After covering the exciting catcher position, we shift 90 feet up the line for my Top 50 Dynasty First Base Rankings. This once mammoth offensive position experienced a bit of a downfall in the late 2010s, but is once again on the rise thanks to a glutton of young talent mixing their way in among the stable veterans. We’ve also seen some resurgences from players like CJ Cron and Christian Walker recently, both of which find themselves within my top 15 right now.
- While Pete Alonso and Freddie Freeman are strong members of this top tier, the top overall spot has to go to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. right now and for the foreseeable future. After a monster 2021 season, Guerrero took a minor step back in 2022. However, that still resulted in a .274/.339/.480 slash line with 32 home runs, 97 RBI, 90 runs, and eight steals with his usual elite quality of contact metrics. But on the other hand, we also saw his launch angle and groundball rate regress back to pre-2022 levels at 4.3° and 53.1% respectively. Vladdy also didn’t have 44 games in Buffalo or Dunedin to boost his numbers either (.364, 21 HR, 44 G). I’m not ruling out another monster 2021-esque season from him moving forward. That would be foolish to do so. However, I’m expecting more seasons closer to 2022 production than 2021 production. If 2021 is his floor and 2022 is a possible outcome, there’s nothing wrong with that and still makes Vlad Jr a top-20 dynasty asset. I’d love it if he continues running a little bit too. Everything helps!
- After the big three, you’ll likely see the second tier arranged in various ways across various rankings. But for me, give me ALL the Vinnie Pasquantino shares. Outside of stealing bags, the answer to “Is there anything Pasquantino can’t do?” is a resounding no. Pasquantino dominated Hi-A and Double-A in 2021, dominated Triple-A in 2022, and that domination continued in the Majors after a small adjustment period. After August 1st, Vinnie P slashed a stellar.346/.424/.536 in 177 PA with seven home runs, .414 wOBA, 172 wRC+, 85.7% contact rate, 92.8% zone contact rate, 6.6% SwStr, and a 44.3% Hard-Hit rate. Oh yeah, all of this while having an 11.9% walk rate and 8.5% strikeout rate. With his blend of contact, approach, and power, Pasquantino should be a four-category fantasy stud for years to come.
- Now that he’s moving back to his natural position of first base, I’m expecting Andrew Vaughn to really take off in 2023. With Abreu at first base, Tony La Russa decided to play Vaughn out in the outfield a lot last season which was an adjustment period for Vaughn. Because of this, his offense suffered to some degree. But overall, Vaughn still displayed many encouraging metrics, including an 87.8% zone contact rate, 21% whiff rate, 17.3% strikeout rate, and a 48.6% hard-hit rate. The contact skills and power in Vaughn’s profile could lead to some .280/25+ seasons and he’ll finally be able to really settle in now that he’ll be back at first base primarily with Abreu now in Houston. If any buying opportunity arose in your league, now is the time to capitalize on that.
- Two “older” breakouts from the 2022 season were Nathaniel Lowe and Christian Walker. I’m a believer in both breakouts. With Lowe, trimming his early-career whiff/strikeout metrics was huge, and he hit more line drives with fewer groundballs in 2022 as well. He also doesn’t struggle against any one pitch classification, which is encouraging to see. On top of that, Lowe ranked in the top-30% of hitters in AVG EV, hard-hit rate, xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA. Is there another level for him? Probably not. But Lowe certainly looks the part of a back-end Top 10 first baseman for years to come. As for Walker, there were incremental gains made in many areas. Walker nearly doubled his barrel rate while also seeing improvements in his walk, strikeout, whiff, chase, and zone contact rates. But with all that said, he still finished with just a .242 AVG to go with his 36 home runs. I’m fine with Walker as my CI for dynasty, but wouldn’t be looking at him for my starting first base spot.
- A bit further down the list, we find another 2022 rookie in Jose Miranda. After a stellar season in the upper minors in 2021, Minnesota brought Miranda up for nearly 500 plate appearances in 2022 where he slashed a solid .268/.325/.426 with 15 home runs and an 18.8% strikeout rate. Miranda proved to be a very tough hitter to strike out in the minors, sporting a low 12.1% strikeout rate, and there’s above-average power in the profile as well. While I don’t believe he ever reaches elite levels at either first base or third base, Miranda could settle in as a .270+/20+ type in the middle of a decent Minnesota lineup. He’s slated to open 2023 as their starting third baseman, but could conceivably hold dual eligibility moving forward.
One 3rd baseman I've been targeting after the first eight is Jose Miranda.
2022: 483 PA, .268/.325/.426, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 5.8% BB, 18.8% K, .158 ISO
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) November 11, 2022
- The offseason brings plenty of additional time to dig into player profiles. One that I dug into recently was Ryan Mountcastle. For the longest time, even dating back to his early days in Baltimore’s farm system, Mountcastle has always been a prospect that I liked to a degree but was never really blown away by. However, digging into the profile has me moving him up my rankings a bit instead of moving him down like I initially expected I would be doing this off-season. On the surface, a .250/.305/.423 slash line isn’t going to inspire optimism, but several of his metrics sure will. Mountcastle recorded a 15% barrel rate, 91.3 mph AVG EV, and 46.3% hard-hit rate while ranking in the top-9% of MLB hitters in xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, and xwOBACON. On the other hand, Mountcastle chases and whiffs a bit too much, and his home park robbed him of several home runs due to dimensions and wall height. However, this is certainly a profile I’m willing to buy into at a likely reasonable price this offseason with the hope for more counting stats in 2023.
- Without question, Spencer Torkelson is a hard one to rank right now. The former top-10 prospect struggled mightily during his first Major League season, slashing .203/.285/.319 in 404 plate appearances with only eight home runs. However, once Torkelson returned to Detroit on September 2nd, he posted a 12.3% barrel rate, 93.1 mph AVG EV, and a 50.7% hard-hit rate. Comerica Park certainly doesn’t do Tork any favors, especially in the power department, but it’s far too soon to write him off. With that said, expectations need to be adjusted. He’s not going to be Pete Alonso 2.0 and the struggles since reaching Triple-A in 2021 are worrisome. I’d still be willing to buy low depending on the price because the power is there to hit 25, even in Comerica. I’m just not expecting more than a .250 AVG or so.
- There are plenty of promising buy-low trade targets at the position for dynasty right now, and Alex Kirilloff is near the top of that list. First and foremost, multiple wrist injuries definitely worry me. We’ve seen how wrist injuries can linger and hamper a player, especially in the power department. But with that said, it appears that these injuries have created a golden buying opportunity as Kirilloff’s value has dropped considerably further than it should. We’re talking about a career .323 hitter in the minors over 316 games that has shown enough raw power to be a 25-homer player annually. Honestly, I think he could be very close to Bryan Reynolds long-term if he can stay on the field.
- If you’re looking for notes on the prospects included in these rankings, you can find those in my 2023 First Base Prospect Rankings.
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2023 Dynasty First Base Rankings
|1||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||TOR||23.6|
Media Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire