First Base 2024 Fantasy Rankings

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

First Base Overview

This year’s group of first base eligibles is not your grandmother’s player crop. The depth here just ain’t great and feels thinner than during my younger years, before some of my hairs decided “salt and pepper” was the new brown.

What’s interesting here is how many first basemen also steal bases, as four of them are forecasted for double digits, and another three feature upper single digit projections that could easily end up higher. So fantasy managers now have more options — do you target an all-around contributor who essentially gives you contributions you might expect from an outfielder or the traditional masher to lock down 10% or more of your team’s home run total? The choice is yours, but hopefully these tiered rankings will help you make such an important decision.

Today’s Discussion

Today represents the most changes to the tiers so far. I have removed Rockies first base/outfield prospect Hunter Goodman and Cubs first base prospect Matt Mervis. Goodman’s removal was overdue, as he was originally a favorite to win the team’s starting right field job. However, now it appears that Sean Bouchard is the front-runner and our Roster Resource page doesn’t even project Goodman to make the team out of spring training.

Mervis is in a similar situation after performing poorly over his tiny 99 plate appearance debut sample last year. I figured he would compete for the starting first base job and likely capture it, but instead, it appears that Michael Busch has the upper hand. With both Garrett Cooper and Patrick Wisdom also vying for corner infield at-bats, Mervis is destined for Triple-A.

Veteran Jake Cronenworth has been added and at least he provides some position flexibility, also qualifying at second base. He’s not exactly someone you want to leave your shallow mixed league draft with, but perhaps he proves undervalued in NL-Only leagues and deeper mixed formats given his disappointing fantasy results last year.

LaMonte Wade Jr. actually posted a slightly higher wOBA last year than during his partial season breakout in 2021, but because his home run power slipped, he was less valuable in fantasy leagues. The Giants now have three players for two starting spots, and Wade is already a platoon bat, so there’s risk he loses playing time, even against right-handers, if he reverts back to his 2022 form.


Changelog

  • 2/27/2024 – Removed Hunter Goodman and Matt Mervis. Added Jake Cronenworth and LaMonte Wade Jr.
  • 2/20/2024 – No changes
  • 2/13/2024 – Wilmer Flores removed from tiers
  • 2/6/2024 – Justin Turner joins the tiers
  • 1/30/2024 – Rhys Hoskins moved up after Brewers signing
  • 1/23/2024 – No changes
  • 1/16/2024 – No changes
  • 1/9/2024 – No changes
  • 1/3/2024 – First Release

Ranking Methodology

  • ADP is based on 30 day rolling NFBC Draft Champions Leagues.
  • $ Values are based on standard 5×5 12 team league using the FanGraphs Depth Charts and these Auction Calculator settings. They default to a player’s most valuable position, so if the first base list includes a catcher, it will show that player’s value at catcher.
  • ADP and $ Values are updated as of the last update date on this post.
  • 5-game eligibility was used for these lists to cast the widest net.

You're the Best

Choose your adventure — safe, all-around production or a monster masher.
You're the Best
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
1 Freddie Freeman LAD 1B 9 $28
2 Matt Olson ATL 1B 17 $26

No, Freddie Freeman is unlikely to score 130 runs again and I’m not even sure hitting directly behind Shohei Ohtani will benefit him, as the bases will be cleared a bit more often than in the past, hampering his RBI opps. But still, he’s a lock for a .300+ batting average, plus, he’s suddenly a basestealer!

It was a career year for Matt Olson, with personal bests in multiple metrics, but it’ll be a challenge to post close to 266 RBI + R again. His batting average will be key to his ROI this season, as his career best BABIP was driven by a significant improvement in IFFB%, which could prove to be a one year fluke or be sustained. Is your crystal ball clear enough to determine where that BABIP falls?

So Close to the Mountain Top

This is a fun trio, all of whom could easily jump to the top of the class.
So Close to the Mountain Top
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 1B 32 $24
4 Bryce Harper PHI 1B 18 $22
5 Pete Alonso NYM 1B 27 $21

Since his monster 2021, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has trended in the wrong direction. But, he did significantly underperform his xwOBA this past season, suggesting there was at least some poor fortune. He continues to record the elite maxEV that reminds us his mammoth power is still in that bat, but needs to ensure his FB% remains up to actually take advantage.

Aside from a career low FB%, Bryce Harper was in vintage form in his return from Tommy John surgery. A fully healthy season could earn him first tier value, but that has become a rarity.

Pete Alonso is essentially a poor man’s Olson, but Statcast suggests he deserved better than a weak .205 BABIP and .217 batting average. Still, with all those fly balls and below average LD%, don’t go expecting a significant rebound there. 40 homers, though, appears to be a lock.

