2014 Dynasty League Rankings

The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League First Basemen, Nos. 1-20

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

First base is a fun position to debate, and although the names run deep, the big ones shine much brighter than the mid or end-game versions. The recent quirk of the position (at least over the last couple of seasons) is that the minor league crop is especially weak. However, this is less consequential at first base, as the position gets just as much of an infusion from shifts down on the defensive spectrum as it does from the minor leagues. And with that shifting scheduled to continue (with potential names like Miguel Cabrera, Joe Mauer and others coming in 2015), things may continue to bulk up in the coming years anyway.

Now the 20 best first baseman in dynasty leagues, starting with a slugger who has elevated himself into near slam-dunk number one territory over the last 12 months:

1) Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 7)

Damn, son. That’s what Paul Goldschmidt’s 2013 made you say. And the best part about it for owners in dynasty leagues? It doesn’t look like anything he did was particularly fluky or unsustainable. He cut his whiff rate, walked a whole lot more, and turned a bunch of doubles into homers. His SB efficiency did take a hit, so maybe you get 10-12 bonus steals next season instead of 15-18. Outside of that minor inconvenience he’s entering his Age 26 season and he’s the best first baseman for your dynasty league team.

2) Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 61, OF)

In an era of diminishing power numbers Davis’ monster 2013 stood out like a really awesome sore thumb. He finished as the 3rd most valuable fantasy player last year, narrowly above #1 on this list. He’s #2 on our list for long-term value because there are some warning signs. It’s tough to bank on a repeat of his .286 average because he strikes out 30% of the time, and it’s equally tough to bank on him repeating his astronomical 29.6% HR/FB rate. Still, when a guy throws up a .348 ISO and remains firmly in the middle of his prime he’s plenty worthy of a top-dollar investment.

3) Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 1)

Votto’s on-base numbers are a sight to behold, and after leading the Majors in OBP for the 4th consecutive year in 2013 there’s a case to be made for ranking him first on this list in OBP leagues. For our purposes though he remains a top-tier option in standard 5×5 leagues on account of elite BA and R numbers. Outside of a random spike in his 2010 career year Votto’s also been a very consistent HR/FB producer, though it is worth noting that he did hit less fly balls than he’s ever hit last season. As a result it took him a league-leading 726 plate appearances to tally his 24 homeruns. It’s not enough cause for concern to knock him down our list just yet, but it’s certainly something to file away.

4) Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 2)

There shouldn’t be a ton of difference between Prince the Tiger and Prince the Ranger. He’s moving from one top-10 offense to another and a ballpark with a 110 HR park factor for lefties to one with a 108 rating. His performance last year does offer some causes for concern, most notably an almost 4 point drop in Z-contact % that may indicate some slowing of his bat speed. He also chased a few more balls out of the zone last season, and that led to a drop in his BB% and weaker contact. Prince should nonetheless retain his top-shelf power potential and counting stat opportunities for the next several years and continue to be a relatively safe investment in dynasty leagues for the time being.

5) Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 5)

After struggling for years in Cincinnati and Toronto to turn his raw power into the playable kind Encarnacion finally took “the leap” in the second half of 2011 and he hasn’t looked back since. He became a much more patient hitter, laying off balls out of the zone, working counts, and driving mistakes. His 2012 and 2013 seasons look remarkable similar with a notable plus that he cut his strikeout rate all the way down to 10% last season. That’s an elite number for his kind of power production, and given a strong lineup and one of the best parks in baseball for right-handed power E5 makes for a most appealing target.

6) Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 6)

When Hosmer’s sophomore slump of 2012 extended through May last year you could start to see some dynasty owners squirm. Hopefully you were able to pounce and acquire him at a discount during that window, because it may have been your last opportunity to buy low on the 24 year old. Hosmer rebounded with a strong final four months and looks poised to challenge the top 5 as soon as this season. He still hits too many groundballs to maximize his power potential, but if he can get the ball in the air more often he’ll add 20-25 HR pop to his already excellent contact skills and sneaky double-digit speed. The whole package is tantalizing for dynasty leaguers.

7) Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 19)

Hosmer v. Freeman was one of the more contentious debates in our office this winter, and on the surface it’s tough to argue against Freeman. He posted a breakout campaign last year in his Age 23 season that was third best among all first basemen, and he should be hitting in the heart of one of the better lineups in the National League for years to come. His season was fueled by a hefty (and very likely unsustainable) .371 BABIP though, and there’s still an awful lot of swing-and-miss in his game that may limit his AVG ceiling in less fortuitous seasons. Still, the pop is real and there aren’t many better long-term bets at the position.

8) Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 3)

It feels weird to talk about upside with an over-the-hill, future-Hall-of-Famer like Pujols, but bear with me. Yes, he’ll be 34 this year, and he’s coming off an injury year and a “down” year before that. The risk of ongoing decline and continuing injury issues is obviously significant. And sure, he’s technically in the midst of a 6-year OPS slide. But let’s not lose sight of something here: we’re talking about one of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history. The post-prime injury risk version of Prince Albert is still as capable of slapping up a couple more .300+/30+/100/100 seasons as anyone on this list. And you very well may be able to get him on the cheap(er) this spring, making him an interesting little target for 2014 and beyond.

9) Allen Craig, St Louis Cardinals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 14, OF)

Craig can just flat-out hit. A career .306 hitter, he’s posted above-board BABIP numbers consistently enough now to where his expected range is higher than it is for most hitters. This is a good thing, as Craig is as solid a bet as any for a .300+ season. Add in that he’ll once again hit in the middle of a plush Cardinal lineup and you’ve got a good shot at top 10 RBI and R production as well. The big questions with Craig are health and power. The latter is particularly vexing, as he traded in too many fly balls for line drives last year and bottomed out at just 13 measly homers and a barely-league average .142 ISO. A redux of that power outage in 2014 will likely see him tumble down this list next year.

10) Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 4)

Gonzalez is a pretty boring name nowadays, but don’t mistake that for a lack of value. He overhauled his approach last season, making a conscious effort to pull the ball after seeing his ability to drive pitches to the opposite field fade with age. The new approach appears to have stabilized his power output, and when you couple his BA and RBI consistency with 20+ homers you’ve got a solid if unspectacular fantasy player. He’s also one of the safest bets on this list to accrue his counting stats, having logged at least 156 games played every year since 2006. That kind of above-average consistency has a ton of value even if it’s not sexy.

11) David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (Age: 38, Previous Rank: 9)
Unless you play with a five-game rule, Big Papi won’t be eligible at first base in 2014. He played just six games at the position last year, but those who owned Ortiz weren’t complaining as he put together his best fantasy season since 2007. He’ll enter 2014 at age 38, but I can see him stringing together two more years of elite production as Boston’s biggest offensive threat. Three straight campaigns with a .300-plus BA is the icing on the cake.
12) Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 10)
A top-12 ranking despite a .233 BA last season should tell you everything you need to know: Rizzo is still an attractive commodity in dynasty leagues. I think he settles in as an annual 25-home run threat with the upside of 30. The elephant in the room is a .194/.270/.347 career slash against lefties, but we should see a nice rebound overall on the heels of a .258 BABIP. He can regularly be among the league leaders in extra-base hits, and if he gives you a .265-.270 BA you’ll be happy with everything else.
13) Mark Trumbo, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 46, OF)
Trumbo’s dynasty value doesn’t change much with his move to the desert. While his first-base eligibility will wash away with Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at first base, Trumbo is very much an elite source of power in a league with diminishing supply. Trumbo’s batting average won’t ever be pretty (think .250 on the high side), but he should consistently be among the league leaders in long balls.
14) Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 8)
Like Ortiz, Butler’s first-base eligibility won’t be there in 2014. He played seven games at first last season and saw a steep drop in his offensive production. Twenty-nine home runs in 2012 are looking more and more like an outlier, as Big Country has failed to reach 20 home runs in three out of the last four years. He’ll be 27 on Opening Day, so there are still plenty of productive seasons ahead, but it’s a good bet that Butler’s best is already behind him.
15) Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Abreu might be a question mark, but he’s a question mark followed by multiple exclamation points. The Cuban star’s major league debut will be among the most exciting in recent history, as the 26-year-old tries to solidify himself as the White Sox most dangerous hitter in 2014. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Abreu has elite power, as demonstrated by 33 home runs in 66 games during the 2010-11 season in Cuba, and the success of fellow countrymen Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig will only accelerate the hype.
16) Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 20)
Belt finally got the at-bats he deserved last season and silenced his critics, providing sneaky production across the board with a .289 BA, 17 home runs, 76 runs, 67 RBI and five steals. He will need to take the next step to justify this high of a ranking, however, meaning he needs to enter the 20-home run conversation. At 25, the window for that kind of growth is certainly open, and there’s nothing in his batted ball profile to suggest it can’t happen.
17) Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 14, C)
Napoli’s 2013 season started inauspiciously with a failed physical, but ended in grand fashion with a World Series championship. He’ll lose catcher eligibility, which hurts, but don’t look past his massive power. A tendency to swing and miss will drain his overall value, but the next two years in Boston should provide for plenty of jaw-dropping moments and good times. It’s risky to invest in a player with a 32.4 percent strikeout rate, but the potential run production Napoli provides is a nice equalizer.
18) Matt Adams, St Louis Cardinals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 27)
Adams stepped in for an injured Allen Craig in September and the Cardinals didn’t miss a beat, as the 260-pounder helped power St. Louis to a postseason berth. With Carlos Beltran no longer in St. Louis, the first-base job is Adams’ with Craig shifting to the outfield. The 25-year-old averaged 36 home runs per 162 games in the minors and the power carried over last season, as the big man launched 17 home runs in 296 big league at-bats. Adams should ease into the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup and be a key contributor for years to come, with multiple 25-30 HR seasons ahead.
19) Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 35)
Backing up an impressive debut, Moss blasted 30 home runs and tacked on 87 RBI, doing most almost all of his damage against right-handers (26 HR vs. RHP, four vs. LHP). The extreme splits make it difficult to rank Moss any higher, but daily leaguers must remember this sneaky power source. What he did last year is repeatable, but is it likely? I’m skeptical, but — after limiting Moss to 88 plate appearances against southpaws in 2013 — the Athletics showed they would not expose Moss’ most glaring weakness.
20) Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 13)

