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

WELCOME BACK!!! Despite a scorching hot stove (I can’t believe the player you’re thinking of did or did not sign with the team you thought they would!), 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 and February 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. PLUS, this season we’re including a “Where They’d Rank” section, that outlines where we would put multi-positional guys if we ranked them at their secondary positions.

The Dynasty Guru’s hard-working staff has spent countless hours crafting these rankings, and we hope you enjoy and continue to support our efforts.

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2019 consensus rankings by looking at our 21-50 dynasty first basemen.

21) Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies, (Age: 33, Previous Rank: NR/64-OF)

2018 was a mixed bag for Desmond: he quietly put a 20/20 season with over 80 runs/RBI, all while getting murdered with a low BABIP. Much of the Desmond hate comes from real life baseball, where he isn’t a great defender or OBP machine. But in our game, he is a solid contributor in four or five categories. Look for the AVG to rebound in ’19, but long-term, his value will be on the decline in the next few years as the sun is setting on his fantasy tenure.  I like Desmond to contribute in ’19, but if you’re building for the future, it’s time to sell. (Mike Tanner)

22) Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 14)

Smoak is a stat accumulator on a team that is not contending in the final year of his contract. After a breakout in 2017, he regressed back to his previous, somewhat uninspiring, production level. Although the Blue Jays picked up his $8 million option for 2019, at some point they want to see what they have in their 24-year-old prospect Rowdy Tellez (who has already logged over 900 PA in AAA). He likely splits time at 1B/DH this season, but the future is quite murky for an aging, below-average defender who can only play first and struggles against LHP isn’t exactly a sought after profile.  This may be the last year he breaks the top 35 in dynasty. (Mike Tanner)

23) Luke Voit, New York Yankees, (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)

Voit played a hand in many fantasy championships in ’18, with a ridiculous final six weeks to the season.  The bad news is that nothing in his profile seems very sustainable. His home run to fly ball rate was 40% (league average is around 10%, elite HR hitters like Judge are around 25-30%) and his BABIP was an inflated .365, so look for everything to regress in 2019.  That is, if he gets enough playing time to allow for regression. The big question for Voit is whether or not he gets playing time. At the time of this writing, Manny Machado is still a free agent, but the consensus is that the Yankees were his preferred destination. If they get Machado, then Voit will face heavy competition from Miguel Andujar at first. If Machado goes elsewhere, you might just have a 35 HR bat on your roster on the cheap.  In dynasty, I’m selling, but if you like to gamble, you could do worse. (Mike Tanner)

24) Tyler White, Houston Astros, (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)

A Quad-A bat that was a dynasty sensation a few years ago who may actually pay dividends in 2019. I believe White will enjoy a break this year and be much higher on this list in 2020.  White has excellent plate discipline (10% walk rate, 20% strikeout rate), hits both Right and Left-handed pitching well and may be first in line to DH in a ridiculous Houston lineup. The only real question for White is playing time. If he gets the at bats, no skills growth is required for him to be a very productive fantasy asset. I’m buying in most formats. (Mike Tanner)

25) Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 10)

Two years ago, Cabrera was in his prime and was ranked at #3.  Last year, 10 might have been a generous ranking based on a steep decline; oh how the mighty have fallen.  Cabrera’s ‘generous’ frame, chronically injured back, and various strains limited him to less than 200 PAs in 2018. Even with more time likely spent at DH, he is not lock to stay healthy.  Combine that with a bottom five lineup and declining skills, there isn’t much to see here. Remember the good old days because unless Cabrera sheds 30-40 pounds and shows up in the ‘best shape of his life,’ his fantasy glory days are in the past. (Mike Tanner)

26) Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 13)

The last time Zimmerman had over 600 plate appearances was 2014.  He has good ‘real baseball’ skills, he doesn’t strike out much (17%), walks enough (9%), has a good OBP (.337), but he just doesn’t stay on the field. A more alarming development is that he is struggling more and more against right-handed pitching. Aging and in the final year of his contract, Zimmerman may find himself on the small side of a platoon sooner rather than later in Washington and may struggle to find a home in 2020. (Mike Tanner)

27) Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR/53-OF)

