Is Anthony Rizzo The Best Fantasy First Baseman Going Forward?

Everyone knows Anthony Rizzo is one of the premier young first baseman in the league today, saying such is certainly not stepping out on any limbs. The question of how high he should be valued is a worthwhile discussion, however. As a first baseman, he is supposed to mash. A .280 average and .352 on base percentage are far from elite, but his home run prowess and sudden willingness to run may make Rizzo one of the top fantasy players in baseball this season.

Below is a list of first baseman who have a higher fantasy ranking in Yahoo! in terms of production to date.

Chris Davis
Paul Goldschmidt
Mark Reynolds

As the current number 27 player in the whole league, it is arguable that Rizzo is the most valuable fantasy first baseman going forward. Prince Fielder will have a higher average and on base percentage, which probably will result in more RBI as well like he currently has. Where Rizzo takes the cake against a Fielder is in his stolen bases. He needs to steal at a higher rate in order for the team to keep running him, but the fact that he is willing to run seven times in 37 games is a very good sign at worst.

Only Goldschmidt matches Rizzo’s combination of power and speed, and in fact their seasons have been very similar to date – each has nine homers and four steals but Goldschmidt bests Rizzo in average, runs brought in, and runs. Going forward, ZiPS has Rizzo with 25 more homers and seven steals with a .279 average. ZiPS has Goldschmidt with 21 and 10 with a .266 average. ZiPs is far from perfect, but the system still has Rizzo finishing with a lead in every category aside from stolen bases – where he would be off by just three steals if ZiPS projected the season perfectly.

If there is one guy I am trading for, and I have actually already made this move in a keeper league, it is Anthony Rizzo. I have next to no doubt about him continuing to perform at a top notch level and I am not sure he is being valued as potentially the best option at first base in fantasy. Another quality target would be Freddie Freeman, considering now would be buying low on him after a small power outage and injury, but overall I am targeting Rizzo in every league I can. That is no joke, by the way, if you are not reaching out to owners and seeing what Rizzo would cost and getting down to a deal you either want to make or can’t make, you are not doing your team justice. There is almost always room to add a first baseman in fantasy, and Rizzo is the guy to go after even though this could be seen as “buying high.”




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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.


46 Responses to “Is Anthony Rizzo The Best Fantasy First Baseman Going Forward?”

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  1. Bluth says:

    So you would recommend offering votto and someone else for Rizzo and up upgrade at another position. Was actually thinking about trying that.

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    • Kevin says:

      Good question. Was wondering this exact same thing for a Keeper League.

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      • LRG says:

        I was actually talking to a manager about a Rizzo for Lester swap. From the sounds of it, u probably think it’s a good idea??

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  2. Menthol says:

    Currently regretting taking Votto with my first round pick. Was hoping for the 2010 (or even 2011) version.

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  3. Mavrick says:

    I like what youre selling, since I own both Rizzo and Freemen!

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  4. Jonathan says:

    Good to hear since I traded Carlos Gomez and Yovani for Rizzo a week ago. It was painful to see GoGo go so this makes it easier to stomach.

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  5. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I have Goldschmidt, so I’m pretty happy. I wonder if the fact that Goldschmidt takes more walks makes him more likely to score Runs. I slightly prefer Goldschmidt thanks to his high-offense home park.

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  6. Mike J says:

    I dunno if I can agree with ZiPS saying Rizzo will hit a full 13 points higher ROS than Goldschmidt, what with Goldschmidt having the higher career avg by 29 points. That said, I agree with your big picture. I think I’d take Rizzo over Goldschmidt by a nose, but I’d be thrilled to have either in keeper formats.

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  7. Reverend Jim says:

    I traded for Goldschmidt in the off season, giving away Carlos Gonzalez & Wilin Rosario. Some say I paid to much, but we’ll see in a few years if they still feel that way.

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    • Alex says:

      You paid WAY too much.

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    • Nick says:

      Yeah that’s too much. Goldschmidt is a good player but Cargo should remain more valuable than him for at least a couple seasons. Adding Rosario makes it really lopsided

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    • jonblazethis says:

      Hard to say whether this was a good idea; but if you’re in a keeper league and it happens to have OBP, and say 3 OF positions, then this is a pretty great move. And even if only the first variable is true, you probably still did OK here. CarGo is a tough guy to value: outside of CO he’s very literally been a replacement level bat in the career aggregate. That’s crazy. And true. So you eliminated a big downside consideration in a keeper league: CarGo leaving CO. Which, frankly, isn’t that unlikely considering we all have assume they’re going to build around Tulo and not CarGo and that they don’t have the $ for both.

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  8. Brad says:

    what level starting pitcher would you offer for the big man?

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  9. Kunsito says:

    I dealed Rizzo and Carlos Gómez for Matt Kemp a few weeks ago. I thought I was stealing Kemp… Now, I’m starting to feel a bit robbed!

