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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League First Basemen, #21-50

It’s been a slow off-season. Like, a really slow off-season. With the hot stove frigid, fantasy baseball players haven’t had many ways to quench their thirst, unless they’ve thrown themselves head-first into football, basketball, or hockey. January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally), but fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.

While you were celebrating the holidays and ushering in the New Year, our brave group of writers has been ranking, debating, re-ranking, re-debating, and re-re-ranking over 600 players for dynasty leagues. The fruits of our efforts will be filling January, February, and even some of March with the deepest, most thoroughly and painstakingly selected dynasty baseball rankings on the internet. We have top-50s, top-125s, top-200s, top-500s (of course!), and even ultra-deep prospect rankings.

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2018 consensus rankings by looking at rest of the league’s top-50 first baseman in dynasty leagues, picking things up with a former top-shelf slugger.

21) Brandon Belt, San Fransisco Giants (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 11)

Is Brandon Belt the Michael Pineda of hitters? Every year, all the metrics point to that big breakout — he walks a ton, he strikes out at a reasonable rate, and the batted ball profile is there for the 29-year-old to make the fantasy jump. But… Belt simply hasn’t. While his power finally took a step forward last season, the batting average plummetted, and Belt suffered another concussion. So, well, back to square one. Maybe this is finally the year he actually breaks out, but it’s far more likely he remains a middling bat who is more relevant in on-base percentage leagues. (Ben Diamond)

22) Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 32, Previous Rank 9)

Fantasy owners know what to expect from Davis at this point in his career: a high strikeout rate, exceptional power, and a low batting average. In the past, the batting average was palatable due to the 100 RBI/100 R possibility, but times have changed. In 2017, Davis took a step back in nearly every area with a career-high 37% whiff rate and a move down in the order that led to his lowest RBI/R totals since 2012. While a rebound is possible, it is more likely that Davis’ best days are behind him, especially with the league-wide value of one-dimensional sluggers rapidly falling. (Mike Tanner)

23) Yonder Alonso, Cleveland Indians (Age: 31, Previous Rank NR)

Alonso joined the fly-ball-revolution with a new swing and became fantasy relevant in 2017. Projected to hit 6th in a strong Indians lineup will make him an appealing to fantasy players as a moderate source of power and runs. Alonso’s value is significantly higher in OBP leagues (13% walk rate) or leagues that allow daily lineup changes, as his .181 batting average vs left-handed pitching will limit his plate appearances in 2018. (Mike Tanner)

24) Lucas Duda, Free Agent (Age:  31, Previous Rank 25)

2017 ended in similar fashion to 2016, disappointing and filled with injuries. Duda still managed to club 30 homers despite a career-low batting average (.217). As of mid-January, Duda was still looking for work and at-best can hope to secure a job as the strong side of a platoon facing righties. Barring signing into an excellent situation, Duda only has value in deeper formats in 2018 and beyond. (Mike Tanner)

25) Dominic Smith, New York Mets (Age: 22, Previous Rank 34)

Dominic Smith continued his hot streak in the minors by dominating Triple-A with 16 home runs and career-bests in average, slugging percentage, and OPS. He was rewarded with a promotion to the Mets in early-August. His performance was mixed with the big-league club, swatting 9 more home runs in just 183 PAs but hitting only .198 (on an insanely low BABIP of .218). Long-term Dominic Smith is an intriguing 1B prospect, but you may have to wait for the Mets to figure that out. (Mike Tanner)

26) Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians (Age: 22, Previous Rank 45)

Bradley has been consistent across three levels of the minors: plus-power, .250ish average, and significant swing-and-miss. Bradley has been young for each level and, with Encarnacion and Alonso signed through 2019, there is no rush to promote him past Triple-A. Keep a close eye on his performance against lefties the next year, as that will dictate his ceiling from a platoon bat to a possible everyday first baseman. (Mike Tanner)

27) C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 28, Previous Rank 19)

After flirting with a breakout in 2016 that was cut short by a wrist injury, Cron did little to excite fantasy owners in 2017. Another year with limited plate appearances, 16 home runs, and a weak average/on-base percentage. Oh, and the signing of Ohtani may push Pujols to 1B more often, leaving Cron with even less playing time. Barring an injury or two, Cron will struggle to be relevant in most leagues this year. (Mike Tanner)

28) Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox (Age: 32, Previous Rank 29)

Moreland is far from sexy but is a predictable option who should provide decent value after resigning a two-year deal with the Red Sox. He has hit 22 or 23 home runs in four of the past five seasons and holds a respectable average against righties. He should enjoy the strong side of a 1B platoon and produce similar, albeit lackluster, numbers again in 2018. (Mike Tanner)

29) Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers (Age: 23, Previous Rank 43)

