MLB: The game’s most valuable first basemen

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets is safe at first base in the third inning as Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks can't handle a ball thrown for an error at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets is safe at first base in the third inning as Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks can't handle a ball thrown for an error at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

8. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals, $7.73 million value; $14.5 million salary

If Walker and Hoskins represent the positional up-and-comers, Goldschmidt’s resume is distinctly reflective of the high-paid upper-crust. MLB teams that spend heavily on a first baseman understand they will never actually recover full on-field value for their investment; they’re looking for a mid-order team leader who might also in time become the franchise’s marketing face.

With one year under his belt and Yadier Molina behind the plate in St. Louis, Goldschmidt has a ways to go to get to that status. His 2019 wasn’t a great year by his own standards, but since St. Louis won the NL Central it was acceptable. His .476 slugging average may have been a career low, but it was still better than the positional average, and it valued out to slightly more than $4 million.

Goldschmidt’s .346 on base average, another career low, was also mid-range for the position, ranking 13th among the 35.  It translated to $2.4 million in production.

He did show up, always a positive trait. Goldschmidt logged 1,370 innings, more than any of the first base candidates except Hoskins, and that commitment was worth $1.169 million. It also helped him produce 111 assists, sixth best total, generating a final $95,000 in value to the Cardinals.

The $7.73 million bottom line didn’t exactly justify his $14.5 million salary…but Cardinals management should never have expected to get $14.5 million in on-field value when they signed Goldschmidt. That kind of player simply doesn’t exist.