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2022 First Base Ranking Tiers (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 15, 2022
Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. headlines a first base position loaded with talent near the top.

First base is, once again, a position that has a ton of value. There are two elite tiers, and then you see the drop-off.

But, again, there is fantastic value even after the first six guys are off the board.

As always, when it comes to rankings, tiers are the best way to go, as it allows you to group a set of players together so that you know when you need to take a specific player at a position before that tier runs out.

We’ll take a look at first base ADP based on FantasyPros composite ADP and break it down into tiers for you so you know when to grab the guy you like.

We should note that these tiers are based on a 12-team standard roto league, so adjust accordingly for your league.

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Tier 1: Plakata

There has been a lot of online chatter about whether it’s smart to take Guerrero in the early part of the first round since he doesn’t steal bases. If you don’t have a top-three pick, he’s in play as much as anyone else.

Steals are important, of course, and in an NFBC Main Event scenario, I understand wanting to pass on him and look elsewhere. But if you can’t build a viable competing roster around one of the best hitters in baseball, it says more about the fantasy manager than it does the player.

Tier 2: Big Power, Big Floor, Big Ceiling

If you opt to pass on Guerrero or go in a different direction, this tier will do just fine. You have a perfect mix of power, floor, and ceiling here.

Alonso and Olson are interchangeable, and they both offer similar power upside to Guerrero. Freeman and Olson could both make a case for Tier 1 depending on where the former signs and with the latter now in Atlanta.

With Riley, you’re playing him at third base, but since he’s eligible in certain leagues at first, we’ll include him here.

As for Goldschmidt, he gives maybe the best floor at the position outside of Freeman. The age concerns me, but we’ve said the same thing for the last few years with him.

Tier 3: South Side and North Side (kind of)

I toyed with having Abreu in Tier 2, but while he had another really productive year with his counting stats, he did start showing some signs of his age last year. But I’m still in on him at the price – especially in that loaded White Sox lineup.

I know Bryant was with the Giants, and I know he’s a free agent now, but he’s still a Cub to me, dammit. He, like Riley, should be used at third base. Now, we wait to see where he signs.

Tier 4: Question Marks

I like Mountcastle. I like him a lot. I had him in Tier 3 … but then Baltimore decided to move its left field fence back. It’s not a small change either. I believe it was Derek Carty who captured just how substantial the change is. For me, it’s enough of a change to fade Mountcastle and move him down a tier.

I like Walsh this year as a power option, but you could get similar production later with a Luke Voit or C.J. Cron.

Muncy’s recovery from his UCL injury is taking longer than it was thought it would, so a delayed start to the season may actually benefit him more than most players.

I have no concerns with Schwarber. Well, defensively at first, he’s terrible, so this is the only year he will be eligible in certain leagues.

Cronenworth backed up his 2020 performance in 2021. He still feels oddly underrated. After a solid stretch in New York, LeMahieu had a terrible 2021 season, but are we overreacting just a tad? He feels like a good value here.

I’m not a Bell fan, but his 2021 was better than I thought. I get taking him here, but I’ll always worry about the groundball tendency. 

Tier 5: Underrated

I expected more home runs from Cron last year playing in Colorado, and having him there for another year has me expecting better numbers this time around. I’m in on him again.

Look, he’s inconsistent, but there’s a lot about the profile to like with Gurriel. Having him in that lineup only raises his floor even more. Much better in roto leagues, where you only care about the end-of-year numbers.

There’s no next level for Hoskins, but that’s OK. We know what he is at this point, which is a big-power option at the position who has added value in OBP leagues. Players like Hoskins who fantasy managers hope for more from can often provide value in leagues.

Votto had a resurgence last year, and he’s one of the best values in the draft. If we are taking Goldschmidt so early, why are we taking Votto so late?

2021 is likely to be France’s best season of his career, but he’s a fantastic quality-of-contact option for a corner infielder.

Tier 6: Breakout Candidates

In all of my leagues, there’s no player that I have more shares of than Kirilloff. He’s going to vault into the top two or three tiers for 2023 drafts. He was hampered by a wrist injury last year but look at his numbers pre-injury. The wrist is fully healed now, and he’s on his way to a breakout season. 

Vaughn had a weird season, but that gives you a great buying opportunity. He had to play out of position last season, and Gavin Sheets is not someone I’m worried about taking significant playing time away from. I expect him to take a big step forward, too.

Tier 7: Mixed Bag

We don’t know where Rizzo is going to land, but if he’s your starting first baseman in a 12- or 15-team league, you didn’t draft well.

I’m not an Escobar fan, but he gives you some nice power late in an improved lineup. You’re using him at third base, though.

Gurriel is a good corner infielder if you need to make up ground in batting average late in drafts. That’s what he brings to the table, and it’s fine. I’d have Mancini up another tier, too, if it wasn’t for the change with the outfield wall in Baltimore.

Tier 8: The Rest

Do you believe in late-career breakouts? If so, Schwindel could return value for you. I’m fading him, but I get the appeal based on his minor league numbers.

Schoop is boring, but boring is good in an improved lineup. I love Dalbec’s power, but if he continues to struggle to make contact and strikes out at around a 30 percent clip, how long will it be until Triston Casas takes over?

With how low Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria are in rankings, it’s like we’re pretending the 2021 San Francisco Giants season never happened.

Torkelson and Voit are two of my favorite targets late in drafts. We don’t know when Torkelson will get called up, but he has a big-league-ready bat that can pop 30 homers with ease. Voit can do the same, assuming the Yankees play him and don’t sign or trade for Freeman or Olson.

Sano and Wisdom are both big-power bats who leave much to be desired in other areas. The low averages and high strikeout rates make both tough to target.

Aguilar and Lowe are both interesting late-round options. For Aguilar, I like the power upside that he gives for a safe 20 home runs. For Lowe, his upside is a lot higher, but he failed to put it all together in his first real shot at a gig in 2021. He has Tier 4 upside.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t worry about the roster construction discussion. If you have a pick after the third overall pick in drafts, Guerrero is on the table as much as any other player there.
  • Tier 2 has a lot of great options if you go with a speed option or pitcher in Round 1. Freeman gives great balance, while Olson and Alonso automatically catch you up in power.
  • Tier 4 is a hard pass for me overall. There are too many question marks and the ones I do like don’t provide enough ceiling to justify taking them there.
  • I end up with a ton of Alex Kirilloff, Lourdes Gurriel, and C.J. Cron in drafts. It’s mainly due to how I draft and the other options that I like throughout the draft more. I’ve found myself pairing Kirilloff with Votto pretty often as a good 1-2 combo that gives me the ceiling and floor that I want.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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