Paul Sporer’s 2023 First Base Rankings

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

 

2023 First Base Ranks
RANK PLAYER TM LG POS
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR AL 1B/DH
2 Freddie Freeman LAD NL 1B
3 Pete Alonso NYM NL 1B
4 Paul Goldschmidt STL NL 1B
5 Matt Olson ATL NL 1B
6 Vinnie Pasquantino KC AL 1B
7 Nathaniel Lowe TEX AL 1B
8 José Abreu HOU AL 1B
9 Christian Walker ARI NL 1B
10 C.J. Cron COL NL 1B
11 Rhys Hoskins PHI NL 1B
12 Josh Bell CLE NL 1B
13 Wil Myers CIN NL 1B/OF
14 Joey Meneses WAS NL 1B/OF
15 Ty France SEA AL 1B
16 Josh Naylor CLE AL 1B
17 Anthony Rizzo NYY AL 1B
18 Andrew Vaughn CHW AL 1B/OF
19 Ryan Mountcastle BAL AL 1B/OF/DH
20 Jose Miranda MIN AL 1B/3B
21 Brandon Drury LAA NL 1B/2B/3B
22 Matt Mervis CHC NL 1B
23 Rowdy Tellez MIL NL 1B
24 Seth Brown OAK AL 1B/OF
25 Joey Votto CIN NL 1B
26 Miguel Vargas LAD NL 1B
27 DJ LeMahieu NYY AL 1B/2B/3B
28 Triston Casas BOS AL 1B
29 Jake Cronenworth SD NL 1B/2B/SS
30 Luis Arraez MIN AL 1B/2B
31 Spencer Torkelson DET AL 1B
32 Trey Mancini FA 1B/OF
33 Luke Voit FA 1B
34 Keston Hiura MIL NL 1B
35 Jared Walsh LAA AL 1B
36 Yuli Gurriel FA 1B
37 LaMonte Wade Jr. SF NL 1B/OF
38 Carlos Santana PIT NL 1B
39 Wilmer Flores SF NL 1B/2B/3B
40 Brandon Belt FA 1B
41 Nick Pratto KC AL 1B
42 Ji-Man Choi PIT NL 1B
43 Eric Hosmer FA 1B
44 Dominic Smith FA 1B
45 Isaac Paredes TB AL 1B/2B/3B
46 Kyle Manzardo TB AL 1B
47 Bobby Dalbec BOS AL 1B
48 Jesús Aguilar FA 1B
49 Mike Moustakas FA 1B/3B
50 Hunter Dozier KC AL 1B/3B/OF
20 gm qualification; Blue indicates new tier

NOTES:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the king of the position, though I do feel like 2021 will remain his high watermark. He hit 44% of his 41 HRs in just 28% of his season plate appearances at the two temporary homes they used before returning to Rogers Centre. He is a good bet to get back to .300-30-100-100.

While Freddie Freeman doesn’t always deliver that cornerstone power at 1B, he more than makes up for it with his other four categories, often highlighted by a premium AVG (.325 last yr; .298 career). He even spiked a career-high 13 SBs last year to counterbalance his 21 HRs, his lowest over the last six full seasons.

The strong Mets lineup puts Pete Alonso in position to lead the league in RBIs again after his career-high 131 last year. I can’t quite project him to repeat that figure, but he was easily my top guy at the position with projected 118, well above Guerrero and Olson tied at 104.

Paul Goldschmidt hasn’t been caught in his last 23 SB attempts, dating back to May 5th, 2019. His chip-in contributions are just icing atop a wonderful cake that includes excellent pop and high AVG from a modern-day Ironman. His 1158 games played since 2015 lead the league, 2 ahead of Manny Machado and 18 clear of teammate Nolan Arenado.

I have a hard time tempering my excitement for Vinnie Pasquantino coming into his first full season! He showed out for 298 PA last season, posting a 137 wRC+ with 10 HR and a 1:1 K/BB ratio. He dominated the minors on his way to major leagues (.951 OPS, 31 HR/600 PA), but org mate Nick Pratto was the more heralded of the two throughout their ascent, until going opposite directions in the majors. I’m not writing off Pratto after a modest 182 PA debut (82 wRC+). Pasquantino has soared past him, though.

Nathaniel Lowe was a big breakout pick of mine last year and panned out beautifully with a career year that has plenty of juice behind it. Even if he comes down from the 143 wRC+ (and he almost certainly will), a slightly improved Rangers offense around him should easily yield career highs in R/RBI (currently 75 R/76 RBI).

It’s not impossible to see Jose Abreu get back to the 30-HR level in Houston. He should chat with new teammates Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, who are tied for 4th (82%) in Pulled HRs at home since 2019 (min. 35 Home HRs which gave an 83-player sample). Abreu himself is at 23rd with a 65% rate and hopefully he can leverage the Crawford Boxes like the rest of the righties on the Astros. Their 43% Pulled HR rate for righties at home is 2nd to only the Minnesota Twins (44%) since 2019. For the record, the White Sox are 27th at 37%. Pasquantino, Lowe, and Abreu are a mini-tier in that 3rd tier and can go in any order for me.

