Fantasy Baseball First Base Preview: Sleepers, breakouts, busts, top prospects, rankings, and more for 2020

We’re in the midst of a changing of the guard at first base, with a youth movement taking over the top of the position last season. Cody Bellinger emerged as one of the top hitters in Fantasy, Pete Alonso set a rookie record for homers and Josh Bell broke out as a massive power threat, while we seemingly said goodbye to the era of Paul Goldschmidt and especially Joey Votto and Matt Carpenter as elite Fantasy options. The question now is how much of what we saw last year was for real?

Bellinger put himself in the conversation for the top pick in Fantasy by cutting his strikeout rate and emerging as an elite five-category contributor, but he was also a major disappointment in 2018 and couldn’t quite keep up his elite play in the second half of the 2019 season. Is he set to suffer the same fate that befell Giancarlo Stanton following his breakout in 2017, when his strikeout rate regressed back to career norms?

Alonso and Bell both followed similar trends, putting up huge first halves before stumbling just a bit after the All-Star break, leading to questions about whether they were for real. If this trio can prove it is up to their first half standards, the top tier of first base will look as strong as ever — and both Bell and Alonso could prove pretty nice values for Fantasy, to boot.

On the other side of the coin, if those formerly elite bats find a way to bounce back in 2020, the position could look even stronger. There isn’t much optimism around Votto or Carpenter, whose prices have fallen through the floor, making both nice values as cheap lottery tickets, even if they are unlikely to figure it out. Goldschmidt is in a bit of a better position, coming off an .886 OPS after the All-Star break, but with a lack of stolen bases, his appeal just isn’t what it once was.

The good news is, if you take a risk on either side, first base is deep enough to find production even on waivers if you need it. This time last year, for instance, Alonso was a mid-round pick, Bell was a late-rounder, and guys like Trey Mancini, Yuli Gurriel and Miguel Sano weren’t on most Fantasy radars. Chances are you’ll pull at least two starters from the first base player pool in a H2H points league with shallower rosters, and possibly as many as four in Roto (counting players with multiple eligibility). Even if first base isn’t what it once was, it’s still going to be a big part of your Fantasy lineup. 

2020 Draft Prep

First Base Preview

2020 Draft Prep

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2020 Draft Prep

First Base Sleeper, Breakout, & Bust

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2020 Draft Prep

First Base Top Prospects

1. Andrew Vaughn, White Sox

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2019: Rookie, low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .278 (205 AB), 6 HR, 17 2B, .832 OPS, 30 BB, 38 K
When a true first baseman with a limited defensive profile gets drafted as high as Vaughn did, you know that bat has some waggle to it.

2. Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .312 (520 AB), 25 HR, .871 OPS, 24 BB, 130 K
A team with something to play for probably would have called up Mountcastle already, but the rebuilding Orioles will have every incentive to play him when they finally do pull the cord.

3. Seth Beer, Diamondbacks

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .289 (450 AB), 26 HR, 103 RBI, .904 OPS, 46 BB, 113 K
The Astros seemingly struck gold again by snagging a bat with immediate payoff as late as Pick 28 two years ago, but their willingness to include Beer in the Zack Greinke trade is reason for pause.

4. Triston Casas, Red Sox

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .256 (429 AB), 20 HR, 26 2B, .830 OPS, 58 BB, 118 K
The scouting reports for Casas are sounding an awful lot like Cody Bellinger’s at a similar stage of development, meaning he has a swing perfectly tailored for home runs even if the numbers aren’t shouting it from the rooftops.

5. Evan White, Mariners

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .293 (365 AB), 18 HR, 13 2B, .838 OPS, 29 BB, 92 K
White will show up on basically every top prospects list as a standout defender with a high-floor bat, but he’s sort of J.T. Snow throwback in that he may never generate the sort of power needed to stand out at a position replete with it.

6. Bobby BradleyIndians
7. Lewin DiazMarlins
8. Kevin Cron, Diamondbacks
9. Jared WalshAngels
10. Chris Shaw, Giants

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