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2024 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Tiers

Power. That is generally what we come to the first base position for, and once again, it is slated to deliver. We are here for middle of the order hitters who can produce in four of five categories; excluding stolen bases. We have our well defined studs, but there are also some exciting, up and coming options that are filled with excitement and upside. As you look to lock down the power categories, let’s dig into our First Base Tiers for 2024 Fantasy Baseball. We will look at things in conjunction with NFBC ADP (as of 2/29/24) for 12 team leagues.

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First Base Tiers

Tier One

1. Freddie Freeman, 10

While we often target stolen bases with early draft picks, but Freddie Freeman is one of the exceptions. The Dodgers lineup has gotten even stronger this off-season, and Freeman is in position to reap those benefits. He is slated to bat second once again while going for his third straight year of at least 100 RBI and runs scored. After batting .331 last year with 29 home runs, it’s possible to discount what Freeman has been doing as he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Ultimately, I might have also contradicted myself after Freeman stole a career high 23 bases last year. However great that was, it’s nothing we can truly bank on once again.

Tier Two

2. Matt Olson, 15

3. Bryce Harper, 17

4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 32

5. Pete Alonso, 24

We aren’t going to get stolen bases here, but there is a plethora of power and run production to be found. Matt Olson hit a career-high .283 last year, but that is the ultimate case of burying the lead. Olson had an insane .321 ISO last year, and between that, his 16.1% barrel rate, and his 55.1% hard-hit rate, it is no surprise he went deep 54 times. Thanks to a great Atlanta lineup, Olson also drove in 139 runs while scoring 127 times. That production is worthy of his borderline first-round pick price tag.

While it takes some getting used to, Bryce Harper makes a pretty strong first baseman. Thanks to a 14.7% walk rate, Harper is a true stud in OBP leagues while also being a career .281 hitter. It shouldn’t be surprising that Harper’s power production took some time to return last year. In the second half, Harper went deep 18 times in 70 games while driving in 49 runs. With a full year of health, Harper should be back to his 30/100 days.

It is important to resist the urge to truly fall into the Spring Training trap of players being in great shape, but with Vladimir Guerrero, that might be the case. Seeing him leg out a double this spring certainly pushes things in that direction. Even in what can be called a down year, Guerrero still finished with 26 home runs and 94 RBI while batting .264. His .179 ISO was a far cry from his ..290 mark from two years ago, but Guerrero didn’t lose all of that ability. He still had an 11.1% barrel rate and 49.2% hard-hit rate last year, and Guerrero should be back to being a 30/100 player.

Power and run production wasn’t an issue for Pete Alonso last year, but we did have to deal with a .217 batting average. Getting 46 home runs, 118 RBI, and 92 runs scored from Alonso certainly helps to make up for it. The good news is that Alonso’s BABIP last year was just .205, so there really is only one direction for him to go. With a .287 ISO and 14.7% barrel rate, we don’t have to worry about Alonso’s power.

Tier Three

6. Cody Bellinger, 61

7. Paul Goldschmidt, 80

8. Christian Walker, 92

Cody Bellinger finally signed, and after all that, he simply went back to the Chicago Cubs for another season. There is some comfort in that as Bellinger looks to repeat a resurgent 2023 season that saw him hit .307 to go along with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Bellinger brought his strikeouts all the way down to 15.6% while bringing his ISO back up to .218. The concern though, is that Bellinger’s barrel and hard-hit rates dropped again; to 6.1% and 31.4%, respectively. He can go 20/20 again, but we are ranking and drafting him at his peak.

We keep on waiting for this to be the year that Paul Goldschmidt’s decline truly begins, but it hasn’t happened yet. This is something you always want to be a year early on, and if you are looking, his ISO did decrease from .260 to .179. It makes sense that his home runs went from 35 to 25 but he also continues to stay on the field. With an 11.9% barrel rate and 50.7% hard-hit rate, the quality of Goldschmidt’s contact isn’t going anywhere.

What we have seen from Christian Walker to this point is likely the best he has to offer, but is there anything wrong with that? With 33 home runs, Walker continued his success with the long ball while also cracking the century mark with 103 RBI and hitting a solid .258 batting average. The issue comes with the price, as you can find similar production and perhaps more upside, a round or two later.

Tier Four

9. Triston Casas, 90

10.Spencer Torkelson, 115

11. Josh Naylor, 139

12. Yandy Diaz, 129

13. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 155

14. Spencer Steer, 110

This tier should represent the future of the position. There are some impressive hit tools and potential present along with some explosive power. In some cases though, some risk comes with the upside, but the results we saw last year can certainly play.

In the second half last year, Triston Casas seemingly figured things out as he hit .317 in 211 plate appearances, but most notably had 15 home runs and 38 RBI. The good news is that these are tools he owns and a 13.1% barrel rate certainly backs that up. Spencer Torkelson also arrives with pomp and circumstance after being the number one overall pick in 2020. While the batting average is going to be below average, .233 last year, his a middle-of-the-order run producer with 31 home runs and 94 RBI. Aside from getting closer to his .251 xBA, there isn’t much upside here. But how can you not like his 14.1% barrel rate and 50.5% hard-hit rate?

