30 Days of MLB Rankings: Top Ten First Basemen
Ladies and Gentlemen: 30 days, 30 MLB position rankings. Nine positions and the top starting pitcher ranked from each team in three parts each. Each player on the list is based on who the projected starter is for a team for the 2020 season by position. On day six of this series, we’ll look at the top ten first basemen in the MLB.
Check out my previous rankings from this series:
10. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
2019: 159 games, .284/.330/.513 splits, .834 OPS, 33 Home Runs, 123 RBIs
Jose Abreu tends to fly under the radar since the Chicago White Sox haven’t been very good in recent memory. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Abreu has always been a great first-baseman. In a lackluster lineup, Abreu led the AL with 123 RBIs in 2019. Defense is not his strength, however, and he may project to be a designated hitter going forward.
9. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
2019: 158 games, .281/.397/.515 splits, .911 OPS, 34 Home Runs, 93 RBIs
After a down year with the Phillies in 2018, Carlos Santana had the best year of his career in 2019, earning his first all-star appearance. Santana prides himself on working at-bats deep into the count, drawing walks. Despite this, he’s also solid at limiting strikeouts. His OPS of .911 was far and away the best mark of his career. Santana is also very durable and has only missed five games in the last two seasons.
8. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
2019: 105 games, .247/.346/.576 splits, .923 OPS, 34 Home Runs, 79 RBIs
Despite missing nearly 60 games in 2019, Miguel Sano was still able to hit 34 home runs. After a horrendous 2018 season in which he hit under .200, Sano was able to bounce back in 2019 and play a key role for the Twins. Sano’s primary position is third base, but with Josh Donaldson arriving, Sano will have to slide across the diamond. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the new position in 2020.
7. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
2019: 143 games, .277/.367/.569 splits, .936 OPS, 37 Home Runs, 116 RBIs
On an otherwise abysmal Pirates squad, Josh Bell broke onto the scene and earned his first all-star appearance in 2019. Once viewed as a top prospect, Bell had been underwhelming his first three seasons in the league. That all changed last year as he recorded a .936 OPS and 37 home runs. Defensively, Bell does struggle at times. The team may move him to designated hitter with the universal DH being added to the MLB for 2020.
6. Paul Goldschmidt, St.Louis Cardinals
2019: 161 games, .260/.346/.476 splits, .821 OPS, 34 Home Runs, 97 RBIs
Sure, Paul Goldschmidt did have the worst season of his career since 2012 during his first year in St.Louis in 2019. However, he’s still very much in the elite level of first basemen. Goldschmidt can cover all parts of the plate and is prolific at hitting the breaking ball. Defensively, Goldschmidt is still one of the best in the MLB, and that did not change in 2019.
5. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
2019: 146 games, .293/.405/.520 splits, .924 OPS, 27 Home Runs, 94 RBIs
Anthony Rizzo picked it up during the second half of 2019 and had a solid season after a slow start to the year. In the field, Rizzo is one of the best in the MLB as he won his third gold glove in four years in 2019. While he won’t steal many bases, Rizzo is a very intelligent base-runner as well. Not to mention, Rizzo destroys right-handed pitching. At times he flies under the radar, but he is still one of the best first basemen in the MLB.
4. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
2019: 141 games, .251/.374/.515 splits .889 OPS, 35 Home Runs, 98 RBIs
I bet the Oakland Athletics wish they hadn’t released this guy back in 2017. Muncy came completely out of nowhere and had a major breakout season with the Dodgers in 2018. In 2019, Muncy only further added to his résumé, by hitting 35 home runs, slugging .515, and having a 5.7 WAR. Defensively, Muncy plays around the infield and projects to be the Dodgers’ first baseman for next season. He’ll likely also receive time at second and third in 2020.
3. Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
2019: 127 games, .267/.351/.545 splits, .896 OPS, 36 Home Runs, 91 RBIs
Despite missing a lot of time due to injury in 2019, Matt Olson still smashed 36 home runs while posting a 5.4 WAR at the plate. Defensively, Olson is one of the best in the MLB and earned his second straight gold glove last year. Playing in the small market of Oakland, Olson doesn’t get enough attention, but shouldn’t be overlooked. With his quirky batting stance, Olson has proven that he is one of the best first basemen in the MLB.
2. Pete Alonso, New York Mets
2019: 161 games, .260/.358/.583 splits, .941 OPS, 53 Home Runs, 120 RBIs
Enter all the angry Mets fans. If it weren’t for Freddie Freeman, “Polar Bear Pete” would have earned my top spot on the list. However, I’m giving the slight nod to Freeman for his defense and ability to get on at a higher clip. As a 24-year-old, Alonso set a rookie record by hitting a league-leading 53 home runs in 2019. Late in the season, he almost carried the Mets to a playoff berth. Defensively is where he needs to improve going forward, as his -3 Rdrs shows he hurt his team on the field. Hopefully, this guy will be able to continue hitting deep flies for a long time.
1. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
2019: 158 games, .295/.389/.549 splits, .938 OPS, 38 Home Runs, 121 RBIs
And now the top first base spot, which is going to Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. Fans often sleep on Freeman, but watching him play shows just how valuable he is to this team. Atlanta can plug this guy into the middle of the lineup and rely on him to produce runs one way or the other. His 38 home runs last year were a career-high. Freeman is also elite at taking walks. In the field, Freeman rarely makes mistakes, and likely would have won the Gold Glove last year if it weren’t for Anthony Rizzo. Fans need to stop sleeping on Freeman and appreciate his greatness.
Come back tomorrow for day seven of this series where I’ll rank second basemen ranked 30-21!
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