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Top first base sleepers in 2020 fantasy baseball

Digging deep at a position that is no longer so deep.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Who’s on first?

The better question is: Who will be occupying the first base spot on your fantasy rosters in 2020? Projecting first baseman was a major positive in my 2019 fantasy resume. I recommended targeting guys like Pete Alonso and Trey Mancini. Fingers crossed I have the same foresight this year...

Here are several sleeper targets at first base going outside the top 150 in NFBC drafts.

Edwin Encarnacion

My Rank: 13
Expert Consensus Rank: 17

Death, taxes, Edwin Encarnacion hitting 30 bombs. Some things in life are inevitable. At 37 years young, Encarnacion continues to shine in both real life and fantasy. He is currently going outside the top 150 overall and the top 15 at first base. Let's just look at the stats. In 2019, Encarnacion hit 34 home runs with 86 RBIs and 81 runs scored. The feat is even more impressive when you factor in that he did this in just 109 games. That's a 50-homer pace. As a member of the White Sox in 2020, those numbers should be fairly similar. Chicago has put together quite the lineup. Don't sleep on the old guy.

Yandy Diaz

My Rank: 22
Expert Consensus Rank: 22

When the Rays sent Jake Bauers to Cleveland for Yandy Diaz, many a baseball folk were left scratching their heads. But the Rays have a way of finding diamonds in the rough, and that could be Diaz. He had a small breakout in 2019 with 14 homers and an .816 OPS in 79 games. This includes 35 walks against 61 strikeouts. He was in the top 8% of the league in exit velocity, and has positive expected stats. He had a xBA of .283 and a xwOBA of .357. Those stats are comparable to Jose Abreu.

Justin Smoak

My Rank: 25
Expert Consensus Rank: 40

Smoak might be the steal of the draft for me. Especially given this current ADP. The former Blue Jay now calls Miller Park home. This is always a plus for hitters. His expected stats stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. A .495 xSLG and a .366 xwOBA. The xwOBA is top 40 in the league, not just at first base. Couple this with a .75 BB-to-K ratio and you have made a case for why Smoak needs to be on more fantasy owners' radars. He might not reach 2017 Smoak levels, but a player capable of a .250 average and .500 SLG in Miller Park deserves more respect.

Rowdy Tellez

My Rank: 34
Expert Consensus Rank: 42

Rowdy "Roddy" Tellez is the definition of a big, beefy baseball boy. Like his former teammate Justin Smoak, Tellez has expected statistics which lead one to believe the best is yet to come. His barrels per plate appearance percentage is top 40 in the league, comparable to hitters like Freddie Freeman and Eugenio Suarez. I expect his plate discipline to improve as well. Tellez has a .56 BB-to-K ratio in the minors, but has underperformed in this aspect greatly. He will be 25 at the beginning of the 2020 season and should continue to grow as a hitter.

Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Josh Bell

My Rank: 5
Expert Consensus Rank: 10

Bell is not a "sleeper," but him going in the 90s in drafts is bonkers. He was top 12 in the league in average exit velocity and top 20 in number of barrels. Don't overlook his amazing year based off of one poor second half.

Eric Hosmer

My Rank: 18
Expert Consensus Rank: 21

I'm aware saying anything positive about Eric Hosmer is blasphemy in the fantasy industry, but I'm indebted to the man for making me look so good in 2017. Count on Hosmer for 20 homers, 80 RBIs, 70 runs, and at least 155 games played. Oh, and his hard hit percentage was a career high 46% in 2019. That's top 50 in baseball.

Daniel Murphy

My Rank: 23
Expert Consensus Rank: 24

Everything went wrong for Daniel Murphy in 2019. Let's remember all the hype we had for Murphy heading to Colorado this time last year. You can take a risk that Murphy will rebound in 2020 and do so about 150 picks later than where he was being drafted in 2019.