Guzman has over 600 plate appearances at Double-A but has only managed 13 long balls during that time. A path to playing time in Texas at first base is visible, but the youngster will need to improve his power production to get there. Guzman managed a respectable 16% strikeout rate but may need to sell out for power to become relevant at first base. Given the success many young players have enjoyed after a promotion, this could the year he ascends into mixed league relevance. (Mike Tanner)

30) Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 22, Previous Rank NR)

McKay was a two-way player for the Rays in 2017, pitching once every seven days and spending time at first base/DH. Drafted a hitter first, time will tell if the Rays have the patience to develop him as a two-way asset. The Rays ‘slow cook’ their prospects, so McKay is likely several years away from the majors. Still, he remains an intriguing, high-upside batting prospect. (Mike Tanner)

31) Jhailyn Ortiz, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 19, Previous Rank NR)

Get acquainted with the 19-year-old Dominican who was paid $4 million as a 16-year-old by the Phillies. He mashed eight long balls in 159 at-bats in Low-A this year with an ISO of .258 and a .302 batting average. Not bad for a teenager in a league where most players were 2-3 years older than him. Although Ortiz offers little defensively, Phillies brass are already on record saying that Ortiz may one day be on display in the home run derby. Let the hype train begin, as he will be a fast riser in dynasty leagues this year. (Mike Tanner)

32) A.J. Reed, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous Rank 14)

Dynasty leaguers remember Reed’s first taste of the majors in 2016 very well — after much hype, the top prospect had a sub-.200 batting average and was quickly demoted. Reed spent all of 2017 in Triple-A and mashed 34 home runs, but continued to be plagued by left handing pitching (.189 average). He faces an uphill path to playing time on a loaded Astros roster and is in danger of becoming a Quad-A bat who can hit righties for power and little else (insert Lucas Duda picture here). (Mike Tanner)

33) Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 33)

Yes, Mauer is still playing and making over $20 million and not many fantasy players care. The most positive thing about 2018 is that the Twins will finally wrap up his contract. But hey, if you are in a deep league looking for a corner infielder that produces 7-8 HRs and 60ish RBI/Rs, he’s your guy. (Mike Tanner)

34) Matt Adams, Washington Nationals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 40)

Adams had an exciting June, temporarily shifting Freddie Freeman to the hot corner to keep his hot bat in the lineup in Atlanta. But all high BABIP moments must regress to an end, and his exposure to lefty pitching put him back on the bench. He projects to be a backup first baseman in Washington this year, needing an injury to become relevant. (Mike Tanner)

35) Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)

The Diamondbacks first-round pick had an interesting first year in pro ball; he hit over .300 but failed to slug a single home run in nearly 200 at-bats. Smith will need to show improvement in the power department to avoid being a rather uninteresting, low-power first baseman.  (Mike Tanner)

36) Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 46)

The Padres’ Josh Naylor has a nice approach at the plate and untapped raw pop, but has yet to put that strength into games. Since 2015, Naylor’s highest-ever ISO was an uninspiring .155 at High-A last season. Still, Naylor isn’t too far from the big leagues and certainly has the frame to support an uptick in power. Stay tuned, as the error bars on Naylor’s value are wide. (Jonathan Merkel)

37) Peter Alonso, New York Mets (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)

The Mets’ Peter Alonso was a second-round draft pick out of the University of Florida in 2016. He profiles to have above-average power but a below-average hit tool. At the lower levels, Alonso has been able to flourish: he posted a solid .286/.361/.516 across 341 High-A plate appearances in 2017. Questions remain about how Alonso will adapt to advanced breaking and off-speed pitches at the upper levels, but some in the Mets’ organization are getting excited about the adjustments he has been able to make. If Alonso shows well at Double-A in 2018, he will be moving up lists. At the very least, he looks destined for a platoon role. (Jonathan Merkel)

38) Mark Reynolds, Free Agent (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 50)

At 33, Mark Reynolds had his swan-song season with the Rockies. There’s really nowhere for him to go but down after he posting an 82 R, 32 HR, 97 RBI season while slashing .267/.352/.487. He’s had a nice career while hitting 281 home runs, but it looks like Reynolds is tiptoeing the edge of the cliff. It’s only a matter of time until he falls off. (Jonathan Merkel)

39) Tommy Joseph, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 30)

Joseph posted some decent numbers two years ago on a horrible Phillies squad. This year, the team is improving and Joseph is out of a job. Carlos Santana has arrived and will own first base. Should anything happen to him, it seems inevitable that Rhys Hoskins will move back to his natural position. So…well, Joseph is one of the least exciting players you can own, or consider owning, in dynasty baseball. He provides a decent floor, but that’s about it. (Jonathan Merkel)

40) Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)

