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Staff Post: First Basemen to target in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to draft at first base in 2021.

National League Wild Card Game 1: St. Louis Cardinals v. San Diego Padres Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

First base is perhaps a top-heavy spot, but there are a plethora of solid options to target at every level—whether you are paying up, drafting one in the middle, or taking a shot on one late.

Each writer was tasked with offering his favorite target at the position for 2021, and this is what we came up with:

American League Wild Card Game 1: Toronto Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 55.28

I’d be lying if I said my draft strategy at first base in 2021 didn’t start with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Prospect fatigue is real when a guy isn’t even 22 years old and people fail to acknowledge the mix of floor AND upside. Guerrero’s 15.6% strikeout rate last year placed him inside the 84th percentile among all hitters, while his hard hit rate and exit velocity marks were each in the 93rd percentile. He’s not quite on the Freddie Freeman level, but when you’re talking about an elite strikeout rate and high quality of contact, that’s the comparison for fantasy baseball purposes. And if Vladito actually does lift the ball a bit more in 2021...watch out. Add in reports of him shedding 30 pounds (down from 280 to 250ish) and I’m sold. A man with his pedigree and skill set, now adding more physicality and bat speed into the mix? I’m not missing this boat.

St. Louis Cardinals v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 100.61

June 2019. That’s the reason people are so down on Goldschmidt. One bad month, two seasons ago. During that stretch, Goldschmidt hit a measly .181 with a .309 SLG. Bu since July 1, 2019 Goldschmidt has been his normal self. Including 2020, Goldschmidt has slashed .286/.381/.518 since his slump. His wOBA of .379 over that same time frame is second among first basemen, behind only Freddie Freeman. So why is he being drafted 11th at the position in ADP? I have Goldschmidt as my sixth-ranked first baseman and would be totally fine with him as my starter.

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Five Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 104.44

If you owned Muncy this past season, you surely have a bittersweet flavor in your mouth. He slashed .192/.331/.389, well below his career .236/.359/.484 line. However, there are several things that lead me to believe he will bounce back. For starters, he kept hitting for power, with 12 home runs. Second, his 2020 plate discipline stats (15.7% walk rate, 24.2% strikeout rate) were right in line with his career averages (15.2% BB%, 25.3% K%.) And third, his BABIP was just .203, far below the .266 mark he has had in his five-year MLB tenure. Some positive regression is to be expected. Muncy’s .041 disparity between his expected wOBA (.352) and his actual wOBA (.311) was the ninth-largest in MLB. Draft him with confidence.

MLB: SEP 02 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 202.61

If you can remember, Walker came into the league like a champ for the first month and then quickly deteriorated. He struck out an insane 40% of the time and all looked lost, but then a cool thing happened where he moved AWAY from power and into an on-base mentality—switching out fly balls for line drives. I LOVE this move and I’m behind what Walker is doing 100 percent.