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Staff Post: First Basemen to avoid in 2022 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to avoid at the first base corner in 2022 fantasy baseball.

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I feel compelled to encourage you to take any ‘avoids’ chatter with a grain of salt. Of course every player has a point where you’d consider drafting them. Unless we’re talking Bartolo or something. Hopefully you see the point. What follows are reasons to consider fading a few first baseman for 2022 fantasy baseball, for one reason or another.

As usual, we welcome your dissent in the comments. Bring it on! And be sure to catch our staff targets tomorrow (Sunday) and circle the wagons back around for Second Base Week, beginning on Monday!

For now, here’s who we are (mostly) fading in 2022...

Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 116.85
Draft Rank: 8th

I want to believe, but the underlying numbers for Jared Walsh leave you thinking he played above his head last season. The base stats were a .277 average, 29 home runs, and 98 RBI. Very solid. His Statcast page isn’t as red as you’d think, especially from a power hitter. He was just 55th percentile in average exit velocity and 52nd percentile in hard hit rate. You combine that with the fact he had a 26% K-rate and a 31.6% chase rate. Pitchers are going to adjust to that...can Walsh overcome it? I’m skeptical. His power production had a steep decline as the season wore on. Walsh hit 20 of his 29 home runs from April to June. That’s just nine homers from July to October. Walsh is going to have to overcome that power slump to be a top 10 option at first base in 2022.

Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 145.75
Draft Rank: 16th

I know, I know. It’s low-hanging fruit. But playing for right now is underrated. I don’t see a reason to assume this injury risk on the 1B/2B eligible Muncy—not when I can more safely draft 1B/2B Ty France at the same juncture if that’s what I’m searching for. Back in November, Muncy revealed that his elbow injury was a torn UCL, and that he was not recovering quickly. Maybe he’ll defy expectations and show up healthy in 2022, but I don’t see a reason to take the chance at ADP. I’d rather take a shot on France continuing his ascent, or search for a guy like Trey Mancini much later.

Wild Card Round - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Anthony Rizzo, Free Agent (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 178.40
Draft Rank: 19th

Rizzo peaked in 2014-2016: Back then, he could hit 30 homers, bat near .300, and score and drive in runs like crazy. But he is more of an average hitter now: his wRC+ in 2020 was 102, and while it increased to 112 last year, it was more of a result of walks rather than power production. He hasn’t slugged more than 30 homers since 2017, and he hasn’t surpassed 100 runs or RBI since 2018. His batting average has slipped under .250 in the past two campaigns, so he isn’t an asset there either. Additionally, he is currently without a team and looks like he will sign late. He remains a fine player due to his defense and clubhouse presence, but I would look elsewhere in fantasy, no matter where he lands.

Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 207.30
Draft Rank: 21st

For some players a high BABIP is normal, but for Yuli Gurriel last year’s .336 BABIP was not. His entire career has been at least 28 points lower than that, and most of the time he is below a .300 BABIP. I am expecting a massive regression for Gurriel even in spite of his strong plate discipline last season (very solid 9.8% walk rate and 11.2% K-rate). HIs power is low and it decreased over the course of 2021, as well.

Luke Voit, New York Yankees (Skyler Carlin)

NFBC ADP: 273.45
Draft Rank: 28th

As a fan of the New York Yankees, it’s tough to say that Luke Voit is on my “do not draft” list. Voit has battled multiple injuries in recent years and I’d be surprised if Anthony Rizzo doesn’t return to the Yankees in the upcoming season, which moves Voit down the pecking order. Just last season, Voit dealt with three knee injuries and an oblique injury that cost him 94 games. In the 68 games that Voit played in, he mightily struggled with a career-worst 30.7% strikeout rate and a .197 ISO, which was the lowest of his career since 2017. There’s reason for optimism with his 15.9 degree average launch angle and his 15.8% barrel rate in 2021, but he just seems like a player that I should let someone else take the risk of rostering this year.