Nick Pratto has a lot of upside in his young bat, but the 19-year-old Royal has a very long way to go. Last season, at age 18, he posted respectable numbers in Rookie Ball and will take his first hacks at the full-season level this season. As a notable defensive whiz at first in a system starved for talent, Pratto will get a long leash to continue his development. If you play in a deep league, Pratto might be a long-term lottery ticket. (Jonathan Merkel)

41) Evan White, Seattle Mariners (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)

White is a fast-rising prospect for the Mariners. The 2017 draft pick can play both first base and some outfield, bringing a solid approach and some pop to the table. Best of all, White draws praise for his speed. Like Pratto, White will have a long development curve but possesses a fairly high ceiling. (Jonathan Merkel)

42) Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 32)

Rowdy was a rising prospect in dynasty leagues at this time last year. He had just finished destroying Double-A in 2016, posting a solid 71 R, 23 HR, 81 RBI campaign while slashing .297/.387/.530. He did this while exhibiting stellar plate discipline, as evidenced by a 12.3 BB% and 17.9 K%. Rowdy showed power in ’16 as well, posting a .233 ISO. It looked like Toronto had landed a dynamic first-base prospect. But in 2017, Rowdy didn’t do well at the Triple-A level. He struck out more (18.8%), walked less (9.4%), and stopped hitting for power (.110 ISO). He might be able to regain his mojo at Triple-A, but until he does his price is slashed for clearance. (Jonathan Merkel)

43) Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

This 22 year-old Angel makes up for his strikeouts by taking a lot of walks which is good. But he also lacks any sort of power which is bad. The converted catcher will absolutely need to develop some more in game power to make any sort of difference at the big-league level. How bad is it? Well he did hit 9 home runs in 606 plate appearances last year… (Jonathan Merkel)

44) Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)

This tier is largely populated by A) past their prime sluggers, B) young guys at the lowest levels of the minors with unknown upside, C) young guys at the upper levels of the minors who lack power, and D) the walking dead like Tommy Joseph. Rios is none of these, as he does most everything well with the bat. The problem for Rios will be finding major league playing time with the loaded LA Dodgers. I am expecting Rios to be available in trades this year, as he looks ready to get a shot at either a 1B or DH role. If he gets to play, he could add some value to dynasty rosters as a 65/30/85, Kendrys Morales-type hitter. (Jonathan Merkel)

45) Mike Napoli, Free Agent (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 24)

Napoli is 36 and hit .193 last year. The party is over. (Jonathan Merkel)

46) Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 23)

The lore of Dan Vogelbach is usually told the following way: Dan Vogelbach once posted an OBP of .400 and then ate an entire IHOP to celebrate. The Mariners got giddy and called him up, but he sucked, so they sent him back to the minors. The End. He might get a chance to prove himself someday, but the window is rapidly closing on this beefy prospect. (Jonathan Merkel)

47) Adrian Gonzalez, New York Mets (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 15)

Adrian Gonzalez’s production has fallen off a cliff over the past three years. He was a great player in his prime–the best player I’ve written about in this tier–but his days are over and, sadly, he’ll close out his career in baseball purgatory with the New York Mets. A-Gon deserves a tip of the cap for his career .288/.359/.488 slash line and 311 career bombs, but he doesn’t deserve a spot on your dynasty roster. (Jonathan Merkel)

48) Adam Lind, Free Agent (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 41)

Adam Lind is not worth owning in fantasy. The 34 year-old can still hack it better than most other guys his age, but he’s a platoon bat at best, and there is absolutely no upside in him as a dynasty option. (Jonathan Merkel)

49) Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Jesus Aguilar kicked off 2017 as a 26-year-old rookie and, well, hit the way you’d expect a 26-year-old rookie to hit. He has some pop (.240 slugging percentage) but obvious contact issues. The .265/.331/.505 line he posted is unlikely to be repeatable, nor is the 16 home runs his hit given the Brewers’ playing time squeeze that is only getting worse by the day. (Ben Diamond)

50) Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 37)

Vargas has been a fantasy tease for his entire career. Much has been written about his light-tower power, and even more has been written about what Vargas might do if he were ever able to put it all together. But he hasn’t. He’s 27 years old and going nowhere fast. Perhaps this year Vargas will get a chance to play everyday and finally deliver on his promise of power–Steamer is giving him over 500 AB and 22 HR, after all. But I doubt it. And I think his rank as the lowest man on the 1B totem pole reflects the bitterness we feel towards Vargas, because of how often he has burned us all before. (Jonathan Merkel)


The Author

Ben Diamond

Ben Diamond

Ben is an annoyingly enthusiastic fantasy baseball player and Yankees fan, and he writes about those passions at Baseball Prospectus and The Dynasty Guru. There's a 95% chance he's ranting about Michael Pineda right now.

1 Comment

  1. Cody Rodrigues
    January 26, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Arizona Cardinals?

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