As the painfully slow and boring offseason grinds to a halt, baseball pundits and junkies look to pass the time one way or another.
One of the best ways to do that is to remind fans who the greats of the game are. This series will break down the best of the best at each position, starting with first base.
Just missed the cut
Matt Olson – The A’s rookie phenom put on a show last season in his limited playing time. In just 189 at-bats, Olson blasted 24 home runs with a .651 slugging percentage.
With no more Yonder Alonso, Olson will have full reign at first base with many expecting another huge step forward. Keep your eye on Olson.
Jose Abreu – Unfortunately for Abreu, he’s currently stuck on the tanking White Sox. Because of this, a lot of baseball fans don’t know how good Abreu is. Last season, Abreu put up 33 home runs, 102 RBI and an OPS of .906.
While the White Sox have shown no interest in trading Abreu, a move to a winning club would help give Jose the recognition he deserves.
Eric Hosmer – Eric Hosmer’s stock might be low right now while he holds out for his billion dollar contract, but it should not be forgotten how good he is. Hosmer is a four-time Gold Glove winner with who hit 25 homers with a .318 batting average last season. He’s good, not stupid free agent contract good, but good.
5. Cody Bellinger
On a team full of talent, Cody Bellinger stands out as one of the best and brightest. Under the lights in Los Angeles, Bellinger shined.
In his first season of MLB action, the 22-year-old hit 39 homers. Those are insane numbers. Coupled with his great defense, he stole Adrian Gonzalez’s job like a thief in the night.
While it’s unlikely he’ll repeat that output of home runs, Bellinger will only improve as he gets older. The NL West should be very afraid.
4. Freddie Freeman
This ranking is unfair to Freddie Freeman. Freeman missed 45 games last season due to injury and had to move positions for a little while due to the emergence of Matt Adams.
Freeman will now likely stay back at first and continue to dominate like he has in the past. Last season, Freemen put up 28 home runs and had a .989 OPS.
If Freeman is able to stay healthy next season and use his offensive versatility, he’ll move up this list.
3. Anthony Rizzo
While the Nationals didn’t respect him (sorry, had to do that), baseball fans across America see Anthony Rizzo as one of the top first basemen in baseball.
Last season, Rizzo had somewhat of a down year, with a slight drop in batting average and OPS. However, he was still able to put up 32 home runs, 109 RBI and a .507 slugging percentage, which is well above the MLB average.
Expect Rizzo to take a step forward as the Cubs look to make another championship run.
2. Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt has been one of the most underrated players in the MLB. Maybe it’s the fact he had only played in the postseason once before last season. Maybe it’s the small(ish) market or maybe it’s the fact players like Giancarlo Stanton and the aforementioned Rizzo stole the spotlight.
Regardless, Goldschmidt has arrived as one of the most well known and best first basemen. Last season, Goldschmidt had 36 homers, 120 RBIs and a OPS of .966.
If Arizona is able to put together another playoff run, Goldschmidt could finally capture the MVP trophy that has alluded him throughout out his career.
1. Joey Votto
Joey Votto could be one of the greatest hitters of all time. Last season, Votto had 36 home runs, drew a league high 134 walks and had an OPS of 1.032. Those are insane numbers. That can’t be stated enough. While NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton was the more flashier candidate, one could argue Votto was the much more complete player. in 2017 Votto had an OBP of .454, Stanton had a OBP of .376. Votto is going to continue to rot on a Cincinnati team that has been rebuilding for what feels like 500 years but when it’s all said and done, Votto will likely be looked at as one of the greatest ever.
Featured image by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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