B/R Fantasy Baseball 300: Ranking the Top 25 First Basemen

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterFebruary 18, 2015

B/R Fantasy Baseball 300: Ranking the Top 25 First Basemen

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    Despite missing a chunk of the second half with a fractured left hand, Paul Goldschmidt still occupies a premium position in the first base fantasy rankings.
    Despite missing a chunk of the second half with a fractured left hand, Paul Goldschmidt still occupies a premium position in the first base fantasy rankings.Associated Press

    With the top 150 fantasy baseball players all ordered and ranked on the initial 2015 Big Board, it's time to get into the individual position rankings. All told, there will be (count 'em) 300 players ranked.

    After I provided some sequencing to the catchers last time out, next up is first base, which is where owners need to bank on getting a large portion of their power production.

    Because the position is so deep, it's recommended to load up on two or more here, with the goal of starting one at first base, a second at utility and possibly a third at another position, if eligible. And even if that eligibility doesn't work out, it's not a bad idea to have an impact option on the bench to plug in at 1B or UTIL to cover for off-days and injuries.

    While first base is topped by a three-headed Paul Goldschmidt-Jose Abreu-Miguel Cabrera monster, a case can be made for as many as a dozen being worth drafting by Round 7 or 8, including aging-but-still-strong types like Albert Pujols and bounce-back candidates like Joey Votto and Prince Fielder.

    Even beyond those names, you'll find plenty of starter-worthies too, especially for those in deeper leagues. So don't be shy: Stock up.

    For your information, this is where players eligible only at the utility spot for fantasy (i.e., designated hitters) are included in the rankings.

    Let's run down the top 25 overall fantasy first basemen and a few others you should watch, including potential impact rookies.

    These rankings consider three factors:

    First, everything is based on 10- or 12-team mixed leagues with standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring (BA, R, HR, RBI, SB for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV for pitchers).

    Second, lineup construction accounts for 22 active roster positions consisting of: one each for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, corner infield, middle infield and utility, along with five outfielders and nine pitchers.

    And third, to be eligible at a particular position, players either must have played at least 20 games there in 2014 or be in line to start there in 2015.

The First Base 'Watch List'

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    Steve Pearce
    Steve PearcePatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

    Already projected to see time at DH against lefties, this 25-year-old righty slugger will be a big beneficiary of Josh Hamilton's latest injury/surgery/disabled list stint, which pushes Matt Joyce into a starting outfield position and opens up a near-everyday gig for Cron. After smacking 11 homers and knocking in 37 in just 253 plate appearances, Cron has the opportunity to mash his way to relevance in all formats, especially in an offense that led the sport a year ago.

    Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros

    Look, Singleton's strikeout rate in his first taste of the bigs was absurdly high at 37.0 percent—worst among all players with at least 300 trips. No wonder he hit, ahem, .168. Thing is, he also hit 13 homers, scored 42 runs and drove in 44 in a little more than half a season. Because the former top prospect hits so many fly balls, his .238 BABIP might not improve much, but it should uptick a little. That could turn the 23-year-old Singleton into an Adam Dunn-esque fantasy performer.

    Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

    OK, so general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated that Howard doesn't exactly fit on the Phillies all that well and might not play as much as he has in the past. On top of that, you'll absolutely hate the fact that you own the 35-year-old, but if you're seeking numbers and numbers alone in the home run and RBI departments, Howard did accumulate 23 and 95 of 'em, respectively, in 2014.

    Kennys Vargas, UTIL, Minnesota Twins

    As a 24-year-old who broke into the bigs in, well, a big way late last year, Vargas is going to be a popular sleeper this season. He's worth drafting, but please, don't go rushing to snag him. After hitting .303 with seven homers and 33 RBI in his first 36 games, Vargas' free-swinging ways caught up to him and he went for just .206, two and five over his final 17. He's going to be too streaky to start regularly outside of AL-only leagues.

    Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres

    As one of perhaps only two lefty hitters in a much-improved Padres lineup that now features righty hitters Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, Alonso checks in as a post-, post-hype sleeper who could put up semi-useful stats. If he can stay healthy, that is. The 27-year-old former first-rounder has played just 84 and 97 games the past two years.

    Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Cleveland Indians

    Should Nick Swisher fall apart further, look for the Indians to see what Aguilar can do at DH. The 24-year-old righty-swinging rookie deserves it after following up a strong 2013 at Double-A (.275 BA, 16 HR, 105 RBI) with an even better 2014 in the International League, where he hit .304 with 19 homers and 77 RBI. 

    Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

    Another lesser-known first base prospect who might factor into things in 2015, Walker proved he could hit for more oomph with 27 long balls last year, including one during his September cameo with the O's. There's no easy fit for Walker, 23, in Baltimore right now, but that doesn't mean there won't be at some point. 

    D.J. Peterson, 1B, Seattle Mariners

    The 12th overall take in the 2013 draft, Peterson's first full pro season was a smashing success—emphasis on the "smashing," as he crushed 31 homers between two levels. Before you get too excited, though, realize that he has only 58 games above A-ball and needs at least another half-year before he's ready. But with only the perennially disappointing Logan Morrison ahead of him on the M's first base depth chart, a late-summer debut isn't out of the realm of possibility.

Nos. 25-21

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    Matt Adams
    Matt AdamsAssociated Press

    No. 25: Mike Morse, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins

    Yet another year removed from his outstanding—and outlier—2011, Morse will turn 33 just before the season starts and will be hitting in yet another pitcher-friendly park for a third season in a row. Provided he plays 120 or so games, he's a safe bet for 15-20 homers and enough RBI to matter in a revamped Marlins one-through-nine.

    No. 24: Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

    When he was coming up through the Pittsburgh Pirates system in the mid-aughts, Pearce always had power—he hit 59 homers across 2006-07—but he never parlayed that into production at the major league level, and thus he never received much of a chance.

    That changed in 2014 when the Baltimore Orioles gave him a shot when Chris Davis was on the shelf with an oblique injury at the end of April. Pearce ran with it, hitting more homers in only 102 games last year (21) than he had to that point in his career (17). That said, be skeptical of any player who busts out in his age-31 campaign, and don't overrate Pearce even if he finally has a starting job in hand entering a season for the first time.

    No. 23: Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees

    The glory days are long gone for Big Teix, but the 34-year-old still has a starting job and has it in him to knock 20-plus homers. Like with Ryan Howard, you'll dislike yourself for owning him, but hey, numbers are numbers. 

    No. 22: Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians

    Concerns over Moss' second-half face-plant—he hit just .173 with all of four homers and 15 RBI—can be at least somewhat explained away by a torn labrum in his hip that required offseason surgery. But now the worry is how fast and how well a 31-year-old who will have to spend a lot of time roaming left field in Cleveland can recover. If he's on track in spring, buy him for 18-25 homers but not more than that.

    No. 21: Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

    At 26, Adams might have another tick in him in terms of power, but his dip from 17 homers to 15 last year—in nearly twice as many plate appearances—doesn't inspire all that much confidence. Neither does his .197/.227/.326 career line against same-side pitching, which somehow led to his homering off both Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, two of the sport's best southpaws, last October. If you buy into him more, it's possible to squint and see a top-15 ranking.

Nos. 20-16

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    Chris Carter
    Chris CarterAssociated Press

    No. 20: Chris Carter, UTIL, Houston Astros

    Carter, 28, would rank a little higher were it not for being limited by having eligibility only at the utility spot. That's not a damning fate if he can repeat his 37 home runs again, but considering he's essentially guaranteed to hit below .240 and might settle more in the .220 range, well, you're paying a steep price and losing some flexibility for what amounts to essentially one category.

    No. 19: Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Don't forget about the Trumbomber in your draft. Sure, his first year in the desert was more or less a lost one, thanks to a stress fracture in his left foot that limited him to just 88 games. But even in barely half a season, the 29-year-old managed 14 homers and 61 RBI. A return to 30 homers and 90-plus RBI could happen, and the dual eligibility is a nice little bonus too. Just don't expect an average above .240.

