THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE FIRST BASEMEN #11-30
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Without further ado, it’s time to delving a bit deeper into the first base position by looking at the league’s 11-30 finest first basemen in dynasty leagues. This group is filled with solid veterans, young guns, and super-star potential prospects.
11. MAX MUNCY, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 6 AT 2B)
Some might be surprised to see Muncy just outside the top 10 here at a fairly loaded position. After all, his 2020 performance was rather uninspiring (.192/.339/.389). Sorry, did I say uninspiring? I meant dreadful. Even with their “shortened season” hats on, some analysts may still be alarmed at that kind of slash line. As Andrew Lewis wrote last year, “Muncy rakes.” He did not rake but instead broke the rake and jumped into the pile of leaves. However, lost amongst the tsunami of 2020 headlines might be that slugger was dealing with a broken finger. Given that and the smaller sample size of 2020, we’re confident that Muncy will be mashing again soon. (Patrick Magnus)
12. TRISTON CASAS, BOSTON RED SOX (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: 16)
The future of this big market bat is bright. The hype has continued to build for Casas even with his only 2020 at bats coming from the alternate site. No, it appears the bombs he hit there all landed on Twitter. There’s a lot to like in Casas, but the most obvious is the 70-grade raw power. The future Red Sox first baseman crushes baseballs to all parts of the field, and as a player, he is keen on working to become a better hitter. Approaching 21 years of age, Casas has played against a ton of older competition thus far. He has embarrassed many of them. His long arms do give worry to the swing and miss tendencies that he’s shown. Regardless, this may be the last year Casas is left outside the top 10 at first base. (Patrick Magnus)
13. NATE LOWE, TAMPA BAY RAYS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 9)
The Texas Rangers “got Lowe, Lowe, Lowe, Lowe” in their apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur. Alright, with that somewhat dated reference out of the way, let’s dig into why this beefy boy landed in the 13th spot above some significant names. The former Tampa slugger flat-out mashed in the minors, slashing .300/.400/.483 over his career. While the new Texas stadium seems to be a pitcher’s haven, Lowe will get the one thing he didn’t get the last few years: regular at-bats. Consistent playing time should reveal a player that is much better than the one seen in Tampa. The whiffs should come down to a reasonable level, and with that will come an improved batting average. The floor here is likely .260 with 20 bombs, and the ceiling is something to dream on. (Patrick Magnus)
14. JOSÉ ABREU, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 34, PREVIOUS RANK: 10)
Yep, José Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, finds himself just inside the top 15 for dynasty first basemen. Dynasty baseball is a young man’s game, and the players/analysts are fickle nihilists. Yesterday’s successes are gone, yet our insatiable appetite for numbers must continuously be fed! So we squint at perfection and find the mere possibility of imperfection maddening. “He’s 34!” we scream to one another. “He might as well be batting with a cane next year!” we howl into our collective madness. Abreu is a reminder of our inevitable deaths. We may work hard and strive for perfection throughout our lives, but eventually, we’ll be dead. Just like eventually, José Abreu won’t hit baseballs anymore. (Patrick Magnus)
15. MIGUEL SANO, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 12 AT 3B)
The often injured and ill-behaved Twins masher made the switch to first base in 2020. Hopefully, that will keep his bat in the lineup more often. Sano is only a matter of at-bats and a bit more contact away from leading the league in homers. He’ll be a drag on batting average more seasons than not. Still, he has shown the ability to hit around .260 on occasion, which’s more than enough with the amount of power he provides. Still only 27, Sano should be mashing at first base for a good long time, although at some point, maybe he finds himself a full-time DH. An annual gamble on 40 homers for the next handful of years is worth taking, though. (Patrick Magnus)
16. JOSH BELL, WASHINGTON NATIONALS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 3)
Bell fell off a cliff after ascending the mountain in 2020. However, he’s not that bad, right? I think the case of Josh Bell is that he is who we thought he is. Meaning what we saw prior to his short-lived breakout is the more likely outcome going forward. Before being trading to the Nationals, the Pirates had planned on platooning him at first. Given his lifetime OPS splits (.725 vs lefties, .845 v. righties), that’s likely to be Bell’s future with the Nats as well. There’s still hope amongst the crew here, but let’s trust the change in scenery motivates a partial return to the power outbreak we were all enjoying. (Patrick Magnus)
17. ERIC HOSMER, SAN DIEGO PADRES (AGE: 31, PREVIOUS RANK: 21)
