THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE FIRST BASEMAN, #1-10
At the Dynasty Guru we continue highlighting our top players at every position, moving from Catcher last week to First Base this week. If you value our work here, please considering donating to help the cause!
First Base usually brings power and RBI, with batting average (or on-base percentage) being what separates the top two tiers and the rest. All of these guys provide a good batting average (and in Muncy’s case, OBP) as well as the ability to knock in runs in bunches. As you can see, the top five has swapped positions in the rankings, but remain the top five, and should for the next couple of seasons.
1. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 2)
Coming off a second place AL MVP finish, Vladito is now the top first baseman in all the land. Last year I had him pegged for a floor of 25+ home runs and .300 batting average with a lot of RBI; he met and exceeded that in only his third season. Let’s raise that floor up to 40 homers and 200 Runs + RBI with that bonus .300 average most power hitters can’t match. There is an argument to be made that Vladito is the best pick in upcoming drafts due to his high floor, while injuries (in the cases of Acuña Jr., Tatis Jr., and Ohtani) and weak supporting cast leads to less counting stats (Soto). Multiple 50 home run seasons could be the norm and the lineup around him should remain excellent, so Runs and RBI should continue to abound. Guerrero is now a top five dynasty pick and should be for the foreseeable future. (Phil Barrington)
2. Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 5)
Olson was undervalued heading into 2021 based on a .195 batting average in 220 but still did well enough to provide value in the shortened season. 2019 was his breakout, and he improved in all meaningful statistics in 2021, walking more, striking out a lot less, more home runs, RBI, runs, and even adding four steals to boot. A hitter in the midst of his prime, still improving, Oly should get traded to a team so he can continue hitting bombs and getting those high-end counting stats. Do I want him on every team? Yes, sir. (Phil Barrington)
3. Freddie Freeman, Free Agent (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 1)
Wherever Freeman signs once the baseball lockout ends, he will be the number three or four hitter, prime to continue to rack up RBI, provide a high batting average with 30ish home runs. Staying in Atlanta does not seem to be in the cards, or they would have signed him by now. The 2020 NL MVP and World Series champ has four straight top-ten MVP finishes and if he continues to age like fine wine, with the Hall of Fame in his future. For Dynasty leagues, I will reference what I said last year about Sir Frederick (and somehow he has even increased his value): “if your team is not competing this season, the time to move him is now, before the season, as his value will not be any higher. Add him to your trade block and see what comes. If you are competing, ride the wave.” (Phil Barrington)
4. Pete Alonso, New York Mets (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 3)
December birthday boy Alonso scoffs at a high batting average and focuses on 50+ home run power; however a deeper look at his first and second half splits last season show that a .275 average is possible, as that is what he hit in the second half last year, after a first half with an average of .249. Alonso will have an improved lineup around him and 120 RBI not out of the question with Francisco Lindor and Starling Marte getting on base in front of him. Alonso seems almost boring at this point in his career, but the Polar Bear is there with his 35 home run, 200 Runs + RBI, floor. There are more exciting options at first base, but there is something about Alonso that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy having him as the power cornerstone of Dynasty league teams. (Phil Barrington)
5. Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 4)
Torkelson has been the future of the position since being drafted first overall by the Tigers in 2020 and he wasted no time climbing the minor league ladder, going from Single-A+ to Double-A to Triple-A all in 2021. His stat line: in 530 plate appearances, he hit 30 home runs, 18 Runs + RBI and a slash line of .267/.383/.552, with a Walk-to-Strikeout Ratio of 77:114. He can hit and has a killer batting eye, those are for sure, and roster resource already has him listed as the Tigers starting first baseman. Last season I predicted that he stays down until after the Super 2 deadline in 2022; depending on how the collective bargaining agreement goes this may be a moot point. Or maybe he hits so well Spring training that new Tiger Javier Báez twists the GM’s arm so that Tork begins the season with the big league club.
