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The best first baseman in every team's history

March 31, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player's career with that franchise. First up were catchers. Now, it's

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player's career with that franchise. First up were catchers. Now, it's time for first basemen.

These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only, and fans were able to participate in Twitter polls to vote for their favorites. Here are the No. 1 first basemen for every club, as chosen by MLB.com's beat reporters.

American League East

Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado, 1993-2004
Key fact: 34.7 fWAR is fifth highest in club history
Possibly still underrated, Delgado's bat was often worth the price of admission -- even if his Blue Jays teams weren't always competitive. Blue Jays top 5 >

Orioles: Eddie Murray, 1977-88, '96
Key fact: 3,255 career hits, 504 career homers
Murray, one of the best switch-hitters in MLB history, had an all-around game that placed atop most of the Orioles' all-time offensive lists at first base -- and won the hearts of Baltimore fans. Orioles top 5 >

Rays: Carlos Peña, 2007-10, '12
Key fact: 18.1 bWAR ranks seventh in franchise history
It's hard to find a better four-year stretch in team history than Peña's first four seasons with Tampa Bay, and his 46 homers in 2007 stand as a club record. Rays top 5 >

Red Sox: Jimmie Foxx, 1936-42
Key fact: 50 homers in 1938 stood as a club record until David Ortiz (54) surpassed it in 2006
Don't forget that Boston got "Double-X," one of the all-time sluggers in history, in a trade with the Philadelphia Athletics that amounted to a steal in hindsight. Red Sox top 5 >

Yankees: Lou Gehrig, 1923-39
Key fact: Established Major League record by playing in 2,130 consecutive games from 1925-39
Was there any other choice? Gehrig was durable and he was remarkably productive, driving in 100-plus runs in 13 straight seasons. Yankees top 5 >

AL Central

Indians: Jim Thome, 1991-2002, '11
Key fact: Indians all-time home runs leader
The power bat of the Tribe's magical teams of the 1990s, the brawny yet gentile Thome ranks among the all-time fan favorites in Cleveland. Indians top 5 >

Royals: Mike Sweeney, 1995-2007
Key fact: Second all-time Royals home run leader (197)
Sweeney was very close to being a career catcher, but a position change ensured he hung around for many years to come in Kansas City. Royals top 5 >

Tigers: Hank Greenberg, 1930, '33-41, '45-46
Key fact: 1.028 OPS over Tigers tenure
Despite sacrificing four of his prime seasons to serve in World War II, Greenberg stands alongside Ty Cobb as the greatest hitters in Detroit history. Tigers top 5 >

Twins: Harmon Killebrew, 1961-74
Key fact: First Twins player inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
"Killer" was one of the most feared sluggers of his generation, surpassing the 40-homer mark eight times as he became the first cornerstone of pro baseball in Minnesota. Twins top 5 >

White Sox: Frank Thomas, 1990-2005
Key fact: Tops White Sox in nine career offensive categories
Yes, the Big Hurt spent many games as a designated hitter. But with 972 games at first, Thomas logged enough time there to edge out Paul Konerko on the South Side list. White Sox top 5 >

AL West

Angels: Rod Carew, 1979-85
Key fact: Six-time Angels All-Star at first base
Though his best years were with the Twins, Carew was plenty productive (.314/.393/.392) as an Angel, too. Angels top 5 >

Astros: Jeff Bagwell, 1991-2005
Key fact: Franchise leader in homers (449) and RBIs (1,529)
With Ken Caminiti entrenched at third base when he arrived to Houston via trade, Bagwell moved to first and started at that position for next 15 years. Astros top 5 >

Athletics: Jimmie Foxx, 1925-35
Key fact: One of 10 players to win a Triple Crown
Buried at catcher behind Mickey Cochrane, Foxx moved to first and became one of the most prolific sluggers in history. Athletics top 5 >

Mariners: Alvin Davis, 1984-91
Key fact: 20.1 bWAR is highest among Mariners first basemen
It's a close race between Davis and John Olerud, but there's good reason why Davis -- the inaugural inductee into the club's Hall of Fame -- is still known as "Mr. Mariner." Mariners top 5 >

Rangers: Will Clark, 1994-98
Key fact: Ranks second in batting average (.308) and tied for second in on-base percentage (.395) in club history
The debate for this spot between Clark and Rafael Palmeiro goes back 28 years, when they were both free agents and pursued by the Rangers. Clark's status as the first baseman on Texas' first division champion tips the scales in his favor. Rangers top 5 >

