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Roundtable: 2025 Top First Baseman

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger

Welcome to the Fantasy Roundtable, where the Rotoworld Baseball staff will have a free-flowing discussion about a topic de jour. The back-and-forth between the five of us occurred via email, but we’ve repurposed it in an article for your enjoyment. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, anyway.

Drew Silva: Boyer already used the “Back To The Future” lede in our future-top-catcher roundtable, so I’ll get straight the point here. It’s exactly five years from this date. Coronavirus is a distant memory and all is right in the world -- or at least the baseball world; let’s not get greedy. Who would you guess will be the top-performing fantasy option at first base in 2025?

On the surface, though I could be missing something, Cody Bellinger would seem to be the obvious pick. He was named National League Rookie of the Year after his stellar debut season in 2017 and then beat out Christian Yelich for National League MVP honors in 2019. Through his first three major league seasons, Bellinger has averaged a .928 OPS with 40 home runs, 104 RBI, 14 stolen bases, and 105 runs scored for every 162 games played. The arrow just keeps pointing up, and unless the injury bug comes biting, I don’t see him slipping.

Hopefully one or two of you feel a little differently, or this could be a boring one ...

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Christopher Crawford: I don’t think I could pick anyone but Bellinger for all the reasons Drew mentioned. That being said, I think there’s at least a chance -- a small one, but a chance -- that Andrew Vaughn is contending for this top spot. Vaughn was the third overall pick in last June’s draft after putting up historic numbers at Cal, and he more than held his own in his first professional season with an .832 OPS while reaching High-A; something you don’t typically see first-year professionals accomplish. Both the hit and power tools have a chance to reach double-plus, and while he’s not a great defender, I don’t think he’s a future designated hitter. Not in the short-term, anyway. He doesn’t have Bellinger’s upside -- few do -- but Vaughn would be second on my list.

D.J. Short: I’m on board with Bellinger too, at least assuming he still qualifies at first base in 2025. He’d still only be 29 years old. Maybe we would have already seen the best of him by then -- it’s hard to top what he did last year -- but he’s the best hope at the position. Pete Alonso comes closest for me, but I’m not sure he’ll ever do enough on the batting average front to be a No. 1 fantasy first baseman.

Things change very quickly in the fantasy baseball world in terms of prospect impact. Let’s keep that in mind here. That’s why I’m willing to entertain Spencer Torkelson as a possibility. He’s going to be one of the first players off the board in this year’s draft, offering pop and patience from the right side. He’s still just 20 years old. Watch out for him.

Matthew Pouliot: The question of which currently eligible first baseman is the best bet for 2025 does seems like a pretty easy one ... like apparently everyone else here, I’d pick Bellinger.

Of course, some other really good players could be first basemen by then. Christian Yelich, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rafael Devers, Yordan Alvarez, Anthony Rendon, Keston Hiura and Gary Sanchez all seem like possibilities. I think I’d take a 26-year-old Vlad over a 29-year-old Bellinger in 2025.

Ryan Boyer: Bellinger is already fantasy’s best first baseman and is just 24, so he’s the easy call here. Perhaps he will be a full-time outfielder at that point, but that’s difficult to say.

Of the other first basemen I have ranked in my top 10, Alonso (25), Josh Bell (27) and Matt Olson (26) are young enough to still theoretically be in their prime in 2025. Maybe a 35-year-old Freddie Freeman will still have elite production in him. I’ll also throw in Miguel Sano (26). I have serious doubts as to whether Sano will stay healthy and make enough contact to rise to the top of the heap at first base, but a 50-homer, 130-RBI season is within his range of outcomes.

I like Matthew’s call of Vlad Jr. If the Jays have had to move him across the diamond in five years, he’s probably the best bet to dethrone Bellinger.

Pouliot: I like Olson’s chances of being somewhere near the top of the list if he’s no longer in a ballpark that suppresses left-handed power. He’s more likely to peak before then in 2022/2023, but I really like the way he’s trending. This is a guy who suffered a broken hamate bone on March 21 last year and still hit 36 homers.

Anyone holding out hope for Rhys Hoskins? He surely would have gotten a mention had we done this exercise a year or two ago.

Silva: You make a good point about Hoskins, Matthew, and some potential recency bias there. I liked him to bounce back to some degree in 2020, and he should still be on the radar as a possible future star at the position. He was already an extreme flyball hitter before the flyball revolution began and then promptly coincided with the juiced baseball “controversy.” If the baseball changes back to a more pitcher-friendly form, Hoskins stands to possibly stick out from the fray as the numbers of other sluggers fade.

Short: I could see Sano becoming a permanent DH after Nelson Cruz is out of the picture with the Twins, so that leaves the possibility of either Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach taking over first base. I’m more excited about Kiriloff, at least assuming he puts last year’s wrist issues behind him. I could see him being a mixed league staple as well, even if he can’t quite match what Bellinger can do.

Crawford: Kirilloff is one of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, although his value might take a hit with a move to first base because he’s more average than power. Ryan Mountcastle is also interesting; he has the tools to hit for both, but to say that his patience at the plate is lacking is an understatement. Seth Beer is a personal favorite of mine, a left-handed hitter who came over to Arizona in the Zack Greinke trade and should get on base at a very high clip with 25-to-30 homer seasons within reach. First base prospects are rarely exciting, but the names mentioned above along with Evan White all offer intrigue.