The top two players on our list are the reigning NL and AL MVPs, highlighting just how valuable First Base position can be.
When you think of a first basemen, what do you picture? A big, long, and, sometimes, chunky player, who doesn't exactly have wheels, but can provide a lot of pop at the plate? Congratulations! You nailed it. Because first basemen are such an archetype, and dole out such similar production, it can be rare that one or a few rise to the level of first round talent.
This year, much like the past few years, really only one *cough* Freeman *cough* might go that high. It's absolutely what I'd call a high floor position. In the third round, you might be just as likely to get a guy who's outpaced by a player in the twelfth round, but, even then, not by much. When you look at what an accomplished 1B can bring to your team, it's easy to see that there's no reason to skimp.
Freeman isn't someone you'd describe as flashy or sexy, but the man rakes, and he rakes consistently. Out of his 10 full professional seasons, he has hit over .300 half of the time, and the rest of the time was within spitting distance.
He usually puts himself right around 20-25 homers, but he really shines as a guy who drives in runs. He's had over 100 RBIs twice, 90 thrice; and last season, if you prorated his number out to a full 162 games, he would've posted an astonishing 143.1 ribbies.
I don't even know how you'd notch a tenth of a run, which makes that feat more impressive. With only a couple seasons marred by injuries, you can pretty much count on the guy to be healthy and in the lineup everyday. He's twice played in all 162 and didn't miss a game last year either. All that being said, he'll be the only guy at this position anyone would consider at the end of the first round, so I'd say getting him at the top of Round Two is a steal.
A home run for Freddie Freeman. A souvenir for a fan. Welcome to the NLCS. (Via @MLBONFOX) https://t.co/diXcO4FVOI— Yahoo Sports MLB (@Yahoo Sports MLB)1602548047.0
Here's a deserving MVP after being the most steady hand on a team that went from the verge of greatness to actual greatness. He's a perennial favorite to lead his league in RBIs, SLG, total bases, and as a guy who just absolutely rakes. He's dealt with injuries for only one season in his career and only missed about 40 games. Unlike some of the guys below him, there's never been a down year to point to, and he represents a gun-to-your-head safe bet for 100 ribbies.
The only Polar Bear in Queens had himself a bit of a sophomore slump after an electric rookie season, in which he set the rookie HR record and led the league with 53 dingers. His average dropped nearly 30 points, showing a worrisome streakiness and a literal boom or bust potential.
But remember, you were never going to draft him for his average. If he can reach the high .240s, which seems more likely by the day, the homers and a decent chunk of the 120 RBIs from his rookie season should return to his stat sheet.
The lumber-swinging farm boy, who seemed like a trade deadline flier and depth piece, has become a starting All-Star quality first baseman over his time in pinstripes. Voit managed to lead the league in homers last season, essentially hitting one every third game and putting up a .277 average, all while dealing with "foot stuff" to boot.
Entering this season fully healthy and with a dangerous team around him should only mean more opportunities to hit dingers and drive in runs.
Like a fair number of players last year after the shutdown, Vlad Jr. started the season not quite in playing shape, and he didn't manage to reach the lofty expectations of his potential and bloodline. This was particularly difficult on the guy, who's notoriously and unfairly been maligned for battling to stay at his fighting weight.
Fast forward to 2021, and we enter the age of Slim Vaddy who looks a lot more like his daddy. Another thing to note: It probably didn't help his production that the Blue Jays were essentially brainstorming from Buffalo around the AL East, which was only settled weeks before Opening Day. Hopefully, having these two issues settled will led to increased powered numbers and the further ascension of Vlad.
THE NEXT TIER
I see the talent here as pretty interchangeable, so no reason to expound on anyone in too much detail. These all represent guys who will hit you DINGERS, then hover around the .240s or .230s or lower (except Goldschmidt, but that's why he's the top of this tier).
In last year's small sample size season, Olson and Muncy both slumped and went under .200, while Rhys and Rizzo managed to stay just above. None of that should bother you, because these guys could win you the HR cat every single week.
ALL THE REST
There's an interesting mix of guys in the group that land in different times, places, and points of their career. Some are looking for a comeback to previous success, some are old vets who have diminishing returns but bring leadership and other qualities to a team, and some are guys on the rise that could by season's end make us all look foolish for rating them so low.
He suffered through a wonky 2020 after mashing 37 homers in his first All-Star season the prior year. As a Pirate who seemed to transcend their inherent Pirate-ness, he became the center of trade rumors on a team that offered little to no protection for their switch-hitting power hitter. A fresh start in Washington surrounded by a different class of talent can only help Bell return to form.
Is 30 dingers too high to reach for? Maybe, but I would have to imagine 20 should be a low bar to clear.
Scoreboard. No really. Josh Bell hit the dang top of the scoreboard. @JBell_19 // #NATITUDE https://t.co/jjj54J5WzW— Washington Nationals (@Washington Nationals)1616806306.0
One of the most intriguing names on the board from a pure mystery standpoint. He played around a third of a full major league season. There are players who slumped for the duration of their entire career up until now and still made the All Star team.
He's absolutely crushed baseballs at every level, so the odds of him forgetting how to now are slim. In fact, he originally started as a shortstop, but his lack of defensive value prompted the switch to first base as a way to get his bat through the system faster. We could look back and wonder how we all missed an utter breakout season that was right in front of our noses, or how we all thought this guy was worth this eating and never hear from him again.
Ryan Mountcastle is in Ryan Mountcastle form 🔥 https://t.co/o1WMByFL8Z— Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Baltimore Orioles 😷)1616715737.0