After getting the mostly offensively deprived catcher position out of the way, we make a left turn, hop on I-95, and get off in Long Ball City. First base has always been known for its vast offensive numbers. From Albert Pujols, to Miguel Cabrera, to Paul Goldschmidt. The list goes on and on.
And just when you thought the position might experience a slight drop in overall value, guys like Cody Bellinger, Rhys Hoskins, and Matt Olson destroy baseballs for a few months and boom, the position has three new stars for dynasty and keeper league owners to fight over.
Speaking of Bellinger. There’s a chance you might see him very early in these rankings. SPOILER!
Other 2018 Dynasty/Keeper Rankings: C
The Top Dog – Cody Bellinger
What? Expecting Paul Goldschmidt here? Don’t worry, Goldy is still second. Cody Bellinger is going all Hollywood on these first base dynasty rankings. He made his Major League debut, as a 21-year-old, on April 25 and proceeded to terrorize National League pitchers for the next five months. Bellinger finished with a .267 average, 39 homers, 97 RBI, 87 runs, and 10 steals in 480 at-bats. GIve him 600 at-bats and those numbers would’ve been 49, 121, 109, and 13, respectively.
Oh, and did I mention Bellinger added 15 pounds of muscle this off-season? Cause he did. I know added muscle doesn’t guarantee added power production, but it’s still intriguing. The combination of age, current production, and future production/upside vaulted Bellinger into the top spot of these rankings over Goldschmidt. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
On the Rise
Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
The word “beastly” doesn’t even begin to describe Rhys Babe Hoskins. If you project out his 170 at-bat debut to the 597 at-bats that home run leader Giancarlo Stanton had, Hoskins would have mashed 63 home runs. Oh, not to mention 169 RBI and 130 runs scored, too. Granted, that pace might not have been sustainable, I get it. But if you have the pleasure of owning Hoskins in any format, especially keeper/dynasty, and aren’t really freaking excited, you might need to seek medical treatment.
Hoskins combines elite raw power with an approach at the plate well beyond his years. If you combine his minors and major league numbers last season, he would have 101 walks to just 121 strikeouts. It’s not often that a slugger with the power of Hoskins can keep their strikeout totals in check. He might never hit .300, but Hoskins’ approach and plate discipline will keep his batting average respectable to go along with his elite power numbers. The sky is the limit here. Don’t be surprised if Hoskins is a couple spots higher on this list next season.
Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
If you thought Hoskins’ 63 homer pace was ridiculous, then you’ll probably have to sit down for this one. Without much fanfare at all, Oakland Athletics rookie, Matt Olson, was on a 76 home run pace last season. That’s right, Olson hit 24 homers in 187 at-bats. You would’ve thought he was taking batting practice out there or something.
For FOURTH time this season, @mattolson21 has homered in 3 straight games.
— MLB (@MLB) September 18, 2017
Now, there are some kinks in the armor here. Olson might have massive power potential, but his overall hit tool needs some work. I mean, his hit tool isn’t on Galloian levels, but Olson hit only .243 in his minor league career and struck out in 27.8% of his at-bats with Oakland last season. But if he can stay in the .250-.260 range, fantasy owners will take that every day of the week if it comes with 40+ dingers and 100+ RBI year in and year out.
On the Decline
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Oh, Miggy. If only your back wasn’t total crap. It’s always sad to see the demise of a generational talent like Miguel Cabrera. We’ve been witnessing it over the last few seasons with Albert Pujols, and now Cabrera is beginning to join him.
Last season was Cabrera’s 15th in the Major Leagues and 14th full season. He set career-lows in AVG, SLG, OPS, and all three were his worst by a significant margin. Cabrera was also limited to 469 at-bats and could muster only 16 home runs and 60 RBI. Yeah, you could say that back was bothering him quite a bit.
Now, Miggy might be old, but he’s not Bartolo Colon old or anything. He’ll turn 35 a few weeks into the 2018 season and is just 18 months removed from a .316/38/108 season with a .956 OPS. I refuse to believe the tank is empty here. Will he return to the old classic Miggy? No, probably not. But there are still likely a couple more .300/30/100 seasons left in that Hall of Fame bat.
Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers
The value of Eric Thames lately looks like a heart rate monitor. Up, down, up down. Right now, it’s down. Did we really think he was going to dominate all season? I mean, there’s a reason why he had been out of the Major Leagues since 2012. Granted, hitters can go play in other countries, better their skills, and come back with higher value. I’m not discounting that. But damn, Thames came back and went all Chris Shelton on the league last April.
Unfortunately for Thames, playing at the highest level of baseball in the world means you’re going to face some pretty talented pitchers that know how to attack a player’s weakness. That’s exactly what happened to Thames, as his OPS dropped from .936 in the first half to .794 in the second half. Thames still has some decent value in dynasty/keeper formats, but April 2017 was simply a mirage.
Keep An Eye On…
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
He’s a really good hitter that will be playing at a really good hitters’ park. That’s the short version of this section. McMahon might not be your prototypical mashing first baseman, but he combines a plus hit tool with above-average power, and oh yeah, he’ll have the Coors Field factor in his corner. He profiles as a .300/25 type of player long-term and could begin to put that talent on full display as soon as Opening Day this season.
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.