Fantasy Baseball Rankings: First Base
The calendar has flipped to March and spring training is underway, so you know what that means -- it's draft season.
Season-long fantasy baseball Twitter is abuzz with nightly draft boards and threads, and perhaps you've already gotten in on the action or have a draft right around the corner.
I'll be posting positional rankings for 12-team, standard-scoring roto leagues throughout the week, with brief notes highlighting notable players and situations. These are by no means strict and rigid rankings, as roster construction should play a big role in who you draft, so I've also included tiers to show which players have comparable values.
Any references to average draft position (ADP) are from March NFBC drafts. Additionally, numberFire's season-long projections are now live, too, so be sure to check those out!
Today, let's take a look at first base.
|4||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||2|
The first two tiers are pretty straightforward, though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains a polarizing player for fantasy.
The long-term outlook for Guerrero remains bright -- he only turns 22 this month -- but his first two big league campaigns have failed to live up to the hype, and you aren't exactly getting him at a market discount, as his ADP is that of a top-50 or so pick. Still, public projections on FanGraphs are universally bullish on him, and his Statcast data is promising. In fact, he had the highest max exit velocity among qualified starters in 2019 and ranked third last year.
The key is whether he can reduce his ground-ball rate (career 51.3%) to convert that into more power. I'm willing to buy into the projections and find out.
Mike Moustakas is typically going outside the top 100 picks, making him a fantastic value at his tier. He dealt with injuries and struggled a bit in 2020, but there isn't any reason to think he can't hit 30-plus dingers in a full campaign, and most projections agree. Really, not much is separating him from the likes of Matt Olson or Max Muncy, who tend to go earlier.
On the other hand, Dominic Smith is coming off a fantastic 2020 season but is tough to pin down due to concerns about his playing time without a DH in the National League. While that gives me pause, he averaged pick 128 across the 29 industry drafts in this year's TGFBI competition, so plenty of analysts remain optimistic.
Despite often falling outside the top 150 picks, there's an argument for Josh Bell and Rhys Hoskins belonging in tier three, as their median projections fall in line with that group.
We still don't know who the real Bell is after he followed up his spectacular 2019 campaign with a total dud last season, but we also probably shouldn't overreact to 2020's small sample. Escaping Pittsburgh for Washington can't hurt, too, and we don't need a full repeat of 2019 for him to be valuable at his ADP.
Meanwhile, Hoskins is coming off October elbow surgery but is expected to be ready for opening day. A strong showing this spring could push him higher up draft boards.
C.J. Cron could very well be the best value at the position after signing with the Rockies. Cron has shown solid pop throughout his career, and he was among the league leaders in barrel rate in 2019. It wouldn't be surprising to see him flirt with 30 home runs, yet he's still going outside the top 200.
Top prospect Andrew Vaughn is starting to get some buzz as the leading candidate to win the DH job for the White Sox. While nothing is guaranteed, the 2019 No. 3 overall pick should be on our radar.