    No. 18: Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets

    Following a few years as a fantasy tease, Duda came into his own with a boffo 2014, hitting a respectable .253 with 30 homers, thanks to finally getting the everyday job at first for the Mets.

    Before you go bonkers over that breakout, though, the best way to think of the 29-year-old is as a healthier, slightly younger Brandon Moss. Like Moss, Duda strikes out a lot and struggles mightily against lefties (.516 OPS in 2014), so he's really more of a platoon type masquerading as a starter in real life. In fantasy, that's a quality corner infielder in shallow leagues or a passable starting first baseman in 12- or 14-teamers.

    No. 17: Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox

    Many will see this as too high a ranking for a 33-year-old coming off a down 2014 (.248 BA, 17 HR, 55 RBI), and maybe that's fair. But Napoli also should be fully recovered from a finger injury that hampered him for much of last year, and he is going to get plenty of chances to drive in all kinds of runs in Boston's rebuilt one-through-nine, which now includes Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo and, likely, Mookie Betts. 

    No. 16: Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

    Betting on Belt at this spot is putting stock in a player who has yet to put it all together to, well, put it all together. The 26-year-old got off to a hot start last year, with nine homers in his first 35 games, but a hit by pitch in early May broke his left thumb and cost him almost two full months.

    Belt's luck only got worse from there, as he was hit in the head by a ball during batting practice—in another freak occurrence—and suffered through a concussion and the lingering after-effects. Good news is, he looked healthy during a strong October (.295 BA, .397 OBP) and could be poised to pick up where he started and left off last year.

No. 15: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .270 BA, 54 R, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 4 SB (547 PA)

    Eric Hosmer is coming off an eerily similar experience to what Brandon Belt went through in 2014, which is even crazier considering they entered last year very much in the same standing as potential breakout candidates who didn't get there in part because of getting hit by a pitch on their hand.

    Hosmer looked to be on the verge of stardom after a robust rookie campaign in 2011 and then a strong bounce-back season in 2013, but he started slowly (again) in 2014 and then wound up missing all of August—save for one at-bat—when his hand didn't heal, resulting in a stress reaction.

    On the plus side, time remains on Hosmer's side, as he'll play the entire 2015 regular season at age 25. Oh, and he looked pretty darn great during the Kansas City Royals' surprise run to the World Series, batting .351 with a pair of homers and 12 RBI in 15 games. He's fooled us before, but Hosmer's coming-out party finally could happen after all.

    To be safe, don't draft Hoz as your starting first baseman if you can help it. But if he grows into that role, then you'll get to enjoy.

No. 14: Adam LaRoche, 1B, Chicago White Sox

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .259 BA, 73 R, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 3 SB (586 PA)

    While leaving the star-studded Washington Nationals could hurt Adam LaRoche's counting stats, the Chicago White Sox should have a rather beefy offense themselves, what with top-of-the-order bats Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera setting the table for Jose Abreu and LaRoche.

    Not to mention, LaRoche actually could see a boost in long balls given that his new home U.S. Cellular Park is a much more homer-friendly house than the expansive Nationals Park, which had the second-lowest home run park factor in MLB, according to ESPN.

    LaRoche, 35, is one of the least sexy fantasy first baseman, but he's been a rather steady—and cheap—source of power at a time when that trait comes at a premium among owners.

No. 13: Justin Morneau, 1B, Colorado Rockies

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .319 BA, 62 R, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 0 SB (550 PA)

    You might think Justin Morneau—the reigning NL batting champ, by the way—was completely a Coors Field revival. That's neither entirely right nor wrong.

    The 33-year-old was pretty much the exact same player in 2014 that he had been the previous few years in the runs, homers and RBI categories. The only difference, then, is that he gained a whopping 50-60 points in his batting average.

    So, the Coors effect, yes? Not quite. Morneau's triple-slash line at home (.327/.363/.515) was better than on the road (.309/.364/.475), but not by much when you really look at it. What drove his batting average that high was a .330 BABIP that was his best—by a lot—since 2010.