Tork has done nothing to drop in the rankings; rather Matt Olson had his breakout season, and since Tork has not played in the bigs as of yet, he drops one spot from last year. A word of caution; Andrew Vaughn was ranked sixth overall the past two seasons; now he is an outfielder in a platoon and won’t crack the top 20; so temper expectations for the prospects, won’t ya? Vaughn was Tork just before Tork. However, I fully believe in the Torkelnator and he may very well finish the season as the second overall Dynasty first baseman when all is said and done. Lastly, he just looks like a first baseman (in the Jim Thome mold), doesn’t he? (Phil Barrington)
6. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 9)
Goldy is coming off a 6th place MVP season and fourth gold glove and appears to be getting better when most hitters start to see their numbers declining. He provided Runs and RBI (201 total), Home Runs (31), a high batting average (.294), and even added 12 steals. He is also the model of consistency, missing an average of only four games a season for the past seven seasons. He also continued to improve as the season went along; and all the underlying stats back up his continued excellence, take a look:
The Cardinals have been blessed since the mid 90s at first base, from Mark McGwire to Albert Pujols to Goldschmidt. Age ain’t nothing but a number, but eventually the decline happens to all hitters, though investing in Goldschmidt now in Dynasty leagues should continue to bear fruit for the next couple of seasons at minimum. (Phil Barrington)
7. Max Muncy, Los Angles Dodgers (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 11)
Muncy still qualifies at second base in many leagues, but if he is your first baseman, rolling with him should work out as well. The only pause, and it is a big one heading into the 20222 season, are two injuries he sustained in the 2021 playoffs: a torn UCL in addition to dislocating his left elbow. Muncy said recently about his recovery, “That’s what happens when you do some serious damage to your body. A torn UCL is a slow process.” This will likely lower his draft value until we know more about how his recovery is progressing this upcoming spring. This ranking is based on a return to health and continued excellence, where he showed even better underlying stats than Paul Goldschmidt, and just about the same counting stats (less the steals). The 50th overall player on the Razzball Player Rater in 2021, keep an eye on Muncy and remember if he drops in Dynasty drafts that is your opportunity to pounce. (Phil Barrington)
8. Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 31 at OF)
The future is now for the former Twins top prospect, if he can just stay healthy enough to fulfill that promise. Tommy John surgery back in 2017 and wrist issues in 2018 and 2019 limited the future first baseman for the Twins; another wrist injury (that required surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist) when making a play in the outfield ended his 2021 season just as he was heating up. He should be done playing in the outfield and will split time at DH and first base with power-hitting Miguel Sanó for the upcoming season.
During our rankings review, fellow writers told me not to sweat Kirilloff’s .251 batting average in 59 big league games, or his .283 average in 2019 at Double-A, he is a future .300 hitter. As I said in the intro, a .300+ batting average are what separate the elite from the very good at first base, hence Kirilloff’s ranking. Let’s just hope he stays healthy enough to fulfill the promise. (Phil Barrington)
9. Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 12)
The 6’5,” 240-pound Casas, hailing from Miami, FLA was a part of the silver-medal winning team USA, while starting the year in Double-A and finishing with nine games at Triple-A. Casas is MLB ready, but the Red Sox may let him get a few more at-bats at Triple-A and do not need to rush him. A knowledgeable fan of the game, getting to hang with many major leaguers at the Olympics can only help. Check out this interview with Casas about his approach, time with Team USA, and his swing; after watching it is hard not to become a fan (unless you’re a Yankees supporter, that is).
Casas continued his excellent 2021 season by playing 21 games in the Arizona Fall League, attaining a big-time batting average of .372 with a K:BB ratio of 18:17; following up on a K:BB ratio in 2021 of 71:57. Guys that have as much power as he does and strikeout as much as they walk have a good chance of being special. If and when he is called up by the Red Sox, do not fret if he struggles, because the talent is there. A do not trade in Dynasty leagues. (Phil Barrington)
10. Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 54 at OF)
Another young stud who moved from our Outfield ranks back to first base (where he was ranked 17th heading into the 2020 season), I wrote up Mountcastle in the outfielder rankings last year. I wrote “In 2019 he was the Triple-A International League’s most valuable player with a .312 batting average, .871 OPS, 25 home runs, and 35 doubles and showed improvement at every minor league stop. With a career minor league walk rate of 4.9%, strikeout rate of 20.4%, and .295 batting average, for Mountcastle…20-ish home runs should be a good estimate for 2021 but with a 60 Raw Power prospect grade the possibility for 30+ in his career is highly probable.” Mountcastle fulfilled that home run power in 2021, hitting 33 home runs, with 166 Runs + RBI, and a slash line of .255/.309/.487. Mountcastle is trending upward as that slash line should improve in his second full season. If any first baseman can crack the top five next season, I am betting on the Fortress. (Phil Barrington)