Every offseason, MLB Network runs through a series of programming. One such show is about the Top 10 Right Now at each position. And as we have done in both 2018 and 2019, we will go over our Top 10 First Basemen Right Now.
Just a quick note about this list, it is a personal list, and everyone will value different things from each position. So I encourage you to make your own list and see who makes the cut on your list.
10. Luke Voit- New York Yankees
Now, this pick is more about belief in the future potential than based on past success. Luke Voit showed some serious hitting following the Yankees acquisition of him from the St. Louis Cardinals. Voit isn’t going to be known for gold glove defense, but First Basemen are known more for their offensive game anyway. So Luke Voit begins my list of the Top 10 First Basemen Right Now.
9. Carlos Santana- Cleveland Indians
Carlos Santana struggled away from the friendly surroundings of Cleveland. But as a member of the Tribe, Santana has delivered. In 2019, Santana would have a career-high in both homeruns (34) and RBIs (110). In 2020, the Indians are going to be relying on Santana as they are a team in flux. But regardless, Santana is likely going to be a solid contributor.
8. Rhys Hoskins- Philadelphia Phillies
Let me begin by stating that I am a big fan of Rhys Hoskins. I believe that Rhys could one day be atop this very list. Now, 2019 wasn’t as grand as his 2018 rookie campaign or his 2017 last season cameo, but Rhys remains impressive. Much of that can be excused to a “Sophomore Slump” based on pitcher’s approach adjustments. But that being said, Hoskins still hit 29 homers and 85 RBIs and a wRC+ of 113. So even in a down year, Hoskins was 13 points better than league-average. So projecting forward the Phillies First Baseman can quickly put together a monstrous season en route to helping the Phillies get back to the playoffs.
7. Max Muncy- Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been a team built on versatility. But going into 2020, more of a structured defensive lineup is probable. Max Muncy is a very versatile player and produced in a big way for LA. In 2019, Muncy hit 35 homeruns and drove in 98 RBIs. The Dodgers are still a heavy favorite in the National League, and Muncy being able to get comfortable at first base should add to his overall production.
6. Anthony Rizzo- Chicago Cubs
At one point, Anthony Rizzo could have topped this list. And there’s a legitimate argument for it even now. In 2019, Rizzo homered 27 times and drove in 94. Anthony would also slash .293/.405/.520, which is an impressive line. We also know that Rizzo is one of the better defenders at first base. And thus he’s ahead of all but 5 First Basemen in baseball, in my opinion.
5. Josh Bell- Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates’ First Baseman would put together arguably the most underrated campaign of 2019. And why was it so underrated? Because Josh Bell would have a season of 37/116 (HR/RBI) and a wRC+ of 135 playing in obscurity in the Steel City. And add in little to no protection from the Pirates lineup, and Bell’s number look even better. Bell is not going to be overlooked for very long after a season like that of 2019. But look for the Pirate to continue to deliver impactful hits when they matter in Pittsburgh.
4. Pete Alonso- New York Mets
This pick in this place I struggled with, at times throughout my deliberating Pete Alonso, was lower and higher. But ultimately, Pete Alonso lands in fourth place because of the tenure and track record of the three First Basemen above him. I genuinely believe in the talent that Alonso displayed in 2019. And I think that Alonso is more than just a “flash in the pan” or a “one year wonder.” Now that being said, do I believe that Alonso is capable of another 50 homerun campaign? Yes, yes, I do. The offensive ability of Alonso massively proved itself in 2019. But even digging in and looking back at the Minor League track record, Pete has hit at all levels. So it’s really no surprise to see him demolishing “juiced” balls last season. And even though I think MLB will “de-juice” the balls, I still think that Alonso crushes another 50 homers in 2020.
3. Paul Goldschmidt- St. Louis Cardinals
This was probably the hardest decision for me, next to leaving Joey Votto off the list entirely. Because I’ve long touted Paul Goldschmidt as the best First Baseman in baseball for years. However, the slight regression in 2019, along with the growth and strength of the two players ahead of him, facilitated this move. Goldy is still excellent. Because looking at his 2019 slashline of .260/.346/.476 would be next level for some other First Basemen. That’s the level that we are dealing with here, from Elite down to Superstar. Now I say that fully expecting a “bounceback” campaign to get back to more normal numbers in 2020. The changing of teams and subsequent extension could have stifled the normally relaxed First Baseman into putting extra pressure. But going into his second full season with the Cardinals should remove that stress for the elite First Baseman.
2. Matt Olson- Oakland Athletics
I truly deliberated placing Matt Olson at number one on this list, but ultimately too many games were missed to solidify that decision. Otherwise, Olson is among the upper echelon in baseball for First Basemen. The perennial Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner is a dominant force when on the field. Playing out in Oakland, Matt Olson can easily be missed by casual fans of the sport, but die-hard baseball fans know his name. In just 127 games in 2019, Olson would crush 36 homeruns and deliver 91 runs batted in and produce a wRC+ of 134. If you were beginning a franchise and had to draft a First Baseman, there’s only one better in baseball than Matt Olson.
1. Freddie Freeman- Atlanta Braves
So the only one of the First Basemen in baseball better than Matt Olson is that of the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman. Over the last few seasons, Freeman has been next-level elite. The combination of his tools is truly a sight to behold. The Braves have been able to bank on average of 27/97 (HR/RBI) from Freddie over his 10 year Major League career. Also, add in the fact that Freeman is pretty sure-handed over at First Base from the defensive perspective. Freddie Freeman’s ability to stay on the field is the separator between He and Matt Olson.