NL East

Braves: Freddie Freeman, 2010-current
Key fact: Fourth among MLB first basemen in fWAR (34.6) since 2011
Freeman is quickly zeroing in on Joe Adcock and Fred Tenney for the Braves' all-time home run and fWAR ranks at first base -- no small thing, seeing that the franchise dates back to the 1800s. Braves top 5 >

Marlins: Jeff Conine, 1993-97, 2003-05
Key fact: Two-time All-Star and 1995 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
A member of both of Miami's World Series title teams, as well as the expansion club in 1993, Conine is now known affectionately as "Mr. Marlin." Marlins top 5 >

Mets: Keith Hernandez, 1983-89
Key fact: First captain in franchise history
Hernandez's trade to New York in 1983 legitimized a team on the rise, and he himself became both a leader and icon of those beloved teams in Queens. Mets top 5 >

Nationals: Andres Galarraga, 1985-91, 2002 (Expos)
Key fact: Named the Expos' Player of the Year in 1988 by the BBWAA
With Ryan Zimmerman allocated to the third-base list, "The Big Cat" gets the nod here with 115 homers in a Montreal uniform. Expos top 5 >

Phillies: Ryan Howard, 2004-16
Key fact: Won 2006 NL MVP Award, finished in the top five the next three seasons
Howard had a remarkable eight-year stretch from 2004-11, slashing .275/.368/.560 for a .928 OPS and a 138 OPS+ while compiling 189 doubles, 17 triples, 286 home runs and 864 RBIs. Phillies top 5 >

NL Central

Brewers: Cecil Cooper, 1977-87
Key fact: 30.8 bWAR is fourth in club history behind Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Ryan Braun
Cooper hit .302 over 11 seasons in a Milwaukee uniform, becoming a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. He’s fourth in club history in runs, hits, extra-base hits and total bases, and third all-time in batting average and RBIs. Brewers top 5 >

Cardinals: Albert Pujols, 2001-11
Key fact: Three-time NL MVP award winner with St. Louis
Pujols' hot spring in 2001 caught manager Tony La Russa's eye, and what soon followed was one of the greatest peaks by any player in recent times. Cardinals top 5 >

Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, 2012-current
Key fact: 217 homers lead all Cubs first basemen
Rizzo has emerged as the "Mr. Cub" for this generation of North Side fans -- both for his play on the diamond, and his charitable work off it. Cubs top 5 >

Pirates: Willie Stargell, 1962-82
Key fact: Still the franchise's all-time leader in homers, RBIs and walks
Though he spent many games in the outfield, Stargell is the choice here at first in order to compile the best possible all-time Pirates lineup. Alongside Roberto Clemente, "Pops" ranks among the most iconic Pirates in modern times. Pirates top 5 >

Reds: Joey Votto, 2007-present
Key fact: .421 on-base percentage is best in franchise history (min. 200 games)
Votto's name can already be found all over Cincinnati's all-time lists, and several more good seasons could put him in Cooperstown. Reds top 5 >

NL West

D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt, 2011-18
Key fact: 40.7 bWAR with D-backs is second only to Randy Johnson in franchise history
It's hard to believe how overlooked Goldschmidt was before he reached the big leagues. But over seven-plus years in Arizona, everyone came to know just how good the Houston native really is. D-backs top 5 >

Dodgers: Gil Hodges, 1943, '47-61
Key fact: 43.3 bWAR leads all Dodgers first basemen
Very likely the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame, Hodges combined massive power at the plate with grace fielding at first base. Dodgers top 5 >

Giants: Willie McCovey, 1959-73, '77-80
Key fact: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986
A beloved player who burst onto the scene by winning the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award, and then captured the NL MVP award a decade later, "Stretch" ranked among the most naturally powerful sluggers of his generation. Giants top 5 >

Padres: Adrián González, 2006-10
Key fact: His 6.9 bWAR in 2009 is the fourth-highest single-season mark in franchise history
It's almost hard to believe that González logged just five seasons in San Diego, considering the production he packed in. That included a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award and NL MVP votes in three straight seasons. Padres top 5 >

Rockies: Todd Helton, 1997-2013
Key fact: 61.8 bWAR is highest in club history
Helton's 144 OPS+ from his rookie year of 1998 through Colorado's only World Series tip in '07, along with over 2,200 games in a Rockies uniform, leave little doubt to who this choice should be. Rockies top 5 >