Eric Hosmer found himself aboard the Slam Diego Express in 2020. The long-time mundane first baseman finally put some thunder behind all those plate skills. Hosmer surpassed a .200 ISO for the first time in his career, and we’re encouraged enough to think it’ll stick. He should rack up some good counting stats as well in the loaded San Diego lineup. Hosmer found this breakout in a shortened season, and he’s got a very long track record of hitting groundballs. So, some skepticism is warranted. Hopefully, in 2021 he provides more evidence of a sustained change. Hosmer might find himself a bit higher on this list next year. (Patrick Magnus)
18. JEIMER CANDELARIO, DETRIOT TIGERS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 47)
Jeimer Candelario has been a player that many have had their eyes on for a long time. The plate skills have always been there, but Candelario never hit the ball hard enough. Unlike Hosmer, the increase in power during the 2020 season wasn’t tied to a change in launch angle. Instead, he increased his hard-hit rate by 13%. Combine that with a barrel% of 10.3, and the TDG staff feels quite good about Candelario’s breakout. While he finished 2020 with a .297 batting average, that’s not something you should count on from him. We’re not anticipating that a .372 BABIP is sustainable. Large changes like this will likely see some regression, but they are strong enough that some of it should stick. (Patrick Magnus)
19. EVAN WHITE, SEATTLE MARINERS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 12)
That breeze you’re feeling is the remainder of Evan White’s immense amount of strikeouts. I’m reasonably sure it’s altered weather patterns and assisted in pushing the tremendous amount of smoke that hovered over the Seattle area this summer away. The transition to the Majors wasn’t pretty for the 24-year-old. Yet there are some excellent signs when looking at the batted ball data for White. The barrel percentage, exit velocity, and hard-hit rate are all quite sexy. Though he made a lot of his hard contract below ten degrees, he did some damage in the 10-30 range. Expect 15-20 homers with a better average than the measly .176 he hit in 2020. We like the bat here; don’t bail on him yet. (Patrick Magnus)
20. CHRISTIAN WALKER, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 22)
Walker is sort of a sneaky late-round guy that can plug first base with decent numbers. A better option for those of you that play in OBP but still viable in most formats. If there was just a bit more power from Walker, he might be an elite player. However, for now, I think you can count on 20-25 homers with a .260 average for a few seasons. Unless Seth Beer takes his at-bats, which is a possibility at the moment without the DH in the NL. Still, Walker provides a safe but unspectacular option for your dynasty team, but not for the long-term. (Patrick Magnus)
21. BOBBY DALBEC, BOSTON RED SOX (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 32)
Bobby Dalbec made his debut at the end of August after Mitch Moreland was traded to the San Diego Padres. Known for his ability to smash baseballs, he didn’t disappoint. However, his 42 K% is horrendous. When he did make contact, it was very loud. His 22 Barrel% and 43.9 Hard Hit% shows he has the power but his 54 Whiff% on both breaking and offspeed pitches indicates he still has some work to do. He should get most of the playing time at first base in Fenway but will have to cut down on the strikeouts if he is to remain a starter for the long-term. (Shelly Verougstraete)
22. JARED WALSH, LOS ANGELES ANGELS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Not too many people would say their 2020 year was a good one but Jared Walsh might have a case to say so. During his breakout year, he smashed 10 home runs while slashing .293/.324/.646 for an amazing 155 wRC+. Not too bad for someone drafted in the 39th round. He drastically cut down on his strikeout rate as it dropped from 40% in 2019 to 13.9% in 2020. He was really seeing the ball well as his zone contact% jumped up to percentage points even through in zone swing% remained steady at 49%. Even with this breakout, Walsh’s playing time is a bit uncertain. He is currently penciled in as the starting first baseman but Albert Pujols is still on the roster with Shohei Ohtani claiming the DH role. (Shelly Verougstraete)
23. ROWDY TELLEZ, TORONTO BLUE JAYS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 28)
Just like Walsh, Tellez had himself a breakout 2020 season. Tellez has always been able to hit the ball hard but he took a step forward this year by cutting down on his strikeouts. He was more aggressive earlier in the count which lead to some of his success. Tellez has always been a bit of a StatCast darling but his page is full of red ink. Not only was he making harder contact, but he was also making better contact. Tellez’s IFFB% (which are essentially easy outs) dropped from 10% all the way to 6%. However, he has started to hit the ball on the ground more and since he is not the fastest guy in the world, that average could start to come down if he continues to do so. (Shelly Verougstraete)
24. SETH BEER, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 18)
Seth Beer, a once decorated swimmer, graduated early from high school so he could enroll at Clemson. During his freshman year, he slashed .369/.535/.700 with a whopping 18 home runs and walked 62 times while only striking out 27 times. Very impressive for someone who was younger than most of the competition in the ACC. He continued to post great numbers throughout his college career and the Houston Astros selected him in the first round of the 2018 draft. Due to his advanced college bat, he moved through the minor leagues quickly. He reached Double-A in 2019 and was part of a trade that sent Zack Grienke. However, he is strictly a first baseman (and DH if we are being honest with ourselves) and strikeout rates have increased at every single level. His exit velocities and walk rates have gone in the other direction. I’m not the biggest fan of this profile, as he will have to continue to mash to make it in the majors. (Shelly Verougstraete)