    Then again, Coors Field did help Morneau in that he registered a lot more in the counting categories in the thin air (41 R, 11 HR, 52 RBI) than he did when he wasn't a mile high (21 R, 6 HR, 30 RBI). That's because his teammates always hit way, way better in Denver.

    In sum, don't expect a repeat of the batting average, but Morneau will hit plenty by himself, and whenever he's at home, his teammates' production—and thus, his own—will be even better.

No. 12: Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .247 BA, 19 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 0 SB (178 PA)

    Uh, mulligan? That's what 2014 Prince Fielder would ask for. Even though he had been declining little by little entering the year, the slugger's first season as a member of the Texas Rangers went worse than anyone could have possibly imagined.

    The 30-year-old got off to a terrible start—just check those stats up top—and then was done for after just 42 games when a herniated disk in his neck required season-ending surgery.

    Now that he's recovered and getting back to full health, there's hope that Fielder, whose performance at the plate had to be hampered by the injury, could return to something close to his former 30-homer ways, complete with oodles of RBI and scores of runs scored too. Especially if the rest of the Rangers lineup doesn't once again get hit with the plague.

    "I'm 100 percent," Fielder told Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News. "Whatever it was before, it’s back."

    As much of a wild card as Fielder is at this point, this is where the talent at first base ticks up a tier. And given his lost 2014, Fielder could be a nice bargain buy this time around. 

No. 11: David Ortiz, UTIL, Boston Red Sox

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .263 BA, 59 R, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 0 SB (602 PA)

    David Ortiz is now 39 years old, and one of these years, he's going to experience the dreaded "cliff campaign," that season when a fantasy stalwart finally succumbs to Father Time and his production falls off, well, a cliff.

    But there's no evidence of that happening for Big Papi just yet, and certainly not in 2015. By bringing in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Boston Red Sox reloaded a lineup that finished tied for the fourth-fewest runs scored in the AL—with (gasp) the Seattle Mariners. Considering that, it's actually rather incredible that Ortiz notched 104 RBI a year ago.

    Look for another 25-30 homers and something approaching triple digits in the RBI category, and since the one-through-nine should be stronger, Ortiz's runs total could boost back into the 80s after a subpar 59 in 2014.

    Aside from the total lack of speed—a trait shared by many of these first basemen—the only other factor to weigh with Ortiz is that he's eligible exclusively at UTIL and not 1B. It's minor, but it does matter.

No. 10: Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

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    Travis Heying/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .272 BA, 89 R, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 5 SB (695 PA)

    If nothing else, Albert Pujols proved he wasn't done being a starting fantasy first baseman with a healthy, bounce-back 2014.

    No, he wasn't the MVP Pujols of a half-decade ago, but any owner would gladly insert those digits above into the lineup. Question now is: Can the 35-year-old approximate his 2014 in 2015?

    There's no statistical reason why not, as none of Pujols' underlying numbers—from his .265 BABIP to his 13.9 HR/FB rate—indicate any looming regression.

    The biggest risks here are whether Pujols can hold up for another 159 games (and nearly 700 plate appearances) at his age and whether the Los Angeles Angels can come close to topping MLB in offense again.

    Call us pessimistic, but chances are at least one of those two isn't going to be repeated, so figure Pujols' production will dip. But if he can stay healthy, that's the more important factor.

No. 9: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

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    TOM UHLMAN/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .255 BA, 32 R, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB (272 PA)

    Admittedly, ranking Joey Votto ahead of David Ortiz and Albert Pujols might turn out to look downright silly after the first month or two of 2015.

    Votto, after all, has seen his fantasy-specific numbers—namely home runs and RBI—drop precipitously in recent years, and he's coming off an injury-wrecked 62-game campaign, to boot.

    But something about Votto heading into 2015 feels not entirely different from the stance here on Pujols entering last season, in that the 31-year-old has something to prove after being undercut by serious quad/knee problems that made it look like his career was on its last legs (no pun intended).

