Preliminary 2021 Rankings: Top 10 First Baseman (Where To Rank The 2020 Breakouts, Any Surprises? & More)

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As you view these rankings keep in mind that they are extremely preliminary and will change as we continue our evaluations and projections for 2021. They will also be expanded here on the site, with even deeper rankings and more in-depth analysis available via our draft guide (ordering information is coming soon!)

With that said, let’s get to the rankings:

RankPlayerTeamQuick Thoughts
1) Freddie FreemanAtlanta BravesWhile it was just 60 games Freeman enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .341 with 13 HR, 53 RBI and 52 R. One of the elite players in the game, there's no reason to think anything is about to change.
2)Cody BellingerLos Angeles DodgersBellinger was one of the bigger disappointments of 2020, While he probably isn't quite as good as he was in 2019, the fact is that over a full season he likely would've rebounded, at some point, as there is nothing that stands out as to why he struggled so badly. The truth lies in between 2019 and 2020, and that would still yield an elite player.
3)D.J. LeMahieuFree AgentThere is no arguing how good LeMahieu was in 2020, but what happens if he does leave New York via free agency? It's a possible outcome, and one that would significantly impact our expectations (.448 with 8 HR at home in '20).
4)Jose AbreuChicago White SoxWas Abreu's big year about maturation or was this the player he always was, he just needed the improved supporting cast to get there? Either way he's unlikely to maintain last year's pace (.317 with 19 HR) over a full season, given his poor approach (13.8% SwStr%, 36.4% O-Swing%) and unmaintainable underlying metrics (32.8% HR/FB, .350 BABIP).
5) Peter AlonsoNew York MetsWas 2020 a sign of things to come, or was it nothing more than a sophomore slump? The power was still there, it's more about him getting his AVG back up into the .250-.260 range. Given his .242 BABIP there's a good chance that happens, so don't push the panic button.
6) Matt OlsonOakland AthleticsAnother player that showed power, but struggled overall as he hit .195 with 14 HR. A lot of his AVG struggles came against fastballs (.188 AVG against fourseam fastballs) and it's easy to envision a rebound coming.
7) Paul GoldschmidtSt. Louis CardinalsIt appears that Goldschmidt changed his approach, trading power for AVG. That said neither his Hard% (28.2%) or Exit Velocity (89.2 mph) support a rebound coming in his power, He still could go .290/25, which has value, but he's no longer the elite player he once was.
8)Luke VoitNew York YankeesIn the shortened season Voit hit .277 with 22 HR, though a lot of the production came at home as he was terrible away from Yankee Stadium (.212 with 6 HR). There are trade rumors swirling, so that's something that can't go overlooked. Even if he stays in New York, does anyone anticipate him maintaining a 34.9% HR/FB?
9)Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Toronto Blue JaysMany people have dropped off the bandwagon, no longer seeing Guerrero as a potential breakout superstar. He wasn't terrible in '20 however, hitting .262 with 9 HR, and he showed that more power could be coming (13 doubles and 2 triples). All it would take is a slight adjustment, leading to more flyballs (27.9%) and a better launch angle (4.6 degrees) to get there.
10)Dominic SmithNew York MetsSmith forced the Mets to find a spot for him in the lineup, and even if the DH isn't part of the NL in '21 they need his bat. While he may not hit .316, he could continue to add power (he hit 10 HR, but also added 21 doubles).

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball

8 COMMENTS

  1. Goldschmidt has been complaining about a wonky elbow for greater than two seasons now and had surgery to remove bone spurs two weeks ago. His 2020 data supports this as it looks like he sacrificed power for contact. The fact that he could spray low-velocity hits across the field suggests Goldy has not lost his eye or skill. If healthy in spring training, it would be good to watch out for strength returning in that elbow and could be a sneaky post-injury add!

    • I agree wholeheartedly and I think that you can get Goldy for much cheaper than other top 1B. I also think he outproduces all but Freeman and Bellinger.

      Mountcastle will be a top-10 1B next year.

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