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2021 First Base Rankings - 5x5 Mixed Leagues

freddie freeman fantasy baseball rankings MLB injury news DFS picks

The chaotic, wild, and confusing 2020 COVID season is now thankfully behind us, am I right fellow Red Sox fans? But now is the hardest part in terms of fantasy implications from the pandemic as we try to decipher how much of 2020's statistics are actually viable data for 2021 projections.

Small playing time samples, players out of their elements, completely different buildup to the season, literally everything was different and just weird. So let's see how RotoBaller's rankers consisting of myself, Pierre Camus, and Big Pick Nick Mariano sorted through the COVID filth for 2021 mixed league rankings.

Today we continue with an important position for fantasy baseball managers at first base. You can also find our other draft rankings for all sorts of league formats, continually updated throughout the preseason, right here in our main fantasy baseball Rankings Wizard tool. Also, make use of all our premium resources with our MLB Draft Kit.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

2021 Fantasy Baseball First Base Rankings

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season, and Ariel Cohen was the top ranker in 2019. In addition, ATC Projections by Ariel Cohen were the #1 most accurate projections system in 2019. Be sure to follow their updated rankings and projections all season long!

Rank Tier Player Position
1 1 Freddie Freeman 1B
2 1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF
3 2 Jose Abreu 1B
4 2 DJ LeMahieu 1B/2B/3B
5 2 Pete Alonso 1B
6 3 Luke Voit 1B
7 3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B
8 3 Matt Olson 1B
9 3 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
10 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B
11 3 Dominic Smith 1B/OF
12 4 Alec Bohm 1B/3B
13 4 Anthony Rizzo 1B
14 4 Josh Bell 1B
15 4 Mike Moustakas 1B/2B
16 4 Eric Hosmer 1B
17 5 Yasmani Grandal C/1B
18 5 Ryan Mountcastle 1B/OF
19 5 Rhys Hoskins 1B
20 5 Jake Cronenworth 1B/2B/SS
20 5 Christian Walker 1B
21 5 Miguel Sano 1B
22 6 Jared Walsh 1B
23 6 Trey Mancini 1B/OF
24 6 Carlos Santana 1B
25 6 Jeimer Candelario 1B/3B
26 6 Bobby Dalbec 1B
27 6 Hunter Dozier 1B/OF
28 6 Rowdy Tellez 1B
29 6 Yuli Gurriel 1B
31 6 Brandon Belt 1B
32 6 Jesus Aguilar 1B
33 6 Nate Lowe 1B
34 6 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B
35 7 Andrew Vaughn 1B
36 7 Garrett Cooper 1B
37 7 Evan White 1B
38 7 Joey Votto 1B
39 7 Tommy La Stella 1B/2B/3B
40 7 Edwin Rios 1B/3B
41 7 Colin Moran 1B
42 7 Wilmer Flores 1B/2B
43 7 Renato Nunez 1B
44 7 Daniel Vogelbach 1B
45 7 C.J. Cron 1B
46 7 Josh Fuentes 1B
47 8 Ji-Man Choi 1B
48 8 Michael Chavis 1B/2B/OF
49 8 Mike Brosseau 1B/2B/3B
50 8 Spencer Torkelson 1B/OF
51 8 Brendan McKay 1B/SP
52 8 Mitch Moreland 1B
53 8 Albert Pujols 1B
54 8 Jake Bauers 1B/OF
55 8 Danny Santana 1B
56 8 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/3B/OF
57 8 Asdrubal Cabrera 1B/3B
58 8 Lewin Diaz 1B
59 8 Pavin Smith 1B
60 8 Seth Brown 1B
61 8 Mike Ford 1B
62 8 Travis Shaw 1B/3B
63 8 Ryan O'Hearn 1B
64 8 Jose Martinez 1B/OF
65 8 Ronald Guzman 1B
66 8 Brent Rooker 1B
67 8 Ryan McBroom 1B