After going through the power upside, now let’s deal with the batting average. That’s not to say Josh Naylor and Yandy Diaz are pushovers in that department, but we are looking a lot closer to 20-25 home runs than 30-35. However, considering each will hit .300 and still have solid run production, both are worthy options. Last year, Naylor finished with 97 RBI while Diaz scored 95 runs to go with 78 RBI, so they aren’t one-dimensional options.

The Reds have a lot of intriguing young players, but Christian Encarnacion-Strand might be the most exciting from a power perspective. Last year he hit 13 home runs in 63 games, and with regular playing time, he can get to the 30 home run mark. The positional versatility works to Spencer Steer’s advantage given Cincinnati’s roster depth. It also helps with your roster construction as he could be moved around a lot. A double-digit walk rate helps in OBP leagues, but he isn’t going to be much more than a 20-home-run hitter.

Tier Five

15. Vinnie Pasquantino, 171

16. Alec Bohm, 167

17. Isaac Paredes, 193

18. Salvador Perez, 129

19. Rhys Hoskins, 191

20. Andrew Vaughn, 242

21. Jeimer Candelario, 224

22. Nathaniel Lowe, 221

The big thing for Vinnie Pasquantino is the need to stay healthy. Kansas City’s lineup is improving, and there is a lot to like about the quality of his contact. Batting order is a plus for Alec Bohm as the corner infielder finished with 97 RBI last year. We do have to remember though, that while he’ll hit around .270/.280, we aren’t going to see more than 20 home runs.

After Isaac Parades hit 31 home runs last year, it’s hard to have interest. Then it depends on what angle you want to take when digging into Parades. A .238 ISO is going to be impressive, a 22.2-degree average launch makes sense given the long balls, and you have to like a .488 slugging percentage. But then you get to a 5.9% barrel rate, a 28.3% hard-hit rate, and a .364 xSLG. That is where things can go in either direction, but it’s a fair price.

In most cases, Salvador Perez is being drafted as a catcher despite his eligibility here. Spending some time at the DH spot helps keep Perez fresh, but he is getting older. While Perez finished with 23 home runs and 80 RBI last year, his barrel rate did drop to 8.7%.

After missing last season, Rhys Hoskins is back and fully healthy in 2024; just for a new team. Hoskins is joining the Milwaukee Brewers where he should continue being a 30 home run hitter along with 80 RBI and a batting average in the .240s. We are now in the what you see is what you get category. Andrew Vaughn doesn’t appear to be showing much more than 20 home runs and 80 RBI to go along with a .260 average. However, perhaps some off-season improvements will lead to increased production. There is less optimism with Jeimer Candelario, but the Reds do appear to be committed to playing him every day. And of course, we can’t ignore his home park either. The last option in the 20-23 home run and 80 RBI mark is Nathaniel Lowe. He has solid plate skills, but a decrease in his barrel rate to 6.5% does throw up some cause for concern

Tier Six

23. Ryan Mountcastle, 246

24. Brandon Drury, 233

25. Anthony Rizzo, 297

26. Jose Abreu, 297

27. Josh Bell, 316

28. Justin Turner, 246

29. Ty France, 350

30. Kyle Manzardo, 343

There are a few questions with Ryan Mountcastle, one of which is whether or not he is simply a platoon option. The biggest problem with Mountcastle is that he played in just 115 games last year and finished with 18 home runs and 68 RBI. With a 12.1% barrel rate last year, there is something to see here with his plate skills. Despite the change to Camden Yards, Mountcastle did go deep nine times at home along with nine times on the road.

You likely will be using Brandon Drury at second base, but the veteran has turned into a solid contributor with the Angels. We should see another .260 from Drury after averaging 27 home runs and 85 RBI last year. Staying with veterans, Anthony Rizzo is due for a turnaround after dealing with a concussion for most of the season. Prior to that point, Rizzo hit .282 and .327 in the first two months of the season with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. Jose Abreu had a rough start to his career in Houston, but he did find his groove as the season went on. He finished with 18 home runs, as the power isn’t what it used to be, but he still drove in 90 runs. At this point, Josh Bell is what he is, but the first baseman is still a solid option in deeper leagues to go 20/80 with a .260 batting average.

While Justin Turner isn’t the same player he once was, the veteran has retained his hit tools. We can’t discount him after Turner hit .276 last year with 23 home runs and 96 RBI as also made it through 146 games. I’m not sure we can expect the same this year, but the veteran is still a solid bat. The same can be said for Ty France, but how much power he displays remains to be seen even after a trip to Driveline this winter. France only hit 12 home runs last year with just a 6.8% barrel rate, but he does bat in the middle of Seattle’s order.

There is potential in Kyle Manzardo’s bat, and even if it doesn’t come on Opening Day, the Guardians should give him a chance to show what he can do. There is some concern with him hitting left-handers, but Manzardo does have strong hit tools.

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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