Better Than Most

A quartet featuring every combination of stats, whether it be all-around production or a more power-focused skill set.
Better Than Most
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
6 Paul Goldschmidt STL 1B 86 $15
7 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 64 $15
8 Christian Walker ARI 1B 96 $12
9 Anthony Santander BAL 1B/OF 143 $13

Paul Goldschmidt‘s 2022 career year — his best wOBA yet — proved to be too difficult to repeat, or even come close to, perhaps due to his 35 years of age. Still, with strong all-around contributions, a higher xwOBA than actually posted, and no clear signs of imminent decline, he should continue to deliver.

Guess who’s back, back again, Cody Bellinger‘s back. After two disastrous offensive seasons, he rebounded so dramatically that it’s easy to forget his 2021 and 2022 seasons even happened. Behind the turnaround was a significant improvement in strikeout rate to a career best, along with a career high BABIP. While it’s understandable to believe his struggles are officially behind him, don’t gloss over the fact that he overperformed his xwOBA by a meaningful 0.039 points. He’s never come anywhere close to such overperformance, so it’s safe to say that his performance was aided by some pretty good fortune. Having resigned with the Cubs, his value doesn’t change any as the park is slightly negative for left-handed home runs.

It seems like former prospect Christian Walker is finally blooming, but he’s actually already 32 and will be 33 by the time the 2024 season begins! What’s driven the back-to-back 30-homer seasons ia FB% that has surged into the mid-40% range, along with a nice sub-20% strikeout rate, which is pretty solid for a power hitter. I wouldn’t bet on double digit steals again, but 30 homers is in the bag.

A massive FB% has kept Anthony Santander‘s homer total afloat, even as his HR/FB rate hit a career low this past season. I can’t imagine any further downside there given the healthy maxEV and Barrel%. However, current risks include a career worst strikeout rate and some xwOBA overperformance.

Stat Buffet With Upside

You want steals with your power? Check. You want batting average? Check. Screw all that, you just want 30 home runs? Check. It's all here!
Stat Buffet With Upside
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
10 Nolan Jones COL 1B/OF 57 $16
11 Rhys Hoskins MIL 1B 184 $7
12 Yandy Díaz TBR 1B/3B 140 $11
13 Josh Naylor CLE 1B 125 $11
14 Vinnie Pasquantino KCR 1B 184 $8
15 Triston Casas BOS 1B 111 $11
16 Spencer Torkelson DET 1B 122 $10

Nolan Jones hit the jackpot when he was traded to the Rockies toward the end of 2022. He was actually so good with the Rockies, he didn’t even need Coors Field’s offense-inflating magic, as his wOBA splits were almost identical at both home and on the road! Obviously, he’s not going to BABIP .401 again, but he’s had a history of skyhigh BABIP marks in the minors. His HR/FB rate is also fully backed up by his superb maxEV and Barrel%. Assuming the Rockies don’t play games here, he should play every day (almost even platoon splits) and contribute like a mini-Bellinger.

Having missed the entire 2023 season after tearing his ACL just before the season started, Rhys Hoskins‘ 2024 forecast is a big question mark. The move to Milwaukee shouldn’t have a material impact on his performance given park factors that are similar to his former Philly home. When healthy, he’s essentially Walker and Santander as a tier 3 contributor. So, his ultimate health during spring training could push him up or down the board.

This is what Yandy Díaz‘s sizeable forearms had always suggested he was capable of, right?! Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan here as a big chunnk of his value is tied to his batting average, which in 2023, was fueled by a career high BABIP. His HR/FB rate has been up and down his whole career, so it’s nearly impossible to predict what each season will bring. Since he has never posted a FB% above 32%, that HR/FB rate is vitally important, as at least one of those two rates needs to remain high to give him a chance at even 20 dingers. With no speed and a Rays team that could chop his playing time during any signs of a slump, I’m not paying for anything close to a repeat.

While it’s hard to envision Josh Naylor repeating that .326 BABIP and batting over .300 again, his maxEV suggests ample room for upside to his low-teen HR/FB rate. A healthy season could yield career best counting stats, though his painfully low runs scored total due to weak baserunning will continue to limit his fantasy potential.

A torn labrum in his right shoulder ended Vinnie Pasquantino‘s season early, which adds significant risk to his 2024 outlook. However, with an impressive strikeout rate for a power hitter and a flyball tendency, the skills are there to become a fantasy force. Dare I say that his skill set reminds me of some future Hall of Famer you may have heard of, the great…Albert Pujols?!