 


Tier One

There's not much left to say about Freddie Freeman. He is one of the best all around hitters in the game. Over the past five seasons, Freeman ranks in the top 10 among all hitters in PA, R, HR, RBI, and BA. Outside of Mike Trout there is no safer pick in fantasy, and it feels like Freeman just keeps getting better with age. In 2020 along with the NL MVP award, he led the league in R+RBI, and hit .341. The Baseball Savant profile speaks for itself. There is nothing quite like starting a fantasy lineup with this level of an anchor across four stats, which is why being at the back end of the first round has been a favorite of mine thus far this draft season.

Despite being in the same tier as Freddie Freeman, the fantasy-safety gap between the two is about equivalent to the length of the Nile River. But you aren't drafting Cody Bellinger for the floor, you want that sweet, sweet upside. Despite getting himself a ring, Bellinger took a step back from a fantastic 2019 campaign. He did hit 12 bombs and swipe six bases, but across 243 PA he only hit .239 with 63 R+RBI. The good news is the .245 BABIP was certainly too low, as he tied Christian Yelich for the 10th highest negative differentiation between BA and xBA. The projection systems seem to be ignoring the 2020 sample mostly, and we probably should too. He is still just 25 years old and is just one short-season removed from 47/15 with a .305 BA.

 

Tier Two

Freeman wasn't the only first baseman who thrived amidst the COVID chaos. The AL MVP winner Jose Abreu enjoyed a throwback season that was his best since his 2014 "rookie" campaign. Abreu has been as consistent as they come since joining the White Sox, ranking fourth in PA since 2014, and second in RBI. The .350 BABIP likely won't sustain over a full season, but the White Sox lineup is only getting better and you can safely expect another 30 HR, ~180 R+RBI season with a BA north of .270. If you are wanting to nail down the first base position early in the draft but miss out on Freeman, Abreu is an excellent Plan B.

There was a lot of hesitation with DJ LeMahieu early this draft season due to the possibility of him not calling Yankee Stadium home. But fear not, because he is returning to the Bronx for the next six seasons. The 2020 batting champ returning near the top of the Bombers' lineup smacking oppo line-drives into the short porch in right field lines up another outstanding fantasy season for DJL. If you prefer more pop from your first baseman, that is fine, but good luck finding a better BA base. It all comes down to your planned roster construction plans. If you expect to make up power in the later rounds, and especially if your league allows the multi-position eligibility, don't pass on DJ for some extra HR.

Speaking of roster construction plans, say you went speed early and are now looking to catch up in the power categories. There is no power ceiling at the position matching that of Pete Alonso. The Polar Bear got off to a very rough start, like many others, in 2020. But over his last 95 PA hit smacked 11 HR with a .256 BA. That pace translates to a nonchalant 71 HR over a full season. He certainly isn't going to achieve that laughable number, but pencil in 40 with an easy 100 RBI with the addition of Francisco Lindor to the Mets lineup.

 

Tier Three

The second Yankee in just three tiers, Luke Voit was one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 season. He hit a career-high 22 HR, in just 56 games, and still hit .277 despite a career-low .268 BABIP. The .333 ISO was second to only Juan Soto. With his LA noticeably up along with his contact numbers, Voit has the potential to post Jose Abreu-type numbers in that ballpark in that offense. There is some "worry" about plantar fasciitis that was diagnosed in October, but Voit claims PRP has made it a non-issue.

Vladimir Guerror Jr. has been a popular name this draft season, as he most likely will be for many years to come, even if he fails to meet expectations again in 2021. Despite just nine bombs and a .262 BA last year, Vladito enjoyed plenty of hard contact as both his EV and Hard Hit% were in the top seven percent of the league. The issue is still getting the ball in the air though, as his LA dipped to from an already low 6.7 to a sad 4 degrees. It will come eventually, as the prodigy is still just 21 years old, and fantasy owners will continue taking a top-75 draft pick chance on him until it does.

