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Dynasty First Base Rankings for Fantasy Baseball

dominic smith fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers MLB injury news

As we prepare to flip the calendar to 2021, fantasy baseball managers are poring over MLB free agency news and the latest rankings. That includes our constantly-updated dynasty rankings.

We will take an early preseason look at each position with some thoughts on individual player values heading into next season. Today, we start with first base.

First base has become one of the harder positions to find value in redraft leagues if you miss out on the top couple of tiers. In dynasty leagues with deeper benches, there are always options to consider that may be just a year away from becoming regular contributors. Let's take a look at some of the top picks and prospects to watch.

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Dynasty First Base Rankings

Ranking Tier Player Name Position
1 1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF
2 1 Freddie Freeman 1B
3 1 Pete Alonso 1B
4 2 Josh Bell 1B
5 2 Anthony Rizzo 1B
6 2 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
7 2 Matt Olson 1B
8 2 Rhys Hoskins 1B
9 3 Jose Abreu 1B
10 3 DJ LeMahieu 1B/2B/3B
11 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B
12 3 Trey Mancini 1B/OF
13 3 Brendan McKay 1B/SP
14 4 Miguel Sano 1B/3B
15 4 Yasmani Grandal C/1B
16 4 Carlos Santana 1B
17 4 Luke Voit 1B
18 4 Andrew Vaughn 1B
19 4 Hunter Dozier 1B/3B/OF
20 4 Nate Lowe 1B
20 4 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B
21 5 Joc Pederson 1B/OF
22 5 Christian Walker 1B
23 5 Michael Chavis 1B/2B
24 5 Danny Santana 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF
25 5 Eric Hosmer 1B
26 5 Yuli Gurriel 1B/3B
27 5 Edwin Encarnacion 1B
28 5 Evan White 1B
29 6 Daniel Vogelbach 1B
31 6 Wil Myers 1B/OF
32 6 Renato Nunez 1B/3B
33 6 Yandy Diaz 1B/3B
34 6 Ji-Man Choi 1B
35 6 Justin Smoak 1B
36 6 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/SS/OF
37 6 C.J. Cron 1B
38 6 Daniel Murphy 1B
39 6 Mark Canha 1B/OF
40 6 Christian Vazquez C/1B
41 6 Joey Votto 1B
42 7 Grant Lavigne 1B
43 7 Jesus Aguilar 1B
44 7 Bobby Bradley 1B
45 7 Garrett Cooper 1B
46 7 Ronald Guzman 1B
47 7 Rowdy Tellez 1B
48 7 Triston Casas 1B
49 7 Nick Pratto 1B
50 8 Mike Ford 1B
51 8 Howie Kendrick 1B/2B/3B
52 8 Ryan O'Hearn 1B
53 8 Willians Astudillo C/1B/3B
54 8 Travis d'Arnaud C/1B
55 8 Jay Bruce OF/1B
56 8 Jake Bauers 1B/OF
57 8 Matt Beaty 1B/3B/OF
58 8 Jeimer Candelario 1B/3B
59 8 Josh VanMeter 1B/2B/OF
60 8 AJ Reed 1B
61 9 Miguel Cabrera 1B
62 9 Dominic Smith 1B/OF
63 9 Brent Rooker 1B
64 9 Jake Lamb 1B/3B
65 9 Mitch Moreland 1B
66 9 Eric Thames 1B/OF
67 9 Brandon Belt 1B/OF
68 9 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/3B/OF
69 9 Brandon Dixon 1B/OF
70 9 Albert Pujols 1B
71 9 Kevin Cron 1B
72 9 Michael Toglia 1B
73 9 Chris Davis 1B
74 9 Victor Caratini C/1B
75 9 Ryan Zimmerman 1B
76 9 Matt Thaiss 1B
77 9 Rio Ruiz 1B/3B
78 9 Colin Moran 3B/1B
79 9 Greg Bird 1B

 

Preseason Thoughts

The first and most difficult call is whether to value Cody Bellinger or Freddie Freeman higher. Freeman is coming off an MVP campaign in 2020 and has finished in the top-10 four different times on the strength of a career .295/.383/.509 slash line. He bats at the top of one of the most potent lineups in baseball, even if fellow MVP candidate Marcell Ozuna doesn't return to the club.

On the other hand, Bellinger is coming off a disappointing statistical season where he batted .239 with a .789 OPS that would have ranked 13th among qualified first basemen. Despite that, he still chimed in with 12 HR and six SB, which made him a valuable commodity nonetheless. Of course, we must remember he is one year removed from his own MVP award. The deciding factor in dynasty, naturally, is age. Bellinger is just 25 and has yet to enter what for most players can be considered their prime years. Bellinger is just as likely to rise back to the top of the positional standings in 2021 and his steals are a bonus that Freeman can't counter.