2018 was relatively the same as 2017 for Mancini, with two exceptions: first, a much worse lineup ate away at his RBI totals, and second, his BABIP luck swung in the opposite direction knocking his average down 50 points. He remains a league average hitter with fringy plate discipline, good power, and terrible outfield defense. Ideally, he’d slide over to first and let the remnants of Chris Davis spend his time at DH (or on the bench). Either way, Mancini is a good, but not great, uninspiring fantasy asset who likely ranks in the 20s or 30s of a dynasty list the next few years. (Mike Tanner)

28) Ronald Guzman, Texas Ranges, (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 29)

The early complaints about Guzman were his lack of power as a first base prospect. With a respectable .181 ISO and 16 HRs in just over 400 PAs, he has quieted those concerns a little. He will never be a 30 HR power bat at 1B, but in daily leagues, he was at least serviceable. His current problem is a complete lack of ability to hit left-handed pitching and a very low average.  With Gallo likely settling into first long-term and Shin-Soo Cho on the books for two more years, Guzman may struggle to find regular playing time if he doesn’t take the next step. 2018 may be a make or break year for Guzman. (Mike Tanner)

29) Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies, (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 20)

Colorado apparently has concerns about McMahon after signing an aging second baseman to be their full-time first baseman. A little closer look at his batting profile brings to light what the Rockies may be concerned about: McMahon bats left but struggled immensely against right-handed pitching (usually a lefty hitter will do better against righty pitching). Most MLB pitchers are right-handed so struggles against them may be something that keeps McMahon out of the lineup early and often. Having said that, McMahon has two things going for him in 2018: first, an injury to Daniel Murphy (missed ½ of 2018), Desmond, Hampson, or Dahl (chronically injured) may open up a role for him and second, he does have the pedigree and solid minor league numbers to give us hope that he was just pressing in 2018. Don’t give up on him just yet, but be sure to keep an eye on his performance against RHP if/when he does get a shot. (Mike Tanner)

30) C. J. Cron, Minnesota Twins, (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 27)

Cron nearly doubled his HR from the past three years in 2018, is moving to a better hitter’s park, and arguably will get everyday at-bats in a lineup that is at least as good (if not better) than the Rays, yet gets no love for the breakout. Cron likely puts up similar numbers in ’19 for the Twins as he did in 2018: nothing seemed unsustainable, but he will again find himself a free agent after this season. He is a great, inexpensive piece of a win-now roster, but avoid him if you’re building. His value could disappear just as quickly as it developed. (Mike Tanner)

31) Ryon Healy, Seattle Mariners (Age 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Despite totaling 24 homers, Healy was still a negative asset for the Mariners in 2018. He posted just a .296 wOBA, 90 wRC+, and 0.8 WAR, so it may come as a surprise to see him projected to be the opening day first baseman. Healy is likely to bounce back to some extent, as the 27-year-old has a 103 wRC+ for his career, but his playing time is a serious concern. Nelson Cruz has been replaced by Edwin Encarnacion, so the DH spot is still occupied, and Jay Bruce is now in Seattle as well. The Mariners also have a potentially budding prospect in Dan Vogelbach, so at the very least there’s a good chance the right handed Healy ends up in some sort of platoon. Healy is likely to put up better rate stats than he did last year, but his fantasy floor is still fairly low. (Matt Meiselman)

32} Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays (Age 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Diaz is one of the darlings of the StatCast era, holding some of the best exit velocity metrics on the planet. To this point in his career, however, Diaz simply doesn’t hit the ball in the air. He has just one MLB home run in 299 plate appearances, so there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement if he can increase his launch angle. Diaz was traded to Tampa Bay this offseason, and perhaps the Rays have a plan for getting him to elevate the ball, but Diaz should be a useful asset regardless. This is probably a sleeper pick that will pay off even as it stands, but the chance for a power surge gives Diaz tons of upside going forward. Playing time is probably the biggest concern here, as the Rays may default to a platoon-ish approach. (Matt Meiselman)

33) Austin Slater, San Francisco Giants (Age 26, Previous Rank: NR)