Now we arrive at the anti-Vlad, Matt Olson, who has never had an issue putting the ball in the air. He hit 14 HR in 2020 which was nice, but the 31.4 K% with the BA finishing below the Mendoza line can make you vomit. He hit just .202 vs fastballs, compared to .274 in 2019 which you could certainly chalk up to sample size, but the accompanied 40.8 Whiff Rate suggests even if the BA trends towards his .245 career average, it might not be by much.

Paul Goldschmidt had a deceivingly good encore season with the Cardinals in 2020. Fantasy managers were likely disappointed with the six HR and a career-low .162 ISO but he still hit over .300, posted his personal-best BB/K ratio and best wRC+ since 2015. The Barrel% and EV continued their decline for the third straight season meaning projection over 30 HR is probably no longer wise with Goldy, but with the addition of Nolan Arenado to the Cards lineup one could reasonably expect a repeat of 2019's 204 R+RBI.

There is no doubt that Dominic Smith can hit. Last season his xBA, xSLG, and wOBA were all top six percent in baseball. There is warranted doubt about his ability to man Leftfield over a full season, however. With the National League appearing to revert back to letting pitchers take three pitches with their bats on their shoulder, accurately projecting Dom's PA is virtually impossible. He owns a career -7 DRS in LF and the Mets now have a ton of lineup flexibility after adding Jonathan Villar, Albert Almora, and Kevin Pillar into the depth-mix with Luis Guillorme. They can now get Pillar's glove in the later innings, or get Villar/Guillorme into the infield and move Jeff McNeil or J.D. Davis into the OF. The numbers will still look efficient for Smith at the end of the season, but the counting stats will surely fail to live up to top-100 standards.

 

Tier Four

For those unwilling to pay for DJ LeMahieu and his very modest power, Alec Bohm is a good example of why. In his first taste of the big leagues, Bohm boasted a .338/.400/.481 slash across 180 PAs. Sporting a batted ball profile similar to little Vladimir, he showed he is a polished hitter, but with plenty of room for increase in the LA department.  You won't get DJL-level production, as the .410 BABIP will not sustain over a full season, but hitting near the top of the Phillies lineup and projecting for 19 HR and .280 BA carries plenty of potential value at his current ADP of 104 overall. 

Like the other Cubs star hitters, Anthony Rizzo had a 2020 to forget at the plate. After being a consistent fantasy source for five seasons, drafting Rizzo has certainly lost its feel of confidence. Despite hitting 11 HR in 58 games, his EV and hard hit rates were both bottom 30% in the league. The good news is despite a .222 BA, his xBA was over 40 points higher. The .218 BABIP is certainly eye-popping, but maybe there is some correlation to the 14% increase in shifts he encountered. The classic Rizzo BB/K ratio is still very much alive, and his contact rates are as good as ever. The 30 HR and .290 BA days are gone, but the run production stats will remain and the BA will climb closer to his .271 career average.

Let me be clear, I believe everyone is undervaluing Josh Bell for 2021. First off, he is free of the Pirates after being traded to the Washington Nationals this off-season, so clearly that's an immediate run production boost. Secondly, he is one small-sample COVID-season removed from hitting 37 bombs with 210 R+RBI and a .277 BA. His NFBC ADP since the start of February is 147 overall. While that is much better than where it was in January, hitting behind Trea Turner and Juan Soto with Bell's 2019 kind of upside is still a steal at that price.

While I am giving a lot of credit to Bell's new lineup, almost no one gains fantasy value from their lineup quite like Eric Hosmer. A career .278 hitting first baseman that's never eclipsed 25 HR in a season, yet is hitting in the heart of the order surrounded by the likes of Fernando Tatis, Manny Machado, Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, and Trent Grisham. Even though the LA is finally showing increases, you definitely won't be excited about the selection on draft day, but you won't be disappointed at season's end either.

