2020 First Base Rankings – Fantasy Baseball

First Base Rankings 2020

1Cody BellingerDodgers
2Freddie FreemanBraves
3Pete AlonsoMets
4Anthony RizzoCubs
5Matt OlsonAthletics
6Jose AbreuWhite Sox
7Paul GoldschmidtCardinals
8Josh BellPirates
9DJ LeMahieuYankees
10Max MuncyDodgers
11Trey ManciniOrioles
12Carlos SantanaIndians
13Rhys HoskinsPhillies
14Yuli GurrielAstros
15Edwin EncarnacionWhite Sox
16Luke VoitYankees
17Danny SantanaRangers
18C.J. CronTigers
19Yandy DiazRays
20Eric HosmerPadres
21Daniel MurphyRockies
22Christian WalkerDiamondbacks
23Joey VottoReds
24Ryan McMahonRockies
25Joc PedersonDodgers
26Mark CanhaAthletics
27Wil MyersPadres
28Renato NunezOrioles
29Jesus AguilarMarlins
30Michael ChavisRed Sox
31Nate LoweRays
32Miguel CabreraTigers
33Brandon BeltGiants
34Justin SmoakBrewers*
35Evan WhiteMariners
36Marwin GonzalezTwins
37Albert PujolsAngels
38Ji-Man ChoiRays
39Howie KendrickNationals
40Ryan MountcastleOrioles
41Garrett CooperMarlins
42Eric ThamesNationals
43Josh Van MeterReds
44Matt BeatyDodgers
45Kevin CronDiamondbacks
46Austin NolaMariners
47Ronald GuzmanRangers
48Brandon DixonTigers
49Dan VogelbachMariners
50Rowdy TellezBlue Jays
51Chris DavisOrioles

I’m not necessarily using tiers but you could look at these groupings that way if you’d like. Even though Bellinger and Freeman are in the same tier, the difference in value between the two is similar to the difference between Josh Bell and Edwin Encarnacion. Keep that in mind. After the top tier, the values start bunching together. If I can’t get Bellinger or Freeman, I’m likely waiting for someone like Olson, Abreu, or Bell. Whichever seems to fall the most.

Cody Bellinger faded some in the second half but his plate approach and contact gains remained intact. He finished the season with 46 home runs and 15 stolen bases and will be 24 years old this season. There’s no doubt he’s the top 1B option and I’ve got him number five overall. Freddie Freeman is steady as she goes. His ceiling may end up being what we saw in 2019 but he’s still going to be a four-category monster and should chip in five to eight steals. Freeman should provide a better batting average than Bellinger but Cody gets the edge in power and stolen bases.

What will Pete Alonso do for an encore? I love his power but he may have outperformed his metrics last season. Hitters that hit 50 home runs in a season rarely repeat the next year. I still think he reaches 40 home runs and 105+ RBI but his average won’t be great. Do I really need to analyze Anthony Rizzo? He’s the same player he’s always been except that he’s traded a little bit of power for batting average thanks to an improved strikeout rate. So he’s no longer a lock for 30-35 homers but I expect 25-30 with a .280-.290 average. I would not be surprised if Matt Olson outearns Alonso in 2020. If it weren’t for a broken hamate bone in late-March, Olson could have hit 40-45 homers in 2019. Continuously undervalued and under-appreciated is Jose Abreu. Based on earned home runs, Abreu should have eclipsed the 40 home run mark in 2019. As the White Sox push all their chips to win now, I expect Abreu to hit another 30+ homers with 100+ RBI and a .270+ batting average. Safe and steady. The decline is real for Paul Goldschmidt. Busch Stadium is a clear downgrade in terms of power for the longtime fantasy stud. The lineup is weaker without Marcell Ozuna behind him, so I expect another .270-30-95 type season for Goldy. I’m a believer in the breakout for Josh Bell. We’ve been waiting for it and he finally delivered. He improved his launch angle, increased his hard-hit rate and thus doubled his barrel rate. He faded in the second half but carried his launch and hard contact gains, he just became more passive. I expect him to come out healthy in 2020 and provide similar numbers to Goldy ranked one spot ahead of him.

