It’s that time of year. Fantasy Baseball preparation for the 2022 season is in full gear, which means my first set of rankings is ready for release. I usually release these in November but kept tweaking them as more and more moves took place with the wild hot stove action. 

I will do a release like this for all positions this year but have added tiers. I’ll briefly discuss each tier in this article and more written work and podcasts throughout the preseason. Also, as I do every year, I will release my full Google sheets rankings with tiers later this preseason to help with your drafts.

We move to the first base position for the second set of positional rankings this season. The first base position was once a position that was loaded with the best of the best in baseball, especially from an offensive perspective. Of course, the time has changed, but the position is still a profound position that brings a lot to be desired for fantasy purposes.

For instance, the American League runner-up for MVP, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., resides at first base. Likewise, the 2020 National League MVP, Freddie Freeman, resides at first base. In addition, other MVP winners and candidates like Jose Abreu, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt help highlight the first base position. 

It all depends on how much you are willing to pay at the draft table for fantasy purposes. With the increasing depth at the position, reaching at first base may not be highly essential. Then again, some top-tier options offer a stable floor with a ceiling that may be hard to find further down the position. Not to mention a handful of the top-tier first baseman also steal bases which is extremely rare for the position. 

The primer will always get you ready for the first base position. You can also listen to first base specific episodes of Benched with Bubba and other episodes discussing strategy, player debates, and much more. First, let’s look at the first installment of 2022 Fantasy Baseball First Base Rankings. 

2022 First Base Rankings

First Base
1- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2- Freddie Freeman
3- Paul Goldschmidt
4- Pete Alonso
5- José Abreu
6- Rhys Hoskins
7- Joey Votto
8- Matt Olson
9- Josh Bell
10- Anthony Rizzo
11- C.J. Cron
12- Jared Walsh
13- Ryan Mountcastle
14- Brandon Belt
15- Frank Schwindel
16- Alex Kirilloff
17- Bobby Dalbec
18- Yuli Gurriel
19- Ty France
20- Nathaniel Lowe
21- Jake Cronenworth
22- Rowdy Tellez
23- Jesus Aguilar
24- Trey Mancini
25- Jonathan Schoop
26- Yoshi Tsutsugo
27- Christian Walker
28- Miguel Sano
29- Bobby Bradley
30- Spencer Torkelson

TIER 1

TIER 1
1- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2- Freddie Freeman
3- Paul Goldschmidt

The first tier is the elite of the first base position. It starts with Vladito, who would have won the AL MVP if it weren’t for some unicorn named Shohei Ohtani. He was terrific last season, hitting .311 with 48 home runs, 123 runs, and 111 RBI. Vlad was impressive as he hit the ball even harder than ever with a 55.2% hard-hit rate and, most importantly, raised his launch angle from 4.6 degrees to 9.4 degrees. The increase helped with the massive home run output and increased barrels from 8.7% to 15.1%. Vlad is amazing. He is only entering his age 23 season, and he could still get better. At worst, you will get a stud that should hit 35+ home runs and help in all categories, even adding a couple of steals. 

The following two, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt, are outstanding and won’t cost a first-round pick. Both Freeman and Goldy should hit .290+ with 30+ home runs and contribute in runs, RBI, and even steals. They are as steady and consistent as they come at the position. Those who do not believe it just look at their FanGraph pages, and it is pure consistency. If you are worried about paying an early (Top 4) pick for Vlad, then wait for Freeman or Goldy and get an elite first base option you will not need to worry about all season barring an injury. 

TIER 2

TIER 2
4- Pete Alonso
5- José Abreu
6- Rhys Hoskins
7- Joey Votto
8- Matt Olson
9- Josh Bell

Tier 1 was excellent, but Tier 2 is still really good. If you like to wait on first base, do not worry as Tier 2 and maybe even some from Tier 3 are just fine to start your team on Opening Day. The Tier is kicked off with Big Meat Pete, the Polar Bear, coming off another powerful campaign with 37 home runs. He is not just a power hitter, as Alonso brings a .260 average and solid production in the counting stats. Pete won’t steal a ton but could match Vlad by the end of the season. If Vlad takes a big step back, he and Pete are pretty similar from a production standpoint but will be drafted a long way apart. I am not saying Vlad will step back like that, but when drafting and looking for similar products when comparing potential ceilings, Vlad and Alonso are not as far apart as many may think.

You lock in an elite batting average when drafting a first baseman from Tier 1. The next tier down has a lot of similar players, minus that elite average. Insert José Abreu. A perineal fantasy stud. You can usually lock in 30 or so home runs, with 80+ runs and 100+ RBI. Abreu will not steal many bases, and instead of a .290+ average that Freeman and Goldy bring you, Abreu will likely hit closer to .260. These are great stats, but I have one primary concern with drafting Abreu. He will be entering his age 35 season, which usually does not age well. Not all hitters are Nelson Cruz. I will usually pass on the outstanding veteran with many similar offensive profiles around Abreu, but someone will draft him, and that person may get a gift. 

