First base is a very difficult position for projecting AL East rankings, but it is clear that Chris Davis is the best among the bunch.
Following up on Monday’s 2016 pre-Spring Training rankings on the catcher position in the AL East, we turn now to first base.
A few things to remember here:
- I love being able to discuss these rankings. I don’t claim to know everything about the AL East, but I tried to be as impartial as possible. If you disagree, let me have it!
- We are primarily focusing on the player projected to start at the position, but if it is close, the backup will be looked at.
At this time last year, I ranked the position as 1 – Toronto (if Edwin Encarnacion was the primary 1B), 2 -Boston, 3 – Tampa, 4 – Baltimore, 5 – New York.
Boy was I off. I thought Loney’s strong defense would keep him as a solid first base option, that Mike Napoli wouldn’t drop off (he did and was traded), that Mark Teixeira would not stay healthy (he was for the most part), and I didn’t trust Chris Davis.
By the end of 2015, the rankings were: 1- Baltimore, 2 – New York, 3 – Toronto, 4 – Tampa, 5 – Boston
Let’s see if I can do a little better this time around.
2016 AL East Rankings
This year, it isn’t even close. Davis was the only starter on this list who was a free agent, and he returned to the Baltimore Orioles. While the strikeouts are always going to be high, first base is a position where you look for power, and Davis has more of it than anyone else possibly in the game. Davis led the American League with 47 home runs last year, but also led with 208 strikeouts. Davis has hit 159 home runs over the last four years, which averages out to almost 40 a season. His .262 batting average in 2015 was just fine, and he had 117 RBIs and 100 runs.
Davis rates out as a pretty bad first baseman defensively, which really makes no sense. He was the best defensive first baseman in the division last year and should be again in 2016. For such a big guy, Davis has good range and is very good at picking balls out of the dirt at first base. Davis played in 160 games in 2015, only missing two games, and the first one was as he finished out his suspension for use of Adderall without an exemption. Thirty of those games were in right field, but I don’t expect the Orioles to play their highest-paid player in team history there as much this year, as the outfield should be better.
Following my standard rule of thought, Trumbo shouldn’t be on this list, as he will be starting at DH. However, with Davis back in Baltimore, both Christian Walker and top prospect Trey Mancini will be in the minors where they can start every day. This leaves Trumbo as the man to fill in at first base when Davis is out of the lineup, something he will be able to do just fine. In fact, Trumbo would probably be second on this list if he was going into 2016 as the starter.