaps it can be contributed to the bum foot that he was playing on, which has since been surgically repaired.  Even so, there is a decent chance that he continues to experience an assortment of injuries as he is now on the wrong side of 30.   So I’m pretty sure his best days are behind him, but of course he still is a better hitter than most of the league.  2015 projection:  .305 AVG, 27 HR, 104 RBI, 95 R, 1 SB, 112 K, 61 BB in 577 AB
  3. Anthony Rizzo – I believe that A to the Rizzo is primed for a big time season. I suppose you would like to know why, so here we go.  Last year, Rizzo made vast improvements in his game that are going to catapult him to being included in the NL MVP conversation this year.  From 2011-13, Rizzo was unable to handle left-handed pitching, compiling a platoon worthy split line of a .190 AVG and 77 K in 326 AB.  In 2014, Rizzo actually posted a better triple slash line versus lefties (.300/.431/.507) than righties (.281/.373/.534).  That is quite the turnaround and not something that you see very often.  Couple that with the fact that Rizzo found his power stroke as both his flyball % and HR/FB % saw significant increases, and it is easy to see that in his age 24 season he really began coming into his own.  The supporting cast around Rizzo consists of players that also are improving and they should be able to provide him a boost.  Then insert Joe Maddon as his new manager and that is also another positive as Maddon managed some Tampa Bay teams that were aggressive on the base paths.  I kind of love A to the Rizzo going into the year.  2015 projection:  .283 AVG, 34 HR, 100 RBI, 93 R, 8 SB, 120 K, 77 BB in 576 AB
  4. Jose Abreu – Due to Abreu’s very short track record of playing baseball in the states, I am a bit hesitant on his ability to fully repeat last year’s amazing Rookie of the Year performance. That’s not to say that I don’t think he can repeat it, but there are a couple of points of concern.  One concern is that he ranked in the top 10 in total swing % and swing % on pitches outside the zone (O-swing %).  One premiere slugger who also continually ranked high in those categories in his day was Vladimir Guerrero, but Abreu does not have the same type of contact skills that Vlad had.  If Abreu continues those ways then he may be due for an increase in strikeouts and a drop in AVG.  Also, his HR/FB % was pretty high at 26.9%, which was tops in the Majors.  While there’s no questioning Abreu’s power potential, I would still expect that number to come down a little.  I may just be trying to find things not to like about Abreu, but he should remain one of the elite hitters.  And the additions of Melky Cabrera to hit in front of him and Adam LaRoche to hit behind him can certainly help to offset any concerns.  2015 projection:  .299 AVG, 34 HR, 106 RBI, 84 R, 3 SB, 132 K, 53 BB in 556 AB
  5. Edwin Encarnacion – I’ll always have an affinity for my boy Encar after owning him just about everywhere when he had his breakout season in 2012. He’s got undeniable power and there’s no reason to think that will stop this year.  He and his bash brother Jose Bautista are going to put a hurtin’ on the AL East yet again.  2015 projection:  .271 AVG, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 85 R, 4 SB, 87 K, 67 BB in 532 AB
  6. Jose Bautista – Oh speaking of Bautista, please see above. Bautista also holds a special place in my heart as well as I had him everywhere in his breakout season in 2010.  He appeared at first base enough last year to maintain eligibility there in some leagues, which is just an added bonus for a player that was already a second-round pick or better.  Bautista and Encar are extremely close in the ranking system, but Bautista seems to carry a bit more injury risk.  2015 projection: .271 AVG, 32 HR, 96 RBI, 92 R, 6 SB, 96 K, 104 BB in 509 AB
  7. Freddie Freeman – It seems to me that Freeman is going to be pitched around and intentionally walked a lot this season. For a player that just signed an 8-year/$135 million contract extension in February of 2014, it had to have been mind boggling for him that his team traded away not just one of the team’s best hitters, not just two of them, but three of them!  Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis were all sent packing to new cities.  And Melvin “don’t call me B.J. anymore” Upton will miss approximately the first month of the season.  Oh wait, the elder Upton has been rendered useless the last two years anyway.  Freeman’s supporting cast puts a serious damper on his fantasy outlook.  2015 projection:  .296 AVG, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 83 R, 3 SB, 134 K, 87 BB in 570 AB
