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2017 First Round Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft 2.0
Its time for another fantasy baseball mock draft giving you a glimpse into a potential first round. Check out version 1.0 if you missed it or want to see what may have changed. This time around Danna Hanashiro joined Damian Dabrowski, Kyle Robert, and I in creating version 2.0. We each got three selections and while there aren’t any major surprises when it comes to names, the order may spring a few surprises. We each broke down our thoughts on why we went the way we did when we were on the clock.
1. Mike Trout | OF | Los Angeles Angels
(Danna Hanashiro) This is an automatic choice for the majority of drafters who have the number one overall pick. It’s hard to believe that Trout is only 25 years old, but he’s just approaching his prime years. If there is any player who can follow up their MVP season with an even better one, Trout is that player. We have been pleasantly spoiled as fans, to have the opportunity to watch him transform into the player he has become. For fantasy purposes, it’s a nice to know you have a player who doesn’t miss a significant amount of time, and has the offensive output that other owners wish they could have.
2. Clayton Kershaw | SP | Los Angeles Dodgers
(Damian Dabrowski) I know I’m the highest of our group on Kershaw, but I actually think there’s a strong statistical case to be made for taking him number one overall. Using the auction calculator, Kershaw routinely earns more dollars than the top hitter and that’s assuming a 70/30 split favoring batters. If you were to use an even 50/50 split instead the difference between Kershaw and say Mike Trout would be significant. I’m not saying Trout isn’t great, but he wasn’t even the top hitter in roto or points last season despite having an incredible year. Conversely, Kershaw is basically a lock to be the number one SP if he stays healthy.
Further, the advantage that Kershaw provides is magnified by the fact that almost every single league format has more hitter slots than pitcher. An ace starter is at worst still responsible for 1/9 of our pitching stats (1/7 if you separate the 2 slots most teams use on relievers) whereas the best case scenario for a top hitter represents 10% of your lineup. In traditional roto, this drops all the way to 7% or 1/14. If you’re worried about his back injury that’s fine, just understand that a full season of Kershaw is still the most valuable commodity is fantasy baseball.
3. Paul Goldschmidt | 1B | Arizona Diamondbacks
(Ben Rolfe) Last year we saw a career low fly ball rate from Goldy as it dropped below 30% for the first time. Combine that with a slight drop in his HR/FB rate and you cans see why he had the worst full year in the last three in terms of power. He was still awesome last year and somehow seemed to have career lows in everything except steals so that shows you how good his floor is. My belief is that the FB rate climbs back over 30% and we see him top 30 homers once again this year. Steals wise anything over 10 is a bonus at first base and I feel like 20 is a reasonable expectation for Goldschmidt considering he had 32 last season. Without doubt he is the best all-around hitter not called Mike Trout and given that first base doesn’t have the depth it used to he is an easy number 3 overall selection.
4. Nolan Arenado | 3B | Colorado Rockies
(Kyle Robert) The fourth overall pick was a difficult one, especially with two very tempting speed guys in Altuve and Betts sitting on the board. I decided however to select Nolan Arenado to lock in that reliable power production. He is coming off of back to back 40 home run and 130 RBI seasons. The Coors factor is very real and Arenado’s surrounding lineup has seemingly improved with the addition of Ian Desmond and a full season of David Dahl.
5. Jose Altuve | 2B | Houston Astros
(DH) Middle infield isn’t the scarce position that it once was, but Altuve should be able to maintain his 2016 batting average of .338 and OBP of .396. His spike in home runs was a treat, but it’s reasonable to expect some regression, which will hopefully translate into a bit of an increase in stolen bases. The young bats in the Astros lineup can help pad Altuve’s already impressive stats if they’re able to meet their expectations. You really can’t go wrong with four or five picks after Trout.
6. Mookie Betts | OF | Boston Red Sox
(DD) Betts is the number two hitter on my board so while I’m ecstatic about getting him this late, I don’t think you can expect this type of good fortune in the majority of leagues. I understand that in all likelihood there will be some regression from last year’s breakout season, but I don’t see that as a valid argument against drafting him this high. I mean he was the best player in all of fantasy in 2016 so Betts can regress and still easily be a top five option. I’ll concede that sliding down to the cleanup spot this year will adversely affect his runs and steals projections, but I don’t think it’s a major drop and will be balanced out to some extent by the increase in RBI opportunities.
7. Manny Machado | 3B/SS | Baltimore Orioles
(BR) 35 home runs with a 0.280+ average at third base would be enough to make Machado my 7th overall pick anyway so getting that at SS as well as 3B is an added bonus. I love positional flexibility especially when that flexibility frees up as many options as a 3B/SS combination does. If Baltimore decides to let Machado steal this year then there could be a bonus five or 10 steals but after last year we cannot draft with any expectation of that. A combined 200 runs and RBI with a good average and 30+ home runs is my projection for Machado this year and I will be over the moon to get that 7th overall.
8. Kris Bryant | 3B/OF | Chicago Cubs
(KR) Kris Bryant is still a player on the rise even with a MVP and World Series trophy sitting in his trophy case. He improved his hitting eye a season ago cutting 45 strike outs off his previous season total despite coming to the plate 49 more times. This helped Bryant’s average and OBP which helped his counting stats. A 40 plus home run seaosn with 100 runs and 100 RBI is very much in the cards for this slugger sitting in the middle a packed lineup. Id be comfortable taking him as early as number 2.
9. Miguel Cabrera | 1B | Detroit Tigers
(DH) Cabrera dropped two spots from the last mock draft back in December, but not necessarily at any fault of his own. This time around Kershaw went second, and Betts moved up to sixth. One thing about Cabrera versus other hitters in the top 12; he is the oldest. I believe he’ll still be a good hitter, but slight regression should be expected. Even with that being said, Cabrera is still one of the top hitters in the game and his age shouldn’t completely shy you away from drafting him.
10. Bryce Harper | OF | Washington Nationals
(DD) Stepping away from fantasy for a second, Harper’s accomplishments so far relative to his age have only been matched by some of the all-time greats. Now sure he really struggled for the majority of last season, but nobody can deny that he’s a Triple Crown threat with the ability to also chip in 15-20 steals. Turner and Eaton are ideal table-setters and Murphy’s emergence last season should provide plenty of protection so the lineup context is as good as it gets.
11. Anthony Rizzo | 1B | Chicago Cubs
(BR) Rizzo now has three straight 30 homer years at a 0.278+ average. The last two years he added 190+ combined runs and RBI to those numbers to become fully fledged as one of the top first baseman for fantasy. At the end of the first round I want to lock up a good first baseman because of the uncertainty about what might be there come the end of the third. Penciling in 30 homers at a good average is a great place to be at pick 11 and a great foundation to build my draft from.
12. Josh Donaldson | 3B | Toronto Blue Jays
(KR) Oh look, Kyle took another power hitting third baseman who will score and drive in a ton of runs. He should once again be in the neighborhood of 35 homers, 100 plus RBI and 100 plus runs. The departure of Edwin Encarnacion is not ideal but something Donaldson can survive without. He will still have Jose Bautista hitting behind him. Donaldson is the picture of consistency approaching or exceeding 700 plate appearances each of the last four seasons. He is dealing with a calf injury this spring which probably helped with the discount. However Donaldson is expected to be ready for opening day.