When it comes to first basemen in fantasy baseball, consistency is key. While there are still some traditional slugger-archetype first basemen out there, most of the stars at first build their game around the ability to get on base on a regular basis. With that in mind, here are three first basemen who you should consider fading this year.
Fantasy baseball busts: 1B
Jose Abreu, Astros
Abreu on the Astros seems like a match made in heaven, as the former AL MVP gets to slide into one of the best lineups in baseball. And in some cases, it probably will be — Abreu’s averaged 110 RBIs in a 162-game season over his career. But Abreu also showed signs of decline for the first time in his career last year, as he hit a career-low 15 home runs (four less than he hit in the truncated 60-game season) along with having a barrel rate of 9.5%, marking the first time he’s had a barrel rate less than 10% since 2018. That said, Abreu’s batting average against fastballs actually went up last season to .301 compared to 2021 (.281), which is a bit of an outlier since the ability to catch up to the fastball is usually the first thing to go for hitters. Still, Abreu’s dip in power is worth considering when drafting him. He’ll still get plenty of hits and drive in a lot of runs, but his lack of power could lead to him being an overrated pick, especially since he’s the player who is ranked highest in the “second tier” of first basemen.
Anthony Rizzo, Yankees
This season could be something of a renaissance for Rizzo due to the shift changes. Over the past 10 seasons, the left-handed Rizzo has pulled the ball 42% of the time or more, with ground balls often ending up in the mitt of the second baseman placed in short right field. Last year, Rizzo had his worst batting average in a non-shortened season (.224) but feasted on the short porch in Yankee Stadium en route to tying his career-high in home runs (32). While Rizzo might get on base more this season, it could come with a drop in his power numbers, since he’ll finally be rewarded for simply putting the ball in play. Rizzo’s still worth drafting, but his selection should come with a solid backup pick you could lean on while Rizzo adjusts at the start of the season.
Jared Walsh, Angels
Walsh had a dreadful 2022, as he only managed to play in 118 games (hitting .215 with only 15 home runs in the process) before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in August and missing the rest of the season. Still, Walsh is only a year removed from his All-Star season where he hit .277 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. While he wasn’t 100% last year, Walsh still hit the ball hard (82nd percentile in exit velocity), but took a dip everywhere else. Walsh should start the season as a bench option until he proves he’s healthy and back to looking like a big leaguer.