It was a very solid first full season for Triston Casas and an especially valuable one in OBP formats. With nothing standing out as flukey, we could expect more playing time will result in greater counting stats.

After the majority of his fantasy owners likely gave up on him, Spencer Torkelson‘s power exploded beginning in June, as he posted a 19.1% HR/FB rate, driving a .255 ISO from that month forward. Unfortunately, a heavy flyball tendency, too many pop-ups, and not enough line drives resulted in a low BABIP, and his short minor league history doesn’t give us much hope for any better. The low batting average is what separates him from a lot of seemingly similar names. Of course, it’s not hard to imagine that full season HR/FB rate jumping and also boosting his batting average, suddenly leaving us with nearly an Alonso clone.

Still Feeling Okay to Start

A mishmash of batting average and interesting youngsters with exciting power upside.
Still Feeling Okay to Start
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
17 Luis Arraez MIA 1B/2B 163 $8
18 Andrew Vaughn CHW 1B 241 $7
19 Nathaniel Lowe TEX 1B 211 $11
20 Jake Burger MIA 1B/2B/3B 155 $8

With his microscopic strikeout rate, skyhigh LD%, and few popups, Luis Arraez is perhaps the lockiest lock for an elite batting average. But it comes at a cost, as he contributes little in the counting stats, constantly making his fantasy owners feel like they need an upgrade. Personally, I’m not a fan of investing in hitters that earn a vast majority of their fantasy value from batting average, even if their projected stats value him a bit higher than here. Any sort of BABIP drop is going to wipe out his appeal.

It’s been three seasons so far and Andrew Vaughn hasn’t made much progress with the bat. There’s nothing here in the stat trends that suggest a breakout is imminent, so ya just gotta have blind faith that the former top prospect might suddenly figure it all out at age 26.

After a mini breakout in 2022, Nathaniel Lowe took a step back this past season, almost replicating his 2021 performance. His HR/FB rate slipped to a career low, as he suddenly lost a chunk of his barrels. I expect a rebound there, but the home run upside is limited given the low FB%.

Jake Burger took full advantage of his sudden every day lineup slot with the White Sox, before being shuttled off to the Marlins at the trade deadline. He posted an elite maxEV and Barrel%, driving a career best HR/FB rate. The power probably isn’t going to play as well in Miami and his HR/FB rate was already cut in half with his new team. He also swings and misses quite frequently and doesn’t walk enough to offset all those strikeouts. Hopefully the regression isn’t severe enough to lose him significant playing time.

Profit Potential or Free Agent by May

I know, I know, these aren't your targets. BUT, it's a fun group of ages across he spectrum, which could result in both undervaluation and/or serious breakout potential.
Profit Potential or Free Agent by May
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
21 Kris Bryant COL 1B/OF 284 $4
22 Josh Bell MIA 1B 286 $2
23 Isaac Paredes TBR 1B/2B/3B 186 $6
24 Alec Bohm PHI 1B/3B 172 $6
25 Ryan Mountcastle BAL 1B 244 $5
26 Salvador Perez KCR C/1B 137 $20
27 Brandon Drury LAA 1B/2B 220 $2
28 José Abreu HOU 1B 286 $3
29 Spencer Steer CIN 1B/2B/3B/OF 114 $4

Injuries have torpedoed Kris Bryant‘s time with the Rockies and he was massively disappointing with the bat when he wasn’t on the IL this past season. There’s not a whole lot to point to that suggests a big rebound, so we have to just remember his peak years, pair it with playing half his games at one of the league’s best hitter’s parks, and cross our fingers. For what promises to be a heavily discounted price tag, he’ll likely be a good speculative fantasy buy.

Was Josh Bell‘s 20%+ HR/FB rates posted from 2019-2021 his peak or does he make another run at that level again? It’ll be more difficult to get back there now playing half his games at a bottom 10 home run park. With no speed to offset the ho-hum counting stats for a first baseman, he’s the type of guy you get stuck with at the end because you decided to pay for top middle infielders instead.

After a breakout 2023, are you surprised to see Isaac Paredes ranked this low? Perhaps his significant xwOBA overperformance, likely driven by a HR/FB rate that finished far higher than you’d expect given his underwhelming maxEV and Barrel%, is enough to remove such a reaction. The major concern here is that given the Rays’ love of mixing and matching, regression here, especially of the power kind, could result in a huge loss of playing time.

Slow and steady wins the race is almost certainly what Alec Bohm fans are telling themselves watching his offensive progress. Still to hit 27 years old this year, it’s possible he has a power spike in him, but that Barrel% needs some juice. He could also use a higher FB%, and then it would be fair to dream of a 30-homer season.

