First base isn’t exactly a “priority” position in fantasy baseball drafts. That’s not to say there aren’t good 1Bs, but it’s generally not a roster spot for which you devise some grand draft strategy. At some point during your draft, you’ll look at the overall rankings and think, “I guess that 1B is the best available. I’ll draft him.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s good to have a list of 1B tiers on your cheat sheet so you don’t overdraft a first basemen when there are several other similar players who will be available a few rounds later.
Indeed, there are plenty of players with similar profiles at 1B, as only a relative few hit for a good average and ever fewer steal bases, so it can be tough to tier them off. What makes things even more difficult is all the players eligible at other positions, where they’re more likely to be slotted in fantasy lineups. So, if you wait too long for a 1B, you might wind up with someone with a few too many question marks for your liking.
2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever | Top 300
Ultimately, that’s all you’re trying to avoid at this position. There are enough dependable sluggers that you shouldn’t need to dip down into the question marks for your starter. It’s good to draft one of those lower-tier players for bench depth, as at least a few of them are likely to break out this year, but don’t pass up a “sure” 30 HRs and 90 RBIs just because you think you can find this year’s Josh Bell.
A few reminders about our rankings and tiers: Players are grouped into sub-tiers based on what type of production they provide. Just because someone is in, say, Tier 3A, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than someone in Tier 3B; rather, it just means the guys in 3B have more batting average upside while those in 3A are all about power. Also, our 1B rankings are based on the idea that a player is only eligible at first base. Some players eligible at other positions, such as Yasmani Grandal, will be ranked higher in our overall rankings.
Who are the best fantasy baseball 1Bs?
Eligibility based on Yahoo default settings
* = Player not eligible at 1B on draft day but expected to play there during the season
You can make an argument that Cody Bellinger should be alone in Tier 1, as virtually every site (including ours) has him ranked well above every other 1B, but as we saw during his mediocre 2018 campaign (.260, 25 HRs), Bellinger isn’t necessarily a sure thing to produce at such a high level again. He’s still the top first baseman, but Freddie Freeman, Pete Alonso, and, yes, even Paul Goldschmidt, are right there with him.
We’ve separated Bellinger into his own tier because he’s really the only one who steals some bases. Alonso gets his own tier because he’s more of a classic middling-average, big-power guy. Freeman and Goldschmidt can both hit around .300 with solid production numbers in the other categories. Whomever you prefer (if any) really depends on how you like to build your team. Bellinger will be gone in the first round, while Freeman will likely go in the second and Alonso in the second or third. Goldschmidt will hang around longer, but we’re one of the few sites that thinks he should go shortly after Freeman.
At 32, he’s two years older than Freeman and coming off a down year where he hit just .260, but his BABIP was 45 points below his career mark. And while the shift from Arizona to St. Louis could be part of the reason, it’s worth noting that he hit better on the road while in Arizona. He wasn’t a Chase Field creation by any means, and it seems likely his average will jump back up this year. With 34 HRs, 97 Rs, and 97 RBIs last season, that should mean numbers across the board on par with Freeman. Take advantage if Goldschmidt falls too far in your draft.
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers (also eligible at OF)
Freddie Freeman, Braves
Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Pete Alonso, Mets
2020 Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-2 1Bs
Things start getting tricky in Tier 2, as you could easily expand this tier to include about seven more guys. That’s why when it comes to drafting 1Bs, many fantasy owners will opt to wait instead of grabbing someone like Jose Abreu in the sixth round.
We’ve separated Matt Olson and Josh Bell into their own tier because neither hits for a particularly high average but both have proven they can pop 35-plus HRs. Abreu and Rizzo will both likely hit around .290 with 30-plus HRs, and the upside is there for more. DJ LeMahieu will likely be drafted to play 2B or 3B, but we’re including him here, too. He has the highest batting average upside of any 1B, and he showed last year he can hold his own in the other production numbers.
Because 1B is filled with relatively similar players, you can probably get these guys at decent values. Where they go in drafts will vary based on personal preferences, but the bottom line is there’s no need to reach for them unless you really like one or feel that you need the moderate average boost someone like Rizzo provides.
Matt Olson, A’s
Josh Bell, Pirates
Jose Abreu, White Sox
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
DJ LeMahieu, Yankees (2B, 3B)
2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfielder | Starter | Each team
Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Tier-3 1Bs
Tier 3 is deep and varied, and with several players eligible at other positions, it’s tough to say how many will actually be drafted to play 1B in your league. Either way, these guys are going to go in the early-middle and middle rounds, and many have the upside to jump up a tier by the end of the season. In fact, Trey Mancini, Yuli Gurriel, and Carlos Santana all were in that tier last year, and Max Muncy was only held down by his batting average. Both Miguel Sano and Edwin Encarnacion probably would have been there, too, if they had played more games.
The players in the first two sub-tiers are differentiated because of batting average upside. Tier 3A features players who will likely post sub-.260 averages, though Santana topped that last year thanks to a high BABIP and one of his best power seasons. The HR and RBI potential of most of these players still offers tremendous value, especially for someone like Sano and even Rhys Hoskins, who’s coming off a down year, but the mediocre averages limit their overall appeal. But if you hit on the right guy, you’ll have one of the steals of the draft. That’s why it’s a good idea to get at least one slugger from this tier even if you’ve already drafted your 1B.
Mancini and Gurriel had career years last year, as both batted at least .291 and hit 31 HRs. Mancini hit .293 his rookie season, so you can argue he should be in Tier 2B, but we’re still leery he can repeat last season. Gurriel’s power surge came out of nowhere, as the 35-year-old hit 18 and 13 HRs, respectively, in the previous two seasons. He could be a suckers pick this year, but given his steady batting average and position in a stacked lineup, we doubt he’ll be a total bust.
