Back when position scarcity was still a thing, first base was the position where you could wait forever, offering more big bats that could be reasonably rostered in Fantasy.

We're a few years removed from that golden age. Now, it's as flawed as any other position -- perhaps even more so given that it's a repository for aging has-beens and others too unathletic to play anywhere else. It's not the go-to for stolen bases, that's for sure.

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But power is still plentiful at the position, and you could still fairly classify it as "deep" given that nobody claims a first base job on defensive prowess alone. Hitting is still a precondition for a first baseman; it's just that the best hitters are typically athletic enough to play elsewhere.

It does offer its share of elites, though, including one who emerged this year as maybe the best pure hitter in all the majors. Notables who will no longer be eligible at first base for the start of 2022 include Cody Bellinger, Austin Riley, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Andrew Vaughn and Dominic Smith.

Note that these rankings are intended for 5x5 scoring (such as Rotisserie leagues), but I point out distinctions for points leagues where applicable.  

Top 20 first basemen for 2022
Vladimir Guerrero Toronto Blue Jays 1B
The 22-year-old was in contention for a Triple Crown before ultimately tying for the MLB lead in home runs. A non-base stealer like him finishing as the top Roto player is a testament to his hitting prowess and gives him the look of a first-rounder for years to come.
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves 1B
Speaking of hitting prowess, nobody makes a .300 batting average look easier than this guy, overcoming a slow start to reach that threshold for the fifth time in six seasons. He'll be a fringe first-rounder in most leagues, as always.
Matt Olson Oakland Athletics 1B
He cut his strikeout rate in half and joined the elites in the process, still delivering big power production to go along with plus on-base skills. His long-standing struggles against left-handed pitchers seemingly came to an end, too, leaving him with little to critique anymore.
Paul Goldschmidt St. Louis Cardinals 1B
It was a throwback year for Goldschmidt, who appeared to be on the decline at age 34 but ended up with the sort of first-round numbers we hadn't seen from him since 2017. He even got back to double-digit steals for the first time since then. The only red flag, really, is his own history, which is nonetheless sure to inspire some skepticism.
Max Muncy Los Angeles Dodgers 1B
The OPS hog bounced back from a curiously unproductive 2020 to hang in the MVP race for much of this year. He played banged-up in the second half and faded as a result, but nonetheless re-emerged as a three-category standout with dual eligibility. Move him up a spot in points leagues, where his on-base skills are rewarded more.
Pete Alonso New York Mets 1B
The base numbers say he took a step back from his epic rookie season two years ago, but the underlying numbers say he took a step forward, cutting his strikeout rate by 20 percent. He may never be a 50-homer guy again, but you'll take 35-40, particularly if he's showing room to improve in batting average.
Jose Abreu Chicago White Sox 1B
Abreu will be 35 next season, so it's reasonable to assume he's entering his decline phase. His batting average dipped to a career low in 2021, but he remains a middle-of-the-order threat, reliably delivering home runs and especially RBI.
Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds 1B
Thought to be just another has-been playing out the string on a bloated contract, Votto wasn't willing to rest on his laurels, tweaking his approach to sacrifice a little bit of contact for more power -- a lot more, it turns out. There's always a chance he regresses again at age 38, but clearly the future Hall of Famer knows what he's doing.
Jake Cronenworth San Diego Padres 2B
Though his career is still new, the reasonable assumption is that Cronenworth will set you back a little in the home run category if you start him at first base. But he's also eligible at second base and shortstop, which impacts his overall value, and his premium contact skills should give him a leg up in batting average even though that's not how his 2021 turned out.
C.J. Cron Colorado Rockies 1B
Cron's ho-hum career predictably took off upon joining the Rockies, and his home/away splits suggest Coors Field had everything to do with it. Fortunately, the Rockies re-upped him for two years as soon as the season ended, so we can keep pretending he's good.
Rhys Hoskins Philadelphia Phillies 1B
An unresolved elbow injury marred Hoskins' 2021 draft standing, but it ended up being a non-issue as he hit the ball with more authority than ever, catching fire just before suffering a season-ending abdominal injury. His consistently high walk rate is reason to slot him ahead of C.J. Cron in points leagues.
Josh Bell Washington Nationals 1B
A miserable April following a disappointing 2020 immediately turned everyone off to him, but Bell pretty much lived up to the billing thereafter, batting .279 with 25 homers and an .865 OPS. Even if Ryan Zimmerman returns for 2022, he won't be a threat to Bell's playing time with the DH expected to come to the NL.
Ryan Mountcastle Baltimore Orioles 1B
He wasn't as well-rounded a hitter as he looked like he might be during his late-season trial in 2020, possibly selling out a little too hard for power, but 33 home runs are nothing to sneeze at. His value takes a hit in points leagues given his poor on-base skills.
Jared Walsh Los Angeles Angels 1B
It's hard to get a read on exactly what kind of hitter Walsh is given the way his first full-length season played out. Big power gave way to more contact as the season wore on, yielding a competent stat line that doesn't really hint of anything more. Like Ryan Mountcastle, his low walk rate knocks him down in points leagues.
Brandon Belt San Francisco Giants 1B
With Oracle Park playing a little fairer the past couple years, Belt has emerged as a stud on a per-at-bat basis, but the at-bats have been limited for one reason or another. This ranking presumes the Giants re-sign him -- because what's stopping them? -- but if it turns out he's no longer subject to their hyper platooning and oppressive venue, he could vault into the top 10.
Luke Voit New York Yankees 1B
Oblique and knee injuries forced the Yankees to make a midseason change at first base, leaving Voit without a place to play when he returned. Unlike Anthony Rizzo, though, the 2020 home run king is still under contract for 2022 and has a successful enough track record to deserve another shot at age 31. He'll move up a few spots once it's clear that he'll get it.
Frank Schwindel Chicago Cubs 1B
A steady minor-league hitter who would occasionally make a splash in spring training as well, Schwindel finally got his chance after the Cubs traded everyone away and was a revelation over the final two months. His aggressive approach and lack of versatility limit his margin for error, which is probably why he got held back so long, but he's certainly worth drafting.
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Yuli Gurriel Houston Astros 1B
There isn't much reason to suspect the Astros will steer away from him in 2022, particularly after he won the AL batting title, but at 37, Gurriel isn't likely to reclaim the power that saw him hit 31 homers in 2019. He's more of a contact-over-power guy, which makes him fringy in 5x5 play but borderline top-12 in points leagues that penalize for strikeouts.
Ty France Seattle Mariners 1B
He doesn't put the ball in the air enough to deliver a massive home run total -- which is probably for the best since he doesn't make hard enough contact for one either -- but France's natural hitting instincts allow him to get the most out of his modest tools, consistently delivering a high batting average. He's eligible at second base, too.
Alex Kirilloff Minnesota Twins 1B
The 23-year-old's rookie season was derailed by a wrist injury before it really got off the ground, and while he tried playing through it with some modest success, the exit velocity clearly suffered, forcing him to concede to surgery in July. His expected stats (via Statcast) were still something to behold, though, and he'll be playable at both first base and the outfield.