We’re officially in the middle of one of my favorite seasons. Oh god no, not winter – “best shape of their career” season. Pretty soon we’ll be getting reports of Vlad Guerrero, Jr.’s monster physique (pics or it didn’t happen) and how Rowdy Tellez no longer looks like Samwell Tarly from GOT. Speaking of first basemen, hi my name is Richardo and I’ll be handling the rest of season rankings for first base this year. Every other week, we’ll drop a new top 25 for ROS and talk about the movers. But in order to talk about the movers, we have to first establish the top 25 to start the year. Let’s check out our initial list.
|3||Jose Abreu||1B||White Sox|
|8||Vlad Guerrero, Jr.||1B||Blue Jays|
|24||Bobby Dalbec||1B||Red Sox|
At the top of the list for me, Freddie Freeman is in a tier of his own. He’s as steady as they come and Cody Bellinger is a little too super hot or super cold for me to rank him up at the top. The only note I’ll add to Freeman is if you’re taking him in a snake draft, make sure you have a plan for stolen bases. Taking him in the late first/early second-round certainly puts you behind in the category. With Bellinger, the talent is clearly there, but something about having to rework his swing year to year worries me.
Heading down slightly, the grouping from Pete Alonso down to Anthony Rizzo is all just a glob to me. All of them have blemishes but also have the upside to do magical things. I may be a little on the lower side of Vlad Guerrero, Jr. but I feel like, at his current draft position of pick 55, we’re paying a premium for a level of upside he just has not shown us yet. Most of the projection systems have him 2x-ing his previous power totals with just a moderate uptick in plate appearances.
Matt Olson really struggled against fastballs last year, batting just .169 on four-seamers. Usually, this is the type of decline we see in aging players, not guys in their prime. There are reports that he’s been working on a mechanical flaw in his swing, so hopefully, that solves his fastball issues. I currently have Anthony Rizzo two spots below Olson, which feels a little weird considering Olson’s fastball issues. But I feel like we know what Rizzo will be (safer, steadier), whereas Olson has 50+ homer upside.
You can draw a hard line underneath Rizzo’s name. This is my drop-off point. Personally, I don’t know what to make of Josh Bell’s 2020 season, nor how much to factor it into our 2021 expectations. The plate skills were terrible and the power regressed significantly, but 2019 still happened and it happened in one of the worst ballparks in the league. Eric Hosmer is another tough pill to stomach for me. He was great last year, but he was still terrible against lefties (.204/.245/367) so we’re spending a pick in the 135ish range for a platoon hitter? Personally, I’d like to drop him down some, but Rhys Hoskins and Miguel Sano don’t exactly scream stability.
Speaking of Hoskins and Sano, do more opposite players exist? On one hand, Sano became a “2 true outcomes” player last year, striking out 44% of the time while bopping 10 homers. Hoskins on the other hand works walks to a fault, looking unwilling to swing the bat at times. If I was forced into making a decision between them, I’ll take Hoskin’s plate discipline with the hopes that he can find that switch on him that makes him more aggressive in hitters counts.
At near pick 200, Christian Walker strikes me as a guy that I’m going to use to fill my CI slot a lot this draft season. He’s taken some great strides in his strikeout rate and the power/speed combo that he showed in 2019 is very intriguing. In fact, his 8 steals ranked second among first baseman with Danny Santana taking the top spot.
While I have Jared Walsh and Jesus Aguilar 21 and 22, respectively, I could see them heading in opposite directions depending on their plate appearances. As of now, Walsh should be on the strong side of the platoon with Albert Pujols seeing occasional starts. If Walsh proves he can hit lefties, he could be in line for an increased workload. Aguilar on the other hand is expected to be on the weak side of the platoon with Garrett Cooper. Aguilar would need Cooper to struggle in order to see a big change in value. Note – After writing this, I logically dropped Aguilar down some.
I have to say, after doing this list, I hated the first base position just a little bit more. If you have any questions, drop a comment and we’ll keep the conversation going.