As we continue to make our way around the diamond we move to First Base for your 2020 Fantasy Baseball prep. Lucas and Bubba will go over their Top 20 rankings, talk strategy, sleepers and much ore to get you primed for the upcoming season. Don’t forget to check out the Catching Primer as well. But, for now here is the 2020 Fantasy Baseball First Base Primer.

Lucas (@BieryPlox33)Bubba (@bdentrek)
1- Cody Bellinger1- Cody Bellinger
2- Freddie Freeman 2- Freddie Freeman
3- Anthony Rizzo3- Matt Olson
4- Pete Alonso4- Pete Alonso
5- Paul Goldschmidt5- Paul Goldschmidt
6- Matt Olson6- Anthony Rizzo
7- Jose Abreu7- Jose Abreu
8- Josh Bell8- Rhys Hoskins
9- Max Muncy9- Josh Bell
10- D.J. LeMahieu10- Max Muncy
11- Rhys Hoskins11- D.J. LeMahieu
12- Yuli Gurriel12- Trey Mancini
13- Trey Mancini13- Carlos Santana
14- Luke Voit14- Luke Voit
15- Carlos Santana15- Christian Walker
16- Danny Santana16- Yandy Diaz
17- Christian Walker17- Yuli Gurriel
18- Edwin Encarnacion18- Joey Votto
19- Joc Pederson19- Edwin Encarnacion
20- Joey Votto20- Michael Chavis

Overall Thoughts on the Position-

Lucas- First Base was long thought of as a loaded position, deep in talent and stacked with heavy hitters at the top. It still is stacked on the top end, however it does dry up quickly in terms of really attractive options, so targeting a Freeman/Rizzo type makes more sense than taking the Shortstop in some cases. If you wait on First Base and miss out on a target, don’t fret too much, there’s lots of cheaper options that could provide value quite cheap (Nate Lowe, Evan White, Justin Smoak potentially.) However, reaching for a boring Hosmer type or overpaying for someone in Tampa Bay’s platoon can lead to negating any value that could be had, so come up with targets you like (if you skimped on the high end guys), and be mindful of where you may need to select them.

Bubba- The first base position used to be one of the major power sources in Fantasy Baseball, but that has changed in recent years. With power available all over the diamond, first base isn’t the go to power position any more. There are some really great options at the top of the position, but in my opinion the overall talent drops off quite a bit after the Top 10 or so. There is a lot of depth at the position, but not like SS depth where you are good waiting forever to fill the position. I would try and get a first baseman sooner than later when you are drafting this season unless you can find this year’s Josh Bell or Trey Mancini. 

Potential 2020 Busts-

Lucas- When looking at outliers there are a few guys that stick out, one is Danny Santana, who put up an insane 28 HR, 21 SB season with a .283 BA and 162 combined runs + RBI. Previously Santana hadn’t had an opportunity to play full time, so it’s possible that this is a real breakout, but I’m not betting on a guy with putrid plate discipline (5% BB, 30% K in 2019) and limited track record at ADP 121. On the other hand, I am into Christian Walker (ADP 205), another one year wonder. Walker matched Goldy’s Triple Slash exactly and his baseball savant numbers are off the chart. Walker is a solid play for volume and should flirt with 30 HR’s again.

Bubba- Pete Alonso is my 2020 bust. Let me clarify, I don’t think Alonso is going to be bad, but at the same time there are other first baseman I will target instead of Alonso at his draft price. Alonso isn’t hitting 53 home runs in 2020, heck Steamer projects Alonso for 41 home runs and a lower average. 41 home runs puts Alonso in line with Bellinger and close to Matt Olson and a few other first basemen. I’ll be passing on Alonso in 2020.

