February 26, 2023, 3:32 pm
First base doesn’t feel quite as deep as it did in recent years, and there is definitely a cutoff point that you don’t want to miss out on, just like every other position. It feels like you should probably be prioritizing one of the earlier names on this list as opposed to waiting and speculating on a more obscure name, specifically in your deeper leagues. That being said, there is still a ton of talent at the position and I’m truly interested in about 20 of the names below.
Let’s get into it!
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr 2 Freddie Freeman 3 Pete Alonso 4 Paul Goldschmidt 5 Matt Olson 6 Jose Abreu 7 Rhys Hoskins 8 Vinnie Pasquantino 9 Nathaniel Lowe 10 Christian Walker 11 Andrew Vaughn 12 Ty France 13 Jake Cronenworth 14 Rowdy Tellez 15 Anthony Rizzo 16 Ryan Mountcastle 17 CJ Cron 18 Jose Miranda 19 Josh Bell 20 Josh Naylor 21 Luis Arraez 22 Brandon Belt 23 Seth Brown 24 DJ Lemahieu 25 Trey Mancini 26 Harold Ramirez 27 Will Myers 28 Carlos Santana 29 Garrett Cooper 30 Joey Meneses
I’m very comfortable having Vladdy at #1. His “down” year in 2022 still saw him contribute 32 HR, 90 R, 97 RBI, and a .274 batting average (not to mention the career-high eight stolen bases). He still hasn’t even entered his prime (scary thought for AL East pitchers) and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him come close to, or even eclipse, the 50 HR mark. Draft with extreme confidence at the end of round one.
The three names behind Guerrero (Freeman, Alonso, and Goldschmidt) are elite options as well. All reside in great lineups and contribute across the board for fantasy, and you could really have them arranged in any order depending on your personal preference. Freeman provides a few more steals than the other two, Alonso’s power could see him get to 50 bombs again, and Goldschmidt provides an incredible floor across all five categories. The top-4 first basemen aren’t really up for debate, as the production floor really starts to fall off after Goldschmidt.
Jose Abreu is coming off a bit of a down year himself, as he saw his power numbers fade (15 HR, 75 RBI) despite playing the full season and hitting .304. A new beginning in Houston should do wonders for his fantasy value, as he enters one of (if not the best) lineups in baseball, and he has the short porch to the Crawford boxes in left that should lead to a revival in his power numbers. I’m willing to jump his current ADP (~95) by a round or so to get him, as he comes about 50 picks after the previous first baseman (Matt Olson, 43).
Rhys Hoskins is similarly undervalued in early drafts. He’s going around pick 120 and that feels like a huge bargain considering his consistent production. There’s something to be said about knowing exactly what you’re going to get out of a player, and with Hoskins, you can essentially write his 30 HR, 80 R, and 80 RBI down in pen and know that’s what you’re going to get. Especially considering the potent lineup he’s in, Hoskins is a big target of mine in 2023.
With the departure of Jose Abreu, Andrew Vaughn will finally be able to play his natural position of first base and not have to worry about learning a new spot on the field for the first time. Playing in the outfield last year, he was still able to put up 17 HR, 60 R, and 76 RBI to go along with a .271 batting average, and I’d bet that he outperforms all of those numbers this season. He’s also one of the few early-found first basemen who is eligible at a second position (OF).
The masses are sleeping on Jake Cronenworth, and I don’t really understand why. He’s coming off a year where he had 17 HR and 176 R+RBI, and the lineup around him has gotten considerably better. He’s also eligible at 2B, which is an even harder position to find value than first. I’m more than happy to jump his nearly 200 ADP by a round or two.
I’d really like to rank CJ Cron higher than 17th, but he is truly awful and borderline unplayable for half of his games (every time he leaves Coors Field). I’m personally avoiding him in my drafts because his price (about 130 by ADP) is really steep considering some of the names that go right after him. If you draft him, you better make sure you have an alternative option for when the Rockies are playing road games.
Luis Arraez is someone to target if you have a strong base of power early in your drafts and you’d like to make up some BA points. Potentially, he could be a 10-10 guy, but more likely than not he’ll finish with single-digit homer and stolen base numbers. He probably works on most teams because he doesn’t really hurt you anywhere, but I’d need to have a specific build to really be interested.
Carlos Santana is a really interesting target in deeper and OBP leagues. The Pirates paid him handsomely (at least by their standards) and he shouldn’t lack for playing time in the middle of that lineup. With the shift now gone, he could be one of the primary beneficiaries and end up boosting his batting average up 20/30 points. I wouldn’t go after him in your standard 10- and 12-team leagues, but in 15-team leagues or shallower leagues with deeper rosters, he makes for a very solid utility/corner infield option.