B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 First Basemen in 2020

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2015

B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 First Basemen in 2020

0 of 21

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Baseball is a tough sport to predict on a day-in and day-out basis, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to predict looking years into the future. But that's exactly what we're going to be doing here.

    The following is the second installment in a series we've dubbed, "B/R's MLB 20 for '20." In this series, we'll attempt to project the top 20 players at each position five years down the road in 2020.

    After kicking things off behind the plate with the catchers, we'll now move onto the first basemen. Players will once again be graded according to a 100-point scale:

    • Offense (65 points): A good defensive first baseman is more of a luxury than a necessity, as it's mostly about offensive production at this position. As a result, a total of 65 points were awarded for offensive skill set. Contact rate, batting average, approach, on-base skills and overall power were all taken into account.
    • Defense/Speed (30 points): Defense does still matter, so 30 points were given for defensive skills. Range and throwing arm were the main factors taken into account. Overall athleticism was also factored into this section, as was speed on the offensive side of things.
    • Upside Factor (5 points): On a scale from 1-5, players were given a bonus based on their upside moving forward. A three-point bonus indicated that a player is expected to be at essentially the same level five years from now, while more or less than that indicated expected progression or regression.
    • Tiebreakers: On more than one occasion, players graded out with the same overall point total. In that case, the first tiebreaker was who had the higher upside factor. If that still didn't solve things, the second tiebreaker was overall offensive score.

    All basic statistics come courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, while advanced stats were pulled from FanGraphs. Stats are current through July 9.

    Hopefully that paints a clear picture of how players were graded and where the information is coming from. So with that out of the way, let's get things started.

Honorable Mentions and Notable Veteran Omissions

1 of 21

    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Next Five

    Matt Adams, STL
    C.J. Cron, LAA
    Rowdy Tellez, TOR
    Sam Travis, BOS
    Kennys Vargas, MIN

    Excluded Due to Age and Expected Regression

    Chris Davis, BAL
    Lucas Duda, NYM
    Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
    Prince Fielder, TEX
    Adrian Gonzalez, LAD
    Joe Mauer, MIN
    Albert Pujols, LAA
    Carlos Santana, CLE
    Ryan Zimmerman, WAS

20. Christian Walker, Baltimore Orioles

2 of 21

    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 29

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    39/65

    A college standout who led South Carolina to a pair of College World Series titles and a third appearance during his time on campus, Christian Walker was a fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012.

    Splitting last season between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit .288/.357/.489 with 25 doubles, 26 home runs and 96 RBI in 532 at-bats.

    His ceiling may be 20 home runs as a big leaguer, but he has the all-around offensive skills to stick as an everyday first baseman once he finally establishes himself in the majors.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    A lack of speed and overall athleticism makes Walker a first base-only prospect, but he should be able to settle in as a solid defender at the position.

    He did make 13 errors last season, so his glove skills are still a work in progress.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    Walker was a relatively polished bat coming out of college, and he's on the older end of the prospect spectrum right now at 24 years old.

    That being said, there is still plenty of upside here. Just not quite as much as some of the younger, higher-profile prospects at the first base position.

    2020 Overall Projection

    60/100

    With Chris Davis headed for free agency this coming winter, Walker could conceivably get a crack at a regular big league job as soon as next season. Long term, he could join Manny Machado and Adam Jones to form a potent middle-of-the-order trio.

19. Dan Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs

3 of 21

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    45/65

    Dan Vogelbach has always been a prospect who would go as far as his bat carries him, dating back to his time at Bishop Verot High School in Florida.

    He is still working to get his plus raw power to play in games, but he has always shown an advanced approach at the plate, posting a 13.1 percent walk rate and a 16.8 percent strikeout rate during his time in the minors.

    There is legitimate 30-home run power potential in Vogelbach's bat, but he will need to learn how to hit left-handed pitching, as he looks very much like a platoon player at this point.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    10/30

    Vogelbach tipped the scales at 280 pounds during his high school days, and he's worked hard to get his 6'0" frame down to a more manageable 250 pounds.

    That being said, he's still a base-clogger and extremely limited defensively as far as his range is concerned. He's probably best suited winding up with an American League team where he can be utilized as a designated hitter.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    With his advanced pitch-recognition skills and plus power, Vogelbach has a chance to make a serious impact as a middle-of-the-order run producer if he can get his pop to translate better in games. Still just 22 years old, there's plenty of time for him to reach his full offensive potential.

