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2024 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Sleepers

Fantasy baseball is all about value. There is a point where groupthink takes over, and a sleeper is no longer a sleeper. Ultimately, our intention is to draft players that outperform their acquisition cost. If you do that enough times, chances are that the 2024 Fantasy Baseball season will go pretty well for you. We do need to remember, that the first base base sleepers we’re going to discuss in the next few paragraphs might not be super exciting, and value can be found anywhere.

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First Base Sleepers for 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals

It was a rough year for Pasquantino who struggled following the World Baseball Classic. Ultimately, his season ended in June following labrum surgery, but he is fully recovered.

Pasquantino is being drafted as a mid-tier CI in 12-team leagues and a higher-end CI in 15-team leagues. The knock on him historically has been his power, or lack thereof, but we might be too hard on him. He is already swinging with gusto this off-season and all of the above factors are likely conspiring to keep his price down.

In 61 games last year, Pasquantino hit .247 with nine home runs and 26 RBI. That came after he hit a combined 28 home runs (10 with Kansas City and 18 in Triple-A) in 2022. Even if we project his 10 major league home runs off his 72 games, Pasquantino isn’t a total liability. Seeing him get to 20-25 home runs would not be surprising, he had a .190 ISO last year, and that certainly changes the conversation.

What helps to draw me in here is the batting average. Multiple factors were conspiring against Pasquantino last year which included a .250 BABIP. His .279 xBA is more in line with expectations after he hit .295 with the Royals in 2022. With a strikeout rate of around 12%, Pasquantino will put the bat on the ball and has a good approach overall. A walk rate of around 10% gives him a little OBP league boost as well.

Once we get to this part of the draft, there are questions abound, and the batting average is a real asset here. Pasquantino occupies prime RBI real estate in the lineup and could make more strides at driving the ball this year.

Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees

Remember what I said about these first base sleepers not being very exciting? With Anthony Rizzo, I certainly lived up to that promise.

Judging Rizzo on his 2023 statistical line in total is simply not fair. Rizzo suffered a concussion at the end of May, but it wasn’t diagnosed until the beginning of August. That means we have two months of brutal production on Rizzo’s ledger after he hit .282 in April and .327 in May. That came along with 11 home runs, 32 RBI, and 30 runs scored.

We can’t truly say he would have continued that pace all season, but it certainly attracts attention. The good news though, is that it is the .173 and .167 batting averages he had over the next two months that people remember. In 45 games, Rizzo had just one home run and nine RBI as clearly he was not healthy.

In reality, Rizzo is a .250 hitter at this point with 25 home runs and the upside to add a few more. It’s hard to argue with anywhere Rizzo hits in the Yankees’ lineup as RBI won’t be an issue. While he isn’t the player he was in his prime, Rizzo can provide valuable roster depth as you concentrate your attention elsewhere.

Kyle Manzardo, Cleveland Guardians

Now let’s get excited. Kyle Manzardo’s next major league at-bat will be his first.

Entering last year, there was a lot of buzz about the potential in Manzardo’s bat. Instead, it was a down year for him as he battled injuries of his own and health issues within his family. Manzardo also had to work through a trade to Cleveland, but he still finished with 17 home runs in 94 games. Throughout this, he continued to show, at times, his powerful bat and offensive upside. We can also feel good about a strong finish to the year for Manzardo in the Arizona Fall League.

The strikeouts aren’t terrible here, and a double-digit walk rate speaks to the overall approach while also being an OBP asset. We will have to keep a close eye on Manzardo in Spring Training to see if he comes north with Cleveland. However, we will be seeing a lot of Manzardo with the Guardians in 2024. There is some real pop in his bat, and that is especially the case against right-handed pitching on the strong side of a platoon.

Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins

I just can’t give this one up. Alex Kirilloff continues to catch my attention for his tools and upside, but he just can’t stay healthy.

Once again though, Kirilloff is opening the year in the starting lineup for Minnesota. So far that reason, let’s give it another shot. After all, Kirilloff is free in just about all leagues. In 319 plate appearances, Kirilloff hit a solid .270 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. He did double his average launch angle from 2022 up to 12.4 degrees to go along with a 7.4% barrel rate.

While we are still waiting for Kirilloff to truly take off, there is still a solid hitter in there. With his wrist recovered, perhaps we will finally get to see why he was drafted in the first round in 2016.

Got a few first base sleepers of your own? Drop some names in the comments below. For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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