When we think about the first base position in fantasy baseball, we think of power. Especially early in drafts, players like Matt Olson and Pete Alonso truly stand out.

As we go further down draft boards and reach first base options like Christian Walker, Triston Casas, and Spencer Torkelson, we see that there isn’t a shortage of power at the position.

But what if power isn’t what your team needs? 

Roster construction is critical to any successful fantasy baseball team, and you're forgiven for thinking the first base position is exclusively about power. But that simply might not be what your team truly needs when it's time to select a 1B in your fantasy baseball draft. And that might mean you overlook interesting targets who might not necessarily profile as traditional fantasy first basemen. 


Should you wait on filing your first base, or corner infield slot, neither Yandy Diaz or Josh Naylor should be overlooked. Each make it worth your while, and it’s not like they are lost causes in the power department either. 

Let's take a look at two interesting fantasy baseball first basemen to draft in 2024.

Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays

We know that the Tampa Bay Rays are unconventional in some of the things they do, and one of which is having Yandy Diaz serve as their leadoff hitter. However, it certainly worked for both Tampa Bay and Diaz last season as he had the best year of his career. 

For the second straight season, Diaz played in 137 games, and in 2023 we saw career highs across the board for the first baseman. Diaz hit .330, granted he did have a .367 BABIP, but we also saw him finish with his highest totals for home runs (22), runs scored (95), and RBI (78). 

But what does that mean for 2024? While there might some doubts about the surge in batting average, it’s not like Diaz was previously a liability in that category. However, when considering his xBA came in at .301, even some level of regression will look good on Diaz. 

At this point, it’s really just Freddie Freeman who is in Diaz’s tier when it comes to batting average. Additionally, he easily surpassed his previous career high with a .522 slugging percentage, but even his .479 xSLG would still represent his best performance yet.

Since we are looking at first baseman contributing in categories that they generally don’t, Diaz’s 95 runs scored certainly warrant attention. Seeing a first baseman bat leadoff is a rarity, and with a solid lineup such as Tampa Bay’s it shouldn’t be surprising that Diaz scored so many runs. Between the batting average and a 10.8% walk rate, leading to a .410 OBP, that runs total shouldn’t be coming as a surprise. 

None of the above wouldn’t have been as valuable if Diaz didn’t finish with 22 home runs and 78 RBI last year. While we are getting production in unexpected places here, the fact that Diaz isn’t a true liability (like Luis Arraez) is a big deal when it comes to roster construction. 

Diaz has always possessed impressive plate skills, and with a career best .192 ISO, that was on display last year. Not only did he have a maximum exit velocity of 114.5 miles per hour, but Diaz had an average exit velocity of 93.4 along with a 54% hard-hit rate. 

Additionally, Diaz doubled his barrel-rate from 2022 as it rose to 9.5%. If he can slightly tweak his 5.7-degree average launch angle without changing his approach, there might be more room for power growth here. And then we are looking at a more complete first baseman. 

Josh Naylor, Cleveland Guardians

Josh Naylor came up as a prospect with raw power being one of his calling cards. The problem though, is that it has yet to truly develop in his professional career. 

Last season, Naylor hit 17 home runs in 121 games and the latter part of that statement could be giving the first baseman a raw deal. Granted that implies Naylor is going to make it through 2024 healthy, but even another 20-25 games put him closer to the 25-home run range and then we begin to look at Naylor a little differently. 

With a .181 ISO, Naylor’s power doesn’t truly jump off the chart but his .489 SLG/.473 xSLG does point in the right direction. In order to hit home runs, you have to hit the ball in the air, and Naylor has been getting better at that over the past few seasons. In 2023, he brought his average launch angle up to 12.3%, and perhaps the best news about that is the effect it didn’t have on his batting average. 

Despite the increased approach towards driving the ball, Naylor hit .308 last season with a .290 xBA. Between improved health or his growth trajectory continuing, he is still just 26 years old, Naylor has a path towards increasing his home runs without having a negative impact to his batting average. 

Finding a .300 hitter in the middle rounds of a draft who won’t crush you in other categories has a fair amount of value attached to it from a roster construction standpoint. Naylor proved to be a true run producer last year as he drove in 97 runs, and he figures to have a similar performance this year in the middle of Cleveland’s lineup. The only bad news is that the lack of depth behind him in the lineup led to Naylor scoring just 57 runs last year. 

The fact that we got a somewhat unexpected 10 stolen bases from Naylor last year though did help to make sure for that as a nice bonus.