The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League First Baseman, Nos. 21-50
Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
We’ll continue our first base list with a big time breakout candidate:
21) Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Vargas got the call to Minnesota in August and held his own despite skipping AAA, putting up a .274/.316/.456 line that included nine bombs in 53 games. The 27 percent strikeout rate will be problematic if it holds, but he showed consistent improvement in that area while advancing through the minors. Vargas has the raw power to threaten the 30 homer plateau with a full season of at-bats and some refinement of his approach. If you’re in need of power upside, drop the extra dollar on the big fella.
22) Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox (Age: 33, Previous Rank:17)
Even after losing catcher eligibility, Napoli remains a valuable asset for fantasy owners. Although he’s 3 years into the wrong side of 30 and not likely to repeat his majestic 2011 campaign, he’s hit a steady .247/.359/.458, and averaged 21 homers, 68 RBI, and 60 runs over the past 3 seasons. His tendency to walk will also help in OBP leagues if you can ignore the high strikeout rate.
23) Adam Lind, Milwaukee Brewers (Age; 31, Previous Rank: 30)
Despite losing a substantial portion of his over-the-fence production, and seeing a 50 point drop in ISO in 2014, Lind moved up 8 spots in the rankings. He’s likely get the lion’s share of playing time at first base for the Brew Crew. It’s no secret that Lind has gargantuan platoon splits, so getting more PA against lefties will hurt his value. But there’s a good chance that the dingers will be back and he’ll serve as a solid second-tier option.
24) Billy Butler, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 14)
There aren’t many good signs for Country Breakfast. He’s coming off of his worst season 2008, has seen his offensive production declining for 3 straight years. Moving to one of the most pitcher-friendly park won’t help him, either. One positive aspect is that he’ll be just 29 and has a room to bounce back. Even if he fails to get back in his former self, he’ll provide counting stats while hitting for a decent average.
25) Jon Singleton, Houston Astros (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 20)
Singleton’s first taste of the big leagues was a disaster, hitting an abysmal .168/.285/.335 while striking out at an eye-popping 37 percent clip. Still, he’s entering his age-23 season, so there’s plenty of time for him to adjust to major league pitching. His .238 BABIP won’t keep haunting him either. The potential is still there for him to be an average hitter with plus power, as he swatted 27 bombs between Triple-A and MLB in 2014.
26) Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 22)
His days of being a top-five fantasy hitter are in the rearview mirror. Teix is no longer a 100/35/120 guy. That doesn’t mean he has no value at all, though. Despite his age and injury total continuing to climb, he’s still a league average hitter who can hit 20+ HR and drive in around 70 runs. He had the fifth lowest average among qualified hitters in 2014, but walks enough to not destroy your team in OBP leagues.
27) Dan Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 26)
Big Sexy spent the entire 2014 season in his native Florida with the Cubs’ High-A squad, where he hit .268/.357/.429 with 16 dingers in 560 plate appearances. There are few suspicions about his bat, which is expected to produce solid average and plus power numbers when Vogelbach gets to the majors. The problems is Anthony Rizzo blocking him at first base, the only position he’s capable to man, and even that’s being charitable to his defensive prowess. A trade that sends him out of the Windy City could happen.
28) James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 36)
Loney can provide 10+ homers, drive in 70, score 55+ runs, and hit for somewhere around a .290 average, but that’s more palatable than desired from a fantasy first baseman.
29) Greg Bird, New York Yankees ( Age: 22, Previous Rank: 44)
With a strong 2014 campaign between High-A and Double-A, and an MVP-winning Arizona Fall League stint, Bird solidified his reputation as a future solid contributor. He’ll put up power numbers while getting on base at a decent clip at the MLB level as soon as 2016.
30) C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 39)
Cron has shown remarkable power throughout his professional career, including his first stint in the big leagues in 2014, where he yanked out 11 dingers. On the other hand, his four percent walk rate and sub-.300 OBP aren’t something you’d like to see from a young, power hitting corner guy. In the best case scenario, he’s Mark Trumbo 2.0. Moreover, the Angels don’t have a room to give him regular playing time. He’ll likely to be platooned with newly acquired Matt Joyce.
31) Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
In 2014, the 47th overall pick in the 2012 draft smashed 37 long balls in the High-A California League, which topped all the minor leaguers except fellows named Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. Although he did it in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors, his power potential is legit.
32) Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres (Age 27, Previous Rank:28)
The former four-time top 100 prospect by Baseball America has struggled recently, both in performance and in staying healthy. You can expect that once his .251 BABIP in 2014 gets back to his career level at .304, so does his batting average. But he won’t hit for enough power for a first baseman, especially playing half of games at Petco.
33) Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals (Age 31, Previous Rank: 21)
If you ignore his miserable 2014, he’s a guy who hit .286/.339/.494 with 90 HR and a 128 OPS+ over the previous four seasons. You can say his awful numbers last year were a result of getting trapped in the unsigned FA purgatory until early June. He’s been given regular DH role for the Royals and has a chance to be back to his productive self.
34) Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 35. Previous Rank: 32)
The long-time Philly slugger has turned into the shell of his former self. He topped 600 PA for the first time in 3 years while crushing 23 HR and driving in 95 RBI in 2014. If you are looking for a quick power option for cheap, you may find some value in him, but he’s not a long-term solution. Additionally, he’s likely to lose playing time against LHP to Darin Ruf, if he’s still a Phillie on opening day.
35) Ike Davis, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 24)
It’s an universally known fact that Ike Davis is never going to hit lefties. Although he possesses the power potential that gave him a 32-HR season three years ago and gets on base at an above average rate. If you can sit him versus lefties, it’s possible he’s a much better option than his peers in this grouping.
36) Logan Morrison, Seattle Mariners (Age 27, Previous Rank: 34)
LoMo’s biggest problem is staying on the field as he’s averaged just 344 PA over the past three seasons, with no more than 365 in any season. Even when he does play, his numbers aren’t what one expect from a top tier first baseman. He can show some pop from the middle of a lineup, but not much more than that. While it’s hard to close the door on former prospects with his pedigree, it’s likely that he is who he is at this point.
37) Dom Smith, New York Mets (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 38)
Smith’s prospect status rides purely on his first round draft pedigree. His 2014 season was dismal: .271/.344/.338 with only one home run all year long. The best-case scenario for Smith is the next James Loney, but if his power doesn’t take major steps forward he will never be worthy of fantasy rosters.
38) Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 29)
Swisher’s performance dropped off a cliff in 2014. It is possible the aging 34 year old could rebound to deliver another useful fantasy season, but it is not even certain that he will be granted a starting role in 2015, especially coming off surgery to both his knees.
39) A.J. Reed, Houston Astros (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
The University of Kentucky product was a 2nd round pick last summer, then put up a .898 OPS in two levels of A-ball. Hes’ a possible fast riser this season.
40) Christian Walker, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Walker reached the majors for a cup of coffee last year after another productive minor league campaign featuring both a nice batting average and plus power. He’s not likely to be a star but there’s a good chance to have a productive major league career. He is ready for the majors now.
41) Garrett Jones, New York Yankees (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 45)
Jones never gets much love but he has been a useful fantasy player for a long time. He won’t be a starter for your team but provides adequate production as a short-term injury replacement.
42) Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 35)
Moreland never seems to get enough playing time to be useful in fantasy. Even if he did become an everyday starter he wouldn’t help your team much.
43) Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
The 2014 third-rounder tore up the Indian’s complex league with a 1.078 OPS. He is still a long way from the majors and has a lot to prove before we should invest too much in him.
44) Casey Gillaspie, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
A 2014 first-round pick out of Wichita State, Gillaspie put up some decent numbers in short-season A-ball. His stats didn’t justify the draft position considering his age vs level, and he needs to show more this year if he is to develop some genuine prospect helium.
45) Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
If your league allows daily lineup changes then Vogt can be a useful platoon player for your squad, otherwise ignore him.
46) Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 41)
Smoak has been a tremendous disappointment his entire career. He is way too old to be considered to have potential. However, we have seen other disappointing hitters flourish when exiled north of the border (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion).
47) Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 43)
Guzman’s prospect stock soared after his breakout 2012 season in rookie ball, took a dip after a so-so season in Low-A, then plummeted last year when his stats nosedived despite repeating Low-A. 2015 is a make-or-break season for Guzman.
48) Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 42)
We still don’t know how good Ruf really is because he has never been given a true chance to play. If the rebuilding Phillies give him a starting role he would be worth a flier in most leagues.
49) Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 29 C)
Montero’s reputation has taken multiple hits: poor performance on the field, attitude problems, weight gain and to top it all off, a PED suspension. What you may have missed is that he had a good year in AAA last year, although it was not quite as good as he performed a few years ago. Montero is a post-hype prospect to keep an eye on.
50) Corey Hart, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 31)
Hart missed all of 2013 due to injury and played very poorly in limited action in 2014, but don’t write him off. He has a track record of excellent fantasy production as he has hit for power and average in the past, and there could be another year or two of value here.
Commentary by Greg Wellemeyer, Kazuto Yamazaki, and Nick Doran