If Bellinger's 2020 was disappointing, then Josh Bell's was outright disastrous. He went from placing in the top 10% in both xSLG at .565 and xwOBA at .390 the previous year to a .382 xSLG and .289 xwOBA in the shortened season. A slugger who was previously hailed for his plate discipline saw his K-BB% spike from 7.1% in 2019 to 16.6% in 2020. His whiff rate elevated to a terrible 33.6%, ranking in the 12th percentile. While it may be easy to dismiss the small sample size, it should be noted that Bell did begin to correct his swing and miss issues as the season progressed.

image taken from BaseballSavant

Who knows how much of an autocorrect he could have accomplished over a full slate of games but the gradual improvement along with the still-elite 91.7 exit velocity gives me enough hope that Bell's best days aren't behind him at 28 years of age. The main concern is the fact that he is still stuck in the middle of a Pittsburgh lineup that may remain exactly the same, limiting his R+RBI chances. Still, I feel comfortable ranking him ahead of Matt Olson, whose swing-and-miss issues may never get resolved.

Dominic Smith is one of the biggest risers from last year and he rightfully belongs in the top 10. This is the type of profile you like to see from your cornerstone at first base.

image taken from BaseballSavant

Once Smith became a regular fixture in the lineup, primarily in the cleanup spot over the final month, he was a dominant force. He is projected to stay in the fourth spot of the lineup, ahead of Pete Alonso and shortly after George Springer we can assume (isn't that official yet?). As a former first-round pick and top-100 prospect, it's not surprising to see him elevate to top-10 dynasty status. He split time between first base and outfield last year but could lose 1B eligibility at some point with Alonso a fixture there.

If Luke Voit at 13 feels low, it is intentional. I won't come out and call his 2020 a complete outlier because there were signs leading up to his breakout that many identified in the preseason. That said, I can't help but notice that his mini-breakout in 2018 and full-fledged Kool Aid Man smashing entrance into the fantasy mainstream in 2020 came over short stretches. He gets the benefit of playing in Yankee Stadium but I don't see a sizeable gap between him and Rhys Hoskins, whose Statcast profile is actually more favorable and is also two years younger.

Let's talk about Andrew Vaughn. He's stuck behind the current AL MVP, Jose Abreu, for a team that is loading up on pitching to make a run at the championship with their already-loaded offense. There isn't a spot for him, so his arrival may wait until later in the season, or even 2022. Since dynasty is all about the long game, we must consider that he was the third overall pick and has been praised as having one of the best hit tools throughout the minors and power to match. He'll take more seasoning before the homers start to flow and the playing time comes, but he should be worth the wait.

Ryan Mountcastle and Alex Kiriloff are two prospects in different circumstances. Mountcastle joined Baltimore's lineup midseason and stayed there the rest of the way, batting .333 over 140 plate appearances. He has proven to be ready for the majors and has a clear path to playing time. Kiriloff has great raw power but he must earn playing time either at first base or DH for a crowded Twins lineup. The waiving of Eddie Rosario opens up a spot but if Nelson Cruz is re-signed, that narrows the path to ABs. He also must prove himself over prospects Brent Rooker and Trevor Larnach. There are plenty of variables at play so Kiriloff is simply a stash for the time being.

Who doesn't love Rowdy Tellez? Nobody. This might be the third time I've posted this clip in an article but this time it comes with the clarification that he didn't actually launch the ball 505 feet. He's not quite Josh Gibson, as it turns out.


Tellez has mammoth power but does he have a starting job? It appears so, at least as of now. The Jays have a young core to rival any AL team outside of the White Sox. Tellez should slot in the lower third of the lineup but as one of the few left-handed bats, he could bat sixth or even as high as fifth to break things up. He nearly cut his strikeout rate in half from the previous year, down to 15.7% in 2020. It may all be coming together for a Rowdy 2021.

 

Deeper Options to Watch

Was Jared Walsh's September a mirage or a breakout to remember? He was a waiver savior in many a redraft league with nine HR, 26 RBI, and a .337 average in the final month of the season. We don't have much in the way of Major League stats to compare to other than an uninspiring 79-AB stint in 2019. He did put up some prolific numbers in the upper levels of the minors, though.

Walsh could enter the year in a platoon with Albert Pujols, who is finally on the last year of his massive contract. The best-case scenario posits that we have the next Max Muncy in the making.

Boston's No. 2 prospect, Triston Casas, is hardly a sleeper. He also may be a ways off from the majors if No. 3 prospect Bobby Dalbec can hold down the job. In many respects, Casas seems like a younger, left-handed version of Dalbec. Both are 6'4" sluggers who can play either corner position. Casas has more pure upside due to better plate discipline and a five-year youth edge. Dynasty managers who aren't in win-now mode may prefer to wait for Casas to develop.

I'm intrigued by Edwin Rios based on his hard-hit rate and power ceiling. He crushed 31 HR at Triple-A in 2019 before showing some pop in an abbreviated stint with the Dodgers in 2020. He's currently blocked at both first and third base but the remote chance that Justin Turner bolts via free agency leads to a glimmer of hope that he could be ready to contribute sooner rather than later.



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