25. AARON SABATO, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Do you want power? Well, look no further than the future 1B for the Bomba Squad! After going undrafted after he graduated high school, Sabato smashed 18 home runs during his freshman year at North Carolina. As a draft-eligible sophomore, the Twins took a chance on him with the 27th overall pick. However, Sabato is below-average defensively and there are still questions on whether he will make enough contact for him to show off his light-tower power. He will have to continue to hit and in the end, might become a DH option for the Twins. (Shelly Verougstraete)
26. RENATO NÚÑEZ, FREE AGENT (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 27)
Um…can someone please explain to me what Baltimore (and the rest of MLB for that matter) is doing? A year removed from hitting 31 home runs and another 12 in 52 games in 2020, the O’s released Núñez and has yet to be signed by another club. He still barrels up the ball and was in the 75th and 80th percentile in the past two years, but his average exit velocity on line drives and flyballs decreased by about two MPH in 2020. He is a bit of a ‘bad ball’ hitter, which isn’t a skill set that ages gracefully. Taking a look at Alex Chamberlain’s AMAZING Tableau, Núñez was actually ‘lucky’ when it came to barrels as his deserved barrel% should have been around 9.5% while his deserved K% should have been around 27%. Hmm…maybe I see why the O’s wanted to move on. That being said, I could see him re-signing with the team go to the KBO, and smashing 30+ home runs again. (Shelly Verougstraete)
27. MICHAEL TOGLIA, COLORADO ROCKIES (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 32)
You don’t see too many switch-hitting first basemen with power but that is who Michael Toglia is. After being drafted by the Rockies in 2016, he said ‘Nah’ and spent three years in Califonia (UCLA, btw) before being drafted again in 2019 but this time in the first round. He has a great idea and feel for the strike zone and but his swing can get a bit wonky at times, which could lead to some BABIP-based bad luck. Being an advanced college bat, I could see him making it to Double-A by the end of 2021 and knocking on the door at Coors, that is unless the Rockies sign some clubhouse-veteran type to block him. (Shelly Verougstraete)
28. JOEY VOTTO, CINCINNATI REDS (AGE: 37, PREVIOUS RANK: 20)
This ranking makes me sad. Joey Votto has been one of my favorite players and he has always been above league average in wRC+. However, we might have seen the last ‘good’ year in Votto’s career. While he was more patient this year (which is crazy to think, to be honest), his zone contact% dropped four percentage points and now sits at just league average. His groundball and flyball rates also crept up, which go for out more often than line drives. Due to his elite patience, he will always be an asset in OBP leagues, but sadly he should probably just be on your waiver wire, especially with the Reds seemingly wanting to trade everything that is not nailed down. (Shelly Verougstraete)
29. BRANDON BELT, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 33)
Did we finally get that breakout Brandon Belt season we kept dreaming about like five years ago? Not only did Belt post the highest wRC+ of his career, 173 wRC+ but just take a look at his StatCast profile.
Everything (except sprint speed) is red! What lead to some of this breakout was what San Francisco did to their park. The Giants moved the bullpens to behind the outfield wall, which brought the fences in but their biggest change had to do with COVID. To curb pedestrian traffic around the park, the team closed doors so people would not congregate to watch games from outside the park by right field. That move greatly reduced the air coming in from the bay, which made the batted balls ‘livelier’ in 2020. It is unknown whether the doors will remain closed in 2021 but if they do, you can expect all Giants to get a boost. As for Belt, this might be a bit of a dead-cat bounce (I hate that expression) season. He had some bone chips removed from his heel in the offseason and with Buster Posey returning, he might be losing everyday playing time. (Shelly Verougstraete)
30. LEWIN DÍAZ, MIAMI MARLINS, (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 36)
While his major league debut did not go well, there is still a lot to like in Lewin Díaz’s game. Díaz has above-average power and has an all-fields approach. He burst onto the scene in 2019 after posting 154 and 157 wRC+ between High-A and Double-A for the Twins. He was then traded to the Marlins at the trading deadline for Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont. He is pretty aggressive at the plate but overall has a good feel for the strike zone, as evidenced by a 95 zone contact% and a below league average zone swing%. He still has some work to do and will start the season in Triple-A but Díaz is the first baseman of the future for the Marlins. (Shelly Verougstraete)