Slater is a little too old to be considered a prospect, but his extremely strong minor league statistics continue to be a positive indicator of his future potential. Slater has been a below average hitter across two partial MLB seasons, but he’s been dominant in Triple-A dating back to 2016. His playing time has fluctuated so far in his career, but the semi-rebuilding Giants are probably going to give him more of an opportunity this coming season. It’s hard to imagine Slater producing strong power numbers in AT&T Park, but he could still become somewhat useful over the next few seasons. (Matt Meiselman)

34) Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays (Age 23, Previous Rank: NR)

McKay is probably best known for his pitching acumen, but his hitter-self has turned into a noteworthy prospect as well. McKay posted obscene plate discipline numbers in Low-A last year, with a 30.8% walk rate and 14.3% strikeout rate in 91 plate appearances. He couldn’t maintain those numbers after his promotion to High-A, but he still managed a 109 wRC+ and hit five homers in 32 games. It’s unclear how the Rays will deploy McKay going forward, and he obviously loses some of his offensive potential if he prioritizes being a starting pitcher, but there’s still upside even for just the hitter version. (Matt Meiselman)

35) Yonder Alonso, Chicago White Sox (Age 32, Previous Rank: 23)

After a somewhat disappointing 2018 season, Alonso’s 2017 breakout is starting to look like the outlier. Alonso dropped to just a .319 wOBA and 97 wRC+ last year, and things may get a lot worse for his fantasy value in 2019. It’s probably fair to call Alonso a slightly above average hitter at this point, but he’s 31, and he may never again have a full time starting job. Alonso should continue to produce when he plays, especially against righties, but there’s some chance the White Sox sit him against lefties. Alonso has significant platoon splits, and if he becomes a platoon player going forward, it’ll be hard to stomach investing too much in him as a fantasy asset. (Matt Meiselman)

36) Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers (Age 32, Previous Rank: NR)

In 2017, Thames returned from his three-year South Korean hiatus to have one of the most memorable starts to a season in recent history. Thames amassed a 138 wRC+ in the first half of last year, with 23 home runs in 329 plate appearances. Thames has since reverted to his pre-Korean self, posting solid but unspectacular power numbers and subpar plate discipline. He’s still an above average offensive player, but Thames is now 32, and he’s unlikely to see a starters workload of at bats. A Ryan Braun injury or Jesus Aguilar decline could open the door for Thames, and his future outlook is still promising if he gets moved to an AL team, but at this point he’s probably more of a filler piece on a fantasy roster. (Matt Meiselman)

37) Grant Lavigne, Colorado Rockies (Age 19, Previous Rank: NR)

Lavigne is just 19 years old, but he’s coming off an impressive Rookie ball season in which he hit 6 homers, stole 12 bases, and posted a 160 wRC+. Lavinge’s production at such a young age is a sign of significant future potential, and a career that starts at Coors Field obviously won’t hurt either. Having said that, there’s significant risk here to balance out the upside. Good prospects flame out all the time, and 19-year-olds are even more unstable. Even if Lavigne were to become a useful fantasy asset, the time value associated with waiting for him to get there is a significant knock against him as well. Perhaps it’s just impatience, but waiting for Lavigne seems like a bad strategy. (Matt Meiselman)

38) Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays (Age 24, Previous Rank: NR)

Tellez made his debut this past September, and he began his career with some very strong numbers for the Blue Jays. Tellez excelled at the lower minor league levels before sputtering at Triple-A in 2017, but he bounced back with a solid 2018 campaign and earned himself the call up. At the majors, however, Tellez’s positive results appear to have been a mirage. His .391 BABIP inflated his numbers across the board, and his 2.7% K rate and 28.8% walk rate don’t bode well for his future statistics. Tellez will only be 24 this season, and the minor league track record still looks good, so despite the lucky start to his career there’s still reason for optimism. It probably does make sense to temper expectations, however. (Matt Meiselman)

39) Ryan O’Hearn,  Kansas City Royals (Age 25, Previous Rank: NR)