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  10. Apocalypse33 says:

    In my 14 team keeper league that started last year, I kept both Rizzo and Goldschmidt. SWAGGY

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  11. Pat says:

    I think ZIPS is a little low on Goldschmidt considering his improvements against right handed-pitching, favorable home park and the fact that he is batting third in a much better lineup. I have both so I have no real bias, but project greater totals for Goldschmidt going forward based on the above.

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  12. Chris in Lake Stevens, WA says:

    I just traded Marte and Konerko for Rizzo and Revere and feeling pretty good about it.

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    • Nick says:

      That’s a good trade, and I’m even pretty high on Marte. Have a feeling Konerko is closer to done than being productive again

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  13. sfwozniak says:

    Do you like Rizzo more than Butler in an OPS league?

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    • Nick says:

      Really curious about this as well. My keep-4 league uses OPS as an additional stat and I currently have Butler. Thinking about offering him and possibly another filler piece for Rizzo.

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  14. Bodhizefa says:

    Goldschmidt has more speed and looks to hit for a higher BABIP and average, and with all other things being relatively equal, he’s the guy I’d take without too much hesitation. Especially since he’s in the better lineup for the foreseeable future while the Cubs keep rebuilding. For me, it’s Goldschmidt as the clear #1 with Rizzo and Prince trailing just behind at the moment, and Votto as the very good but not great #4.

    I love Votto, but I think his days of being a fantasy super stud are gone. He’s in his own world with the walk-taking at this point, and it’s hurting his ability to hit for as much power and to drive in RBI. That’s fine for his real life value, but for fantasy, it kind of stinks.

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    • Oasis says:

      You do realize that the Cubs & AZ have the exact same OPS? So how is their offense any better? The Cubs lead in NL in extra base hits too …

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  15. centerfield ballhawk says:

    Dealt Rizzo, Weeks and Medlin for Kimbrel, Phillips and Morales. The regret began the minute I hit accept, and that was before Kimbrel blew a couple saves.

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  16. Nick says:

    You think Shelby Miller for Rizzo gets it done?

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    • bballislife17 says:

      Not in most leagues. Hitter > Pitcher. In my league to get a Rizzo type hitter (young and just outside elite level) you’d need to offer a pitcher at the ace/elite level. Miller is probably just outside that group with such a short track record.

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    • chad says:

      I just made this deal, but I agree with bballislife17.

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  17. Cuck city says:

    Just swapped Grienke and Hanley for Rizzo in a keeper league

    Thoughts?

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  18. Jaker says:

    Moore and Ortiz too much?

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  19. fei says:

    I am thinking of dealing Goldshmidt for Rizzo, should I?

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    • Nick says:

      I wouldn’t, they’re both incredibly similar and goldschimdt plays in a better offense.

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  20. Cybo says:

    “Is Anthony Rizzo The Best Fantasy First Baseman Going Forward?”

    Nope. Now you jinxed it :P

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  21. Gringo Mike says:

    “Going Forward?” As opposed to what, going backwards?

    Nice article, by the way, good stuff.

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  22. thehonbtw says:

    Ike Davis and Mike Minor for Rizzo?

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  23. jaw says:

    reyes for rizzo in dynasty keeper?

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  24. Rafi Maljian says:

    What about Stanton for Rizzo in an NL only league?

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    • Mike J says:

      Good question, I’d probably make the swap – I think Rizzo is the safer bet. Less durability concerns and lineup issues. Also, I almost always de-emphasize the importance of obtaining premium outfield talent in fantasy. Finding quality outfielders is one of the easiest needs to fill in mid-season, whereas the first base position is deceptively weak right now. In fact, I can’t think of any time in recent memory that first base as a whole has been as weak as it is right now.

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      • Rafi Maljian says:

        is Stanton’s ceiling higher than Rizzo if he gets traded to Mets?

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      • Josh says:

        Yeah, I made the assumption that 1B would be as easy to fill as usual and waited until deeper rounds to draft Ike Davis and Laroche. Gave up on Davis pretty early, luckily, but have stuck with Laroche and I’m starting to think it’ll pay off. But a pretty nasty start to the year as far as that position goes.

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  25. Thufir says:

    In an obp league, Goldy is a better option. Plays in a much better offense for foreseeable future too. In an average.homer league I can see the argument for Rizzo.

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  26. Bodhizefa says:

    Those of us who were fairly skeptical of Rizzo being better than Goldschmidt at the time were right. Rizzo just isn’t a superstar, especially where fantasy is concerned.

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    • HunterPants says:

      Plenty of time left for them to flip again. I like that Rizzo is pushing his walk rate up to 10%. The power will come back (prays the keeper owner of Rizzo)

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    • Chief Keef says:

      But if you ignore average, obp, slugging, and overall run production he stole like 4 bases in the first two months so maybe he is the most valuable guy going forward after all.

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  27. J-Man says:

    Rizzo does still have a bit of growing to do. I am a Cubs fan so I hear about Rizzo daily, not to mention watching him on an almost regular basis, and I do believe he’ll be one of the top first baseman of his time; but also believe he’s still growing.

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