DJ LeMahieu’s swing is made for Yankee Stadium. I’ve said this before and I know you’ve heard it before. He earned his power outburst and his 39 Barrels were a career-high. His average exit velocity last was 91.7 mph which ranked 19th in all of baseball. So I believe he can hit .300 with 22-25 homers while potentially leading the league in runs leading off for the Yankees.

Max Muncy through Edwin Encarnacion is basically a tier. Muncy will be ranked inside my top 100 and E5 will be somewhere around 125-130 overall. That’s a relatively tight grouping. I don’t love paying for career years from guys in or nearing their mid-30s. That means I’m not fully expecting a repeat from Carlos Santana or Yuli Gurriel. I think Rhys Hoskins is due for a slight rebound but his ceiling is capped based on his batted ball profile. Trey Mancini is entering his prime and just broke out in 2019. I love the ballpark he hits in but his surrounding cast is awful. Losing Villar doesn’t help either. If he was in a better situation, he would be side by side with Muncy. I believe in the .275 average and 30-homer power given his batted ball improvements but I’d expect something closer to 85 runs and 90 RBI in 2020.

There’s a large gap between Luke Voit and C.J Cron but I’m including them in this grouping. If Voit grabs hold of the everyday role in New York, he could hit 35-40 home runs in that stadium. However, there’s some risk in playing time which would really hamper his projections. The metrics back up Danny Santana‘s production but a near-30% strikeout rate will make it difficult to repeat his .283 BA. He possesses impressive 20-20 potential from a corner infielder which can be gold and should play every day with OF eligibility as a bonus. I love Cron’s power ceiling but Comerica Park in DET caps it a bit. Still, he should play every day and hit in the middle of the order. I’d expect .260-30 with moderate run production. Boring but solid, moving on.

Yandy Diaz is starting to make the proper approach changes to realize his full potential. The move to the Rays seems to have been a smart one as he’s lowered his ground ball rate and increased his pulled fly ball rate to 20% (up from a measly 3%). Given his high quality of contact and potential launch angle improvements, 25-30 home runs is no longer a pipedream. Eric Hosmer is in a pretty comfortable lineup that is improving. His moderate power and batting average should be enough for him to once again become a run producer in the middle of the Padres lineup. Hosmer’s ceiling is limited thanks to a wretched launch angle but his floor is also relatively high. Daniel Murphy dealt with a lingering thumb injury for most of the 2019 season, so he was unable to take advantage of the Coors Field goodness. Given his age, I don’t believe in him as a 20-homer bat any longer but given health, I would not be surprised to see him hit .300 this season. Christian Walker had a hell of a year breaking out at age-28 with 29 home runs in just over 600 PA. His exit velocity and barrel rate mimicked his predecessor Paul Goldschmidt but I have my doubts heading in 2020. The major improvement for Walker was cutting down on his chase rate. But, his zone contact rate is well-below league average, so I could see a strikeout rate in the upper 20s. He’s a solid late-round pick but wouldn’t trust him as my starting 1B.

Do I think Joey Votto improves on what he did in 2019? Yes. That being said, Votto was the 33rd best 1B last year based on Razzball’s Player Rater. I like the moves the Reds have made to improve their team and think Votto will reap the benefits. He just isn’t capable of hitting more than 20 home runs anymore nor will he hit .300. Domingo Santana and Rougned Odor. Those are the only qualified hitters with a higher strikeout rate than Ryan McMahon in 2019. While he hit 24 home runs, his batting average settled in at .250. That’s difficult to do while playing half his games in the BABIP heaven that is Coors Field. At 25, I’m hoping for .270-30 but paying for .260-25. If Joc Pederson could somehow get 600 PA against RHP (obviously this is impossible), he’d be a third-round player. Receiving only 75% of the possible playing time is going to limit his ceiling which I believe we saw in 2019. Regress his 2019 numbers about 20% and that’s where I believe he ends up in 2020.