O’Hearn came out of nowhere in 2018 to hit 12 homers in 44 games, with a 153 wRC+ that only appears to have been boosted by moderate luck. O’Hearn actually did have a lot of success through Double-A, but he was mediocre at Triple-A in both 2017 and 2018. The sample size on O’Hearns MLB success is somewhat small, but it has to count for something that he put together such incredible power numbers. Even though his ISO should significantly regress, O’Hearn may, in fact, be an average hitter already, and the 25-year-old still has a chance to develop further. I definitely wouldn’t buy into his 2018 season as a reliably useful predictor, but O’Hearn should be an acceptable asset going forward. (Matt Meiselman)

40) Justin Bour, Los Angeles Angels (Age 30, Previous Rank: 18)

Bour has been a very solid hitter over his five-year MLB career, and his down year in 2018 appears to just be a product of some bad BABIP luck. Bour will join the Angels for the 2019 season, and he could actually become a very useful fantasy asset. The context is certainly positive, with plenty of RBI chances coming from batting behind Trout, Ohtani, and Upton, but the concern for Bour will once again be his playing time. He struggled to get regular at-bats with the Phillies last year (though double switches were a major culprit) and he’ll have to fend off the ageless Albert Pujols for playing time this year. Bour should still be in the lineup against all righties at a minimum, so if he can find a way to produce against lefties, he could have a very good season. Bour isn’t young, but he could carry some upside for the next few years if things break right. (Matt Meiselman)

41) Tyler Austin, Minnesota Twins, (Age 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Traded by the Yankees at the deadline for pitcher Lance Lynn, Austin went on to post almost identical numbers in Minnesota as he did as a Yankee. The numbers weren’t necessarily bad, as he hit 17 home runs in just 244 at-bats. Playing time will continue to be an issue for him in Minnesota as he profiles as the short side of the platoon bat with CJ Cron at 1B/DH. Out of options, it’s likely that he ends up on a big league roster somewhere and if he can squeeze himself into playing time he does provide a power source, but not much else. (Paul Monte)

42) Greg Bird, New York Yankees, (Age 25, Previous Rank: 11)

One of the biggest rankings drops this year for First Basemen belongs to Greg Bird. The 2015 season that saw Bird hit .261/.343/.529 is no longer visible in the review mirror, and no, that season is not closer than it appears. 2016 was a lost year due to injury, 2017 was supposed to be his rebound year and he hit .190/.288/.422 in 147 at-bats. 2018 was his chance to lock in his spot in the lineup, but he went down with foot surgery in late March. He returned in late May and held the starting job until late August when Luke Voit took over the role. He finished the season by failing to break the Mendoza line for the second straight season. With three options left, there is a real risk that Bird starts and spends the season in Triple-A. (Paul Monte)

43) Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals, (Age 20, Previous Rank: 40)

One of the more interesting first base prospects, Pratto does not fit the standard mold. He’s not a huge power and strikeout guy with massive size that failed at other positions. Power is what holds him back on most prospect lists. No one has ever questioned his hit tool, but would he ever show the power needed to play first base in the major leagues? If you’re a Pratto fan, you can see the power coming, he’s not going to hit 35 homers but he can at least be average. If that happens, paired with his ability to get on base and sneaky base-running ability, he can become a valuable asset. (Paul Monte)

44) David Freese, Los Angeles Dodgers, (Age 35, Previous Rank: NR)

A great 2018 postseason in which Freese hit .364/.423/.773 with a double, triple and two home runs (in just 22 at-bats) has bought him another year in Los Angeles. He had what may have been his career season in 2018 as he shifted to a reserve role. Maybe he has found his calling as a bench bat, but he’ll get to try the role again this year. He’ll be backing up Justin Turner, who at 34 years of age is not the healthiest of players. Look, he’s not sexy and he’s not draftable unless you’re in a very deep league. When Turner takes his normal DL break, he may be worth plugging in for a couple of weeks. (Paul Monte)

45) Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners, (Age 26, Previous Rank: 46)

Speaking of sexy, next on the list is just that. Listed at 6’0” and 250 pounds (One of those may be true, the other is not), Vogelbach continued to tear up the PCL. Things were looking up for 2019 as Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto began his youth movement and sent Carlos Santana back to Cleveland. The problem was the return that brought Edwin Encarnacion, who will join the reacquired acquire Jay Bruce. Most expect Dipoto to move one, if not both, of those roadblocks, but as of now, Vogelbach will need to wait again. A 26-year-old 1B “prospect” may not be that sexy after all. [#freevogey- Ed.] (Paul Monte)