 

Tier Five

After Ryan Mountcastle hit five bombs with a stellar .333 BA across 140 PA in his MLB action, projection systems have him firmly in Alec Bohm territory as a mid-round BA boost with modest power. The discounted price compared to Bohm comes with being on the Baltimore Orioles, although the return of Trey Mancini could certainly help the RBI.

Rhys Hoskins is rehabbing from elbow surgery from an injury sustained last September. Aside from watching news from his rehab closely, we know what we are getting from Hoskins after three "full" years with the Phillies. Somewhere in the territory of 30 HR, .240 BA and 195 R+RBI serves as a great power boost later in drafts and won't hurt the BA quite as much as his Tier-mate Miguel Sano. Speaking of Mr. Statcast Sano, he led the league in Barrel% and owned the second highest Average EV but also led the league in K% with just .204 BA. 

 

Tier Six

Jared Walsh probably won some fantasy leagues with his September heroics, hitting nine bombs and .337 in his last 95 PA (he went hitless in just 13 PA prior to that in 2020). He is an old prospect, but absolutely destroyed Triple-A pitching in 2019 to the tune of 36 HR  and .325 BA in 454 PA. The potential power is exciting, along with hitting near Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon in the lineup, but we must remember the Angels do have a highly-paid future HOF that can also play 1B. Most projection systems peg Walsh in the 475 PA territory, which as we saw in his Triple-A time, could be plenty enough for some useful pop. 

I love the potential draft day value on Trey Mancini. He missed the 2020 season after a terrifying cancer diagnosis, and could eventually decide that him being high-risk for COVID might not be worth playing again in 2021 ultimately at any point this season. But as of now, all signs point towards Mancini back into an everyday role for the Orioles. He broke out with a career-season in 2019 hitting 35 HR with 203 R+RBI and a .291 BA. Sometimes you gotta risk it to get the biscuit.

If this was a points league rankings article, Carlos Santana would have been mentioned so much sooner. I am very excited about seeing him play in Kauffman Stadium this year, where he has fantastic career numbers. I am also excited about the possibility of him hitting after Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. But none of that excitement is worth tanking my fantasy team's BA which I protect dearly. He couldn't even make it over the Mendoza line in 2020 and both his EV and Barrel% dropped back down to his 2018 numbers after their 2019 increases. So we are likely back to low to mid-20s long balls with an abysmal BA. But if you want some solid run production late in your draft, go right ahead.

 

Tiers Seven & Eight

I haven't written them up yet, but I guarantee you I will be including Colin Moran into my 2021 Bold Predictions piece. With Josh Bell shipped to greener pastures in Washington, Moran now will receive all the PA he can possibly handle in the heart of the Pirates lineup, and get every chance to expand on a very intriguing 2020 campaign. After hitting just 13 HR across 503 PA in 2019, last season Moran almost matched that in just 200 PA with 10. His EV, Hard Hit%, and Barrel% all ranked in the top 15% of the league. It's not all put-together yet obviously, because the launch angle dropped into the single digits and his GB% spiked. But realistically we can expect 25 HR, 80+ RBI, and a BA north of .260. It's not much, but at his current ADP outside of 400 its gold.

Everyone saw the news of CJ Cron signed with the Colorado Rockies as a non-roster invitee. If you were in the middle of a draft like me, he probably was picked very shortly after the news broke. The thought of Cron's power in Coors is tantalizing. His ADP since the news (small sample, yes) is 270, compared to 348 previously. It is absolutely worth a draft pick for a bench 1B or your CI spot for the chance he lands a starting gig over Josh Fuentes.

Another veteran who joined a new team recently is Marwin Gonzalez. He signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and should continue to serve as a super-utilityman as the main backup for several positions. He may not hold much value in weekly roster move leagues, but in daily leagues that position eligibility will be worth the pick where he can fill days off for several of your positions and reduce the hitting depth you need to carry.