Mark Canha showed impressive plate skills on his way to a 2019 breakout. His metrics are decent but I’m not fully buying into his breakout at age-30. He doesn’t strike me as a 30-homer bat and he has a popup problem. His popup rate was 12.1% last year (11.8% for his career) compared to league-average 7.1%. I don’t know what to do with Wil Myers. We are now two years removed from his 30-20 season and back-to-back 20-20 seasons. He’s still just 29 years old but his contact rate was garbage last year. He couldn’t hit offspeed or breaking pitches and it led to a pitiful 34.3% K rate. Draft him after pick 200 hoping for 20-20 and if he doesn’t deliver, it won’t sink you. I ranked Renato Nunez inside the top-40 3B going into 2019 and he did not disappoint. He broke out but also benefited from having Villar atop the lineup along with Mancini’s best season. He’s going to be a batting average liability but given his home backdrop in Baltimore, he should be a safe 28-30 homer bat. Jesus Aguilar saw a major drop in his average fly ball distance last year and it showed. While he improved his chase and SwStr rates, his power just plummeted. Additionally, he hit the ball on the ground an awful lot. He’ll get a park downgrade in Miami but should see plenty of at-bats in 2020. I think he’s a good bet to hit 20-25 homers but I wouldn’t bank on much more.

Michael Chavis is young and he struggled after a hot debut in 2019. He hit .254 with an inflated .347 BABIP. That’s not good fam. His contact rates have me running for the hills. On pitches in the zone, he made contact 11% less frequently than league-average! He should receive some run unless the Red Sox make a move at first base, so I could see 25+ home runs but with a sub-.250 BA. The Rays seem to want Nate Lowe to just go away. It’s sad really. After acquiring Jose Martinez in a trade earlier this week, there’s now one more mouth to feed and another one who cannot play a lick of defense. The Rays essentially have four 1B/DH types in Ji-Man Choi, Nate Lowe, Jose Martinez, and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Frustrating. I love Lowe and he’d be a top-20 option with everyday at-bats but here we are.

My have the mighty have fallen. This rank is just about where I had Miggy last season and nothing’s changed for me. The ballpark is still brutal, the lineup is terrible and his injury history is sketchy at best. He’ll go down as one of the all-time great hitters but he no longer can provide pop to the opposite field. Miggy is, unfortunately, a shell of himself. Brandon Belt‘s career has been suppressed thanks in part to nagging injuries but also his home park. Oracle Park is far and away the worse venue for home runs to right field. It’s nearly three standard deviations below the mean. I just can’t expect any more than 15-18 home runs and 500 PA from Belt in 2020 unless he’s moved elsewhere. If he’s moved and plays in a neutral park, he jumps five to eight spots. Justin Smoak had one of the lowest BABIPs on ground balls in 2019 at .124. He’s a switch hitter so he bats from the left-side more frequently and pulls over 75% of his grounders. Oh, and he’s extremely slow and can’t hit breaking balls. But, his power metrics look very solid and his contact rates are good. I like the move to Miller Park but see him as a part-time player. I’d expect similar numbers to 2019 with about 20 points of BA.

Two interesting players in this bottom tier 35-50 are Matt Beaty and Josh Van Meter. Of course, playing time is going to be difficult to come by but both have shown interesting skills in their short time in the Majors. Beaty has a rare combination of high maximum exit velocity and high contact rates. Van Meter showed surprising power and speed which could be valuable in deep leagues. GABP is a great place to hit and his power will play up there, so keep an eye on him especially if the Reds get bit by the injury bug. I have an interest in Kevin Cron because of his massive power potential. He amassed 45 home runs across three levels (38 at Triple-A), so if Walker or Lamb falter, look to scoop up King Cron’s little bro. I compared Brandon Dixon to Austin Riley last season and that’s both a good and bad thing. He’s going to struggle to hit for average but has 25+ homer power across a full season of at-bats. I added Chris Davis to the list because he seems like an all-around good guy. Two thumbs up!

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