2018 AL East Positional Rankings: Infielders - Page 3 of 6 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Paul Folkemer

2018 AL East Positional Rankings: Infielders

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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First Base

  1. Hanley Ramirez/Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
  2. Justin Smoak, Blue Jays
  3. Chris Davis, Orioles
  4. Greg Bird, Yankees
  5. C.J. Cron, Rays

The AL East is, frankly, lacking in star first basemen. The player who’s being paid like a superstar, the Orioles’ Davis (who is entering the third season of a seven-year, $161 million deal), hasn’t produced like one. Since 2015, his home run totals have dropped from 47 to 36 to 26; his OPS has crashed nearly 200 points from .923 to .792 to .732. And his 2018 is off to an inauspicious start, thanks to a sore right elbow that sidelined him for much of spring training. He ranks third for now.

Boston’s Ramirez is one year removed from a 30-homer, 111-RBI season, but struggled through injuries in 2017. If he’s fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, he could siphon playing time away from the mediocre Moreland. At the very least, they should make for a decent platoon. Toronto is banking on Smoak repeating his excellent 2017, when he batted .270 with an .883 OPS, 38 homers and 90 RBIs. Did he have a breakout season in his eighth year in the bigs, or was it a one-year fluke?

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The Yankees’ Bird, 25, might have the highest upside of any AL East first baseman. After a foot injury doomed him to a 6-for-60 slump to start last season, he was a completely different player when he returned from the DL. He hit eight home runs in his final 29 regular-season games, then three more in the postseason. Bird, though, has suffered more problems with his right foot this spring — with a recent MRI revealing inflammation — and could start the season on the shelf, so he’s fallen in the 2018 rankings.

Cron, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels, has big shoes to fill in Tampa Bay. He’s replacing departed free agent Logan Morrison, who was the Rays’ best hitter last season. It remains to be seen how Cron, whose career high in starts is 103, will respond to getting everyday at-bats.

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