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Buy Low? Five Massively Undervalued Players in 2024 Fantasy Football Drafts

The football season never stops at RotoBaller! With early 2024 best ball drafts already taking place, we're digging into the ADP of fantasy football's most impactful players. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan dives into the early ADP of some popular fantasy options. While these players are great, they are currently being massively undervalued... Read More


Jermaine Burton - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft: 10-Team Superflex Round 3

Hello everyone! I am so excited to be back here cooking up some hot football analysis with the freshest ingredients in the NFL. That’s right, we’re talking rookies just in time for your rookie drafts. Today, we have the third round of our 10-team half-PPR Superflex mock draft. I have assigned pick ranges to these... Read More


Rashee Rice - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL wr, Draft Sleepers

Top Wide Receiver Position Battles For 2024 Fantasy Football

The 2024 NFL season is still months away. Therefore, fantasy football players have plenty of time to prepare for their redraft leagues. However, fantasy football is a year-round game. There are new dynasty startup drafts and best ball leagues underway every day. While casual fantasy football players don’t have to worry about their team until... Read More


Nick Chubb - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

2024 Fantasy Football - Five Injured Players to Sell in Dynasty Leagues

Injuries are no fun. They can ruin players' careers and leave us wondering what might have been. Sadly, it’s part of the game. For fantasy football players, injuries can get old fast. Nothing saps the life out of your team more than watching star after star fall to injury. If you’re a dynasty fantasy football... Read More


Jonathon Brooks - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft For Non-Superflex Leagues

Traditionally, quarterbacks are devalued in non-Superflex fantasy football formats. However, we saw a major change in that philosophy last year. After decades of agreement between analysts and fans alike, the consensus in 2023 became skewed. Suddenly, drafting players like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in the first 15 picks of a non-Superflex draft wasn’t just... Read More


UFL DFS PICKS, FANTASY FOOTBALL, DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL

UFL DFS Value Plays: Week 8 Bargain Bin for DraftKings Including Matt Colburn, JaVonta Payton, Sal Cannella, More

Welcome to the Week 8 edition of RotoBaller's UFL DFS Bargain Bin, where the goal is to touch on some potentially mispriced players in DraftKings' Week 8 UFL contests. Each week during the UFL 2024 season and postseason, I’ll give you my thoughts on where there may be some value spots to exploit for DraftKings'... Read More


2024 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rankings: Kyren Williams, Marvin Harrison Jr., Justin Herbert, Kyle Pitts, Stefon Diggs, Brock Bowers, Xavier Worthy

Hey, RotoBallers! It's always fantasy football season here at RotoBaller HQ. With the 2024 NFL Draft in the books, it's time for more fantasy football rankings! Today, we will review our NFL team's updated 2024 fantasy football dynasty rankings (the top-500 players), including Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Breece Hall, Puka Nacua, Kyren Williams, Kyle... Read More


2024 NFL Schedule Winners and Losers

After getting bits and pieces of the 2024 NFL schedule over the last few days, Roger Goodell and company have finally dropped the entire slate for the upcoming season. We still have nearly four months to sort through the entirety of this year's schedule, and while we will continue to focus in the microscope on... Read More


Fantasy Football Rookie Quarterbacks You Must Have In 2024

It's already the middle of May, and aside from Justin Timberlake memes flooding your "for you feed," that could only mean one thing -- it's fantasy football draft season! It is an excellent time of the year to get in some best ball drafts or conduct a dynasty startup. You may even be amid some... Read More


Jaylen Warren - Fantasy Football Rankings, Waiver Wire Pickups, Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Backup Running Backs To Draft In 2024

Gone are the days of the workhorse running back. Unless your name is Christian McCaffrey or Derrick Henry, then odds are you have a backfield running mate who sees significant touches. In fantasy football, the running back position is diluted due to running back committees. As such, many teams have multiple backs that provide fantasy... Read More