Freeman, Olson head up fantasy first base rankings

March 23rd, 2024

When it comes time to draft a first baseman for your 2024 fantasy baseball lineup, you'll once again be spoiled for options. Among those expected to be eligible at first base include 2023's home run king and American League batting champion plus three former MVPs -- but there's just as much value to be found beyond the attention-grabbing household names scattered throughout.

It'll be a tough choice, for sure, so to make it a little easier, here's our tier-by-tier breakdown of this year's options at first base.

Get in-depth breakdowns of each position:
Top 300 | 2B | 3B | SS | C | OF | SP | RP

As per tradition, we'll open with Freeman. Iron man, perennial MVP candidate, one of the best hitters of his generation, we could go on. Freeman had another near-perfect season in 2023, appearing in all but one regular season game, hitting .331/.410/.567 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs. He hit 59 doubles, the most in a single season since 2000. Oh, and he stole 23 bases, because he clearly hadn't done enough already. He heads up the list for a reason -- forget first base, he's one of the best all-around hitters on the board, period.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Olson had one of the best offensive seasons in Braves history. No big deal. He led baseball with 54 homers and 139 RBIs -- both are also Modern Era franchise records -- and led the National League in slugging percentage (.604). He will strike out, but given his sky-high walk rate (14.4%) and all of that offensive production, it's pretty hard to complain about a few too many K's. Olson, like Freeman, has also been incredibly durable -- he's appeared in every regular season game since May 2, 2021.

At least where advanced metrics are concerned, you can't go wrong here -- both Freeman and Olson were worth +63 batting runs in 2023, tied for the second-most in MLB, and Freeman posted a 161 OPS+ to Olson's 162.

A veteran coming off two injury-shortened seasons who recently moved from his natural position doesn't typically inspire much confidence, but Harper isn't any old veteran. Last season, he looked no worse for wear after making the quickest return from Tommy John surgery in MLB history, hitting .293 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs in 126 games, ranking in the 92nd percentile of qualifying hitters with a 15.2% barrel rate.

Alonso had a down year in 2023; he also hit 46 home runs. Extreme struggles against non-fastballs dragged his average down to .217, but if it's pure power you're after, he's still a safe bet.

Guerrero's odd 2023 season in which he didn't hit his first home run at home until June 23 (he finished with just 26 on the season) has slightly hurt his stock, but it's well worth mentioning that he was also the least lucky qualifying hitter in the league, with a 31-point difference between his batting average and expected batting average (.264 BA, .295 xBA). You wouldn't be foolish to bet on his potential.

2024 will be Goldschmidt's age-36 season, and his 2023 numbers paled in comparison to the ones he put up in his 2022 NL MVP season (his OPS, notably, dropped 171 points). That said, you could argue, based on his batted ball data, that he was a better hitter in 2023, posting a personal-best 50.8% hard-hit rate (since Statcast began tracking in 2015). The signs of decline are definitely there, but you might not want to write him off just yet.

Walker, while definitely glove-first, does have plenty of pop to bring to your lineup, having hit 33 homers in each of the last two seasons.

If you're looking to buy low at first base, or maybe just impress with a sleeper pick -- no shame, we've all done it -- 24-year-old Casas, who racks up walks and showed off his potential by hitting .317/.417/.617 with 15 home runs in 54 games in the second half of last season, might be your man.

Steer is coming off a really nice rookie year in which he hit .271 with 23 homers and an above-average 119 OPS+, and he comes with versatility, as he's also likely to be eligible at third base and in the outfield (second base remains a more distant possibility).

Torkelson redeemed himself after his rough debut by absolutely walloping the ball in 2023, hitting 31 home runs with 94 RBIs on a team that ranked 28th in runs scored. Potentially worth considering is that he did most of his damage against fastballs, which could mean another temporary dip in production if the league adjusts to him again in 2024.

Díaz, the AL's reigning batting champ, also hit 22 home runs last season and had the peripherals to back up his performance, ranking in the 95th percentile in hard-hit rate (54.0%) and in the 98th in xBA (.305). And, because he showed signs of this breakout back in 2022, you'd hardly be taking a flier on an isolated season.

Naylor showed some real contact potential last season, posting a .308 average (.293 xBA) and lowering his strikeout rate for the second consecutive season (13.7%, ranked in 94th percentile).

It's unclear what Encarnacion-Strand's playing time will look like in 2024. Like teammate Steer, he's likely to see time at first and third, and he certainly has the power to stick at a corner infield spot -- he hit 13 home runs in 63 games following his July 17 debut.

We still don't have much to judge Pasquantino on, as his first two Major League seasons were repeatedly interrupted by right shoulder issues. That said, he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in June and should be good to go for 2024, so this could be the year he's finally able to show off the discipline, respectable power and ability to hit for average that he displayed in the Minors.

Hoskins comes with two enormous question marks. He missed the entire 2023 season after tearing his left ACL in Spring Training and he'll be making his return in a new uniform after signing a two-year, $34 million deal with the Brewers (there's two). Then again, for all of the moving parts, he does have an unimpeachable track record -- he averaged 36 home runs per 162 games from 2017-22.