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Fantasy Baseball Positional Primer: First Base

Diving into the player pool is essential in the initial stages of your Fantasy Baseball prep for next season. Knowing and understanding the player pool can help you better formulate a draft strategy. It may seem like common sense, but knowing the deep and shallow positions can take you a long way. Today, we will look at the Fantasy Baseball first base position and examine the player pool and draft strategy for the position. This article continues a positional primer series that will take an in-depth look at each position across the diamond.

When thinking about the first base position, you might think about power. Generally, the players at first base provide good power and little to no speed. Also, the position is full of older players. That is not bad, but four of the top seven first basemen in ADP are over 31 years old. As I mentioned, that is not a bad thing as these players are still highly productive, and first basemen can perform longer into their career due to less wear on their bodies in the field. I mean, look what Joey Votto did this year during his age 37 season.

Let’s dive in a look at players who performed well this year at the position and a look ahead into 2022.

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Fantasy Baseball Positional Preview: First Base

First Base 2021 Rewind

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ran away with the top spot at first base, according to the Razzball Player Rater. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as Guerrero Jr. swatted 48 home runs and posted a .311 batting average. He scored 123 times and drove in 111. For reference, he was also the most valuable player for any position, according to the player rater.

Paul Goldschmidt barely edged out Freddie Freeman for the second spot at the position. Goldschmidt had a career resurgence in his age-33 season hitting 31 home runs and stealing 12 bases. Freeman posted the higher batting average at .300 and tied him in home runs. Goldschmidt edged him out in stolen bases 13 to eight.

Matt Olson also fit right in with Freeman and Goldschmidt. Olson posted a career-high batting average at .271 and mashed 39 home runs. He improved his overall contact rate by over ten percentage points from 2020, and his zone-contact rates were the highest of his career by nearly six percentage points.

The first base position dropped off pretty significantly after Olson when you had a tier of players like Jose Abreu, Max Muncy, Pete Alonso, and Joey Votto in terms of player value.

From a general statistical standpoint, Guerrero was the only first basemen to hit 40 home runs. Ten different first basemen reached 30 or more home runs, with Jared Walsh and C.J. Cron missing at 29 and 28 home runs, respectively. The power then fell off pretty heavily. Considering first base is supposed to be a position of power, it is surprising that only 16 first basemen eclipsed 25 home runs.

Stolen bases are scarce at first base. Goldschmidt led the way with 12, and Freeman tied with Nate Lowe for second-most at the position with eight. Interestingly, two of the older guys led the way in steals. The reality is that you should not expect to get many stolen bases from anyone at this position.

Fantasy Baseball First Base Strategy

When approaching the first base position in a Fantasy Baseball draft, you can go in several directions. You will have to pay a high-end first-round pick to get the top first baseman on the board in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. I am not opposed to doing this, but I prefer getting speed at the top of drafts. You won’t find much speed at all at the position in general, so there is reason to consider waiting to draft your first baseman.

If you decide against taking Guerrero Jr. at the top, Pete Alonso is a great target. His early NFBC ADP sits at 72. I fully expect that to move up, but that is an attractive price, and it would not be surprising to see Alonso take another step forward and finish as the second-ranked first baseman behind Guerrero.

Pete Alonso

If you prefer to wait until after pick 100 to draft your first baseman, you can potentially find some values, though nothing is guaranteed. My favorite first baseman outside of the current top-100 ADP is probably Jared Walsh, who hit 29 home runs and posted a .277 batting average over 144 games. Walsh began his breakout during the shortened 2020 season and continued his strong performance.

Past Walsh, there is a cluster of first basemen going between 145 and 155 currently. Anthony Rizzo, C.J. Cron, Josh Bell, and Rhys Hoskins are all options but have risks. Ultimately, it seems like drafting one of the top-seven first basemen on the board helps provide some security.

2022 First Base Rankings

Tier 1
1Vladimir Guerrero JrTOR
2Freddie FreemanFA
Tier 2
3Matt OlsonOAK
4Pete AlonsoNYM
Tier 3
5Paul GoldschmidtSTL
6Jose AbreuCHW
7Max MuncyLAD
Tier 4
8Kris BryantFA
9Jared WalshLAA
10Josh BellWAS
11Ryan MountcastleBAL
Tier 5
12Kyle SchwarberFA
13Joey VottoCIN
14Rhys HoskinsPHI
15C.J. CronCOL
16Ty FranceSEA
17DJ LeMahieuNYY
18Anthony RizzoFA
Tier 6
19Brandon BeltSF
20Frank SchwindelCHC
21Trey ManciniBAL
22Jake CronenworthSD
Tier 7
23Alex KirilloffMIN
24Andrew VaughnCHW
25Bobby DalbecBOS
26Yuli GurrielHOU
27Spencer TorkelsonDET
28Nate LoweTEX
29Miguel SanoMIN
30Eduardo EscobarFA
Tier 8
31Rowdy TellezMIL
32Jonathan SchoopDET
33Jesus AguilarMIA
34Yandy DiazTB
35Christian WalkerARI
36Eric HosmerSD
37Miguel CabreraDET
38Pavin SmithARI
39Bobby BradleyCLE
40Carlos SantanaKC

Be sure to check out my Top-1oo Hitter Rankings on Fantrax to get an early jump on your Fantasy Baseball prep.

Media References: Baseball Savant 

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