In 2022, the cold corner was as deep as it has been in a long time. Paul Goldschmidt won the National League MVP, and in 2023, there are arguably double-digit quality first basemen to choose from. Here are some players who may have trouble meeting expectations.
1. Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis)
Paul Goldschmidt enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022, winning his first NL MVP title at age 35. Goldy led the NL in both slugging (.578) and OPS (.981) and played in 150+ games for his seventh consecutive non-COVID season. Goldy comes into 2023 as a popular early-round pick to anchor fantasy teams; however, he may struggle to replicate his MVP season. His career-high .317 batting average was fueled by his league-leading .368 BABIP, and as he creeps closer to 40, his production could dip with less luck.
2. Nathaniel Lowe (Texas)
Nathaniel Lowe also had a spectacular season manning first base for the Rangers. In just his second full season, he hit .302 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI. Even as the Rangers splashed out more than a half billion dollars on their infield before the season, Lowe stood out. But since he did all of this on the back of an impossible BABIP (.363), with less batted-ball luck, regression is surely on its way.
3. Ryan Mountcastle (Baltimore)
Ryan Mountcastle broke out in 2021, hitting 33 home runs in his sophomore season—but in 2022, his numbers fell across the board. While his averages dipped just slightly from 2021—his batting average declined from .255 to .250 and his OBP fell from .309 to .305—his homer total dropped 33%, from 33 to 22. Often overlooked in the Orioles’ youth movement, Mountcastle either needs to get on base at a higher clip or regain his considerable power to help fantasy owners.
4. Christian Walker (Arizona)
Christian Walker enjoyed a breakout 2022 season, tallying a career-high 36 home runs and 94 RBI. He even won his first gold glove as a mainstay at the cold corner for the Diamondbacks; however, his odds of returning similar value in 2023 seem slim. He remained extraordinarily healthy, playing in a career-high 160 out of 162 possible games. Aside from his obvious power, his batting average (.242) remained below his career average (.247), and his OBP of .327 was right in line with his career average. If Walker cannot improve on his batting statistics, 2022 may have been his ceiling.
5. Luis Arraez (Miami)
In 2022, Luis Arraez (1B/2B) led the league by a wide margin in swing and miss percentage (7.1%) and has been one of the best contact hitters in the league since he arrived in 2019. But while Arraez hit an American League-leading .316, he has yet to reach double-digit home runs or five steals in a season. His lack of counting stats makes him a minimal upside play in fantasy leagues. Further complicating his fantasy prospects, the Twins dealt him to the Marlins – a less potent offense – over the offseason for Pablo López and two prospects. Barring a major change in his approach, he will still carry one’s batting average, but he will also be below average in nearly every other offensive category.