This is not the way it was supposed to happen. Although, at the same time, this is how things generally turn out. 

When the Cincinnati Reds signed Jeimer Candelario this off-season, there was a fair amount of shock and confusion surrounding the move. Following the 80-game suspension of Noelvi Marte, things began to look clearer as it is very possible an outcome that the Reds had a line of sight to.




And then with TJ Friedl’s wrist fracture, the Reds’ depth was suddenly put to the test. As the playing time picture becomes a lot clearer, let’s take a look at the three first base eligible players who will be starting on Opening Day; Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and the aforementioned Candelario.

We will do so by following the order of their ADP in NFBC drafts to this point on March 19th. It is important to note that this is not the preferred order. I will be rostering these players with the clear delineation between overall rank and market value. Multi-positional eligibility also comes into play here with Steer and Candelario.

Cincinnati Reds First Basemen: 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Spencer Steer – 1B/3B/OF – 100 ADP

When Spencer Steer was acquired from the Minnesota Twins, he was not the focal point of the trade, but we got a full season of success, seemingly out of nowhere, from him last year. 

There is some concern here though because we need to make sure that Steer’s draft cost isn’t inflated by his accumulated production last year as a product of playing in 156 games. The fact that you can move Steer around your lineup also has value, but it’s another area in which we want to avoid overpaying. 

Steer hit a solid .271 last year with 23 home runs, 86 RBI, and 74 runs scored as he benefited both from a strong home park (everyone reaps that benefit here) and batting in the middle of a solid batting order. With a 10.2% walk rate, Steer is also an asset in OBP leagues, and he put up a solid .192 ISO. 

Upon a closer look, Steer hit more home runs (13 to 10) and drove in more runs (47 to 39) on the road last year, so what we got was a true representation of production. My concern though, other than the ADP, is whether or not we are at the ceiling of his power output. 

The 15 stolen bases are a great bonus, and a 77th percentile sprint speed helps here, but how much of a factor should that be? The quality in the other batted ball metrics simply is not there for Steer as he ranks between the 26th and 37th percentiles in the quality of his contact. 

Christian Encarnacion-Strand – 1B – 138 ADP

It shouldn’t be surprising, but after the playing time situation in Cincinnati has cleared up, the price has risen on Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He emerged on the scene last year hitting 13 home runs and driving in 37 runs in 63 games. 

Encarnacion-Strand also hit .270, but with a 28.6% strikeout rate, the potential of that continuing is potentially in flux as he had a .336 BABIP. However, he does make strong contact and he had a .270 xBA. With that being said, we can live with the strikeouts. 

The power is what we are after, and while aggressive, Encarnacion-Strand could very well be a 30-home run hitter. And when considering the fact that, even with a little regression, the batting average will not be a liability, he is a strong option to consider if you wait on the position. 

Encarnacion-Strand has consistently been a power producer and with the following batted ball metrics, there is no reason not to expect him to continue as moves closer to the middle of the order:

  • Exit Velocity – 90.3 miles per hour
  • Max Exit Velocity – 111.8 miles per hour
  • Average Launch Angle – 18.6 degrees
  • Barrel Rate – 10.5%
  • Hard-Hit Rate – 48.4%

Jeimer Candelario – 1B/3B – 202 ADP

What you see is what you get with Jeimer Candelario and there is nothing wrong with that. There is value in steady, consistent production even if it doesn’t come with much upside. The good news is that the expectation on draft day is not to pay for any upside. 

Candelario is not necessarily an exciting option, but he will receive regular playing time. The fact that he bats in the middle of the order helps from an RBI perspective after he drove in 70 runs last year to go along with 22 home runs and 77 runs scored. His eight stolen bases were a pleasant surprise and Candelario’s .251 batting average won’t be a liability. 

Last season saw Candelario post a career high .220 ISO to go along with a Sweet Spot rate that was in the 76th percentile. However, with just a 7.8% barrel-rate, that is where the optimism comes to an end. However, at this point in the draft, you can’t go wrong with his production.