As I mentioned earlier in the Bullets, CBS is currently ranking MLB players by position in a fun way: setting aside contracts and long-term stuff entirely, which players would you want to have on your team at each position for 2016? It’s simple, but it’s a helpful focussing mechanism for a topic that otherwise gets random and subjective that people wind up arguing about rankings using completely different standards. Yes, there’s still a lot of subjectivity involved, but at least we’re all talking about the same thing.
Up for discussion today: for 2016, which first baseman would you want?
Surely, Chicago Cubs fans will skew heavily in favor of Anthony Rizzo, and that’s not entirely unreasonable – not only has he been a stud the last two years, but his strikeout rate dropped to just 15.0% last season and he’ll play most of this year at age 26. There are reasons to believe that he could be even better in 2016 than he’s been the last two years (which was an incredibly valuable player).
Indeed, only one first baseman in baseball has topped Rizzo’s 11.2 WAR over the past two seasons, and even that was only barely (11.8).
Rizzo is fourth, behind the aforementioned Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto, and just ahead of Chris Davis and Jose Abreu. That, too, sounds pretty fair. Although Rizzo was ahead of everyone in that group is WAR over the past two years, Cabrera and Votto lagged behind only because of injuries that, in theory, they’re over. And, although both players will turn 33 next season, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to bet on their bats still being overwhelmingly good in 2016. By 2017, perhaps, you’d no longer take them over Rizzo.
What do you think? Set aside your Cubs fandom for a moment (lest the answer to the question “whom do you want at first base for the Cubs next year?” be made too obvious – for lots of reasons, it’s Rizzo all the way), and try to answer the question of which first baseman in baseball is going to be best in 2016. Is Goldschmidt-Cabrera-Votto-Rizzo the right ranking?
For me, I’d probably flip Votto and Cabrera, but otherwise that would be my top four.