Over the course of the last few seasons, a new generation of first basemen have emerged in MLB with the likes of the Atlanta Braves‘ Freddie Freeman, Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Paul Goldschmidt and Kansas City Royals‘ Eric Hosmer all making significant contributions to their respective clubs.
First base has always been one of the positions on the baseball diamond where having an offensively dominant player is absolutely critical to championship aspirations. Typically, they bat in the middle of the order, clobber home runs and drive in runners; and if they don’t, it is unlikely your team is headed in the right direction.
It is no secret that the Chicago Cubs are in the middle of a grueling rebuild after bottom-dwelling in the NL Central over the course of the last four seasons, unable to finish better than fifth place without winning more than 75 games. However, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and company have compiled a group of fine young players through trades and the draft, and none of these players stand out more than first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
In 2013, Rizzo’s first full season in the majors, the slugger played 160 games, batting .233 slugging 23 home runs and 80 RBIs to go along with a .323 on-base percentage. While these statistics are far from overwhelming, keep in mind when comparing him to the aforementioned players that he played on a losing team with an offensively anemic batting order.
Currently, Rizzo is ranked as the 17th first baseman with an average draft position of 93.5 on many sites. When thinking of a player most comparable to Rizzo, the first that came to mind is Hosmer, who is currently ranked as the eighth first baseman and has an average draft position of 46.0 overall. Lets take a look at Rizzo’s stats once again while comparing them to Hosmer’s.
Anthony Rizzo: .233 AVG 23 HR 80 RBI .323 OBP in 160 games.
Eric Hosmer: .302 AVG 17 HR 79 RBI .353 OBP in 159 games.
Obviously, the first thing that stands out is Hosmer’s average; however, he is only a .277 career hitter over his first three seasons and hit .232 during the 2012 season. Hosmer’s average could easily come back down to earth a bit, and Rizzo’s should improve considering he hit .285 over the course of 87 games in 2012.
Essentially, many fantasy baseball players are betting on Hosmer hitting over .300 in 2014, but you should not. Rizzo projects to hit .265 with 26 HR and 85 RBIs in 2014, and you can draft him four or five rounds later than Hosmer, making Rizzo the better value.