  8. David Ortiz – Big Papi keeps on rolling in his late 30’s and he could threaten to reach the 500 career HR mark this season. Health will continue to be a concern for Ortiz as he has not played in more than 146 games since 2009, but if healthy then I see no reason why he should not produce at a very high level in one of the most potent offenses in the league.  Even in leagues where he is not eligible at first base he is still a quality pick.  2015 projection:  .277 AVG, 31 HR, 96 RBI, 76 R, 0 SB, 95 K, 72 BB in 512 AB
  9. Eric Hosmer – Hosmer has alternated from good to bad years every year that he has been in the league, and the good news for fantasy folk this year is that 2015 is supposed to be a good year in the pattern. Okay, so it’s not that simple.  Making that assumption would be like watching a game of roulette where it lands on red five times in a row and then putting all your money on black because you think that it’s “due” to land on black.  Hosmer hit a rough patch last May-June, but then he was able to bounce back the remainder of the season after he made a change in his swing where he loaded his hands back earlier.  From July-October (he had just 1 AB in August after missing most the month with an injury), he hit .321 with 7 HR in 66 games, which of course included some clutch hitting in the post-season.  Because that hot streak was aided by the mechanical adjustment in his swing, I am more likely to say that he has turned some type of corner and can have a much better 2015.  2015 projection:  .299 AVG, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 81 R, 10 SB, 99 K, 48 BB in 586 AB
  10. Adrian Gonzalez – After his power numbers reached an all-time low in 2012, which could be attributed to a shoulder injury from 2010, A-Gon has proven that he has regained some of that lost power and made adjustments in his hitting approach to still remain one of the best run producers in the league. Another year removed from that injury and still in his early-ish 30’s, Gonzalez should remain productive yet again.  2015 projection:  .278 AVG, 25 HR, 102 RBI, 75 R, 1 SB, 110 K, 51 BB in 586 AB
  11. Albert Pujols – Pujols bounced back from his injury riddled 2013 and he ended up posting respectable numbers last year. However, it is very clear that he has a shadow of his former self.  It is painful to watch him run the bases, and his slowed down base running is hurting his BABIP so much that a .280 AVG out of him would be a pleasant surprise.  2015 projection:  .267 AVG, 26 HR, 100 RBI, 79 R, 4 SB, 74 K, 47 BB in 591 AB
  12. Brandon Belt – I went over Belt in This Year’s Todd Frazier Will Be Brandon Belt. Check it out to see why he has some breakout potential.  I wouldn’t necessarily draft him before a couple guys below him on this list because we do want to make our picks have good value, but this is where my projections put him.  2015 projection:  .266 AVG, 27 HR, 88 RBI, 80 R, 9 SB, 120 K, 62 BB in 580 AB
  13. Victor  Martinez – Very rare does a player have a career year at the age of 35.  There’s only one direction to go from there.  Sorry, Victor!  2015 projection:  .303 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 74 R, 0 SB, 55 K, 55 BB in 545 AB 
  14. Prince Fielder – Players of his body type do not have a history of aging well as they reach 30 years old (see Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, Ryan Howard), and Prince was already beginning a decline before he got traded to Texas before the 2014 season. Of course his 2014 season was a lost cause as he struggled out of the gate and then had a season-ending neck injury.  A bounce back effort could be in store for the big guy, especially with a full season calling the Ballpark in Arlington his home, but I would also not be surprised if he never hits 30 HR in a season ever again.  2015 projection:  .274 AVG, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 79 R, 1 SB, 105 K, 77 BB in 551 AB
  15. Chris Davis – Davis got killed by the shift last year, not literally… that would be weird and he would not be listed in these rankings. He had a pretty good 24.6% line drive rate and a pretty good 4.3% infield fly ball rate, but he had an incredibly low .242 BABIP that led to an ugly .196 AVG.  He is still likely to be affected by the shift, but he had some bad luck mixed in there and I am going to say that he can get that BABIP up around .300 this year, which would still be well below his career mark, but more representative of his batted ball profile.  2015 projection:  .244 AVG, 34 HR, 95 RBI, 79 R, 3 SB, 188 K, 67 BB in 542 AB
