Fantasy sports can leave us all feeling a bit of angst about not wasting the ever valuable first round draft pick. With rising stars (Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts, Trea Turner), rock steady performers (Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw) and question marks (Bryce Harper, Chris Archer, Billy Hamilton) out there it can be difficult to pick the right one for your team. Let’s take a look at who should be at the top of your draft board.
1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Is there any doubt here? The reigning MVP has deserved the top spot for years and has yet to prove to us why we should think differently.
2. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
Position. Scarcity. Outside of Mighty Mouse and Robinson Cano, the dropoff of talent at second is drastic. A 20/20 season last year and leading the league in hits the last three years solidify Altuve as a multi-tool player worth of a high first round pick.
3. Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox
Look down at your hand and count how many fingers there are. Unless you lost a fight with a blender or were born with too much hardware, that’s the same number of tools that Mookie has at his disposal. Now, sure not all of those tools translate to fantasy baseball but that just means Mookie has job security in case his bat cools off and you won’t have to worry about him riding pine.
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Coors has been good to Arenado and the mile high atmosphere will continue to make Arenado an elite fantasy option. Back to back years of leading the league in HR and RBI lead us to believe Arenado is as good as they come to boost your power numbers and not hinder your average or on base percentage.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
Taking a walk isn’t just something to do with your dog. Goldschmidt averaged 74 walks per season his first three seasons but took a four ball pass to first 118 times in 2015. Goldy walked 110 times last season, proving that his new approach at the plate has really started to pay off. The emergence of Jake Lamb in the Diamondbacks lineups gives Goldschmidt more security and another body to drive in.
6. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
Need an ace to anchor your team? Kershaw’s got your back. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best term for this situation but that doesn’t make it less true. If Kershaw’s injury last year scared you, don’t let it. Even with his lowest innings load since his rookie year, Kershaw finished 5th in the Cy Young voting, meaning his stuff is potent as ever.
7. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Cubs
Why is the NL MVP so low on my list? The same reason I always lose at Battleship, too many misses. Bryant is an extraordinary talent who has a bright future, but his strikeout numbers worry me enough to put him at #7 on this list. He’s in a stacked lineup that will protect him and give him bodies to drive in. The increase in power after his rookie year is a nice bonus. No hate on Bryant here, and I’m actually hoping he proves me wrong this year.
8. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
One year removed from being named the AL MVP, Donaldson still performed as an elite fantasy player. The Bringer of Rain put up slightly lower power numbers than his MVP year but he did show an increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts last season. Increased patience at the plate is always okay with me. Even if his power doesn’t return to MVP form, Donaldson will bring an improved plate discipline to the table to help offset those missing HRs and RBI.
9. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
Miggy, Miggy, Miggy can’t you see, sometimes your hits just hypnotize me. Miguel Cabrera is essentially Bartolo Colon’s more talented younger brother in terms of physique and longevity. Cabrera used to be routinely considered as a top pick with Mike Trout but has slowed down in recent years. Declining from an otherworldly talent makes Miggy a mere mortal but one that is still in the elite tier of fantasy players.
10. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
The fact that Rizzo is the second Cub on my list proves how loaded their lineup is and how well the pieces of their roster feed off of each other. Rizzo is a poor man’s Nolan Arenado and by poor man I mean Arenado is upper middle class and Rizzo is lower. If you can’t manage to snag Arenado and you can settle for 5-10 HR and 10-20 RBI less, Rizzo will anchor your team. Who knows, he could even surprise us with 17 swiped bags like he had in 2015.