It’s time to talk about first base, a place that ought to as soon as once more present house owners with a large number of rewarding fantasy choices in 2024. I’ve obtained a number of first base choices I’m snug with all through a draft or public sale; as with all spots on my rosters, I need one of the best participant out there as usually as doable, slightly than one of the best participant out there at a particular place. Let’s check out Gray’s first base rankings, in addition to NFBC ADP (for the month of January on this case) to see who I’m keen to seize sooner than most and who I’m fading utterly. As at all times, would love to listen to from you within the feedback with any ideas or questions!
As I discussed a pair weeks in the past, I’ve already completed one 15-team blended 5×5 draft the place I used to be choosing fifteenth and doubled up on first basemen, grabbing each Matt Olson and Bryce Harper. I’ve additionally drafted Freddie Freeman in spherical one already this season, so I’ve a number of eggs within the upper-tier first base basket. I notice that Olson and Freeman are each more likely to disappoint in comparison with their monster 2023 seasons, and Freeman’s 21 steals final yr don’t appear repeatable. However even with some manufacturing dropoff and common regression, they really feel like solid-floor foundations of a fantasy lineup. Two first basemen whom I haven’t drafted but end out the highest 5 by ADP: Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero. I like Alonso to bounce again a bit within the common division this yr and might need drafted him on the workforce the place I picked first total if he’d made it again to me for my second and third picks. I don’t suppose I’ll roster Vlad this yr as an total ADP of 31 is manner too excessive for my curiosity degree proper now; I’m gonna must see him making some changes that contain loads much less pounding the ball into the bottom than I witnessed final season. His latest numbers are a lot nearer than guys being taking rounds and rounds later than Alonso, who had twenty – twenty! – extra homers than Vlad did final yr.
Transferring down the primary base record, we discover a group of men who ought to have the ability to present precisely what we’re in search of out of the place: stable energy and counting stats with a presumably questionable common. Just a few could even chip in double-digit steals, which makes the gamers on this group all of the extra attention-grabbing. The still-unsigned Cody Bellinger could also be one of many extra polarizing; he’s ranked because the sixth first baseman by ADP however has been drafted as early as decide 27 and as late as decide 84 during the last month. I have already got a share which I’m mildly nervous about, as I believe each projection system out there’s telling us that Belli is more likely to come crashing all the way down to earth after placing up MVP-esque numbers final yr. Bellinger has as vast a spread of outcomes as any participant in baseball, however I’m intrigued sufficient by the wholesome productive model that I’m keen to purchase in no less than as soon as. The 1B/OF twin eligibility is especially interesting to me within the draft and maintain format, and a possible 5-category stud at first of spherical 5 in a 15-teamer was an excessive amount of for me to withstand.
Let’s transfer on to what I contemplate the subsequent 1B tier (once more, by ADP): Paul Goldschmidt, Christian Walker, Triston Casas, and Spencer Steer. I had Goldy on one workforce final yr, and didn’t benefit from the expertise for a number of lengthy stretches of the season, and but one way or the other I’ve already drafted him once more. I needed one of many guys on this group and was drafting on the tip so I figured none would again it again to me, and simply determined to shut my eyes and hope that Goldschmidt has another season of respectable flooring in him. I’d slightly have Walker a little bit later, and maybe ought to have simply taken him over Goldschmidt; I really feel like both or each of those guys may very well be big disappointments this yr however they each nonetheless have a excessive sufficient ceiling for me to contemplate them over cheaper alternate options.
Transferring on to Casas and Steer, I’m shopping for in on the Casas breakout, but haven’t drafted him but merely due to timing/roster development; on most of my groups, I’ve been in search of a primary baseman that has no less than the potential to assist me in common or chip in a couple of steals. I’ve already drafted Steer however don’t have as many shares as I believed I might as his worth has been greater than I hoped it could be. I’m all in on him at his present ADP although (103, with one other excessive variance: excessive decide 52, low is 151!) The 1B/3B/OF eligibility is gorgeous, and I’m simply not nervous about taking part in time the best way the projection fashions appear to be. The Reds confused the hell out of all of us after they signed Jeimer Candelario, and so they actually confused Steamer and the opposite projection techniques. Fangraphs principally hates each Reds infielder, however I believe this can be a scenario the place we have to take a step again and do not forget that we’re human and might analyze issues otherwise than a pc does. Then once more, possibly the bots have a capability that I one way or the other haven’t realized but, particularly to acknowledge simply how limitless the idiotic decision-making from David Bell will likely be in 2024. Anyhow, if Steer will get off to a nasty begin this season and by no means will get hitting like he did final yr, positive, he most likely will lose taking part in time, however then he’ll be a fantasy bust whether or not he’s beginning recurrently or not.
