Opening Day is less than two weeks away. I think that it is fair to assume that if you are reading this article that you are excited (maybe not as excited as I am, but excited nonetheless). I think it is also fair to assume that if you are reading this article, you are planning to play Fantasy Baseball this year (after all, this is a Fantasy sports site). In the world of Fantasy Baseball, our Opening Day is even closer. Our opening day is draft day.
Every league differs in how close to the season they schedule their drafts. I usually like to hold mine a week before Opening Day, but I participate in many leagues that hold their drafts a month before opening day and anywhere in-between. One thing is for certain: the majority of drafts are coming up very soon. For this reason, I think it is a fine time to take a look at this year’s top crop of players and mock out the first round.
*the mock draft will be conducted in the form of a 10-team, rotisserie format league
2018 Fantasy Baseball First Round Mock Draft
1. Mike Trout, OF, LAA
This pick shouldn’t need much explanation. If you are given the first overall pick in your draft, do not overthink it. Mike Trout is the best player in all of baseball and his skill on the diamond translated perfectly to the world of Fantasy Baseball.
He is a player who will contribute in all five categories, and you couldn’t ask more from your #1 pick. The Angels also made a huge effort to improve this off-season, and now are the best Angels team that Mike Trout has played on to this date, and that should only help him. Please, please, please: just pick Trout.
2. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU
Now that we have the no-brainer first overall pick out of the way, we now reach the second pick, where I believe there are a few options that you can go with. However, none are better than Altuve.
The reigning AL MVP will anchor your team in batting average and, despite his size, is a plus contributor in all five categories. On a stacked Astros team looking to defend their title, he is their best player, and he will have that same role in your Fantasy team.
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL
Here we have our first player who is not a five-category producer, but with numbers like Arenado’s, who honestly cares? He will hit for a high batting average with plenty of runs while sitting near the top of the MLB in both home runs and RBI. He is an absolutely perfect anchor to any Fantasy offense.
4. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS
It is crazy to think that a player with only four years of major league experience can become and All-Star and MVP candidate and have it all end up being considered as a “down year.”
However, that exactly the case that we get with Betts. He still was a stud last year, but the low batting average (.264) surely was disappointing from a previous career .304 hitter.
However, a lot of this can be attributed to bad luck, as his BABIP dropped from .322 in the 2916 season all the way down to .268. I expect a bounce-back in the average category and a full five-category producing year from one of the baseball’s best.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI
With plenty of talented options at this pick, I decided it would be best to go with the safest player. Paul Goldschmidt has been a stud first basemen for the last five years, and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue this season.
Even as a first baseman, he will be a five-category producer (yes, if you didn’t know, he steals bases) with great run production totals and is definitely worthy of the high pick it will take to get him.
6. Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL
Though fairly new amongst baseball’s elite, Charlie Blackmon’s production is impossible to ignore. Last year’s National League batting champion, Blackmon also provided a large dose of home runs, RBI, and runs. While his stolen base numbers have declined in recent years, he still will be able to provide a few of them as a bonus alongside his monstrous production. He may not be the biggest name, and it may be a pick that lacks excitement, but the real excitement will come with how far he will be able to carry your Fantasy team this season.
7. Trea Turner, SS, WAS
It is yet to be seen what Trea Turner can do over the course of a full MLB season, but what we have seen so far is definitely enough to spend a very early pick on him. Turner is a guy who is going to get you a very high batting average with tons of steals. While he should also be able to produce in runs, the home runs and RBI won’t be elite.
However, it is very rare to get a player who provides so many steals and doesn’t fore you to bomb other categories. If you pick him and then stock up on sluggers, you could be covered better in all five categories than any other team.
8. Manny Machado, SS/3B, BAL
Machado definitely had a down year last season. However, it is very encouraging to see that he was able to overcome a very slow first half and have a second half that reminded us of how talented he is. Also, he will be returning to shortstop this season, adding extra value. As long as he picks up where he left off (and where he has been for his whole career), then he is the perfect player to be the head of your hitting.
9. Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC
The 2016 NL MVP was good last year, but was definitely a disappointing considering his sky-high expectations. He continued his newfound high batting average from his MVP season, but experience substantial drops in home rubs and RBI—his calling cards. However, I am willing to bet on a bounceback knowing that you will get a great player regardless but in a best case scenario, you end up with the #1 player in all of Fantasy.
10. Max Scherzer, SP, WAS
With this pick, I was between Scherzer and his teammate Bryce Harper. I ended up going with Scherzer, and that can be attributed less to Harper’s shortcomings at the plate but instead to Scherzer’s pure and utter dominance on the mound.
He is as durable as they come, starting 30 or more games in each year of his career other than his rookie season. In the last five years, he has led the National League in wins and WHIP three times each, has posted over 240 strikeouts each year (leading the league the last two years with 284 and 264, respectively), and has posted an ERA under 3.00 in four out of the five years (the exception being the 2014 season where he had a still excellent 3.15). He is the best pitcher in baseball, and is the perfect anchor for your Fantasy rotation
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