Top First Base Targets for 2020-

Lucas- I am definitely aiming for one of the top guys on the list if the value presents itself (early round 2 for Freeman or a Rizzo at ADP 61), but I am not reaching by any means even though 1B is a top heavy. Triple eligible guys like Muncy/LeMahieu present interesting profiles and I consider both quite safe to perform well. Muncy is more power over hit but DJ should provide a plus BA again in Yankee Stadium. DJ is not a value for me at ADP 63 but I’d be fine with him if he drops some. Expect high teens HR’s and a .290+ BA. Josh Bell (ADP 90) is a guy I really like, I don’t see why he can’t hit 30+ HR’s again, given his excellent plate discipline, his lineup position and the fact he changed his batted ball profile to put the ball in the air more. I’d rather have Bell 60+ picks after Pete Alonso, and the numbers may not be very despite the large gap in ADP.

Bubba- My top target, for the 2nd straight season will be Matt Olson. I was all in on Olson in 2019 and even with the hamate injury Olson still hit 36 home runs in 137 games. Olson’s statcast page bleeds red (which is a good thing) with a 14.5% barrel rate, .489 xWOBacon and a 50.3% HH rate. It’s the second straight season with a HH rate over 50%. Olson mashes baseballs and is in for a monster 2020 campaign.

Top First Base Sleeper Targets for 2020-

Lucas- If you miss out on the more attractive options listed above, Luke Voit is a really nice pivot at ADP 197. Voit has done nothing but hit like a maniac in New York (career 134 wRC+) and should be in line for the full time gig according to Aaron Boone (https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/baseball/news/yankees-luke-voit-should-open-2020-as-first-baseman/.) Joey Votto isn’t a bad bet at ADP 284, even though the power has dried up virtually overnight (15 HR in 2019). His plate skills remain intact and this is a bet on a Hall of Famer doing Hall of Fame things. I could see high teens HR’s with a helpful BA for Votto. Votto’s playing time is locked in, unlike some of the Milwaukee/Tampa Bay guys. Eric Hosmer (only age 30) fits this mold as well in terms of guaranteed playing time, but he’s probably never going to hit more than 25 HR’s if he didn’t do it with a juiced ball. Hosmer usually piles up solid runs and RBI totals though, so he presents an attractive floor. 

Bubba- Last season Josh Bell and Trey Mancini were in my sleepers column for first base and that worked very well. When looking for 2020 I am starting to fall in love with Christian Walker. Right now Walker is going over pick 200 in the NFBC DC drafts. In 2019 Walker had a 48.4% HH rate, a 13.1% barrel rate and a .452 xWOBacon. Last year Walker hit 29 home runs with a .259 average and with a more improved DBacks roster Walker could take the next step in becoming a Top 10 Fantasy Baseball first basemen.

Dynasty First Base Targets-

Lucas- First Base is the least challenging position defensively, so prospects that start out as 1B typically have nowhere else to play besides DH, putting immense pressure on their bat as they will not provide defensive value. In short, being a 1B prospect is a difficult tight-rope to walk and you have to hit like a mad man in order to be valuable. Usually guys shift over to first from 3B or a corner OF position, it’s not as common to start out as a 1B prospect. There are exceptions however, like a Pete Alonso. In dynasty I don’t worry about position, as prospects move positions often (Nick Senzel was an INF that shifted to CF), but Boston Red Sox 1B prospect Triston Casas is a really nice target if you can buy him at a reasonable rate. Casas hit well in Low A Greenville despite being fairly young for the level, then won Red Sox Minor Leaguer of the Year. He’s a top 50-ish prospect that could skyrocket overnight and become a top 20 guy this summer. A cheaper guy to target is Miami Marlins 1B prospect Lewin Diaz, and his incredible raw power. Diaz is fairly close to the big leagues and avoids striking out (typically under 20% K Rate.)

Bubba- This is the lazy way out, but he will be available in all first year player drafts and his name is Andrew Vaughn. I saw Vaughn play at CAL and the kid is a pure hitter. He’s moving quickly through the White Sox system and may see some time at the end of 2020 but more likely in 2021. He’s a must target and will likely be one of, if not the top pick in upcoming Dynasty drafts.