    2020 Overall Projection

    60/100

    An eventual trade of Vogelbach seems inevitable for the Cubs, as he's blocked at first base long term by Anthony Rizzo. There should be plenty of interested parties if he is made available, especially in the American League.

18. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

4 of 21

    H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 32

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    41/65

    Injuries limited Brandon Belt to just 61 games in 2014, but he showed what he was capable of when healthy the previous season when he hit .289/.360/.481 with 39 doubles and 17 home runs.

    His power ceiling is probably 20 home runs, so he's not the prototypical slugging first baseman. But that hasn't stopped him from being one of the Giants' most productive hitters in recent years.

    Belt doesn't walk a ton, but he hits for a solid average and has good gap power, putting him squarely in the third tier of players at the position now and moving forward.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/30

    Belt has seen some time in left field throughout his career and could make a full-time move there if he's still around when Buster Posey moves out from behind the plate, but we'll consider him a first baseman for now.

    He checks in with 19 defensive runs saved (DRS) at first base over the course of his five-year career, and his numbers in two key metrics so far this year—5 DRS, 7.9 ultimate zone rating per 150 defensive games (UZR/150)—represent the best of his career.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    The production we saw out of Belt in 2013 when he stayed healthy enough to play 150 games is probably his ceiling, but the 27-year-old should still be plenty productive five years down the road.

    2020 Overall Projection

    64/100

    Belt has two years of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency as a 30-year-old. Consistency over the next few seasons could set him up for a solid payday on the open market, but don't be surprised if the Giants try to lock him up sometime soon.

17. D.J. Peterson, Seattle Mariners

5 of 21

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 28

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    44/65

    After a stellar career at the University of New Mexico, the Seattle Mariners selected D.J. Peterson with the No. 12 pick in the 2013 draft.

    He put himself squarely on the top-prospect radar last season, hitting .297/.360/.552 with 31 doubles, 31 home runs and 111 RBI while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A. However, he's taken a big step back this year.

    Currently hitting just .218/.289/.339 in 298 at-bats at the Double-A level, he now has some work to do to get his trajectory back on track. The plus raw power remains, though.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    Originally selected as a third baseman, Peterson began shifting across the diamond to first base last season with Kyle Seager firmly entrenched at the hot corner in Seattle.

    He has a terrific throwing arm and is plenty athletic enough to turn himself into a plus defender at first base. He's also capable of swiping the occasional base, despite below-average speed, as he is 12-of-14 on stolen base attempts for his career.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    The 23-year-old Peterson is struggling right now, but there's a reason he was one of the most highly regarded college bats in his draft class. The tools are still there for him to make a serious impact in the middle of the order, though he'll need to right the ship quickly.

    2020 Overall Projection

    65/100

    Logan Morrison currently has a .686 OPS with 11 home runs as the primary first baseman for the Mariners, and he's under team control through the 2016 season. Ideally, Peterson would be ready to step in and replace him after the All-Star break next year.

16. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

6 of 21

    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 36

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    48/65

    Joey Votto led the National League in on-base percentage every year from 2010-13, putting up a 25.7 WAR during that span as one of the best all-around players in baseball.

    He's never been the prototypical power-hitting first baseman, but his plate discipline is as good as any player in recent memory. After an injury-plagued 2014 season, he's bounced back nicely this season with an .880 OPS and 15 home runs.

    As long as he can avoid further injury, Votto should continue to hit for a high average and post a good on-base percentage well into his late 30s. That should make him valuable, even if he's just a 15-20 home run guy.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    Votto has always been a good defensive first baseman, recording 39 DRS and a 4.4 UZR/150 over the course of his career. He has soft hands, good footwork and a strong throwing arm, and he won Gold Glove honors back in 2011.

    He doesn't run like he used to, as he swiped 16 bases during his 2010 NL MVP season, but he's not a base-clogger by any means.

    2020 Upside Factor

    1/5

    His patient approach at the plate and lack of dependence on power should allow Votto to age relatively well. But he will be 36 years old when the 2020 season rolls around, so expect him to be on the downswing.

