Chad’s 2024 Tiered Ottoneu Rankings: First Base and Utility

As we move into draft season, I will be updating these rankings occasionally, when there is news to justify changes. The original rankings will stay at the bottom of the article to maintain my player notes. The original 1B/U rankings were posted 1/23 and the most recent update is 2/26.

Changelog:

2/26 – Moved J.D. Martinez down two tiers, due to concerns about finding a job with regular PA, plus re-evaluation of his projections in light of the seeming lack of interest from MLB teams. Reduced the size of the $3-$5 tier, moving Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Mountcastle, and Brandon Belt down a tier. Moved Belt down a second tier due to job concerns. Moved Joey Meneses, Matt Mervis and Xavier Isaac down a tier. Moved Carlos Santana, Joey Votto, and Jesse Winker down a tier. Added Kyle Lewis, Niko Kavadas, and Ji Man Choi to the rankings, as they now meet my criteria for being ranked.

Updated Rankings:

Tiered 1B/U Rankings for FanGraphs Points Scoring (2/26)
1 Shohei Ohtani Util/SP $55-$65
2 Freddie Freeman 1B $45-$54
3 Matt Olson 1B $36-$44
4 Bryce Harper 1B $36-$44
5 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B $36-$44
6 Pete Alonso 1B $28-$35
7 Paul Goldschmidt 1B $21-$27
8 Triston Casas 1B $21-$27
9 Yandy Diaz 1B $15-$20
10 Spencer Torkelson 1B $15-$20
11 Josh Naylor 1B $15-$20
12 Christian Walker 1B $10-$14
13 Vinnie Pasquantino 1B $10-$14
14 Rhys Hoskins Util $10-$14
15 Christian Encarnacion-Strand 1B $10-$14
16 Nathaniel Lowe 1B $10-$14
17 Josh Bell 1B $6-$9
18 Marcell Ozuna Util $6-$9
19 Andrew Vaughn 1B $6-$9
20 J.D. Martinez Util $3-$5
21 Kyle Manzardo 1B $3-$5
22 Ryan Mountcastle 1B $1-$2
23 Anthony Rizzo 1B $1-$2
24 Nolan Schanuel 1B $1-$2
25 Jose Abreu 1B $1-$2
26 Ty France 1B $1-$2
27 Ryan Noda 1B $1-$2
28 Rowdy Tellez 1B $1-$2
29 Matt Mervis 1B $0-$1
30 Brandon Belt 1B $0-$1
31 Joey Meneses 1B $0-$1
32 Xavier Isaac 1B $0-$1
33 C.J. Cron 1B $0-$1
34 Carlos Santana 1B $0
35 Joey Votto 1B $0
36 Kyle Lewis Util $0
37 Daniel Vogelbach Util $0
38 Jesse Winker Util $0
39 Niko Kavadas 1B $0
40 Garrett Cooper 1B $0
41 Darick Hall 1B $0
42 Trey Mancini 1B $0
43 Ji Man Choi 1B $0
44 Matt Carpenter 1B $0
45 Luken Baker 1B $0

 

 

January Rankings and Notes:

Going from my catcher rankings to first base gave me a case of whiplash. We’ve left behind the weakest position on the diamond and moved to the strongest. But in some ways, 1B feels more disappointing than C.

I mentioned yesterday that I could go 20 deep at catcher and still feel like I have a viable starter. Part of that is increased depth at the position and part of that is that the tiers are just fair compressed. Compare the number of players at each tier in those two positions:

 

C vs. 1B by Tiers
Tier C 1B
$55-$65 0 0
$45-$54 0 1
$36-$44 0 3
$28-$35 0 1
$21-$27 1 2
$15-$20 2 4
$10-$14 2 3
$6-$9 11 2
$3-$5 4 5

This excludes utility players. I include them in my 1B ranking because they often compete with 1B for Util PA and because it is the most natural place to place them. But for this table, I wanted to focus on players who could start at 1B.