The changes at Oriole Park in 2022 had a massively negative effect on Ryan Mountcastle‘s power, as his home HR/FB rate slid from 23.3% to just 13.6% and ISO from .261 to .174 from 2020-2021 to 2022-2023. Now his overall HR/FB rate looks lower than you would expect given his maxEV and Barrel% combination, but unfortunately there’s nothing he could do about his home park’s new dimensions. With Ryan O’Hearn still in the mix at first, his playing time outlook might remain cloudy for some time.

It’s highly unlikely that you would start Salvador Perez at first base instead of catcher, but if you did, this ranking is based solely on his value at this position. Now two years removed from his mid-20% HR/FB rates in 2020 and 2021, it looks more and more like a peak that won’t be repeated. Still, he should be a bit better on the home run front coming off his lowest HR/FB rate since 2016

Brandon Drury not only maintained his power spike from 2022, but actually increased both his HR/FB rate and ISO marks further. After so many years of failing to reach a double digit Barrel%, I’m still not totally confident this is his new level. With no speed, he’ll need to keep the power going to keep fantasy owners interested.

In 2022, José Abreu‘s power collapsed, but a career best strikeout rate and inflated BABIP kept his wOBA in line with his career average. This past season, his power failed to rebound, but this time, his BABIP fell to a career worst, while his strikeout rate reverted right back to where it had been. I think there’s decent rebound potential for his power and hitting in the middle of a strong lineup will help his runs scored and RBI totals. Even during his age 37 season, he might make for a cheap rebound speculation, even if that rebound still falls well short of his peak.

Spencer Steer enjoyed a nice little fantasy breakout during his first full season in 2023, contributing across the board. However, he overperformed his xwOBA rather meaningfully, and a slipup in offensive output could lose him significant playing time, given the Reds’ overabundence of talent. While he played all over the diamond last season, he posted a negative UZR/150 at every spot, so he’ll need to keep hitting to maintain an everyday lineup spot. More confidence in his playing time would push him up a tier.

Fantasy Owner Seeking Upgrade

The group you probably don't want to end up rostering.
Fantasy Owner Seeking Upgrade
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
30 Jeimer Candelario CIN 1B/3B 215 $6
31 Ty France SEA 1B 314 $1
32 Joey Meneses WSN 1B 374 $1
33 Anthony Rizzo NYY 1B 284 -$1

I’m not sure why the Reds felt the need to sign Jeimer Candelario to play first base when they already had a top prospect ready to fill the role. That said, it’s quite the boost going to a park that was most home run friendly last season. Unfortunately, the park boost might be offset by natural regression, as he overperformed his xwOBA and significantly overperformed his xSLG. Furthermore, after swiping just seven bases over his entire career previously, can we now count on a high single digit total, or was that mostly a fluke?

Where’d Ty France‘s power go?! Both his maxEV and Barrel% remained stable (actually the former was a career best), but his HR/FB rate was nearly cut in half. Figure a rebound here with a decent batting average, but with no speed, he still toes the line between startable and replacement level.

From surprise half season breakout to 2023 disappointment, Joey Meneses BABIP and HR/FB both collapsed during his first full season at age 31. Perhaps it was a knee injury that he apparently played through all season, or just regression for a hitter who spent 11 seasons in the minors before his debut last year. If the injury is partly to blame, expect better this year, but 2022 ain’t happening again.

Anthony Rizzo‘s stat trends are scary, but his RBI potential gets a boost with the addition of Juan Soto to the lineup slotting ahead of him. He batted third or fourth all season despite the disappointing offense, so I’m still happy to roster a hitter locked into the middle of the order on a good offense.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Prospects! Get your prospects here! Hot, glamorous prospects right here!
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
34 Christian Encarnacion-Strand CIN 1B/3B 172 $1
35 Yainer Diaz HOU C/1B 111 $14
36 Alex Kirilloff MIN 1B/OF 351 -$11
37 Kyle Manzardo CLE 1B 354 -$11
38 Justin Turner TOR 1B 251 $0
39 Jake Cronenworth SDP 1B/2B 359 $0
40 LaMonte Wade Jr. SFG 1B/OF 388 -$5

Christian Encarnacion-Strand enjoyed a decent half season debut, but with the team’s signing of Candelario, his playing time is now up in the air. He gets lumped here given his big-time power potential, as it’s prudent to draft him instead of a fungible replacement level guy with limited upside.

Like Perez above, you’re probably going to be starting Yainer Diaz at catcher. However, his offense might be good enough that you shouldn’t be embarrassed if you were forced to play him at first base, given his power and batting average expectations. The playing time just won’t be as plentiful as the majority of your alternatives.