After this high 10, I’ve principally been grouping the subsequent 10 or 12 first basemen into one big tier, beginning with Spencer Torkelson at ADP #118 and ending with Brandon Drury at ADP #217. Torkelson could find yourself hitting extra homers than anybody else on this group, however there’s not sufficient of an influence benefit for my cash to take him 100 picks forward of Drury (or perhaps a spherical or two forward of among the others on this tier, since he’s just about assured to have a nasty common and contribute zero in steals). I’ve beloved Yandy Diaz for so long as I can bear in mind, and as great because it was to see him get away final yr, I really feel he’s usually being overdrafted. Final yr was most likely his ceiling on the subject of common + energy, although that doesn’t imply I gained’t have him on a workforce if the timing/worth is true. I’ve missed on Josh Naylor up to now however would really like a share or two as I believe he ought to have a stable yr and will construct upon final yr (and he had a sneaky-helpful 10 steals final yr, which may vault him over another names on this group).
Alec Bohm and Nate Lowe are each as boring because it will get at this level, and also you’d definitely like extra assured energy from the place, however I believe Bohm has a powerful sufficient flooring to contemplate on the best roster. Lowe I’ve been a fan of up to now, however will most likely keep away from utterly this yr at his present worth as I don’t suppose he has the job safety to warrant a decide this excessive after a really meh 2023. Vinnie Pasquantino and Rhys Hoskins are the tier’s resident harm bounceback candidates; Steamer tasks Hoskins for 30 homers and Pasquantino for twenty-four (however with a useful .276 common/.362 OBP). Each can be big values at their present costs if they’ll ship on that promise; I’m personally greater on Pasquantino simply because he’s a number of years youthful and, maybe, as a result of I’ve a small emotional attachment to him as he’s on my AL-only keeper roster. And even when he regresses some, I like Isaac Paredes at his present worth (he, too, is on my AL-only keeper workforce); let’s bear in mind energy isn’t as low-cost or plentiful because it was again within the bouncy ball period. Whereas we’re speaking about this tier and desirous about whose praises Gray has been singing this offseason, it’s best to learn his sleeper posts on Paredes and Josh Naylor if you haven’t already (or possibly learn them once more even if in case you have; what higher do it’s a must to do the primary week of February?!)
Now, a couple of guys I’ll contemplate in deeper leagues/as mixed-league 15-team corners: Ryan Mountcastle (ADP #238), Justin Turner (254), and Luke Raley (338). Mountcastle’s draft price is low with respectable cause; post-dimension-changes Camden Yards has been a horrible match for him, he’s at all times had harm/well being points (vertigo and a shoulder concern final yr alone), and with all of their younger expertise, he could also be preventing for a job not to mention day-after-day at-bats. BUT… he nonetheless managed to hit .270 final yr and hit 18 homers in 115 video games. At this worth, I’ve grabbed a pair shares, however solely in leagues the place I’ve or can get nook infield again up. Now that Turner has landed in Toronto, he’s as boring because it will get for fantasy, to not point out historical — however possibly, simply possibly, he can knock out no less than another yr of a stable common and a good however not spectacular variety of counting stats as a Blue Jay. I drafted Raley earlier than he was traded to Seattle, so we’ll see how he too fares in a brand new scenario, however I’m in on the potential energy/velocity combo (with the added OF eligibility bonus) at this worth. I’ll additionally point out Kyle Manzardo (383) right here; he’s a man whose worth may go manner up or down by the tip of spring coaching. I’m shopping for some shares at this worth as I believe there’s a good likelihood it goes manner up later this yr, even when he’s within the minors on opening day.
Dropping out of the highest 500, time for a shout-out to 21-year outdated Angel Nolan Schanuel (#510). Nobody in fantasy appears too enthusiastic about him which isn’t shocking since he principally hasn’t proven a lick of energy in his play or underlying metrics each earlier than and after being aggressively promoted to the present. I do like him as a late bench stash or deep AL-only play as a man who may very well be sneaky useful in common or OBP although. If he will get on a regular basis taking part in time and might preserve his head above water, possibly he’ll chip in with some counting stats as properly.
Lastly, we’ll sink all the best way to #700 on the ol’ ADP record, within the type of Nick Loftin. The Royals, for my part, have made some pretty refined however shrewd strikes this offseason; I believe they may very well be higher than folks anticipate this yr. Loftin had a handsome, if tiny, cup of espresso to shut out 2023, together with taking part in first, second, and third in simply 19 video games. His minor league numbers present an excellent common/good eye participant with a little bit of pop and velocity, so if he can handle to make the workforce as a utility man I’ll fortunately park him on a deep-league bench at this level in a draft.
Pleased February, and joyful drafting!