Last week I rolled out the best catchers for 2013. And let me tell you, that list was a lot easier. The first base crop is great at the top, but then it gets a little bit less clear. Plenty of debate should come from this, but here are my top nine first basemen for the 2013 season.
9. Eric Hosmer (Royals)
Yeah, yeah, yeah his 2012 was a disaster. But I’m a believer. He’s very young and I’m comfortable writing off one bad season after he broke onto the scene in style in 2011 and during spring training last season. I love his glove and when he squares up a pitch, it can go a long way. If 2013 doesn’t go well for him, I’ll back off, but for now, I’m still a believer.
8. Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)
If you multiply the half season he played in the majors in 2012 by 2, he’d have been a top five first basemen. Not everyone is capable of doing that over a full season, but I think Rizzo is. His defense was good for the Cubs and I really like his swing. Solid average and good power. If he can improve the patience a touch, which I think he will, Rizzo could be a star.
7. Allen Craig (Cardinals)
Craig is a bit of tossup. His glove at first isn’t wonderful, but he’s a phenomenal hitter. He mixes contact and power in an excellent fashion. If he can stay healthy he’s great, if not, he won’t be. Simple as that. I’ll bet on only a couple weeks on the DL and say he’ll be a top nine 1B.
6. Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
Teixeira does certain things well. He hits for power. He walks. He plays excellent defensive. What he does not do well, is make contact. People who don’t make contact don’t crack the top five.
5. Freddie Freeman (Braves)
Freeman walks, hits for power, and plays solid defense. The average needs a boost and I buy a breakout from the young Braves first basemen. His lineup is better than last year and he’ll be another year older and wiser. Freeman is a guy to watch in 2013.
4. Adam LaRoche (Nationals)
LaRoche is also someone who combines power, walks, and defense. Well he did in 2012. He’s a bit of a wild card, but I’m going for it. He was a mess in 2011 due to a low BABIP, but I’m going to bank on him for one more year in the middle of that great Nationals lineup.
3. Prince Fielder (Tigers)
Prince is an excellent hitter. He hits for average. He draws walks. He has prodigious power. He hits behind the game’s best slugger and is one of the most durable baseball players in the world. He doesn’t play good defense though, so he can’t crack the top two.
2. Albert Pujols (Angels)
2012 was a down year for The Machine, but 30 HR and 3.9 WAR is better than a down year for almost every person on Earth. Pujols just set a very high bar. The future Hall of Famer is probably on the decline, but coming down from his insane peak still leaves a lot of room for him to be great. Look for a couple more great years before the party is over.
1. Joey Votto (Reds)
There is a case to be made the Votto is the best offensive player in baseball. In 75% of a season in 2012, he posted a 5.9 WAR. He’s a good defender, too, but man the offense. I’m just going to let his slash line do the talking, because really, what could I say that it doesn’t? .337/.474/.567. Read that again and let it sink in. Unbelievable.