    2020 Overall Projection

    66/100

    Votto is owed $192 million through the 2023 season, with a $20 million option and $7 million buyout for 2024, so he figures to still be very much entrenched at first base for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.

15. Jon Singleton, Houston Astros

7 of 21

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 28

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    42/65

    Jon Singleton's debut last season proved to be a mixed bag. He flashed some solid power with 13 doubles and 13 home runs in 310 at-bats but did it with a .168/.285/.335 line and a 37.0 percent strikeout rate.

    He is a career .279/.387/.477 hitter in the minors, so there is still plenty of reason to believe he'll develop into a solid big league regular with plus pop and good on-base skills. Still, his approach needs a lot of work.

    Singleton was shipped to the minors to open the season, where he posted a .940 OPS and a far more palatable 20.1 percent strikeout rate in 313 plate appearances before being called up.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/30

    Singleton is a good athlete for his size (6'2", 225 pounds) and should be able to develop into a plus defender with solid footwork and soft hands.

    In fact, he's actually played some outfield during his time in the minors, spending 49 games in left field. For now, his future appears to be at first base, but versatility is always a valuable commodity.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    Though he is still just 23 years old, Singleton has been on the top-prospect radar for some time now and has more experience at the higher levels of the minors than most players his age. As a result, his upside might not be quite as high as some lower-level prospects, but there is still plenty of room to improve.

    2020 Overall Projection

    66/100

    The Houston Astros have an abundance of first base/DH types right now with Chris Carter and Evan Gattis both seeing everyday at-bats, but the first base job still looks to be Singleton's to lose long term.

    The team gave him a five-year, $10 million extension before he even made his MLB debut, so he'll be given every chance to be the guy. He'll have to hold off fellow prospect A.J. Reed for the job, though.

14. Greg Bird, New York Yankees

8 of 21

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    47/65

    A fifth-round pick in 2011, Greg Bird broke out for Single-A Charleston in 2013, posting a .938 OPS with 36 doubles and 20 home runs in his first full season of action.

    Those numbers dropped a bit as he moved up the next rung of the ladder last season, but he capped off the year by winning Arizona Fall League MVP honors with a .313/.391/.556 line that included six doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI in 26 games.

    He has a solid eye at the plate (15.7 percent career walk rate) and makes consistent contact (21.2 percent strikeout rate), it will just be a matter of him making the necessary adjustments to higher-level competition because the plus-plus raw power is there.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    14/30

    A catcher in high school, where he was teammates with Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, Bird has made the necessary transition to first base as a pro.

    "Bird's value comes almost solely from his bat. He's a well-below-average runner with adequate range and arm strength at first base, though he gets credit for working hard on his defense," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    The 22-year-old Bird is already playing in Triple-A, and he could see a September call-up if all goes well over the next few months. That puts him well ahead of the curve, and his raw power and solid approach at the plate give him a very high ceiling offensively.

    2020 Overall Projection

    66/100

    Veteran Mark Teixeira is signed through the 2016 season, after which time Bird will be given a chance to seize the everyday first base job. Looking to the future, he'll team with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Eric Jagielo to give the New York Yankees some impressive position-player talent.

13. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

9 of 21

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 37

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    53/65

    With a .321/.399/.564 career line, 405 career home runs and 1,423 RBI, Miguel Cabrera has already established himself as one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen.

    He's also managed to avoid significant injury throughout his career, landing on the disabled list for the first time in his 13 seasons this past week with a calf strain.

    He'll be in decline entering his age-37 season, as any hitter would be when they reach that age. But at this point, there's no reason to think he can't still be a positive offensive contributor.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    14/30

    After spending time in both corner outfield spots and then at third base, Cabrera has settled in at first base where he's best suited defensively.

    He grades out as a league-average defender right now, and that shouldn't change much with age considering the position he'll be playing. Speed is already not a part of his game, though, and he could be a legitimate plodder five years from now.

    2020 Upside Factor

    1/5

    The list of players who have continued to produce at an elite level into their late 30s is a short one, but if anyone is capable of pulling it off among the current crop of big leaguers, it's Cabrera. Nonetheless, you can't give more than one point here to a 37-year-old.

