Bold Predictions: First Base Edition
1. Matt Olson leads the big leagues in home runs
You can read some of my thoughts from earlier in the week on Olson here. I love him coming in to this season because he hits the ball extremely hard (8th highest Hard%) and he puts it in the air at a top 25 clip. Olson had just a 16% HR/FB rate last season, which implies he got unlucky on his flies. He still managed to smack 29 dingers. If he gets some HR/FB% luck, he’s going to hit upper 40’s home runs.
2. Anthony Rizzo wins NL MVP
While Rizzo has long been one of the best first basemen in the National League, he had a down year by his standards in 2018. His final numbers ended up below his normal line but his second half was monstrous. He runs low BABIPs due to slow running speed and the fact that he gets shifted on. He also has a very low career HR/FB% for a power hitter. These two factors along with Rizzo’s elite contact rate tell me that one of these season he’s going to have some luck and spike a .310 batting average with over 40 home runs. Add that to the fact that the Cubs are my pick to win the NL Central and he’s a prime MVP candidate.
3. Jose Martinez finishes as a top-10 first basemen
Martinez is currently going off the board as the number 20 first basemen in NFBC drafts. He raked last season in 590 PA’s and while he doesn’t have a clear spot after the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt, I think he’ll find playing time. In my opinion, Dexter Fowler is done and the Cardinals will find that out in spring training. I’m predicting Martinez breaks camp as the starting right fielder and hits so much the Cardinals can’t take him out. He hits the ball hard but too much on the ground. If he raises his launch angle a bit then he could hit mid 20s home runs with his .300+ average.
4. Jurickson Profar is not a top-20 first basemen
Profar finally had a productive season in the big leagues after being the number 1 prospect in baseball previously in his career. He makes good contact, walks a decent clip, and has multiple eligibility at SS, 3B, and 1B. The issue I see with Profar is his ability to hit 20 home runs in Oakland. The ballpark is far worse than his previous home in Texas so I just don’t see him repeating that power. If he doesn’t replace that power with a bunch of steals, he’s going to become waiver wire fodder in most leagues.
5. Justin Bour is a top-20 first basemen
He’s currently the 37th first basemen off the board in NFBC leagues and I think he’s wildly underrated. I wrote about Bour in the Dumpster Dives and Dynasty Finds series earlier in the week. To summarize, he’s my favorite deep league find of the season because I’m bearish on both Shohei Ohtani’s ability to stay healthy and Albert Pujols’ ability to hit. Bour is the Angels best option at first base and he’s going to prove himself in a big way this year.
Later today, I’ll release my 2019 first base rankings. Join KMill Sports Insights next week for Second Base Week!