This is part two of a nine-part series where we look at each position in the National League for the All-Star roster. We will see how different contributors constructed their All-Star rosters, as well as which players deserve to make the team. You can read part one of the series here.
First base has changed a lot in the past five years for the National League. It once held some of the greatest hitters in the game. There were years where making the decision was near impossible. While the choices aren't as stacked as those days, there are still some very good choices for the position. Could Mark Reynolds beat out the other candidates at the position? What are his chances? Let's take a look at the situaiton.
Here are the top 10 candidates by fWAR:
Note: Michael Morse does appear on the leader list for 1B on FanGraphs and would be eighth, but is listed at outfield on the ballot, so he will be covered there.
Current All-Star Voting Results
Results as of Monday evening, from MLB.com:
The Contributors Vote
|Voter||Starter||Reserve #1||Reserve #2||Reserve #3|
|Cheeseandcorn||Anthony Rizzo||Freddie Freeman (DH)||Paul Goldschmidt|
|Derek Harvey||Paul Goldschmidt||Freddie Freeman|
|Fred Hofstetter||Paul Goldschmidt||Freddie Freeman||Anthony Rizzo (DH)|
|Hangwithem Rach||Freddie Freeman||Paul Goldschmidt||Adrian Gonzalez|
|-JP-||Paul Goldschmidt||Anthony Rizzo||Freddie Freeman|
|Jordan Mader||Paul Goldschmidt||Freddie Freeman||Anthony Rizzo|
|Noah Jarosh||Anthony Rizzo||Paul Goldschmidt||Freddie Freeman|
|NPetrashek||Freddie Freeman||Paul Goldschmidt||Mark Reynolds||Anthony Rizzo|
More variety showed up in the vote for first base, but three names kept coming up: Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, and Anthony Rizzo. All three of those names are at the top of the list in terms of fWAR at first base. They are probably the best candidates at the position, as well. A couple of other names came up, as well. Rach mentioned Adrian Gonzalez, and Nate added Mark Reynolds on as well. There's a tougher case for those two, but they could make sense.
Couple of notes before continuing:
- Since the NL manager has to name a starting DH, I asked each contributor to name their choice for starting DH. That is what the DH mark after a player's name means.
- I also asked all of the voters to include one member from each NL team on their ballot.
Here is what the contributors had to say:
Cheeseandcorn: "Rizzo, Goldschmidt, and Freeman are about dead-even at first base. I gave Rizzo the slight nod because of his superior walk rate and slightly superior defense, SSS notwithstanding."
Derek Harvey: "I stayed pretty close to fWAR leaders."
Fred Hofstetter: "There are fair arguments for Freeman or Rizzo."
Jordan Mader: "Anthony Rizzo gets a spot on the bench because we need a Cub."
Noah Jarosh: "First base could go either way, but Rizzo has been incredible."
NPetrashek: "As for 1B, normally Votto is a lock, but a down year really opens up the race, and I love Freeman's bat. Mark Reynolds isn't a homer pick either. Can play multiple positions reasonably well (it feels weird writing that, but here we are) and hits dingerz."
Looking at the stats, there is a gap between the top three candidates and the rest of the field. Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt have separated themselves, and Freddie Freeman isn't too far behind. By stats, these three should be on the All-Star team. However, the fan vote could screw this up as well.
Currently leading is Adrian Gonzalez, who has a more recognizable name over the other three, and also benefits from playing in a larger market. Rizzo may be comparable for market size, but he's not even in the top five right now. In fact, if fans of the Rockies or Giants started rocking the vote, either Justin Morneau or Brandon Belt could be in the game as the starter.
If one of those three candidates makes the roster, where does that put the other candidates? Three first basemen on the roster is a legitimate possibility, but four would be a very hard sell. The NL did have four on the roster in 2009 & 2010, but that was a different day, when first base in the NL was absolutely stacked. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder were still in the NL, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez were among the elite at their positions, and Joey Votto was healthy in those years. There may be a good crop of players this year, but it's not at the level it was at in those years.
This will probably be a position where stats aren't enough to make the team. I expect to see one of Freeman, Goldschmidt, or Rizzo snubbed when the All-Star roster comes out, unless one of them can win the vote. Even if they do, I think one player gets on the team because of name over stats, and that will leave someone else out.
Of course, with all of this talk about the other teams, where does it leave the Brewers? Does Mark Reynolds have a chance at making the team? Unless he goes on a hot streak over the next month, it isn't likely. He does lead the candidates in home runs, his fWAR puts him in contention, and as Nate said, he can cover a couple of positions. However, there are at least three candidates ahead of him right now, and the batting average will hurt his chances. He probably won't be able to overcome that.
Now that you've seen the case for first base, what do you think? This is your chance to voice your opinion. Below is a Google form; fill that out to submit your vote for the position. Each pick will be assigned a point value that will be used to determine the results (pick #1 gets the most, pick #3 gets the fewest). Please vote only once. The poll will remain open until noon tomorrow.
Note: Not all three of these picks would potentially make the team. There is one starter and one reserve guaranteed for first base, but the third will be for a possible bench spot in what bench spots are available. You do not have to fill in all three spots, you can fill in only two if you choose.