    2020 Overall Projection

    68/100

    Cabrera has a massive eight-year, $240 million extension set to kick in next season, and he'll have four years and $124 million left on that deal when 2020 rolls around. As a result, expect him to still be seeing everyday at-bats even in the twilight of his career.

12. Casey Gillaspie, Tampa Bay Rays

10 of 21

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    46/65

    Casey Gillaspie is the younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie, and the Wichita State product should wind up being the better big league player when all is said and done.

    One of the better college bats in the 2014 draft, the younger Gillaspie opened this season at the Single-A level but was quickly bumped up to High-A Charlotte. All told, he's posted an .879 OPS with 11 doubles and 17 home runs.

    The switch-hitter knows how to take a walk and has potential plus power from both sides of the plate, making him the prototypical middle-of-the-order run producer for a Tampa Bay Rays team seemingly always in need of offense. 

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    After making just two errors all season last year, Gillaspie already has eight this season, but all signs point to him turning into a plus defender.

    "Gillaspie isn't as athletic as his brother, and his bottom-of-the-scale speed limits him to first base, but he's a sure-handed defender there with the polish to move quickly in the Minor Leagues," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    The 22-year-old Gillaspie should continue on the fast track to the big leagues if he continues hitting like he has so far this season. He may not have legitimate superstar potential, but he has plenty of upside and looks like a safe bet to be a productive regular at the very least.

    2020 Overall Projection

    68/100

    The first base position has been a revolving door for the Rays since the days of Carlos Pena, but Gillaspie may finally be the long-term answer at the position. James Loney is signed through next season, and it's not out of the question to think Gillaspie could be ready when 2017 rolls around.

11. Dominic Smith, New York Mets

11 of 21

    2020 Age: 25

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    41/65

    Dominic Smith has not shown much power to this point as a professional, hitting just seven home runs in 1,028 plate appearances, but that could change as he continues to fill out and progress.

    As it stands, his plus hit tool has still opened eyes, and he's currently hitting .300/.347/.422 with 26 doubles and 51 RBI at High-A St. Lucie.

    He makes consistent contract with a smooth left-handed swing, evidenced by his 9.8 percent walk rate and 14.9 percent strikeout rate last season. It's just a question of how much power he'll hit for once he reaches the big league level.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    23/30

    Smith has average speed and is a good all-around athlete for the first base position at 6'0" and 185 pounds, though he's not much of a base stealer and is clearly a first base-only prospect.

    "He's limited to first base but has excellent hands and range and should be an above-average defender at the position," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    As far as top prospects at the first base position are concerned, Smith has perhaps the widest range between his floor and ceiling. That being said, the 20-year-old still has plenty of time to reach the full extent of that ceiling.

    2020 Overall Projection

    69/100

    Lucas Duda had a big season last year (.830 OPS, 30 HR, 92 RBI), but he's taken a step back this year, and his long-term spot on the Mets roster is still up in the air.

    He's under team control through 2017, which most peg as a conservative ETA for Smith, so the team could simply let Duda walk as a 31-year-old and turn to the prospect.

10. Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians

12 of 21

    2020 Age: 24

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    46/65

    A first-round talent who slipped to the third round in 2014 due to signability concerns with a strong commitment to LSU, Bobby Bradley inked an above-slot deal with the Cleveland Indians and immediately became one of the top first base prospects in the league.

    He won the Arizona League Triple Crown last year with a .361/.426/.652 line that included 13 doubles, eight home runs and 50 RBI, and the team started him out at Single-A Lake County this season.

    He'll need to find a way to make more consistent contact with a 32.5 percent strikeout rate so far this season, but his power is for real, as he has an .810 OPS and 13 home runs in 212 at-bats. A sweet lefty swing and plus bat speed have him looking like a future middle-of-the-order bat.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    18/30

    Bradley played all over the diamond in high school, spending the bulk of his time at catcher and third base, but his limited range appears to have him ticketed for first base long term.

    He has below-average speed but is a decent athlete with a solid 6'1", 225-pound frame.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    The youngest player on this list at 19 years old, Bradley is already playing full-season ball and more than holding his own. His ceiling looks to be as high as any first base prospect in the league at this point.

    2020 Overall Projection

    69/100

    There was a time not long ago when Jesus Aguilar looked like the long-term first baseman in Cleveland, but Bradley has seemingly passed him on the organizational depth chart. Carlos Santana is signed through 2016 with an option for 2017, but he could move to designated hitter before his contract is up. 

