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Staff Post: First Basemen to avoid in 2021 fantasy baseball

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

Wild Card Round - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Before you wig out about some of the names here, let me encourage you to consider this as the flip side of the coin. Even among pundits who frequently offer their opinions on players, there are disagreements. Here at Fake Teams, we have never tried to control who targets or avoids what player to make it seem as though we are all in agreeance. Instead, we take pride in offering varying viewpoints. This allows you, the gamer, the ability to make your own decision. And as always, we’d love to haggle in the comments about anyone you disagree with. With no further ado...

American League Wild Card Game 2: Toronto Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 57.38

One day, it’ll happen, right? That statement seems a bit familiar. This selection of Vlad as an avoid is largely about his absurd ADP. He is currently going fifth at first base and just outside the top 50 overall. Ahead of Pete Alonso. Ahead of Luke Voit. I don’t get it. The bugaboo for Guerrero Jr. is his ground ball rate. He had a 50.4% ground ball rate in 2019 and it actually got worse at 54.6% in 2020. Another thing is his barrel rate. It was just 8.6% in 2020. His hard hit rate and exit velocity don’t mean anything if he can’t square up the ball. So far, this has led to just a bunch of hard hit grounders. He’s not necessarily a bad option, but until that ground ball rate improves he’s definitely not worth his current ADP.

Division Series - New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Luke Voit, New York Yankees (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 68.14

I hate to say this because he could VERY EASILY slip into the top three at first base this year. A lot of people are optimistic about his capabilities, the ball park, and the surrounding talent. But plantar fasciitis is no joke, and for those that remember, it plagued Albert Pujols for quite some time. It can rear it’s head and continue to be an issue after you think it’s better. It eventually snapped, and Pujols had to have it surgically repaired. There is a chance Voit is good for the season, but his stock is rising and I’m avoiding him just in case this comes back around.

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No longer a Pirate, will the change of scenery help Bell recapture any of his previous form?
Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Josh Bell, Washington Nationals (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 170.47

It’s looking more and more like Bell’s first half in 2019 (154 wRC+, 27 HR) was the outlier. I’m not saying that he can’t be a usable first baseman in fantasy, but I prefer other targets and he is outside of my top 20. He did improve during last season’s second half (achieving a 101 wRC+ compared to a 47 wRC+ in the first half) but I don’t want my starting option running a 55.7% ground ball rate.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 195.88

With Sano it’s his profile that gives me pause, especially relative to where he’s being drafted among other first basemen. If it’s power I want, I’d rather pay up for Rhys Hoskins around pick 175 or so. I’d also rather have the floor of a guy like Christian Walker, whose 193 ADP per recent NFBC data is nearly identical to Sano’s. It’s just the way I play. I actually don’t hate Hoskins’ plate discipline and walk rate, and I think he is a solid power guy in his own right. And I like the hard hit ability of Walker, who should see a ton of volume for a mediocre Arizona offense—and he won’t sacrifice my batting average. You can keep Sano’s ridiculously poor 59.6% contact rate and 19.1% swinging strike rate. Especially inside the top 200 picks. Sano could really benefit from making the same adjustments Rowdy Tellez seemed to make in 2020—focusing more on contact. His power is already prodigious. Now just make more contact! But until I see it, I see no reason to invest in this profile.