First Base. Where you find the best sluggers in baseball and the heart and soul of most teams. Having a first baseman that can hit you out of a deficit or give your closer some run support in the later innings is absolutely huge. Here is a list of the ten first basemen we think will be the best in 2023. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Vinnie Pasquantino – Kansas City Royals
The Italian Nightmare had a super solid rookie year, though it was less than half of a full season, posting an .832 OPS (135 OPS+) in 298 plate appearances. Pasquantino has big potential to be the best hitter in Kansas City in 2023, and we can see why. His .383 OBP in 2022 is among the best on this list. While we do expect some regression numbers-wise, his overall production and consistency will heavily improve.
Josh Bell – Cleveland Guardians
Josh Bell is good. Though he had a down year in 2022 (75 OPS+ in 210 PA), he showed up big for the Padres in clutch situations and in the postseason, which is exactly where they needed him. Bell was a huge reason the Padres advanced to the NLCS in 2022. The newest Cleveland Guardian fits in perfectly with that team, alongside fellow switch hitter and perennial MVP candidate Jose Ramirez and sophomore standout Steven Kwan; the future in Cleveland looks bright.
Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies
If this were based on just performance at the plate, Rhys Hoskins would be higher on this list, but his well below average defense holds him back. However, Hoskins is still great at the plate, posting a .794 OPS (122 OPS+) with 30 home runs in 672 plate appearances in 2022. This guy is a walking 30 homers per season. His super high strikeout rate (25.1%) is a concern, but in the middle of that loaded Philadelphia 2023 lineup, Hoskins is bound to have another great season this year.
10. Christian Walker – Arizona Diamondbacks
Christian Walker continues to be underrated, posting an .804 OPS (126 OPS+) with 36 home runs in 667 plate appearances in 2022. With the departure of Daulton Varsho, Christian Walker, along with Ketel Marte and uprising star Corbin Carroll have given the Diamondbacks a solid core to work with, don’t skip DBacks games this year. They will be super fun to watch, especially with Christian Walker as their slugger.
9. Jose Abreu – Houston Astros
Somehow, the Houston Astros got former MVP Jose Abreu, making that team the heavy favorite to repeat going into 2023. Despite the dip in power, Abreu still had a great 2022, posting an .824 OPS (133 OPS+) with 40 doubles in 679 plate appearances. Abreu went under the radar in 2022 due to the lack of success from the White Sox, but that won’t happen this year. While we expect a slight regression from Abreu in 2023, he’ll be on a contender, getting the recognition he deserves.
8. Ty France – Seattle Mariners
Ty France was a first time all-star in 2022, posting a .774 OPS (125 OPS+)in 613 plate appearances, but his 2021 was even better, posting an .813 OPS (128 OPS+) in 650 plate appearances. France hit 18, and 20 home runs each season, respectively, and had a really solid strikeout rate for a first baseman each season (16.3%, and 15.3%, respectively). France has been consistently great over the last two seasons while helping the Mariners to their first playoff berth in two decades (2001). Expect more of the same from 28-year-old France in 2023.
7. Anthony Rizzo – New York Yankees
Anthony Rizzo quietly had one of the best years of his career with the Yankees in 2022, posting an .817 OPS (131 OPS+) with 32 home runs in 548 plate appearances. This guy was made to play in Yankee Stadium. Rizzo also has above-average defense at first base, which we can’t say about most of the guys on this list. 33-year-old Rizzo is bound to have another great season as the Yankees everyday first baseman. Alongside reigning AL MVP and AL single season home run record holder Aaron Judge and freak athlete Giancarlo Stanton, the power with these three in the Bronx is big. Keep an eye out for Rizzo on your all-star ballots this year.
6. Matt Olson – Atlanta Braves
Matt Olson had a down year in his first season as a Brave, posting an .802 OPS (122 OPS+) with 34 home runs and 44 doubles in 699 plate appearances. Now you’re probably asking, “how in the world is that a down year?” Olson’s 2021 was so good that it made his 2022 look average. In 2021 Olson posted a .911(!) OPS (153 OPS+) with 39 home runs and 35 doubles in 673 plate appearances. If Olson can go back to that 2021 form, the Braves will instantly become one of the favorites to win it all in 2023, but he has to show us that this ‘regression’ isn’t permanent for us to put him any higher.
5. Nathaniel Lowe – Texas Rangers
This may surprise some of you, but Nathaniel Lowe may be the single most underrated player in baseball; the guy is a monster. In 2022, Lowe posted an .851 OPS (141 OPS+) with 27 home runs in 645 plate appearances. However, Lowe’s strikeout rate may be below average (22.8%), but the man knows how to get on base. Lowe is only 27 years old and is entering the prime of his career, and alongside Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Adolis Garcia, this Rangers team is ready to compete. Sleep with one eye open, AL.
4. Pete Alonso – New York Mets
Pete Alonso. Polar Bear. Some love him, some hate him, but nobody can deny his talent at the plate. In 2022, Alonso posted an .869 OPS (146 OPS+) with 40 home runs and a league leading 131 RBI in 685 plate appearances. This guy has been an elite hitter since his rookie year! The 2x all-star is entering his 5th year in the majors, and he looks to only be getting better with time. If he takes another leap this year, watch out, NL because he could very easily win NL MVP. The Mets are a much better team, with Pete Alonso playing first, and it’s very clear why.
3. Freddie Freeman – Los Angeles Dodgers
Who doesn’t love Freddie Freeman? Freeman has been one of the most consistently elite players of the last decade. In 2022, he posted a .918 OPS (152 OPS+), which includes a league leading .407(!) on-base percentage, with a league leading 47 doubles in again, a league leading 707 plate appearances. Freeman also had a career low strikeout rate (14.4%). Arguably the best player on arguably the best team in the NL, Freeman has high expectations going into his age 33 season, and we think he’ll meet every single one that’s set for him. Freddie Freeman will continue to be elite in 2023.
2. Paul Goldschmidt – St. Louis Cardinals
Paul Goldschmidt has quietly been one of our generation’s greatest players. In 2022, Goldschmidt finally got that MVP award that had alluded him for so long. In his MVP 2022 season, Goldschmidt posted an absurd league leading .981 OPS (180 OPS+) to go along with 35 home runs and 41 doubles in 651 plate appearances. Oh, and he’s also one of the best fielding first basemen in the league. Keep in mind that this list ranks who we believe will be the best in 2023, not who was the best in 2022, which is the only reason Goldschmidt isn’t 1. Goldschmidt could prove us wrong and replicate his excellent 2022, but we believe a different guy will be the best first baseman in baseball in 2023.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays
Vladdy had a ‘down’ year to his standards in 2022, posting an .818 OPS (132 OPS+) with 32 home runs and 32 doubles in 706 plate appearances. The only reason that’s a down year is because of how good he was in 2021, posting a 1.002(!) OPS (167 OPS+) with a league leading 48 home runs and 29 doubles in 698 plate appearances, finishing 2nd in AL MVP Voting (Shohei Ohtani). Regardless of how Guerrero Jr’s 2022 season went at the plate, he won the AL Gold Glove award at first base. We here at ITD fully expect Guerrero Jr. to return to his 2021 form, or close to it, with a bit of his 2022 defense mixed in, lead Toronto to an AL East win, and potentially win AL MVP.