  16. Todd Frazier – Frazier had a career year last season and you have to believe that will end up being the best year he will ever have. While manager Bryan Price was devoted to the running game more than his predecessor, Frazier swiping 20 bags last year seems rather fluky.  I’ll give him double digits in the category again this year, but nowhere close to 20.  I foresee a drop in the power department too.  He still makes for a quality player, especially with his dual position eligibility, but there’s some goober in your league that will see that he nearly went 30/20 last year and blow their load early on him in the draft.  Don’t be that goober.  2015 projection:  .264 AVG, 25 HR, 74 RBI, 82 R, 12 SB, 137 K, 52 BB in 587 AB
  17. Joey Votto – Votto does two things really well – he hits a ton of line drives and he gets a lot of walks. If he had a pen and paper in hand, he would draw a walk.  Line drives and walks are all good in real baseball, but it saps his fantasy game in the power departments.  If he is walking a lot then he is not putting the ball in play much to drive in runs.  If he is hitting lots of line drives then he is not getting much lift on the ball so he is not hitting home runs, and subsequently also not driving in as many runs.  So while he should hit for a good average, it is hard to expect anything more than 20 HR and 80 RBI from him.  His batting average last year was just .255, but that was the result of an uncharacteristic .299 BABIP.  A player who hits 26.7% line drives and very rarely pops the ball up in the infield should have a BABIP of at least .330, so I would expect his average to come closer to .300 this year.  2015 projection:  .298 AVG, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 84 R, 4 SB, 112 K, 100 BB in 500 AB
  18. Buster Posey – Posey maintains eligibility at first base for all fantasy leagues, but it is hard to imagine any situation where you would be using him as your primary first baseman. Unless you drafted the 1997 version of Mike Piazza.  I also went over Posey in the Top 25 Catchers2015 projection:  .305 AVG, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 63 R, 1 SB, 73 K, 50 BB, in 545 AB
  19. Carlos Santana – I went over Santana in my Top 25 Catchers, but in a good portion of leagues he is only eligible at first and third base. *Hint:  play him at catcher if you can.  2015 projection:  .248 AVG, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 72 R, 4 SB, 118 K, 100 BB in 544 AB
  20. Jonathan Lucroy – See my Top 25 Catchers for a write-up on Lucroy, but he is not going to have first base eligibility in ESPN, CBS, or NFBC leagues as he missed the cut-off by one game. 2015 projection:  .299 AVG, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 69 R, 4 SB, 72 K, 51 BB in 549 AB
  21. Steve Pearce – Pearce came out of nowhere to hit 21 HR in just 102 games last year and it looks like he’s slated for a regular starting role with the Orioles. This is a guy who once hit 31 HR in a Minor League season, so he does have power.  But also keep in mind that this is his age 32 season.  I would draft him hoping for a .280 AVG and 25 HR, but would accept a .260 AVG with 20 HR.  2015 projection:  .270 AVG, 24 HR, 77 RBI, 64 R, 4 SB, 106 K, 53 BB in 466 AB
  22. Chris Carter – Adam Dunn to Chris Carter, upon Dunn’s retirement: “Please carry on my legacy.” 2015 projection:  .229 AVG, 35 HR, 90 RBI, 68 R, 3 SB, 191 K, 65 BB in 528 AB
  23. Adam LaRoche – LaRoche is with the White Sox now, which could boost his HR total with the positive ballpark switch. I feel like I can never figure this guy out though.  He has been wildly inconsistent the last four years.  2015 projection:  .250 AVG, 26 HR, 89 RBI, 72 R, 1 SB, 131 K, 74 BB in 529 AB
  24. Lucas Duda – The Dude last year doubled his previous career best in HR, going from 15 HR to 30 HR. I would be super impressed if he doubled his career high in HR two seasons in row.  I don’t think that his season last year is a fluke, he just needed a chance to play regularly.  I can see him coming very close to his last year’s numbers with good health.  2015 projection:  .247 AVG, 27 HR, 80 RBI, 70 R, 2 SB, 135 K, 70 BB in 502 AB 
  25. Kennys Vargas – Like Kendrys Morales, Kennys Vargas has the “s” at the end of his first name. But at least Vargas didn’t go six years of his professional career to let everyone know that they’ve been spelling and saying his name wrong like Morales did.  Vargas also profiles similar to Morales when he was in his prime, except Vargas may have a little bit more upside in the power department being the huge dude that he is at 6’5” 275 lbs.  30 HR isn’t out of the question.  2015 projection:  .260 AVG, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 64 R, 0 SB, 139 K, 42 BB in 538 AB

2 thoughts on “Top 25 First Basemen for 2015 Fantasy Baseball

  1. Pingback: Top 25 Third Basemen for 2015 Fantasy Baseball | The Backwards K

  2. Pingback: Top 75 Outfielders for 2015 Fantasy Baseball | The Backwards K

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