Even though Matt Carpenter is one of the team’s best players, the Cardinal’s only rank third in the 2017 First-Base Power Rankings.
After making a permanent move to first-base over the offseason, Matt Carpenter has some pretty stiff competition within the NL Central when it comes to position power rankings. When it comes to first-basemen, the Cubs and the Reds take the cake by a pretty large margin. Superstars Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto are not only considered the best players on their respective teams (well maybe Kris Bryant for the Cubs), but are both ranked in the top 10 of current MLB players (MLB Player Ratings).
1. Chicago Cubs
Not only do the Cubs take #1 in these NL Central rankings, but they may take the #1 overall spot in the MLB. Sure, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt or Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman may be considered the best first-basemen in the MLB, but with Kris Bryant as a possible backup the Cubs shouldn’t have any worries at this position.
Without a doubt one of the best players currently in the MLB. Equipped with the abilities to hit for contact and power, Rizzo also shows great athleticism as a defender. In 2016, Rizzo had the 11th highest OPS (.928) in the MLB, and the highest defensive WAR (0.2) among eligible first-basemen.
Even though he’s the Cubs’ starting third-baseman, Kris Bryant is also Rizzo’s only backup. And quite a backup he is. In 2016, Kris Bryant held the third highest WAR (7.67) in the MLB. If Rizzo was to go down with an injury, Bryant would most likely assume his spot with Javier Baez taking Bryant’s spot at third.
2. Cincinnati Reds
Although the Reds were last in the division last year, they sure aren’t last at first-base. Veteran Joey Votto, the Reds starting first-baseman, is actually considered to be a better offensive player than Rizzo. But because of old age and decreased athleticism, he causes the Reds to fall just below the Cubs in these power rankings.
Many consider Joey Votto to be the best hitter currently in the game of baseball. Last season, at the age of 33, Votto held the 4th highest OPS (.985) and the fourth highest batting average (.326) in the MLB. The reason the Reds are #2 on this list is that Joey Votto is not a good defender by any means. In 2016, Joey Votto had the worst dWAR (-2.4) among all eligible first-baseman by quite a large margin.
Currently the team’s starting left fielder, Adam Duvall has proven himself to be quite the low average high power player. With the first full season taking place last year, Duvall held a .245 batting average, a .795 OPS, and 33 HRs. Although he possessed a low batting average, the 33 HRs is quite impressive. Especially when you consider it was his first full season in the MLB. Even though he isn’t quite a star yet, he does provide some depth and pop for the Reds at first-base if veteran Joey Votto were to get injured.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
Over the past few seasons, many considered first-base to be the team’s weakpoint. With a change of personnel at first-base for this season, the Cardinal’s look to fix their first-base slump.
Yet to have played a full season at first-base, Matt Carpenter looks to transition to a full-time roll at a position in which he has had some experience with. Matt Carpenter has never been considered a great defensive player. Over his six seasons, Carpenter has put up a -2.3 dWAR. Since first-base is usually considered an easier position to play that possesses some of the most un-athletic people, Carpenter should be considered a good defensive player at first. On offense, Carpenter is considered one of the best at getting on-base. Last season, Carpenter took a total of 81 walks and held a .380 OBP. As an all-around good player.
Last season, Matt Adams and Brandon Moss platooned the first-base position. Before that, Adams was the team’s main starter. Even though Adams has struggled for some time, his 16 HRs in 327 PAs shows his ability to provide power off the bench this upcoming season.
4. Pittsburg Pirates
The Pirates situation at first-base this upcoming season is quite similar to the Cardinal’s situation last year. They have two pretty average players of pretty equal ability.
A rookie last year, Josh Bell showed off his potential to become the team’s starting first-baseman of the future. In 2016, Bell put up a .273 batting average with 3 HRs in 128 at-bats. Additionally, Bell is known to be a player with good plate visibility and discipline who walks a lot and strikes-out little. Last season Bell walked (21) more than he struck out (18). Although he’s a player with potential to get on base and hit for power, many consider Bell unathletic and a below average defender. With a lot of room to grow, Bell could become an outstanding player. But for now, he’s only enough to get the Pirates fourth in this power ranking.
A starter for the Pirates almost all of last year, John Jaso was overall a pretty average player. At the ripe age of 33, the team will most likely decide to start and start their young gun Josh Bell at first, but Jaso provides a reliable backup and pinch hitter off the bench.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are taking a gamble this season with their first-baseman Eric Thames: a player who hasn’t played in the MLB for five seasons. Due to great performances in the Korean league, the Brewers are really looking for Thames to produce.
Spending his last three seasons playing professional ball in Korea, Thames will look to transition back to the MLB. While playing in Korea, Thames put up pretty amazing numbers. In his three seasons he averaged a .347 batting average and smashed a total of 102 home-runs. The reason they take last in these power rankings is because there is just too much uncertainty to rank them any higher. In his sparse time before going to Korea, Thames was a below average player. Will he be able to transition those numbers from Korea to the MLB, or can he just not hit MLB pitching as well as he could Korean pitching. Only time will tell.
Recently acquired from the Boston Red Sox, Shaw is a .250 BA 25 HR kind of player. An average player at best. The Brewers seems to really be banking on Eric Thames to step it up and perform on the MLB stage.
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