The gap between the first starter at C and the last is just three tiers. At 1B, it is five tiers. And they are bigger tiers. From the height of the first tier to the bottom of the last starter’s tier, you get $21 at C and $44 at 1B. In addition, if you look at the tier the 12th catcher falls in, there are 11 options in that tier and four more in the next. At 1B, the 12th starter’s tier has three options and there are just two in the next tier.

So even though 1B is clearly stronger overall, having a low-end starter at 1B kind of hurts more. As a result, while I am happy to slow play catcher and look for value, at 1B, I really want to be starting one of the top six, if at all possible.

Beyond that, in the lower tiers, I am more apt to look for ceiling than floor. Usually I want to balance those two things. If I am carrying five MI, for example, I want at least a couple to be safe and at least a couple to offer real upside. At 1B, if I am playing outside those top 3-4 tiers, I want guys with the upside to get into those higher tiers. If they take off, great, I have a 1B I can actually rely on. If they flop, there are plenty of other options who can produce at a low level to go get via trade or free agent auction.

For the methodology and notes on the rankings, please check out my intro column.

 

Tiered First Base Rankings for FanGraphs Points Scoring
Rank Name Position Eligibility Tier Column Note
1 Shohei Ohtani Util/SP $55-$65 Patience will be important, as Ohtani likely comes back to decreased power and has to work his way back. He will work his way back and be worth this price, but only if you don’t panic early.
2 Freddie Freeman 1B $45-$54 I love Olson, and Olson is probably going to be on more of my teams than Freeman, but Freemna is in a tier of his own for a reason.
3 Matt Olson 1B $36-$44 His first season in Atlanta was a little disappointing and his second was probably over his skill level, but he just does everything so, so well.
4 Bryce Harper 1B $36-$44 I am banking on some power coming back after what appears to be an injury-impacted down year for HR.
5 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B $36-$44 If you want to knock him down a tier, I get it, given his performance, but we’ve seen what he can do at his best and he isn’t even 25 yet, and he still has elite strike zone judgement and still hits the ball super hard.
6 Pete Alonso 1B $28-$35 Possible the launch angle is creeping a little high, and that pulled down the BABIP. I am expecting the BABIP to recover and the wOBA to follow.
7 Paul Goldschmidt 1B $21-$27 Last year seemed down, but he was 5th in P/G among players who will be primarily used at 1B in Ottoneu this year.
8 Triston Casas 1B $21-$27 Is this too high for Casas? Some say yes, some watched him hit last year and saw a smart hitter who can also crush the ball and have spent the off-season drooling.
9 Yandy Díaz 1B $15-$20 I am skeptical of the 22 HR, given his launch angle and FB rate went down. Steamer says 20, ZiPS says 15 and I’ll cast my lot with ZiPS.
10 Spencer Torkelson 1B $15-$20 April was atrocious, the rest of the season was solid. Plus he got more aggressive at the plate as the year went on and put up a great August/September. The breakout is coming.
11 Josh Naylor 1B $15-$20 Always been downgraded cause he can’t hit lefites; put up a 127 wRC+ in 147 PA vs. LHP in 2023.
12 Christian Walker 1B $15-$20 Someone will tell me I am too low on Walker and that might be true, but I just generally prefer the guys ahead of him.
13 Vinnie Pasquantino 1B $10-$14 If his sophomore struggles were purely about playing through pain, you still have to worry a bit about recovery from a shoulder injury, but there is a buying opportunity here.
14 Rhys Hoskins Util $10-$14 Like Ohtani, I could see a slow start on return. Unlike Ohtani, I think some of his managers will get anxious and there may be an opportunity to buy low early in the season.
15 Christian Encarnacion-Strand 1B $10-$14 An aggressive swinger who makes some bad decisions at the plate, and I think those will hold him back.
16 J.D. Martinez Util $10-$14 He looked like he was done from late 2019 through 2020. And for chunks of 2021. And for most of 2022. But he keeps bouncing back and the net has been pretty strong.