C.J. Cron has really leaned on Coors Field in his 2 years with the club, posting a .313/.381/.629 line with 41 HR, 99 RBI, and 99 R in 583 PA at home. He has just a .223/.305/.366 line with 16 HR, 51 RBI, and 50 R in 596 PA on the road. In 10- and 12-team leagues, you can almost certainly stream a better line than that while playing Cron only at home. Hell, with the influx of hitting talent on the waiver wire this past season due in large part to the NL DH, you can probably pull it off in 15-teamers, too. Cron & Stream can easily be a Top-5 1B and if you really hit, the top spot is very possible. It’s not a novel concept to stream Coors guys, but it’s usually with the mid- and low-tier options on the team and Cron is a bit more high end with a 124 ADP.

I really like the two guys who moved to the Midwest: Josh Bell and Wil Myers. Bell stalled out after the trade to San Diego with just a 3 HR and 79 wRC+ in 210 PA. It wasn’t the home park, though, as he hit just .146/.269/.180 in 105 road PA. He had been absolutely cruising in Washington (143 wRC+) and Progressive Park plays similarly well to Nationals Park for lefties and while neither are great for righty hitters (98 WAS, 97 CLE), Progressive has a 9-point edge in HR at 105. I’m not saying he will get back to his 37 HR level of 2019 (unless they randomly change the ball again), but matching 2021’s mark of 27 is well within reach.

Maybe I’m too drunk on Brandon Drury’s 2022 with my Myers love. He returned from his knee injury to hit .285/.349/.482 in his final 152 PA with 6 HR and 2 SB (22/7 full season paces) and he’s simply been a plus hitter throughout his career with a 110 wRC+ PA in 4149 PA. Oddly enough his worst full season is the Rabbit Ball season of 2019 when everyone and their brother was tearing the cover off the ball as he managed just a 97 wRC+ with 18 HR. He hit 15 in less than half the plate appearances in 2020 during the 60-game season. Great American Ball Park is Coors Jr. with a 110 Park Factor (Coors 116) for righties including a league-best HR factor of 145 (Dodger Stadium 137, Coors 121). Myers peaked at 293 in a recent Draft Champions, a price that would put him around Trey Mancini, Spencer Torkelson, and Jared Walsh. I’m comfortable with him even higher than that with a locked in role at a great park.

Josh Naylor might have a less-is-more situation in a straight up platoon role. He has just a .181/.264/.249 line in 217 PA against lefties. I’d rather not get hit with the ugly batting average to get 2 HR, 16 RBI, and 13 R. It is harder to run a right/left platoon player in fantasy than home/road, especially if you don’t have daily moves, but that is the best way to maximize a Naylor pick unless you are in a league deep enough to take the lower volume out of your CI/UT.

I can definitely see a huge breakout from Andrew Vaughn, though my projection on him is more measured with a .280 AVG and low-20s HR output. If he takes a leap, there is .300/30 potential. The OF flexibility adds to his appeal, too.

Ryan Mountcastle was among those who really didn’t take kindly to the new Camden Yards dimensions. He halved his HR total at home with just 11, which ended up being the difference between his last two seasons as he hit just 22 total. He might need a spike of HRs on the road to get back into the 30 range.

Brandon Drury hated his move to San Diego even more than Bell as the home park actually hampered him. He had a .617 OPS in Petco (.820 on the road) after dominating in Cincinnati with a .915 OPS in GABP (.771 on the road). Angel Stadium is a sneaky strong park for righties, sitting 6th in overall park factor (103) and 7th in HR park factor (112), making this a solid move for him. I shaved 2 HR, 10 R, and 5 RBI off his 2022 totals and that moved him down to 22nd after finishing 5th last year. He is at the end of that tier, but he can live anywhere within it, especially if you need his 2B/3B flexibility.

Matt Mervis, Miguel Vargas, and Triston Casas are risers who have a remarkably wide range of outcomes and while I’m not averse to drafting any of the three, I wouldn’t want more than one of them on a single team. As their roles solidify, we will have a better read on where we should be drafting for them. In winter drafts, all three are going after pick-230 so they are affordable if you like betting on the prospect potential. Spencer Torkelson, Nick Pratto, and Kyle Manzardo are the Dollar Store version of this trio.

I’m so sorry, Nick! Luis Arraez’s big breakout season landed him 17th among 1B and I’m just not seeing a ton of upside. He is best deployed at 2B, but even there I’m not that eager to draft him.

I will be monitoring Jared Walsh’s health to consider a buyback.

Depending on where they land, one or two of the current Free Agents could become intriguing, but for now I’m laying off.





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

31 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
rossredcaymember
23 days ago

Thanks for the list! How high would you bump Rizzo up in an obp league?