9. A.J. Reed, Houston Astros

13 of 21

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    47/65

    A two-way stud at Kentucky, A.J. Reed hit .336/.476/.735 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI during his junior season while also going 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 112 innings on the mound to win Golden Spikes honors.

    He's made the full-time move to first base as a pro, and it looks like the right decision, as he had an .898 OPS with 20 doubles and 12 home runs in 249 at-bats after signing last year.

    His numbers are even better this season. So far, he has a .344/.447/.631 line with 16 doubles, 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 81 games for High-A Lancaster. All the offensive tools are there for him to be a star in the middle of the order.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    As you would expect given his experience on the mound, Reed's best attribute defensively is his strong throwing arm. He should turn into a solid all-around defender with more time at the position.

    He doesn't run well, but his 6'4", 240-pound frame certainly has him looking the part of a run-producing threat.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Reed reached Single-A in his pro debut last year, and he's absolutely demolished High-A pitching so far this season. He should continue to move quickly, and there is legitimate 30-homer, 100-RBI potential once he reaches his prime.

    2020 Overall Projection

    69/100

    Reed will have to unseat Jon Singleton for the title of "first baseman of the future" for the Astros, but given the current performance of both players, he looks to have the upper hand.

8. Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics

14 of 21

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 26

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    48/65

    There will always be a decent amount of swing-and-miss to Matt Olson's game, but he might have the best raw power of any prospect in the minors right now.

    After hitting 23 home runs as a 19-year-old at the Single-A level in 2013, he broke out in a big way last season in High-A, posting a .947 OPS with 31 doubles, 37 home runs and 97 RBI.

    He hit just .262 and struck out 137 times last year, but he also walked an MiLB-high 117 times for a .404 on-base percentage to go along with his impressive power numbers. Adam Dunn is an easy comparison, and it's easy to forget how good he was in his prime.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    17/30

    Olson has a plus arm, which has led the team to try him in right field this season in an effort to improve his versatility. However, first base still appears to be his long-term destination.

    He should develop into a solid all-around defender, and while base stealing is not a part of his game, he does have average speed and is not a base-clogger offensively.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    The big question for Olson is whether he'll make enough consistent contact to tap into his tremendous raw power. Still just 21 years old and already playing in Double-A, he's ahead of the curve at this point.

    2020 Overall Projection

    70/100

    The Oakland Athletics roster changes so dramatically on a year-in and year-out basis that it's silly to try to predict who might be standing between Olson and the first base gig once he's ready. At the moment, it's Ike Davis, but my guess is the job belongs to Olson regardless of who's there once he's ready.

7. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

15 of 21

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 33

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    54/65

    Jose Abreu took the league by storm last season, hitting .317/.383/.581 with 35 doubles, 36 home runs and 107 RBI to win AL Rookie of the Year honors unanimously and finish fourth in AL MVP voting.

    Some regression from those numbers was to be expected as the league adjusted to his tendencies, but he's still been one of the more dangerous hitters in the AL so far this year with a .296/.342/.497 line that includes 15 doubles, 14 home runs and 45 RBI.

    He'll be at the end of his prime when we reach 2020, and his offensive value will be largely determined by how well his power holds up. At this point, there's no reason to think he can't still be a 30-homer threat five years down the road.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    15/30

    Abreu was well below average as a defender last season (-11 DRS, -3.2 UZR/150), and that's a fairly decent depiction of the type of player he is with the glove.

    He does have a strong and accurate throwing arm, but his range is limited and he's not fast by any means. In fact, he could be a bit plodding by the time his age-33 season rolls around.

    2020 Upside Factor

    2/5

    A 27-year-old rookie last season, Abreu is already in his prime and could be starting the downswing of his career five years from now. As long as he's still putting up big power numbers, though, he'll be plenty valuable.

    2020 Overall Projection

    71/100

    The six-year, $68 million deal Abreu signed proved to be an absolute steal in Year 1 and should provide good value all the way through the 2019 season. He'll be a free agent heading into 2020, so he could find himself at a career crossroads of sorts.

6. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

16 of 21

    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 33

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    50/65

    He may never reach the 30-homer mark, but Buster Posey has clearly established himself as one of the game's best hitters.

    A career .307/.374/.488 hitter with a batting title to his credit (.336 in '12), Posey is a terrific pure hitter and a consistent run producer in the middle of a San Francisco Giants lineup that relies heavily on him.

    The expectation is that he will move out from behind the plate at some point in the near future, and that should go a long way in preserving his offensive game.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/30

    Posey spent some time at shortstop in college, and his athleticism is evident both behind the plate and during the one or two times a week he's penciled in at first base these days.

    He played a career-high 35 games at first base last season, and he's already made 19 starts there this campaign. Since the start of 2014, he's been good for 7 DRS and a 18.3 UZR/150 while playing the position.

    2020 Upside Factor

    2/5

    At 28 years old, Posey will be on the tail end of his prime five years from now, or perhaps even starting to decline. He should still be plenty productive, though.

    2020 Overall Projection

    72/100

    Ranking Posey with the catchers seemed like cheating, because there's virtually no chance he's still strapping on the gear when 2020 rolls around. Andrew Susac will likely supplant him behind the dish at some point in the near future, but Posey should still be a star and the face of the franchise five years from now while lining up as a first baseman.

5. Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

17 of 21

    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 30

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    47/65

    Eric Hosmer burst onto the scene by hitting .293/.334/.465 with 19 home runs and 78 RBI as a rookie in 2011, but his offensive production has been somewhat inconsistent in the years since.

    After posting a .716 OPS with nine home runs during the regular season last year, he stepped things up during the Kansas City Royals' surprise postseason run, hitting .351/.439/.544 with two home runs and 12 RBI.

    He'll probably never be a 30-homer guy, but with an improved walk rate this season (8.9 percent), Hosmer has continued his emergence as a solid all-around offensive player in the middle of the Royals' lineup.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    24/30

    A Gold Glove winner in 2013 and 2014, Hosmer has a career-best 7.3 UZR/150 so far this season to go along with 3 DRS, putting him among the best defenders at the position.

    On top of his glove work, he also has decent wheels. So far in his career, he has three double-digit stolen base seasons under his belt and 46 career stolen bases in 60 attempts.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    An everyday big leaguer by the age of 21, Hosmer is just now entering his prime at the age of 25. Similar production to what we're seeing this year should be the expectation five years from now, and that's enough to earn him a spot in the top five at the position.

    2020 Overall Projection

    74/100

    Hosmer signed a two-year, $13.9 million deal to buy out two of his arbitration years, but he'll have one more in 2017 before hitting free agency. As a young talent on the rise and a cornerstone piece of the team, expect the Royals to make every attempt to lock him up long term.

4. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates

18 of 21

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    50/65

    A legitimate top-10 talent in the 2011 draft, Josh Bell slipped to the second round due to what appeared to be a rock-solid commitment to the University of Texas, but the Pirates lured him away with a $5 million signing bonus.

    The sky is the limit for Bell offensively, as the switch-hitter is still trying to tap into the power potential packed into his 6'2", 235-pound frame. His overall feel for hitting already stands out, though.

    Last season, he hit .325/.375/.459 with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 60 RBI while reaching Double-A as a 21-year-old, and he's handled a full campaign in Double-A this season equally well. As doubles turn into home runs and he continues to progress, he could be a perennial .300 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI player.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/30

    Bell is not fast, but he's an average runner with good instincts that should allow him to steal a handful of bases each season. He's still working on transitioning from right field to first base but should grow into the position.

    "He has a ways to go defensively at his new position, but he's a solid athlete with outstanding makeup, and the Pirates expect him to adjust to his new surroundings with an eye on the big league job in 2016," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Bell was ranked as the No. 64 prospect in baseball heading into the season, according to Baseball America, but don't be surprised if he's pushing for a spot in the top 25 on next year's list. To be blunt, he has as much offensive upside as any prospect in baseball right now.

    2020 Overall Projection

    75/100

    The move to first base should keep Bell on the fast track to Pittsburgh, as he would have otherwise been blocked in the outfield. As the above quote spelled out, he has a chance at securing a big league job as early as next season, and he could be a bona fide star by 2020.

3. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

19 of 21

    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 30

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    54/65

    After a solid first two seasons in the league, Freddie Freeman took a big step forward in 2013 when he hit .319/.396/.501 with 23 home runs and 109 RBI to finish fifth in NL MVP voting.

    He took a step back last season, but that was due in large part to a struggling lineup around him. His MVP-caliber performance was by no means a fluke.

    Freeman will be a perennial threat for a .300 BA, 25 HR, 100 RBI season, and while he does strike out a fair amount, he also knows how to take a walk, as evidenced by his .366 career on-base percentage.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/30

    A shaky defender when he first broke into the league, Freeman has worked hard to turn himself into a slightly above-average option with the glove. He may never win a Gold Glove, but he's average across the board, and that's really all he needs with his bat.

    A large human being at 6'5" and 225 pounds, Freeman has average speed and is smart on the basepaths. He's also capable of swiping the occasional base, as he has 13 steals in his six seasons.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    His breakout 2013 season is probably as good as it's going to get with Freeman, but he should still be putting up prime numbers in 2020. With the Braves looking like a team on the rise, he could be a legitimate MVP candidate in the near future.

    2020 Overall Projection

    77/100

    While they traded off a number of offensive pieces this past offseason, the Atlanta Braves are committed to Freeman long term, as they locked him up with an eight-year, $135 million deal prior to 2014. All signs point to him being the face of the franchise going forward.

2. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

20 of 21

    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 32

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    58/65

    Paul Goldschmidt had a solid first full season in the majors in 2012 when he posted an .850 OPS with 43 doubles, 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases, but we've since learned that was just the tip of the iceberg.

    He followed that up by hitting .302/.401/.551 while leading the NL with 36 home runs and 125 RBI in 2013 and was on his way to similar numbers last season before a fractured hand ended his season at the beginning of August.

    Showing no ill-effects of that injury this year, he's been even better, hitting .349/.466/.618 with 20 home runs, 68 RBI and 59 runs scored. For the foreseeable future, Goldschmidt is squarely in the conversation for most dangerous hitter in the league.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    24/30

    Goldschmidt has been about league average as far as his range at first base is considered, but he's still contributed 21 DRS in his five seasons.

    As for his running abilities, he's as good a base stealer as any at the position, swiping 62 bases in 79 attempts for his career, including 16 already this season as he's on pace for his first 30-30 campaign.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    It's hard to see Goldschmidt getting any better than he is right now, but the 27-year-old should still be producing at an elite level five years down the road.

    2020 Overall Projection

    85/100

    Goldschmidt signed a five-year, $32.05 million extension that kicked in last season, and it includes a $14.5 million team option for 2019. That makes him a free agent heading into 2020 as things currently stand, but don't be surprised if the Diamondbacks make every effort to keep him around for the duration of his career.

1. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

21 of 21

    Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 30

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    58/65

    Anthony Rizzo put together a relatively disappointing .233/.323/.419 line in his full season in the majors in 2013, but he took a massive step forward last year when he improved those numbers to .286/.386/.527 while ranking second in the National League with 32 home runs.

    His work against left-handed pitching proved to be the big difference, as he went from a .189/.282/.342 line against southpaws in '13 to .300/.421/.507 last year.

    Rizzo has some of the best plate discipline in all of baseball, is a legitimate 30-plus home run threat and now hits righties and lefties equally well, which should allow him to hit in the .280-300 range. There's not much more you can ask out of a first baseman.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    25/30

    Rizzo can pick it with the best of them at first base, and he also turns the double play as well as anyone at the position. For his career, he's posted an 8.3 UZR/150 and 30 DRS.

    He's also added the stolen base to his repertoire this season, swiping 12 bases in 17 attempts so far this campaign after stealing just 16 bags in his first four seasons.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    Rizzo made the necessary adjustments to his game last season to take him from good player with potential to legitimate superstar. He's still just 25 years old, but he's already the leader of the young Chicago Cubs roster.

    2020 Overall Projection

    86/100

    Since the start of the 2014 season, there haven't been many hitters in the league better than Rizzo, and his name should continue to be plastered all over the offensive leaderboards for the foreseeable future.

    The Cubs locked him up with an extremely team-friendly seven-year, $41 million deal prior to 2013, and it includes two team option years totaling $29 million that should keep him on the North Side through 2021.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!