Despite underwhelming maxEV and Barrel% marks, Alex Kirilloff still managed a career best HR/FB rate over half a season’s worth of ABs. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle to hit fly balls at even a league average clip, limiting his home run potential. He’ll likely be on the strong side of a platoon, and is coming off shoulder surgery, both of which adds risk.

Former Rays top prospect Kyle Manzardo should get a chance to win a regular job during spring training, which would vault him up the tiers if he succeeds. His power is just averageish, but he takes full advantage by posting high FB% marks and makes excellent contact.

After signing with the Blue Jays, Justin Turner makes his triumphant arrival to the tiers. He’s in a slightly better spot for home runs, but worse for BABIP. That said, his worst Barrel% since 2015, lowest walk rate since 2016, and highest strikeout rate since 2014 are concerning for a hitter entering his age 39 season.

Jake Cronenworth looks to rebound off a disappointing fantasy season, hoping to contribute a touch of both power and speed. He’s slated to hit in a pretty good spot as the second hitter in the Padres lineup, and isn’t too old to feel like a return to his 2021 level is still a possibility. Still, he lacks the excitement of some of the sexier, and younger names.

LaMonte Wade Jr.’s platoon status eats into his value, but he’s got some power and excellent plate patience, which should keep him in the middle of the Giants’ batting order. His maxEV jumped last year and suggests upside past a low double digit HR/FB rate.


Full Rankings Without Tiers

No tiers. Just the rankings.
Full Rankings Without Tiers
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
1 Freddie Freeman LAD 1B 9 $28
2 Matt Olson ATL 1B 17 $26
3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 1B 32 $24
4 Bryce Harper PHI 1B 18 $22
5 Pete Alonso NYM 1B 27 $21
6 Paul Goldschmidt STL 1B 86 $15
7 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 64 $15
8 Christian Walker ARI 1B 96 $12
9 Anthony Santander BAL 1B/OF 143 $13
10 Nolan Jones COL 1B/OF 57 $16
11 Rhys Hoskins MIL 1B 184 $7
12 Yandy Díaz TBR 1B/3B 140 $11
13 Josh Naylor CLE 1B 125 $11
14 Vinnie Pasquantino KCR 1B 184 $8
15 Triston Casas BOS 1B 111 $11
16 Spencer Torkelson DET 1B 122 $10
17 Luis Arraez MIA 1B/2B 163 $8
18 Andrew Vaughn CHW 1B 241 $7
19 Nathaniel Lowe TEX 1B 211 $11
20 Jake Burger MIA 1B/2B/3B 155 $8
21 Kris Bryant COL 1B/OF 284 $4
22 Josh Bell MIA 1B 286 $2
23 Isaac Paredes TBR 1B/2B/3B 186 $6
24 Alec Bohm PHI 1B/3B 172 $6
25 Ryan Mountcastle BAL 1B 244 $5
26 Salvador Perez KCR C/1B 137 $20
27 Brandon Drury LAA 1B/2B 220 $2
28 José Abreu HOU 1B 286 $3
29 Spencer Steer CIN 1B/2B/3B/OF 114 $4
30 Jeimer Candelario CIN 1B/3B 215 $6
31 Ty France SEA 1B 314 $1
32 Joey Meneses WSN 1B 374 $1
33 Anthony Rizzo NYY 1B 284 -$1
34 Christian Encarnacion-Strand CIN 1B/3B 172 $1
35 Yainer Diaz HOU C/1B 111 $14
36 Alex Kirilloff MIN 1B/OF 351 -$11
37 Kyle Manzardo CLE 1B 354 -$11
38 Justin Turner TOR 1B 251 $0
39 Jake Cronenworth SDP 1B/2B 359 $0
40 LaMonte Wade Jr. SFG 1B/OF 388 -$5





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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PunkinDonutsmember
2 months ago

I would be interested to know why Jake Cronenworth isn’t listed here. He was the full-time 1b for the Pads last year (until he got hurt), and should slot in there again in ’24.

PunkinDonutsmember
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

Haha, I know he was terrible, I was more curious as to why he wasn’t on the list (Matt Mervis even made it!)

montrealmember
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

Exactly Mike. Cronenworth should be a bench player. He has a name but he has mostly failed and doesn’t look like a regular at all.

HappyFunBallmember
2 months ago
Reply to  PunkinDonuts

I’d put him in 30-33 group, personally. No standout skills but should painfully accumulate his way towards cromulence. If he’s anything more than a CI for you, you’re looking to upgrade all season.