I will be the first to admit I am a bit of a Rhys Hoskins homer. I love the profile, and I am a huge believer in what could be from a fully healthy Hoskins. That is the problem with Hoskins, health. Playing an entire season, or, let’s say, even 150 games, would be awesome. In 2018 and 2019, Hoskins played in 153 and 160 games, resulting in outstanding fantasy seasons. The last two seasons have been less than ideal as he played only 41 and 107 games. This hampers the result. For now, I believe he is healthy and good to go, so I will once again be aggressive on Hoskins. He is still young and hitting in a great ballpark with a superior lineup surrounding him. Hoskins does take a bit of a dip in batting average compared to Abreu and others, but the power is legit, and the counting stats will follow. We have not seen Hoskins ceiling, and a healthy 2022 could give us a significant fantasy season. 

The ageless wonder Joey Votto jumps into Tier 2 after being a free pick in 2021. He was so free that I could add him off the waiver wire in some 12-team leagues early in the season. In an incredible 2021 season, all Votto did was hit 36 home runs, his most since 2017. It has been well documented that Votto has sacrificed some plate discipline for power in recent years. It has shown that the aggressiveness has led to more home runs and more strikeouts. I am not worried about that for now as Votto plays in Great American Small Park, and with the National League likely getting the DH, he could see another entire season of at-bats. It may feel weird paying the draft day price for Votto, around pick 160, but he should be well worth it once again. Many will not want to pay the price, so he may fall in your drafts allowing for an even better value for your teams.

There’s no hiding just how good Olson was in 2021. He hit over .270 with nearly 40 home runs and, more importantly, racked up over 100 runs scored and over 100 runs batted in. Olson has showcased 35+ home run power and a batting average over .260, but the runs and RBI were career highs. This also correlated with a massive drop in his strikeout rate. Olson had a near 32% strikeout rate in 2020 and usually resided around 25%, but in 2021 he only struck out 16.8% of the time. IT is hard to believe he will continue with such a great strikeout rate, and that is one reason he should take a slight step back. It is also hard to think Olson will go 100+ RBI and runs again as the A’s are in full sell mode, and the supporting cast may be terrible. Olson could get traded, which could help Olson’s fantasy value, but for now, I cannot bring myself to take Olson around his current ADP of 47 (3rd first baseman off the board).

The last player in Tier 2 may be one of the more underappreciated first basemen in the fantasy game. Bell put together an outstanding 2021 season that most probably did not notice. He hit .260 with 30 home runs and did this on a Nats team that was left for dead after the trade deadline. They will not be great again in 2022, but Juan Soto will still be around to help that offense keep ticking along. Bell has now hit 27 or more home runs in the last three full MLB seasons and 26 or more in four of the previous five full MLB seasons. The switch-hitting Bell will once again be a force in the Nats lineup, and you can get him around pick 145 in current NFBC drafts. Bell makes for a great 1B option if waiting on the position, and an exceptional CI pick if aggressive at the position. 

TIER 3

TIER 3
10- Anthony Rizzo
11- C.J. Cron
12- Jared Walsh
13- Ryan Mountcastle
14- Brandon Belt

When making an actual draft pick, tier 3 is a very tough tier for me. I rank these players here as they technically deserve to be ranked in this range, but I am not sure I will take many draft pick chances. 

Rizzo and Belt are tough for me. Rizzo has been good, but the MVP-like seasons appear to be a thing of the past. But, of course, it also depends on where he signs, which will impact his fantasy appeal. 

Belt, who I love as a Giants fan, is excellent, but playing time is a significant concern. It is not so much will he play, but will he stay healthy. Sure, a couple of injuries were fluky, like getting hit on the hand, but he still has muscle injuries that keep creeping up. Belt was always a fun target when he was an end-game pick, but mid-draft is less appealing. 

Now, the fun in this range. Those that have followed my work for the last few years know just how much I love Cron. Cron is a flat-out masher. He has hit 25 or more home runs in the previous three full MLB seasons while also hitting over .250. Last season, his first with the Rockies, he hit a career-best .281, which some may say is not sustainable, but just could be in Coors Field. At least .270 or so as Coors is a BABIP improving machine, even more so than improving power. For once, Cron already enters the preseason on a team, which has made his draft price climb to an area he should have been drafted in recent years. Cron may not have 40 home run upside, but he does bring four solid ROTO categories and should be a priority for those waiting for first base in drafts. 

