Having a good first baseman is critical for every team, whether it’s producing at the plate or simply making a game-changing scoop. One thing is for certain though, the National League is loaded at that position.
Just take a look at the names on this list.
Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), Freddie Freeman (Braves), Mark Reynolds (Rockies), Eric Thames (Brewers), Paul Goldschmidt (D’Backs), Wil Myers (Padres), Joey Votto (Reds), and Matt Carpenter (Cardinals).
Six of those eight hitters are hitting above .300 while five of the eight have at least 10 home runs. Talk about a stacked group of players producing at a high level.
“There’s a lot of good players.” Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds said. “It’s good for the game.”
Speaking of producing at a high level, Reynolds is one of the first names that comes to mind. The 33-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies this past offseason to remain with the team mainly due to familiarity, turning down more money to play in Korea.
It’s safe to say he has made the right choice not only for him but for the team.
Reynolds, entering action Thursday night, is hitting .336/.412/.681 with five doubles, 12 home runs, 30 RBI. Not to mention, the veteran has been patient at the plate, walking 16 times in 34 games played.
Ian Desmond, the five-year, $70 million offseason acquisition, was signed to primarily play first base. After sustaining a fractured left hand in Cactus League play on March 12, Desmond has been mainly featured in the outfield during his return due to the hot start from Reynolds.
“He [Reynolds] has been playing phenomenal. He played phenomenal last year.” Desmond said. “He’s a really good player and it seems like he’s getting better as he gets older which is great. He’s been a huge part of us, he’s been carrying us and it doesn’t seem like there is any signs of slowing down which is awesome.”
Since his return, Desmond is slashing at a line of .293/.286/.439 in 10 games. The 31-year-old has produced 12 hits during that span, two of which are for extra bases — both home runs. The main concern thus far has been his strikeout rate. Desmond has fanned 13 times in 41 at-bats and has yet to reach base on a walk.
Back to the topic of first baseman, Desmond emphasizes the importance of a good one.
“I think throughout the course of history, there has always been a really good group of first baseman.” Desmond said. “I don’t think there has ever been a championship team that’s had a subpar first baseman. It’s a valuable position.”
He is not wrong. Just take a look at the names featured on the championship teams over the last 14 World Series.
2016: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs.
2015: Eric Hosmer, Royals.
2014: Brandon Belt, Giants.
2013: Mike Napoli, Red Sox.
2012: Brandon Belt, Giants.
2011: Albert Pujols, Cardinals.
2010: Aubrey Huff, Giants.
2009: Mark Teixeira, Yankees.
2008: Ryan Howard, Phillies.
2007: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox.
2006: Albert Pujols, Cardinals.
2005: Paul Konerko, White Sox.
2004: Kevin Millar, Red Sox.
2003: Derrek Lee, Marlins.
Talk about a pretty good list of guys with a ring to their credit.
Fortunately enough for the Rockies, they have two guys in Desmond and Reynolds that can man the position at a high level.