Fantasy Baseball first round rankings

Mike Trout Bryce Harper

Its easy to assume fantasy baseball first round picks will be the easiest to make with so much talent on the board. However they can also be the most daunting as it will set up the direction the rest of your draft will head in. Do you need to land power from the start or is an elite player at a shallow position more important? I gathered the Fantasy Baseball team at Fake Pigskin to give me their top 12. While a lot of what was returned to me having names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Paul Goldschmidt in some order, the rest of the lists didn’t always match up which made for interesting conversation among the group. I asked each writer to give me a breakdown of whichever part of their rankings stood out from the rest. Lets take a look at the rankings and see why people differed.


Kyle Robert Ben Rolfe Ron McCleese Damian Dabrowski Composite
1 Paul Goldschmidt Paul Goldschmidt Mike Trout Mike Trout Mike Trout
2 Mike Trout Mike Trout Paul Goldschmidt Bryce Harper Paul Goldschmidt
3 Bryce Harper Bryce Harper Bryce Harper Paul Goldschmidt Bryce Harper
4 Josh Donaldson Miguel Cabrera Anthony Rizzo Josh Donaldson Josh Donaldson
5 Nolan Arenado Anthony Rizzo Nolan Arenado Clayton Kershaw Anthony Rizzo
6 Anthony Rizzo Josh Donaldson Manny Machado Giancarlo Stanton Manny Machado
7 Manny Machado Manny Machado Clayton Kershaw Manny Machado Clayton Kershaw
8 Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw Giancarlo Stanton Andrew McCutchen Nolan Arenado
9 Carlos Correa Carlos Correa Carlos Correa Nolan Arenado Giancarlo Stanton
10 Giancarlo Stanton Jose Altuve Josh Donaldson Carlos Correa Carlos Correa
11 Miguel Cabrera Nolan Arenado Miguel Cabrera Anthony Rizzo Miguel Cabrerea
12 Andrew McCutchen Giancarlo Stanton Jose Altuve Miguel Cabrera Andrew McCutchen


(Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

(Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

The 4th overall pick
Ben Rolfe

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Why is Miguel Cabrera at fourth overall for me? Frankly this was the position that caused me the most stress of my whole top 12 when Kyle asked me to send it to him, to the point where I decided to write a whole article about the #4 overall pick! Essentially, it all comes down to draft strategy for me and it is as much not being able to take the other guys as it is wanting Miggy there. I want at least one of those elite first baseman and with there only being six that I consider surefire elite I want to make sure I get my guy. The other options at this spot are all at positions where I feel there is depth later in the draft but first base gets ridiculously short and it happens quick. In roto leagues where I need a first baseman and a corner infielder the want for one of those top six is even greater for me. Miggy may not be the guy he used to be but I still think he is a 0.300+ hitter with between 25-30 homers and over 200 combined runs and RBI in a great lineup this season and one injury hit season in 12 isn’t enough to make me shy away from a former first overall pick.

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Harper vs Goldschmidt
Damian Dabrowski

Harper and Goldschmidt are very close for me and I can certainly understand why some would prefer to take the first baseman. Personally, I prefer Washington’s lineup to Arizona’s and that gives me a bit more confidence in Harper’s counting stats. I also don’t feel comfortable projecting Goldy for more than 12-14 steals. I know he stole 21 bags last year, but it’s a decision-based stat and I’m not sure the Diamondbacks want their franchise slugger running that often and subjecting himself to potential injury. It’s basically the same thing we’ve seen happen with Mike Trout the past couple seasons. Lastly, roster construction often plays into my decision to take Harper at number two. I generally want to start my team with a 1B and OF in the first two rounds and I’m far more comfortable taking Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion or Joey Votto at the end of the second than I am reaching for Mookie Betts, Starling Marte or someone else from that tier of outfielders. This factor is obviously context based, and while in a vacuum I can see Goldschmidt being more valuable, my rankings are a reflection of how I myself would draft these players.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Rizzo over Donaldson
Ron McCleese

I’m lower on Josh Donaldson than the consensus for a couple reasons. Donaldson had a career year in 2015 with the Blue Jays beating out Mike Trout for the AL MVP. He set career-highs in games played (158), at-bats (620), hits (184), doubles (41), homers (41), SLG (.568), and OPS (.939). Donaldson also led the AL with 123 RBI and MLB with 122 runs. He was the first player since Albert Pujols in 2009 to put up 120 plus in both categories. I view this as Donaldson’s career-year and ceiling so I’m expecting a drop-off in 2016. I’m not one to overpay for a player based on the player’s previous year’s numbers and you shouldn’t either. In this case I’m willing to bet the house he doesn’t come close to the 122 runs, 122 RBI, or 41 homers. I still view him as a top 12 player but ranked him towards the bottom at No. 10.

I’m higher on Rizzo than Donaldson because I feel that’s he’s ascending and is a legit NL MVP candidate this year. With the Cubs improved lineup and the fact that he’s put up back-to-back 30 homer seasons has me buying Rizzo as a top five fantasy player this year. Also consider that Rizzo has 65 home runs over the past two seasons including the playoffs. As far as my reasoning goes for Nolan Arenado over Donaldson it’s for similar reasons. I prefer Arenado since he’s only 24 and still has room for growth. That’s the dangerous part since he broke out last year hitting 42 bombs in only his third season in the majors. Arenado has a high-contact approach that should allow him to flirt with batting .300 while providing all the counting stats across the board. Arenado also gets the luxury of playing his home games at Coors Field but believe it or not he actually hit more homers on the road last year (22) than at home (20). I strongly feel that these numbers are sustainable for Arenado and prefer his upside over Donaldson at the hot corner in 2016.

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