‘Member the days when I told you that you needed a top 1st basemen and you shouldn’t look for sleepers at this position? Don’t remember? Prolly for best, leave more room in your brain to remember an excuse for why you didn’t exercise. Previously, I’d tell you to go to my top 20 1st basemen for 2021 fantasy baseball (not clickbait at all) and draft some top guys and stop fooling around with sleepers at this position. Of course, I’m malleable like Gumby and this year we need to look for sleepers at 1st base *ducks head*. Whoa, someone threw a wrench into this! Fine, Pete Alonso and Matt Olson get my nethers ablaze, but 1st basemen dry up quick. As with other positions like the catchers to target (again, not clickbait), these are 1st basemen that are being drafted late. For the 1st basemen, I’m going with an ADP of 150 or later to be included in this post. Anyway, here’s some 1st basemen to target for 2021 fantasy baseball:
Jake Cronenworth (ESPN 156, Yahoo 169, NFBC 201) So, one guy is going to do the “Jon Berti 2020 Austin Powers-esque u-turn on fantasy value” every year, is that it? Through three months of a preseason, Cronenworth has had more peaks and valleys than Edward James Olmos’s face. Sleeper city — boing! Ha-Seong Kim signs — losing boing’ancy. Kim might start in the minors — boing again! Profar re-signs — sigh, no boing. I don’t know if I have the confidence in Cronenworth that I had when I wrote the Jake Cronenworth sleeper, but I still like him in a lot. And, not to throw a parasol over Trent Grisham, but Cronenworth makes way more sense as a leadoff man.
Hunter Dozier (ESPN 170, Yahoo 266, NFBC 231) This is legit the most bizzonkers ranking for Yahoo. For as long as I can remember (roughly 18 months), Dozier and Walker are always ranked within two spots of each other in every ranking. They made a blood pact. Did you not see the Netflix series, Dozier and Walker’s Blood Pact, starring the guy from Money Heist? Make sure you watch it with subtitles. None of that dubbing shizz! Seriously, how are Dozier and Walker so different that Dozier is ranked 100-ish picks later? That is laughable until you realize someone on Yahoo’s staff just forgot to rank him, and that’s why he’s ranked so low. Also, it is similarly goofy that Dozier is ranked above Walker in ESPN. It’s always Walker then Dozier. Dems the rules! Not sure why Dozier and Walker are being faded at all. Is it their age? What, are you guys Hollywood producers trying to find a date? What do you care if they’re 28 years old? You’re not interested in their ovaries. You’re trying to get one year of production from them!
Christian Walker (ESPN 171, Yahoo 176, NFBC 201) You can check out my Christian Walker sleeper from last year, if you desire. By the way, saying the word “desire” out loud automatically makes you creepy. It’s impossible to give an example where it doesn’t make you creepy. You trying to explain how it doesn’t make you creepy to say “desire” actually makes you more creepy. You know what Christian Walker screams to me? DESIRE! Kidding, he reminds me of a guy we look back on in September and think, “How on earth was he undervalued in the preseason? He was good in 2019 already, and wasn’t bad in 2020.
Jared Walsh (ESPN 193, Yahoo 204, NFBC 206) Ya know I wrote that Jared Walsh sleeper too. Quick peek into my psyche: Why do I find the Land O Lakes lady so hot? Wait, not that part of my psyche, the part about fantasy baseball. Back in November, I did some preliminary research and realized I had to write sleeper posts for 1st basemen this year. Kinda mentioned in the opening, but there’s a case to be made you can punt 1st basemen this year. I don’t ever say that. I still like Freeman, Cody (can be OF), Abreu and other highly ranked 1B, but there’s room for flyers this year. More so than in past years. Usually 1st base is one of two positions I have to draft early (the other being outfield). Now I’m like shortstop and outfield.
Andrew Vaughn (ESPN 206, Yahoo unranked, NFBC 284) As mentioned previously, I was not going to let ESPN have a sexy AF rookie ranked 100 picks before me, so I moved Andrew Vaughn way up in my top 500 in the last week. He’s screaming to me (in the middle of the night — let your man Grey sleep!) as a guy who could be 2019’s Pete Alonso in 2021. Also, gave you my Andrew Vaughn 2021 fantasy, but I’d skip reading mine (unless you just really want to know where my head was at four months ago), and instead read Prospect Hobbs’ Andrew Vaughn fantasy.
C.J. Cron (ESPN 237, Yahoo 198, NFBC 271) I’m of two minds with Cron like Steve Martin in that movie. Meant The Man with Two Brains, but All of Me also works here, I suppose. First mind, Cron will hit 35 homers with a .265 average in 525 ABs in Coors and will be a huge value grab. 2nd mind, and this mind is not as generous — stupid 2nd mind! — Cron will get 425 ABs, because Black never plays anyone every day, except Story, and hits 26 HRs, .255 with pee-poor counting stats, and is about same as a dozen other 1st baseman. Think Jesus Aguilar.
Renato Nunez (ESPN unranked, Yahoo 326, NFBC 489) With Cron going to Coors, he went from an afterthought to a whizz-bang-give-me-some-mommy. Yet — again with some stank — YET! Renato Nunez or Cron? Anyone want to put money on them being within percentage points of each other at the end of the year on the Player Rater? (Trick bet: I didn’t say how many percentage points. Sneaky, I am! Yoda, I talk like!) Renato and Cron may as well be in their own Dozier/Walker-type blood pact — now airing on Netflix! Renato is a 30-homer, .250 hitter, who might struggle for counting stats. Only everyone moved Cron way up their draft boards, but not Renato.
Jeimer Candelario (ESPN unranked, Yahoo 302, NFBC 261) Think the question with Jeimer is: Will he hit .220-ish as he did 2018 and 2019, or is he a .280+ hitter as he did in 2017 in 2020? Problem with 2017 and 2020 is those years were partial years (one for him, one for everyone). It’s fair to think his BABIP will stabilize over the course of a full season as it did in his two poor average years, but last year (and 2017) saw more line-drive-heavy swings, and better HardHit% last year. If he were the Jeimer we saw in 2020 over six months, he’d be a 24-homer, .280 hitter, and a top 100 overall fantasy player. Right now even the projections are as confused as to what to do with his average as anyone I’ve seen, giving him anywhere from .240 to .252. No one thinks he can be anywhere near a .280 hitter. I’m the high man thinking he could be a .260 hitter. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I believe he can just continue what he did last year, which isn’t incredible, but valuable at his price.
Rowdy Tellez (ESPN unranked, Yahoo 342, NFBC 297) And I wrote a Rowdy Tellez sleeper too. One big note on that is I wrote it before the Jays jammed themselves with about five more bats. Their pants must fit like a glove! So, Tellez, what can you do with less at-bats? Seriously, Tellez, I’m sick of having to tell everyone. Cat got your tongue? Is it using it to lick itself? Expecting all players to stay healthy all year is silly, especially playing through a plague, coming off an abbreviated goof-season. One hitter in the Jays’ lineup goes down, and Tellez is everyday. If he’s an everyday player, he’s a top 150 overall guy for me, easily. Even without that, I could see him being as valuable as, say, Dozier and Walker. Hey, you got room for one more in your blood pact?