Dynasty baseball is all about building a sustainable roster that can compete long-term. Winning now is important but it’s best to build around a prime core that can lead you to multiple competitive years. A five-year projection is long compared to what most dynasty rankings look at. Unless your roster is currently in a complete reboot, there’s no sense in planning that far in advance either. However, these prime first basemen can lead the way to fantasy success right now while still having room to get even better over the next half-decade.
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Predicting the Top Dynasty First Baseman in 2028
The Favorite: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
There’s not much room for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to improve as he’s already the top first baseman in dynasty formats and a top-10 asset overall. He’s widely considered one of the most talented hitters in baseball and the numbers, both on the surface and under the hood, back that up. He hammers the ball, finishing above the 90th percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate in each of the last three seasons. From 2021-22, Guerrero launched 80 homers with 64 doubles, 213 runs, 208 RBI, and a .292/.370/.539 slash line. Even if 2022 was considered disappointing after his elite 2021 campaign, he still posted an .818 OPS and played 160 games for the second straight year.
Aside from how hard it is to duplicate a 1.000+ OPS season, there are a few key factors that cause his production to drop. His barrel rate and launch angle fell while his chase and ground-ball rates went up. Most of these issues have been present throughout his career but he’s found success in spite of them. When Guerrero doesn’t drive the ball into the ground, he’s usually drilling an extra-base hit. Surprisingly, he performs better against righties (career .884 OPS) than lefties (.792 OPS), which is generally better for his overall outlook.
Guerrero has plenty of time to fine-tune his profile as he’s just beginning his age-24 campaign in 2023. For reference, he’ll be 29 in 2028, the same age as Matt Olson is currently. Guerrero probably won’t provide much long-term value in the speed department but he swiped eight bases in 11 attempts last season. Adding any steals is just icing on the cake as he’s an elite contributor across every other major category. His 2023 returns show an increased walk rate closer to what he did in 2021, which could be the key to getting back over a .900 OPS.
Toronto has one of the best lineups in baseball, in large part because of Guerrero, and it should stay that way for the next several seasons. As young as he is, he could force his way into the conversation for top dynasty player with another big year. Among all the players that will be mentioned throughout this series, I believe Guerrero has the highest long-term floor. Even with a batted-ball profile that has room for improvement, he’s an elite hitter with a great approach. By 2028, it feels likely that he’ll have won an MVP award and will continue being a first-round pick in all fantasy formats.
The Other Candidates
When it comes to sheer game power, Pete Alonso may be the best slugger in the game. Since joining the league in 2019, he has 151 home runs, over 10 more than any other hitter. Last season, he ripped 40 homers with an .869 OPS and an MLB-leading 131 RBI. Alonso consistently posts elite barrel rates and expected numbers, along with a solid walk rate. However, unsurprisingly, that comes with high chase and whiff rates. While he’s chasing a bit less to start 2023, he’s swinging much less in general. Alonso has already popped five home runs, though he’s hitting just .235 through 39 plate appearances.
The main drawback in comparison to Guerrero is Alonso’s age. He’s currently in his age-28 season, making he’ll be 33 for the 2028 campaign. That’s not the end of the world, but stars approaching their mid-30s don’t tend to stay so highly valued in dynasty formats. Alonso should see some sort of boost in his slash line over the next few years without the shift. He was shifted at least 37% of the time in each of the previous two seasons and posted noticeably worse wOBAs against the shift. Even without any improvement there, Alonso will be an elite source of power for the next half-decade.
Like Alonso, Matt Olson has been a very consistent source of power. His 179 bombs since the start of 2017 are the sixth-most in the league. He’s hit at least 30 in each of the last three full MLB seasons, including 34 during his first year with the Braves in 2022. Olson nearly always posts elite batted-ball data and the banning of the shift should cause his slash line to improve. His .802 OPS in 2022 was the lowest he registered in a full year since 2018. Despite that, he totaled 78 extra-base hits with 189 runs + RBI.
In his final season with Oakland, Olson dropped his strikeout rate to a career-low 16.8%. It spiked back up to 24.3% last year and has jumped all the way to 33.3% through 42 plate appearances this season. Shift or not, the batting average will always be capped by his high K-rate unless he manages to get back to that 2021 level, during which he hit .271. As a lefty slugger, he’s always performed better against righties, though he still has a solid .790 career OPS against lefties. The 29-year-old will enter his age-34 campaign in 2028. Olson should still be a strong fantasy asset by then, but his dynasty value can’t compete with a younger star like Guerrero.
The youngest of the other candidates, Triston Casas still has a lot to prove at the MLB level. It’s been a slow start to his young MLB career, though he’s yet to exceed rookie limits. Casas is slashing .182/.322/.384 with six homers and 17 RBI through 34 career games. While he’s not in the conversation for top first baseman at the moment, his ceiling could bring him there. The 23-year-old has been considered a top prospect for multiple years with a solid minor-league track record to back it up. Through 1,210 MiLB plate appearances, he compiled an .858 OPS with a 13.6% walk rate and a 21.6% strikeout rate.
Casas has maintained a strong walk rate at 17.4% at the MLB level but his strikeout rate jumped to 24%. He’s struggling against fastballs (.144 xwOBA, 25.8% whiff) and has virtually no power against lefties. Fortunately, some of his underlying numbers, like chase and whiff rates, are still better than average. The biggest issue seems to be some unfortunate luck. Casas hasn’t barreled a single ball in 2023 and his career BABIP has tumbled to .185. It’s still early in his career and while it may not look like there’s much right now, a rebound is likely. Assuming his tools click the way they’re expected to, Casas could turn into a powerhouse first baseman.
There aren’t many first basemen in the pipeline that are worth raving about. Despite being a shallow position, the top-tier names will certainly be ones to keep an eye on. It remains to be seen whether Tyler Soderstrom will end up as a catcher or first baseman, but the latter seems more likely. His bat will play regardless, as his elite power resulted in 29 homers last season on his way to reaching the Triple-A level at age 20. Similarly, Kyle Manzardo slashed .327/.426/.617 with 49 extra-base hits last season. The 22-year-old is playing with Triple-A Durham and should debut at some point in 2023. These two are very inexperienced but they represent the next wave of talent at first base.