It’s that time of year again! The time when every Fantasy site will be putting out their own 2017 Fantasy Baseball mock draft projections.
Well I’m no different in that respect. I’ve been playing Fantasy Baseball in all sorts of formats since the late 90’s.
Fantasy Baseball isn’t like other Fantasy sports, Fantasy Baseball is a grind. And while the draft is important, even more important is how you work the waiver wire during the season.
I will definitely get to that in other articles throughout the year. With just a little over a month before pitchers and catchers report, let’s see how I believe the first round will shake out.
Here’s the (early) list!
2017 Fantasy Baseball Early Mock Draft
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The 2-time MLB MVP award winner is the consensus top pick. After posting a sub-.300 average and 27 total stolen bases the past two years, Trout bounced back in 2016 with a .315 average and 30 stolen bases. Trout also had career highs in walks (116) and on-base percentage (.441) in his MVP season. While some players can try and rival Trout for the top overall pick, no player is as safe as Trout to return elite value.
2. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
What happens when you hit 26 home runs with 99 RBIs, 87 runs scored and a slash line of .275/.369/.488 in 2015? You win Rookie of the Year honors. Then follow up that up with 39 home runs, 102 RBIs, 121 runs scored and a slash line of .292/.385/.554 in 2016 … hello MVP! Bryant also silenced some critics by cutting his strikeouts down and upping the average. He also got eight stolen bases in 2016, five less than the previous year. But like Manny Machado, any stolen bases you get are just extra. If you weren’t lucky enough to have the first pick, just like the Cubs in 2013, take Mr. Bryant with the 2nd pick overall.
3. Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox
Betts made huge strides in his first full season, finishing 2nd to only Trout in the MVP voting. He hit 12 more home runs than the previous year, accumulating 31 round trippers and also stealing 26 bases. I would not expect Betts to keep hitting that many homers, but the increase in runs and RBIs can be sustained in their potent lineup. Whether he bats leadoff or in the middle of the order, he’s more than deserving of a Top 3 pick.
4. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
Altuve always helps in the average department, but even he went out and set a career high with a .338 average. He might have actually got the batting title had the Rockies not sat D.J. LeMahieu in five of his last eight games, but we will never know. He always helps in doubles and triples, but hitting 24 home runs after 15 the previous year was quite the icing on the cake.
In addition to the home runs, he also swiped 30 bags and set a career high 108 runs scored. Granted, the stolen bases has dropped off the past couple of years. Altuve will still be worth a Top 5 pick if he steals 30 bags. All of this production in a potent, young and hungry team could set Altuve up for another year of statistical dominance. Draft him in the Top 5 with confidence.
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Everyone will claim that Colorado players have it easy with the thin air at Coors Field. That may be, but you still have to do the hardest thing in sports, hit a round ball with a round bat. Mr. Arenado did just that. Following up his spectacular 2015 breakout, Arenado got even better. Not only did he tie for the home run lead with 41, he also led the NL for the second straight year with an insane 133 RBIs and even more impressive 116 runs scored.
Maybe even the most impressive part is that his average got better. After hitting .287 in 2015, he hit an even better .294 in the 2016 campaign. While he will not steal many bases, his average, home runs, RBIs and runs will make him worthy of a Top 5 pick.
6. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
Hopefully everyone who drafted Manny last year weren’t expecting the 20 steal version you saw in 2015. No one would have guessed he wouldn’t have any swipes all year. Even with zero stolen bases, Machado still finished with a career high .294 average, 37 bombs, 96 RBIs and 105 runs scored. Not too bad for a 24 year old. The average has steadily gone up the past couple of years, and with that, so have the strikeouts. The difference is his strikeout rate isn’t killing his average like another masher on his team, Chris Davis. Draft Machado knowing you’re getting an elite 3B in a hitter’s park, and any stolen bases are a luxury.
7. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt didn’t hit as many home runs as some owners would have liked in 2016, but he still hit managed to hit 24 dingers. Still, he made up for it with a career high in stolen bases (32) and runs (106). It remains to be seen how many stolen bases he will get as he approaches his 30th birthday. However, getting such a high total in steals from a power 1B is a huge boost for Fantasy purposes. While I’m more bullish on Goldy, he could easily return Top 5 value.
8. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson’s average dropped a bit from the previous year, but not enough to hurt you with the other numbers he was able to achieve. Again, he scored 122 runs and just missed the century mark with 99 RBIs in 2016. He still hit 37 home runs in a stout Blue Jays lineup. Will this number regress in 2017? That remains to be seen with Edwin Encarnacion signing with the Indians and Jose Bautista’s future up in the air.
Even with those question marks, he should still get pitches to hit. He steals a moderate number of bases for a power 3B aand has cut the strikeouts down. With the lineup Donaldson had in Oakland, you should expect similar production with more walks sprinkled in if the Jays do not sign Bautista or someone to give him protection. Still worthy of a Top 10 pick.
9. Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals
After winning his second Cy Young award, Scherzer has cemented his place as the top pitcher to be taken. Maybe you make the case for Clayton Kershaw who looked sharp after coming back from his DL stint. I am going with the guy who doesn’t have the injury history. A pitcher that has put together an impressive five-year run that has netted over 230 strikeouts every year, including his career high 284 this past year. While his ERA is not as pristine as Kershaw, he has still had a sub-3.00 ERA the past two years. Achieving his second highest win total of 20, he has also made at least 30 starts a year since 2009. Couple all of these stats with a sky high K/9 of 11.2, and Max Scherzer deserves to be the first pitcher taken in drafts this spring.
10. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Finishing fourth in the MVP race, Rizzo had an amazing year of production. He reached a career in RBIs with 109 and tying career highs with 32 home runs and 94 runs scored. His stolen bases regressed, but no one was going to mistake Rizzo for the 17 stolen base guy from 2015. With him hitting possibly third in a lineup that could feature Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant hitting ahead of him, you could see even more RBIs for the slugging first baseman.
11. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
With an MVP award already to his credit, people wanted to vault him to the upper echelon of players. We’ll call it the Mike Trout tier. While it was an interesting thought, what he followed up with left some who drafted him that high wanting more. He went from 42 home runs, 99 RBIs, 118 runs scored and slashing .330/.460/.649 in 2015 to 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, 84 runs scored and a slash line of .243/.373/.441 in 2016. Some said it was after the four game set against the Cubs in May when he walked an astounding 13 times that maybe got to his approach at the plate.
Maybe the talks of his shoulder injury that may have sapped his power were valid. Either way, he was not the same player he was in his MVP season. With the sub-par season Harper had, he still swiped a career high 21 bases. Maybe it’s criminal to have Harper this low with his potential to get back to 2015 form, but with the names ahead of him I think this is about where he belongs.
12. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
In his first full season, Seager was trying to complete the rare feat of achieving Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Only two players have accomplished that feat in the history of baseball (Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki). Unfortunately, Seager didn’t quite make it, placing a distant third behind winner Kris Bryant and runner up Daniel Murphy. Still, not a bad resume for a 22 year old. Slashing .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs, 72 RBIs and 105 runs is still a really good season.
If the Dodgers get some more people on in front of the young hitter, it’s easy to see those RBI numbers rise. Being in a pitchers park, you may see some regression in the home run department. But with the hard contact this kid makes, he may just surprise with close to 30 dingers again.
So now after checking out the rankings, I know some will have other players rated for the first round. It’s feasible to wonder where Kershaw is amongst the elite. However, with the back injury he had recently, I feel like a first round pick for him is a bit steep with the talent on the board. Is Harper too low? Possibly, so that makes him a great value pick to someone if they believe last year was an anomaly.
The one thing I think we can all agree on is Trout going number one. I will venture to say any and all mock drafts will have him as the consensus top overall pick. After Trout, it can be debated who is more deserving of that second pick. And that’s what’s great about sports in general. Everyone you talk to has an opinion. No one truly knows who is right until after the season is over.
If Betts goes second in your league, be happy that you have Kris Bryant to start off your squad. Any of these guys would be a great start to any team. Everyone has a different philosophy when it comes to drafting. Most of the players taken in the earlier rounds should be overall solid in most categories.
I hope this early 2017 mock draft will help you assess just how you would rank these players. Feel free to start some debate in the comments section.
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