After starting off the year with a 50-game suspension, Singleton never fully recovered, hitting .230/.351/.401 in 390 plate appearances in Triple-A. Like a few of his top-20 mates, Singleton struggles against lefties and there are some mechanical flaws that must be addressed. He projects to be an average hitter with plus power – think in the 20-home run range.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the remaining 30 names that round out this list.

Commentary by Wilson Karaman and Alex Kantecki.

The Author

The Dynasty Guru

The Dynasty Guru


  1. Mike
    January 23, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Starting in 2015, Miggy is likely only a 1B. Does he go to the top of the list or does Goldschmidt hold him off given his age?

    • January 23, 2014 at 8:03 am

      It’s going to be much closer than expected. I’d still lean Miggy since I expect Goldy’s steals to decline as he ages, but the fact that it’s a legitimate question speaks to just how great Goldy has been.

  2. Bryce krispie treats
    January 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

    16 team AL/NL H2H league. Keep 12 year to year. 9 position player + 3 utility, 4 starters one reliever each week, fairly standard scoring. I have been rebuilding well and have managed to cash the last 2 years after taking on one of the ugliest reclamation projects you have ever seen. I finished first regular season two years ago and second last year in my division. Now part of me is toying with keeping focussed on holding 1 or 2 ML players on an active roster pre draft if they are supposedly studs. I basically went 3 full years punting the leader spots until some of the youngins grew up.
    Pitchers worth Keeping
    Kershaw Scherzer Teheran Dickey RIu Chapman
    Harper Stanton Holliday, Yelich, Tavares, A. Garcia,
    Hosmer Morrison
    Beltre Machado Moustakas
    Dan Murphy Rendon

    I have no SS – I just traded lowrie and I got Scherzer and third round pick,. I can trade Scherzer and get a pick + Segura
    part of me wants to go after Baez and wait until he take the spot at SS. Few of the people are smart enough to grab great prospects early enough and I almost always end up a seller pre draft day.
    Do you agree with keeping
    Stanton Harper Tavares Beltre Machado Santana Hosmer
    Rendon and Holliday (good stats trade bait) – keep a prosect 2b who is likely as good as a murphy despite the career year
    Would you flip Mad Max Scherzer for Segura – not keep rendon and maybe add Teheran (scherzer contract year is delicious
    Would you go after Baez because big bat speed guys like him are rare?
    Do I try to trade a holliday and keep yelich?

    Your columns rock. I would really like to see a piece on balance to remain competitive over a long period of time between reaching for prospects early in a dynasty league or not. That and a risk factor into the payer rater for prospects that takes into account things like pitchers in the PCL or # of decent pitches a pitcher has or bat speed as a handicap on prospect ratings.

  3. Matt
    January 24, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Okay. So is Adams or Abreu enough, not enough or just about right in return for Gary Sanchez, or should I aim higher?

    Thanks. Dynamite job on this stuff.

    • January 24, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Take Abreu and run!

  4. January 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Nice Rankings. Rizzo drives me nuts at 12, but I’m a Rizzo hater so take that with a grain of salt.

  5. Matt Steen
    February 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    so i jsut got offered this trade in a 30 team dynasty league

    Kendrys Morales (my current starting 1B), Edward Mujica and Derek Jeter (i have Segura and Gregorious at SS) for Albert Pujols, Brad Boxberger and Gerardo Parra (currently starting Seth Smith in the OF)

    Im about to take it but making sure im not missing anything

    • February 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      I’d take the Pujols side in a heartbeat.

      • Matt Steen
        February 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm

        I figured, im only hesitant cause its a salary league and i take on Pujols’ contract while Morales is only making 3M a year, but the production speaks for itself plus im the Cards and they deserve Pujols back

        Great job on the site btw man im a huge fan of what you do, read your stuff last year when i took over this team and it helped tremendously!

  6. Michael
    March 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Where would Joe Mauer be ranked on this last now that he’ll be at 1B?

    • March 7, 2014 at 7:10 am

      I’d throw him in the mid teens right now, but with the potential to be higher on next year’s list. He’s a very, very good hitter even with below average power for the position.

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