Walsh and Mountcastle are two up-and-coming first basemen that bring a very excellent power source. Both hit the ball extremely hard and brought some massive upside with their youth. Mountcastle may get more power upside than Walsh, but Walsh will bring a better batting average upside. I like both where they are being drafted, and if you feel comfortable with your team’s batting average, I will jump all over Mountcastle. When it comes to Walsh and Mountcastle, I believe both have more upside than Cron, but Cron brings a much safer floor. Think about that when making your draft selection.

TIER 4

TIER 4
15- Frank Schwindel
16- Alex Kirilloff
17- Bobby Dalbec
18- Yuli Gurriel
19- Ty France
20- Nathaniel Lowe
21- Jake Cronenworth

Know we enter the CI tier of first base. Schwindel finally saw regular playing time with the Cubs and showcased the power and an insane batting average upside. Some may not be a Schwindel believer, but I am and have no problem drafting him this season.

Kirilloff could be a gift come draft day. The highly touted Twins’ prospect had a pleasant taste of the big leagues last year before his season was cut short with a wrist injury. He was continuously hitting the ball hard, and the results were starting to show before the injury. The question that surrounds Kirilloff is how the wrist will heal and how that will affect his power. If we get the pre-injury Kirilloff, he is one of the better first base values. I will be grabbing some Kirilloff, knowing the risk that comes with the upside. 

Bobby D showcased some insane patience and contact skills late in the 2021 season, and many hope to continue in 2022. If he continues to showcase those gains, he may be an even bigger steal than Kirilloff. Dalbec is one of the 30-40 home run assets this late at the position with the potential to be a mega four-category ROTO contributor. 

Yuli is boring but consistent. If you are looking for batting average help later in your drafts, then Yuli may just be your guy. Do not expect a ton of power as he is more of a 15 home run hitter than the 31 we saw in 2019. However, Yuli will still hit in the middle of a solid Astros’ lineup, and that brings plenty of fantasy value all by itself. 

France finally received everyday playing time once he joined the Mariners and the results were very nice. Again, we saw the power with 18 home runs and a .291 average. France is a pure hitter who showcased even more power in the minor leagues. At worse, he’s a similar version of Gurriel, but younger, while also having significant upside. I prefer France as a 2B/CI option, but he’s definitely in play at CI as well. 

Lowe brings a lovely floor to your fantasy team. Decent power, good average upside, and good counting stats, including stolen bases. The downside with Lowe is he hits too many ground balls. Suppose he can improve that he has massive breakout upside. For now, Lowe sits at the bottom of Tier 4, but he has a Brandon Belt-like appeal to me if he one day puts it all together. Are you willing to take that risk just yet?

Rake Cronenworth is a stud, and I’ll discuss him more in the second base primer. 

TIER 5

TIER 5
22- Rowdy Tellez
23- Jesus Aguilar
24- Trey Mancini
25- Jonathan Schoop
26- Yoshi Tsutsugo
27- Christian Walker
28- Miguel Sano
29- Bobby Bradley
30- Spencer Torkelson

It may just be Rowdy time in Milwaukee with Vogelbach out of the way. At the same time, there may be other platoon options that will get in the way as the offseason goes along. Tellez brings serious power upside, and given the regular playing time, he could be a significant asset late in drafts. With all the looming questions in Milwaukee, I can’t take Tellez early, but I completely understand why others may take the chance. 

There are a ton of power sources in this range. Aguilar, Mancini, Schoop, Sano, and Bradley bring significant power upside. We are talking 25+, maybe even 30+ home runs from these bats. There are many questions about this tier, health, playing time, etc. Solid later-round CI options or bench bats with potential upside.

Tsutsugo is a sneaky pick as he was a fantasy darling late last season when the Pirates added Tsutsugo, and he played every day. With the Pirates getting rid of Colin Moran, Tsutsugo should play nearly every day, which brings a tremendous late-round floor to first base. I am targeting Tsutsugo in many of my drafts so far, as he is still being drafted too late. 

Walker is intriguing as he was a major disappointment last season. Could a bounce-back be in play? I think so, as he was injured off and on all season. However, if he does bounce back, he will be a Tier 4 type player, meaning the draft day upside is there. 

Lastly, Torkelson. He is a hitting machine, and I ranked him last since we do not know if he will start with the Tigers. However, he will move up the board due to his outstanding hit tool. For now, we wait and see what the Tigers will do with their young stud. 

Conclusion

The first base position is profound when it comes to fantasy. There are elite options that add five-category appeal and a lot of consistency. Then there are a ton of power options with some four-category appeal. When drafting the position, a lot depends on going early for the consistency and steals or waiting but making sure to get steals early elsewhere. There are plenty of late options, so I am not forcing the situation in drafts if I do not have to, but I have also grabbed a share or two of Freeman and Goldy when the draft is dictated. 

Remember to keep on the lookout for more written content this offseason, as well as plenty of episodes of Benched with Bubba to get you ready for the 2022 season. If you have any questions feel free to reach out on Twitter, and I will get back to you.