    Let's see how Votto looks once spring games begin, but the offseason reports have been promising. For now, there's cautious optimism that he can get back to being 75 percent (or more) of what he was not too long ago. Just like Pujols did.

No. 8: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .288 BA, 93 R, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 3 SB (708 PA)

    Many thought Freddie Freeman had established a new baseline with his MVP-caliber 2013 in which he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBI. That made him a rather divisive player among fantasy folks at this time last year, because others (including yours truly) noticed Freeman's unsustainable .371 BABIP and pointed to a likely drop-off.

    Well, the BABIP actually stayed rather steep at .351, but even that was enough to hurt the 25-year-old's production in every category except for runs scored (which can be explained in part by a career-high 90 walks).

    To be clear, this isn't intended to come across as Freeman hate; he is a really, really good starting first baseman in fantasy. He's not, however, an elite one, because he lacks the high-end power to earn a spot in the top five, considering he has yet to surpass 23 homers in a season.

    And in case you haven't been paying attention, the Atlanta Braves have traded away just about all of their other impact offensive players (Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis), so things might not get any easier or better for Freeman in 2015.

No. 7: Victor Martinez, 1B, Detroit Tigers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .335 BA, 87 R, 32 HR, 103 RBI, 3 SB (641 PA)

    This ranking reflects a good amount of confidence (too much?) that Victor Martinez can not only approximate his career year but also return to full health by the start of the season after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

    Although the injury is a big blow, the post-procedure reports claim that V-Mart will miss only four to six weeks, which means he might not lose any of the 2015 regular season at all.

    If that's actually the case and Martinez, 36, is ready to go on Opening Day, then owners who get him at any sort of discount because of others' concerns over his ability to recover at his advanced age could make out like bandits.

    Sure, banking on Martinez to hit .330 with another 30 homers and 100 RBI is asking for too much—and would have been even prior to the injury and surgery. But he's in one of the best lineups in the game and is as steady as it gets, thanks to a dynamite approach at the plate (70 walks and only 42 whiffs!).

No. 6: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .276 BA, 83 R, 27 HR, 116 RBI, 1 SB (660 PA)

    More consistent than star, Adrian Gonzalez isn't a top-tier first baseman anymore, but he's among the safest, surest this—or any other—position has to offer.

    The 32-year-old is dependable because he accumulates numbers. He accumulates numbers—like an MLB-best 116 RBI last year—because he's durable, like, at-least-156-games-every-season-since-2006 durable.

    If you miss out on any of the top five first basemen who are about to be unveiled, A-Gon is a near-perfect next-best choice.

No. 5: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .286 BA, 89 R, 32 HR, 78 RBI, 5 SB (616 PA)

    Now that's more like it. Anthony Rizzo had been a popular pick as a breakout player in 2013, but it didn't work out so well when he hit just .233 with 23 homers.

    That allowed him to fall down draft boards last year, and owners who stayed the course were rewarded with a true arrival campaign. Oh, and it's worth reminding that Rizzo's digits would have been even loftier had he not missed 20 games in August and September with a back strain.

    The big takeaways that prove Rizzo is very much for real? He has cut his strikeout rate down to about 18 percent, and he showed he can handle—nay, thrive against—same-side pitching by posting a .928 OPS against lefties, a mark that actually beat out his .907 OPS versus right-handers.

    With the introduction of several other promising young hitters to the Chicago Cubs lineup—Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and soon enough Addison Russell, to name a few—Rizzo will have a lot more surrounding him than just Starlin Castro. That can only help the 25-year-old slugger put up stats that are just as good—and maybe even a little better—in 2015.

No. 4: Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .268 BA, 75 R, 34 HR, 98 RBI, 2 SB (542 PA)

    Edwin Encarnacion already was well-established as a fantasy stud, but just like Anthony Rizzo, he would have had an even more impressive 2014 had he not lost a lot of time to one injury.

    A right quad strain Encarnacion suffered in early July cost him a month-and-a-half, and it came right in the middle of what was a ridiculous run of power production by the 32-year-old.