46) Seth Beer, Houston Astros, (Age 22, Previous Rank: NR)

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: when you draft Beer, several league mates will make horrible jokes at which you’ll have to feign laughter; such is your punishment for drafting him. Beer was awarded the Dick Howser Trophy for being the national college player of the year as a freshman (the first time that has ever happened) but has failed to match those heights in his subsequent seasons. Houston took him in the first round of the 2018 draft and he proceeded to make his way through three levels, finishing in High-A. Houston will attempt to get him in a position that he can play defense somewhere on the field but he may end up a DH. You can also give Beer a nice boost if your league uses OBP instead of AVG. (Paul Monte)

47) Evan White, Seattle Mariners (Age 22, Previous Rank: 41)

The worry with White was that he wouldn’t have the power to stick at first base. His 2018 season, spent in the Cal League playing for the Modesto Nuts, did not quell those worries. He did make some changes in his swing late in the season that resulted in five home runs in his last 25 games and added two more in his Arizona League stint. Expected to start 2019 in Double-A, if he can continue those gains in the power department, the rest of his profile plays very well. He is a very athletic first baseman with good speed who could also play in the outfield. (Paul Monte)

48) Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins, (Age 24, Previous Rank: NR)

Unlike the prospects listed directly above him, power is not an issue for Rooker. He has plenty of raw power and does not struggle to show it during games. What he does struggle with is making contact. His contact issues were evident as he posted a 26.4 K% in Double-A in 2018. Rooker owners are hoping for a repeat of his professional debut season, not his 2018. At 24 years old, time is starting to run thin on him. He also spent more time at 1B than in the outfield in 2018 which may mean that the OF experiment is coming to an end. (Paul Monte)

49) Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks, (Age 22, Previous Rank: 35)

The comment on last year’s 1B list was “Smith will need to show improvement in the power department to avoid being a rather uninteresting, low-power first baseman.” Spoiler Alert: He did not. Smith is barely hanging on to his place on this year’s list and unless there is a major change in the 2019 season it is not likely that he returns next year. It’s not that Smith is a bad baseball player; he is just not very useful in the fantasy world. He will get plenty of chances in real life as Arizona drafted him 7th overall in 2017 out of Virginia. (Paul Monte)

50) Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox, (Age 33, Previous Rank: 28)

Mitch Moreland was an all-star in 2018. He was that good in the first half, at least by his standards. He hit .278/.353/.500 before the All-Star Break and threw in 11 homers and four triples. He followed that up by hitting .191 with four home runs the rest of the way. At this point, you know what you are getting with Moreland. He finished the season outside of the top 30 first baseman, he has much more value in daily-move leagues since he will be splitting at-bats with Steve Pearce. (Paul Monte)

 

Where They’d Rank- First Basemen 21-50

Josh Naylor- 34, behind CJ Cron

Marwin Gonzalez- 36, in front of Yandy Diaz

*ranked as though all were included in the list

 

The Author

Ian Hudson

Ian Hudson

Ian is an editor for The Dynasty Guru and a bowtie enthusiast. If you guessed one of those things about him you could probably guess the other.

He's also an attorney in Tampa, Florida.

Go Rays.

5 Comments

  1. Matt
    January 14, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Assuming you have Yordan Alvarez as OF-only. If he was 1B-eligible, where would you rank him?

    • January 14, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      TDG decided to rank Yordan Alvarez as an outfielder. As a first baseman, he would rank between Peter Alonso (12) and Josh Bell (13) on these rankings, noting my rankings differ significantly from our consensus rankings. For example, Peter Alonso would rank 8th for me, after Joey Votto.

  2. Slothrop
    January 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Jesse where do you personally rank Alvarez as 1b?

    And curious how you personally rank healy and guzman? new assets for me, my intuition differs drastically from this list, trying to do my homework. gracias

    • January 16, 2019 at 10:54 am

      On my list, Guzman ranked 25th and Healy ranked 29th.

      • January 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm

        Note, however, Healy drops following the acquisition of Encarnacion. At the moment, he is blocked by Encarnacion/Bruce at 1B/DH.

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