Finally down to the last 3 days before Opening Day. 3 days means position 3, the First Baseman.
- Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals
Over the last four seasons Goldschmidt has played in at least 155 games while batting a combined .310/.410/.538 with an average of 32 homers and finishing in the top 11 in NL MVP voting each year. He’ll get a chance to build on a potential Hall of Fame resume in St. Louis this year.
2. Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is the epitome of consistency. He has had a batting average between .302 and .309 and an on-base percentage between .388 and .403 for each of the past three seasons. While his power numbers have declined over those three seasons, he has changed his approach at the plate to take advantage of the entire field. Last season, Freeman led the league in doubles (44) and base hits (191), while not missing a game for the entirety of the season. His 2018 performance resulted in a fourth-place finish in the MVP voting. With an Atlanta Braves offense that continues to improve each year with top prospects coming to fruition at the MLB level, Freeman should see success once more at the plate in 2019
3. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
Many would call Joey Votto’s 2018 season a down-year for the Reds star and Votto himself even called last year “frustrating”. He still had a respectable batting average of .284 and still led the NL in OBP at .417, although he only hit 12 home runs. Those would be respectable numbers for many players, but to him, it was a disappointment, especially after he nearly won the National League MVP Award for the second time with a superlative 2017.
4. Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
In 153 Games last season, Rizzo posted 25 Home Runs, 101 RBIs while hitting .283.The three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner has pretty much been a lock for 25-30 home runs, 90-100 RBI, a healthy amount of runs and a handful of steals. In the last five years, Rizzo has had over 30 homers four times and over 100 RBI four times. He’s also scored 90-plus runs three times and has played in at least 140 games in six straight seasons. The 29-year-old (30 in August) has great plate discipline and struck out a career-low 12.0 percent in 2018, giving him a safe floor in both batting average and on-base percentage. A drop in his fly balls three years in a row is a bit alarming and might help explain his power drop in 2018, but Rizzo still made hard contact 34.1 percent of the time last season. Rizzo showed that he is still performing consistently and has no reason to make anyone think otherwise.
5. Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics
Although an injury sustained during last week’s Tokyo Series, Olson had a very productive 2018 proving himself and will hopefully find a way to produce offensively, although it might take some extended time once he returns.
6. Max Muncy – Los Angeles Dodgers
After breaking out in 2018 with the Dodgers, Muncy will look to replicate his success in 2019. During his breakout season, Muncy posted 35 Home Runs in his first full MLB season since 2016.
7. Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
Smoak turned in a late-career breakout in 2017 but he found it difficult to repeat his success in the 2018 season. His 2018 campaign wasn’t a disaster by any means, but he certainly didn’t live up to the hype his 2017 season created. Smoak wound up slashing .242/.350/.457 with 25 homers, 67 runs, and 77 RBI in 147 games, all numbers which fell well short of his breakout the previous season. His strikeout rate also ballooned 5.2% up to 26.3%. On the bright side, his 14.0% walk rate was a career high.
8. Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies
Hoskins had an up and down first full season coming off his breakout rookie campaign in 2017, but had shown several stretches of what made him such a promising prospect and had a solid second half. He missed a couple of weeks due to injury, but overall it wasn’t a bad season in what some would considered to be a sophomore slump. Now that the first base job is all his going forward and with his first full season in the majors out of the way, he should be able to focus more on his hitting rather than his defense out of position.
9. Jesús Aguilar – Milwaukee Brewers
Aguilar’s 2018 breakout came in part because of injuries and ineffectiveness by Domingo Santana, Ryan Braun, and Eric Thames. Projections have Aguilar hitting 29 home runs, but with only 84 RBIs and a .242 batting average. There is some cause for concern with Aguilar’s modest second half. Aguilar managed a 160 wRC+ before the all-star break but only a 101 after. If those numbers represent a difficulty in adapting to pitchers treating him as a real threat, then Aguilar’s ceiling drops. However, Aguilar still had strong stretches in the second half, and he wasn’t bad during that period.
10. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox
The White Sox will definitely be looking for 2x All-Star and 2x Silver Slugger Abreu’s bat to carry them along to wins this season. Last season, Abreu had 499 ABs with 132 hits and 22 HRs for an overall .473 SLG.
Just Missed: Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians, C.J. Cron – Minnesota Twins