    Remember, after starting slowly (.250 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBI through April), EE went bonkers in May (.281 BA, 16 HR, 33 RBI) and kept it up in June (.305 BA, 7 HR, 17 RBI). Then the injury struck.

    Now that the Toronto Blue Jays have beefed up their lineup—again, similar to Rizzo and the Cubs—with the additions of Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, Encarnacion could be in store for more in 2015.

No. 3: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .313 BA, 101 R, 25 HR, 109 RBI, 1 SB (685 PA)

    Man, what a decline this guy is in, huh?

    Joking aside, Miguel Cabrera still was a dominant fantasy performer in 2014, even with slight dips in each of the five traditional rotisserie-scoring categories from the previous few years. Of course, when one is coming off a Triple Crown campaign in 2012 and back-to-back MVP seasons, well, a little bit of a drop-off almost has to happen, right?

    And just because Cabrera checks in at No. 3 here doesn't mean he's not capable of yet another monster year. But it does reflect that there should be some not-so-minor concerns about this stalwart.

    For one, Cabrera is entering his age-32 season, so we're looking at the tail end of his prime.

    For another, even though he's yet to spend even a single day on the disabled list in his MLB career, the man has been battling through some serious health issues the past two seasons, both of which have required offseason surgeries.

    After a procedure on his groin last winter, Cabrera is still recovering from October surgery on his right foot and ankle. There's at least a possibility Cabrera might not be ready in time for Opening Day, as Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports, and even if he is, who's to say Cabrera will be his usual beastly self out of the gate?

    The bottom line here is that Cabrera once again could be a top-five fantasy player if he plays at least 148 games for a 12th consecutive year and everything goes just right. But he's no longer a lock for that kind of production and game action, especially since he's fighting an uphill—and losing—battle against both his health and age.

No. 2: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .317 BA, 80 R, 36 HR, 107 RBI, 3 SB (622 PA)

    It's hard not to get excited when looking at Jose Abreu's performance last year. A former superstar in Cuba, the man was the unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year, finished fourth in MVP voting and is firmly planted in his prime at 28 years old.

    Oh, and he did all that even though he missed two weeks in late May due to ankle tendinitis. In other words, imagine the above stats with a dozen more games tacked on. Admit it: You're excited.

    Well, here's where we temper that, if only a little. As much as Abreu hit for premium power and an elite batting average, he also posted an inflated HR/FB rate of 26.9 percent that was the highest in baseball and a .356 BABIP that placed fourth.

    Both of those numbers shouldn't be expected to be maintained, and in fact, they could come down enough to ding Abreu's fantasy numbers. Especially now that big league hurlers have seen what Abreu can do and have had a whole offseason to find ways to get him out.

    That said, there are but a handful of players who can put together the kind of year Abreu did in 2014, and a great hitter like him should be able to make adjustments, as he showed by focusing more on making contact (18.1 K%) and getting on base in the second half (.435 OBP).

    Not to mention, the Chicago White Sox added two quality bats in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche—one will get on base for Abreu, the other will drive him in—so it's not as if there isn't plenty to be confident about in taking Abreu as a first-rounder too. 

No. 1: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    2014 Fantasy Stats: .300 BA, 75 R, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 9 SB (479 PA)

    Paul Goldschmidt was on his way to a just-as-great follow-up to his MVP-caliber 2013 season when—on a night he was supposed to have off but entered the game late as a defensive replacement—a pitch by the erratic Ernesto Frieri hit him in the left hand, fracturing it and ending his year Aug. 1.

    That sort of fluke injury can't be held against Goldschmidt, who will play almost all of 2015 at age 27 and is the most well-rounded first baseman in fantasy given that he contributes in all five categories—yes, even stolen bases.

    The rebuilding Arizona Diamondbacks don't have a heck of a lot around Goldy, but he proved he can provide elite production despite that last year. And if Mark Trumbo has a healthy season and Cuban import Yasmany Tomas' power translates to the majors, there might be more offense than expected, especially with Chase Field as one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the game.

    More proven than Jose Abreu and younger and healthier than Miguel Cabrera, Goldschmidt grabs the top spot at first base.

    Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11

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