The Chicago White Sox had a player ranked as the 10th best first baseman by MLB Network on Saturday, but it might not be who many would’ve expected.
Despite leading the American League in RBI last season, Jose Abreu did not appear in the top 10 rankings at first base.
Instead, the recently signed Edwin Encarnacion rounded out the rankings for best in the game at first right now.
Encarnacion, 37, is coming off a 2019 season in which he hit .244/.344/.531 with 34 home runs and 86 RBI over 109 games split between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. That gave him a superb 129 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR.
However, his place on this list is questionable due to the fact he isn’t really a first baseman at this stage of his career having played on 489 innings at the position this past season.
Abreu is also likely going to absorb most of the playing time there too in 2020, relegating Encarnacion to the DH role he’s become accustomed to over the past few seasons.
It should be noted, though, that MLB Network does not do an annual ranking of the top 10 designated hitters in baseball due to the fact only half the teams in the league even have one and some teams don’t necessarily have someone they regularly plug into that role.
Should Abreu have been on the list instead of Encarnacion?
It certainly could be argued, but Encarnacion has proven to be one of the better hitters in the league that has played first base in some capacity over the last decade so it’s hard to argue he shouldn’t have been on the list.
The reality of the first base position is that many of the league’s premier hitters play that position such as Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Pete Alonso, Max Muncy, and Anthony Rizzo so Abreu’s omission from the list doesn’t mean he’s not that good.
Fortunately, the South Side has two strong first base options entering the 2020 season and so Edwin Encarnacion’s inclusion should just assure White Sox fans that they are indeed strong there.