17 Nathaniel Lowe 1B $10-$14 His expected HR in ’22 were only 24 and, per Statcast, he hit even more “doubters” in ’23. Unless he finds a way to more power, his value is capped.
18 Josh Bell 1B $6-$9 Bell is so inconsistent, but I still believe in the talent.
19 Andrew Vaughn 1B $6-$9 Vaughn is another “I believe in the talent” but both of these guys could slip a tier and if they do, they would fall far and fast.
20 Marcell Ozuna Util $6-$9 Like Martinez, he is a DH-only with a spotty recent history.
21 Kyle Manzardo 1B $3-$5 Do you wish the Guardians would commit to having him in the Opening Day lineup? Yeah, me too.
22 Ryan Mountcastle 1B $3-$5 Do you wish the Orioles would trade him to a park that wasn’t a physical and mental disaster for his bat? Yeah, me too.
23 Brandon Belt 1B $3-$5 Do you wish the Angels (or literally anyone) would sign him and let him mash against RHP in their DH spot? Yeah, me too.
24 Anthony Rizzo 1B $3-$5 Do you wish you could just move on and stop pretending Rizzo will find a fountain of youth? No? That’s just me? I do wonder if I am still too high on him placing him here.
25 Nolan Schanuel 1B $1-$2 The OBP skills are undeniable, but his path to success is probably as a poor man’s Yandy and that is a narrow path with a lot of off-ramps.
26 Ryan Noda 1B $1-$2 I am always skeptical of older debuts breaking out; when they pair a 34% K-rate with a .347 BABIP, my skepticism only grows.
27 Rowdy Tellez 1B $1-$2 Tellez was on fire to start the season and then things went sideways but apparently a forearm injury is to blame; he was still bad after an IL stint though.
28 Joey Meneses 1B $1-$2 Speaking of older debuts breaking out with high BABIPs. But apparently Meneses had a knee injury last year, so if you want to take a shot on him again, I get it. 1B-only though.
29 José Abreu 1B $1-$2 Had a 128 wRC+ after going on the IL in August and kept that up through the postseason. Maybe he just needed to get healthy?
30 Matt Mervis 1B $1-$2 Mervis got all of 99 MLB PA and it seems to have totally changed the narrative on him. I think we were too high on him last year, but the pendulum has swung too far for a guy who kept raking in Triple-A.
31 Ty France 1B $1-$2 I used to dream on the day that France developed enough pop to be a viable Ottoneu 1B, cause the rest of the skills are so strong. But I don’t think that day is coming.
32 Xavier Isaac 1B $1-$2 It’s so hard for a 1B prospect to break through for fantasy relevance and I am generally not willing to wait on a prospect like Isaac for multiple years, but the reward could be huge if you do.
33 C.J. Cron 1B $0-$1 Did you know C.J. Cron is 34? Puts his struggles the last couple of years in perspective.
34 Carlos Santana 1B $0-$1 Santana, meanwhile, is 37, but he can still draw a walk.
35 Joey Votto 1B $0-$1 Like Santana, but older, better, and likely to play fewer games.
36 Jesse Winker Util $0-$1 Players don’t usually just collapse so I would like to believe Winker will bounceback but there’s really nothing to back up that hope except, well, hope.
37 Daniel Vogelbach Util $0 The only thing keeping him even this high is that he still as above-replacement-level projections. I just don’t buy he gets an opportunity to play much and they are barely above replacement level.
38 Garrett Cooper 1B $0 When he had OF eligibility, he was pretty fun. Now he doesn’t.
39 Darick Hall 1B $0 He’s had chances and he’ll probably run into a hot streak at some point, but I don’t think it is going to come together.
40 Trey Mancini 1B $0 I’ll always wonder what it is like in the alternate universe where he became a star, because I really felt like he was close at times.
41 Matt Carpenter 1B $0 Getting back to STL should give him a little playing time, but it isn’t playing time I expect to have value here.
42 Luken Baker 1B $0 And it will come at the expense of Baker who I thought could maybe be a little interesting perhaps kinda but…nah.





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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LightenUpFGmember
1 month ago

Trey Mancini hit 35 (!) home runs in 2019, and around 20 in 2021 and 2022. He might outperform Jesse Winker, he might!