TDG’S 2024 TOP 50 CONSENSUS FIRST BASEMEN: #31-#50
First basemen. The unsung heroes of the dynasty baseball realm, and some of our personal favorites.
After my first glance at the names I get to cover here, the first adjective that comes to mind is ‘wild’. Not necessarily ‘wild’ said like a 90s surfer, but more in terms of all over the place. There are younger players that could rocket up the ranks over the coming season. There are some in-prime vets who essentially are the fantasy baseball equivalent of WYSIWYG. And there are some players whose best years are likely behind them. Let’s peek into my loose groupings and find some values!
Popping Like Pringles (Ryan Clifford, Tyler Locklear, Hunter Goodman, Blaze Jordan)
There’s a strong chance that all four of these names will be ranked much higher in a year. Though all have some concerns, so much like when you actually eat Pringles, there’s another chance we regret our past decisions. Clifford started ’23 strong and spent much of the year at High-, even after the mid-season trade to the Mets. While the post-trade struggles could be ignored (for humanistic reasons at a minimum), we can’t fully ignore the hit tool concerns. But power is sexy and Clifford’s swing fits that bill so it’ll be exciting when he reaches his test in Double A.
Locklear has a much stronger hit tool, but as a right-handed batter, he’s untraditional defensively at first. He’ll need to unlock more of his raw power to be fantasy-relevant. Otherwise, there may be some fantasy comparisons to the man later in this list who currently man’s 1B for the Mariners.
Hunter Goodman is a great value here at 38, and possibly the best chance to pop out of this group. His first taste of the bigs doesn’t look like a success, but it shouldn’t be the reason to give up on the young man. The projections sure haven’t, with multiple public computers thinking he’ll hit 20+ homers in barely half a season’s worth of games.
Blaze Jordan had an impressive season, hitting 18 homers in 122 games across High A and Double A. Previously having mid-20’s K-rates at two stops previously, he cut his K% to a tantalizing sub-15% at both levels this year as well. Another RHB, he’ll have to continue to show growth into his raw power to be fantasy-relevant as a major leaguer.
What You See is What You Get (Jeimer Candelario, Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Noda, Ty France)
Fresh off a new contract and career highs in homers and stolen bases, we all pretty much know what to expect out of the Candy Man at this point: Roughly 20ish homers, a handful of SBs, and 150ish R+RBIs. He’s a solid MI option in shallow leagues and should have a few more productive seasons playing in the Reds’ lineup.
I won’t belabor what we all already know, Kirilloff hasn’t reached our fantasy expectations. Injuries are a main factor in that and anytime a player in their 20s has back issues we shouldn’t ignore it. He’s a player that could pop, but it would be foolish to expect it at this stage. What you should expect is a solid average with mid-teens homer upside. Another injury and/or prolonged slump and he could really be in a battle for playing time.
Ryan Noda is a late bloomer whose bloom isn’t super gorgeous but will be valuable for most contending squads or in deep leagues. He’s got plenty of swing-and-miss but knows a ball outside the zone when he sees it, so in OBP leagues, he’s another solid MI option with his potential for low 20s homers. Playing in Oakland does hurt the chances of reaching that potential and reduces the rest of his counting stats, so he’s not a target for me in most leagues.
France is someone who I always was hoping would uncork some of his raw power, but as each year progresses I get less hopeful. Especially after last year’s whopping 12 homers in 158 games. He’s a great real baseball player and he’s fun to watch, but outside of deep leagues, he doesn’t have much value in our game. Another righty first baseman, his upper teen homers, 130 R+RBI, 0 SBs projections are a potential outcome for a few of the ‘popping’ names I mentioned earlier.
The Peak was in the Past (Brandon Drury, Anthony Rizzo)
I’ll admit that Drury could have fit into the last category – his counting stats and slash line were basically a mirror of his relatively strong ’22 season. He’ll be good for mid-20s pop and multipositional eligibility which, at this ranking is useful. But with the ever-dwindling offensive support on the Angels’ roster, I wouldn’t expect him to return to 170 R+RBIs. If I’m a contender, he’s worth keeping on your roster. But if my squad is looking to the future, he won’t be on it for long.
Rizzo I think is a strong buy at our ranking. I outlined him last year as a buy based on his career’s consistency and (at the time) a 3-year contract. The Yankees did him wrong, as many of us are aware, after his concussion last June and his numbers are not pretty as a result of this. This makes him a prime buy candidate for contenders or someone needing a bridge into their fantasy roster’s future. Don’t expect his prime of 30 homers, though if anyone could have a renaissance, I’d put money on Rizzo. As a fallback, you will get solid OBP and pop from him while playing half his game with a lovely RF porch for a target, all at a great acquisition cost.
|LaMonte Wade Jr.
We are a long way from the top of this list, but maybe we can find something useful. Nope, not really, good night folks!!!
That really is my first thought when looking at the players in this range. Run far, far, far away, hide, and never look back. In reality though, there might be some dynasty usefulness in this group. The old and crusty antiques, with canes, and a bad hip could produce some valuable stats if they get enough at-bats. José Abreu, Salvador Perez, Justin Turner, and DJ LeMahieu are hanging tight with hands stapled, glued, and nailed tightly to the role of relevancy. The best thing about this quartet is they will get at-bats, if healthy. Abreu hit 18 home runs and put up a solid 90 runs batted in and 62 runs scored last season, in almost 600 plate appearances. Not good numbers, but if you need to fill a literal hole in your lineup, he might be worth a shot. Perez will somehow give you a worse on-base percentage, but he still is hitting for power, given how he mashed 23 home runs in almost 600 plate appearances. Perez has more value at catcher than first base, but his slow transition to first base could give discount shoppers here some needed home runs, but at a cost. Turner is the old guy who shined in 2023, putting up a robust slash line of .276/.345/.455, to go with 23 home runs, 96 runs batted in, and 86 runs scored. Just a very consistent bat even with being 39 years old. You can’t count on more than just one year of value with him, but maybe he could help you in some key areas fantasy-wise, for just the one season. LeMahieu is another one that keeps on chugging down the track, north of 35, first baseman here. He had more than 550 plate appearances in 2023 and should be in line to match that again. He will not hit 20 home runs, but he will get on base.
Alright, enough with the scary thoughts of rostering an old player at first base, let’s talk about the youth in this range. Dalton Rushing took a tumble down the ranks and is a good bet to rise up fast in 2024. His batting average cratered from a sparkling .404 over 30 games in 2022, down to .228 in 89 games in 2023. What he did continue to do was take walks, 72 walks compared to 93 strikeouts. Expect him to make more contact this year and his numbers overall to rebound. He had 15 home runs in 2023 and could develop more as a true home run hitter this year.
Time for the speed round; I’d avoid these players, but let’s look at what is behind door number “Way Too Low.” Mark Vientos has power in his bat, but a .253 OBP over 65 games for the Mets is just so…., did I just say .253 OBP, yeah I’m out. Maybe he puts it together, maybe he doesn’t. Wow, a .253 OBP, how is that possible? Moving on, Matt Mervis is here, but the Cubs seem to keep passing on giving him a chance, this might be the year though. Sorry, nevermind, Morel and Busch are passing him this season. Luke Raley, LeMonte Wade Jr., and Elehuris Montero can add some counting stats, but probably won’t see enough at-bats to be meaningful. Congratulations, you made it to the end, maybe I should have stopped at the first paragraph after all.