Danny Santana gets his own sub-tier because of his ability to steal bases. The 29-year-old switch-hitter is a total wild card after his breakout 2018, and while it might be lofty to expect another 28 HRs and 21 SBs, it’s likely Santana can approach another 20/20 season with enough at-bats. The real question is whether he can repeat his .283 average despite a high K-rate and low BB-rate, but even a drop to .260 with good numbers in the other categories gives him value. With few other 1B-eligible players stealing bases, you can give your team a unique advantage with someone like Santana at first — but only if he pops 25-plus homers and drives in 80-plus runs, both of which are no sure things.
Max Muncy, Dodgers (2B, 3B)
Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
Carlos Santana, Indians
Miguel Sano, Twins (3B)
Edwin Encarnacion, White Sox
Christian Walker, D-backs
Trey Mancini, Orioles (OF)
Yuli Gurriel, Astros (3B)
Danny Santana, Rangers (2B, 3B, SS, OF)
Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Tier-4 1Bs
We’ve loaded up Tier 4 with some solid but “boring” players, as well as a few potential breakouts. Once again, most of these players are eligible at other positions, so it’s tough to say with certainty when they’ll start coming off the board. All can hit a decent amount of homers (though not as many for the guys in Tier 4C), and it’s unlikely you’ll get much in the ways of average from any of them. However, there’s legit production available in this tier, especially if these guys fall to the mid-to-late rounds.
Tier 4A is full of guys who have 30-HR upside and should post a decent number of RBIs, but the production in the other categories might disappoint. There also might be playing time (Michiel Chavis, Joc Pederson, Yandy Diaz) or injury (Luke Voit) concerns, but if any of those guys play 145-plus games, they could easily be in the tier above heading into next season. Getting one of these sluggers as a bench stash/UTIL is a good idea.
Tier 4B features guys who can steal double-digit bases while also providing 20-plus HRs. Brandon Lowe has the most homer upside of this group, while Wil Myers will post the most SBs. Ryan Braun has some batting average upside, but he’s the most likely to lose playing time and provide little-to-no production. Chances are, you’ll have your starting 1B by the time these guys are getting drafted, but if you need a backup 1B/CI who can get a few steals, these are prime targets.
Tier 4C is the least exciting group, as neither Eric Hosmer nor Daniel Murphy excel in any one category. But both are decent hitters who can get to 20 HRs and provide a good amount of RBIs and runs. Murphy’s age and injury history limit his appeal, but we all know how playing in Colorado can inflate stats. Hosmer quietly posted 99 RBIs last year, and with San Diego’s offense continuing to improve, he could have another solid year in that category.
Ryan McMahon, Rockies (2B, 3B)
Renato Nunez, Orioles (3B)
Luke Voit, Yankees
Yasmani Grandal, White Sox (C)
Michael Chavis, Red Sox (2B)
Joc Pederson, Dodgers (OF)
Mark Canha, A’s (OF)
Hunter Dozier, Royals (3B, OF)
Yandy Diaz, Rays (3B)
Brandon Lowe, Rays (2B, OF)
Wil Myers, Padres (OF)
Ryan Braun*, Brewers (OF)
Eric Hosmer, Padres
Daniel Murphy, Rockies
Fantasy Baseball Tiers: Late-round 1Bs
Tier 5 isn’t that much different than Tier 4, especially when you factor in that many of the Tier-4 1Bs will actually be drafted to play other positions. The guys below are more likely to be CIs/1B backups in deeper leagues (if you draft one at all).
The guys in Tier 5A can hit 20-plus and maybe even 30-plus homers with regular playing time, but most have potential platoon issues or are on the downside of their careers. C.J. Cron is probably the “safest”, so if you’re just looking for some cheap homers late, he’s the guy to target. Jesus Aguilar could easily bounce back, while Eric Thames and Dan Vogelbach should hit 20-plus HRs, too, but these are all low-average sluggers who have mediocre ceilings in runs.
Tier 5B offers potentially more useful players, as Howie Kendrick, Joey Votto, and Miguel Cabrera could all hit around .300. However, none are likely to hit 20 HRs — and they’re all old — so fantasy owners will likely skip over them.
We gave Jake Bauers his own sub-tier because he could steal some bases and basically be a cheaper version of Myers or Braun, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a late-round sleeper who can help a little bit in both power and speed.
C.J. Cron, Tigers
Jesus Aguilar, Marlins
Eric Thames, Nationals (OF)
Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays
Dan Vogelbach, Mariners
Albert Pujols, Angels
Christian Vazquez, Red Sox (C)
Ji-Man Choi, Rays
Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
Howie Kendrick, Nationals (2B, 3B)
Joey Votto, Reds
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Jake Bauers, Indians (OF)
Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers: 1B
You just know someone from Tier 6 will hit 30-plus HRs this year, but good luck trying to guess. Dominic Smith feels like a guy who just needs at-bats, but he doesn’t have a clear path to them. The same goes for Nate Lowe and even veterans Jay Bruce and Justin Smoak.
Deep-leaguers can take their chances with one of these guys, but chances are most will be left on the waiver wire after your draft and will be picked up once they start having a hot streak.
Ronald Guzman, Rangers
Dominic Smith, Mets (OF)
Garrett Cooper, Marlins (OF)
Brandon Belt, Giants (OF)
Evan White, Mariners
Nate Lowe, Rays
Jay Bruce, Phillies (OF)
Rio Ruiz, Orioles (3B)
Justin Smoak, Brewers
Ryan O’Hearn, Royals
Travis Shaw*, Blue Jays (3B)
Chris Davis, Orioles
Marwin Gonzalez, Twins (3B, OF)
Niko Goodrum, Tigers (2B, SS, OF)
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