Into the New Age of MLB Sluggers

2017

The 2017 MLB season has been a very interesting one so far. It’s been filled with many previously average players suddenly playing like stars, such as Marcell Ozuna, Aaron Hicks, and Zack Cozart among others. It has had underachieving former top prospects finally coming into their own with Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso, and Justin Smoak all top 10 in wRC+. We’ve seen young sluggers like Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano, Aaron Judge, Scott Schebler, Ryon Healy and others be among the league leaders in home runs without all that much MLB experience. It is this last idea that seems the most interesting at the moment because of where the MLB seems to be going.

After perusing the offensive leaderboards and noticing all of the things above, I realized this has been a very different year for this year’s home run leaders than the ones from the past. In the past 15 years or so, we have been used to seeing guys like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Miguel Cabrera and other big time sluggers dominate the leaderboards year to year. However, as time has passed, we have seen many of these guys either retire or reach a point in their careers where their power just is no longer prolific.

A Change to New and Young

We are now at a point where we are seeing some of the newest blood in the home run leaderboards that we have seen in a couple of decades. In looking back at the top 30 home run hitters each season going from 2016 back until 2000, the average age of those players is 29.3 years old. Now if you look at the average age of the top 30 players in home runs in 2017, it drops to the lowest of any year in the 2000s all the way down to 27.67 years old. In fact, only other four seasons in that time below the average age of 29 are 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012, still none below 28. The oldest average age was in 2003, all the way up to 30.5 average age.

The younger age of sluggers is not the only difference from the past to now. Going from 2000-2017 and taking 30 players a season, that gives us a total of 540 players who have been top 30 in home runs overall. When you look year to year at the number of combined seasons those players have been in the top 30 from 2000-2017, this season has brought in a huge change.

(Just to show an example of what I am talking about below this, from 2000-2017 Albert Pujols has been in the top 30 home run leaders 15 times. He has done this every season of his career outside of 2013 and 2017 so far. Therefore any season outside of 2013 or 2017 adds 15 to seasons to the number of combined seasons on the leaderboards. Miguel Cabrera has done this 11 times, so this would add 11 to any season in which he has done it to the number of combined seasons.)

The Past to Now

From 2000-2016, the average number of combined seasons by players in the top 30 in home runs was almost 144 seasons. This ranged from 114 in 2014 all the way up to 170 in 2006. In 2017, the MLB is all the way down to just 67 combined seasons. This is the lowest of any season in the 2000s by 47 combined seasons.

Average Age Number of Combined Seasons On Leaderboards
2000 29.4 121
2001 29.433 140
2002 29.6 144
2003 30.5 140
2004 29.9 164
2005 29.867 158
2006 29.633 170
2007 28.4 164
2008 29.133 156
2009 28.3 138
2010 29.1 161
2011 28.8 154
2012 28.4 128
2013 29.333 138
2014 29.167 114
2015 29.267 135
2016 29.667 119
2017 27.667 67

What we have seen to this point in 2017 is a huge change in which sluggers are hitting home runs. Not only do we have the least amount of combined seasons from players in the top 30, but just 14 of the ones from this season have ever been in the top 30 from any other season. That means that we have 16 brand new players to the home run leaderboards.

As mentioned before, some of these 16 new top 30 home run leaders are young in their first two to three seasons (Bellinger, Judge, Schebler, Healy, Bour, Gallo, Davidson, Lamb, Springer, Sano) or they are veterans who have finally put it all together (Morrison, Ozuna, Smoak, Thames, Moustakas, Alonso). There are still some established power hitters in the group of the 14 who have done this multiple times (Goldschmidt, Votto, Arenado, Reynolds, Trout, Bruce, Stanton, Rizzo, Encarnacion), but nothing like we’ve had in years past.

In fact, the gap from 2000-2016 to 2017 is so big, Encarnacion is the slugger who has been on the most top 30 home run leaderboards having done it six times, by far the lowest leader of any year since 2000.

Future Sluggers

Recently I have written about some of these players doing amazing things so young and so early into their careers that this shouldn’t necessarily be a huge surprise. What’s more of a surprise is seeing players like Smoak, Alonso, Thames, Morrison and others play for so long without much real success, and finally explode in their late 20s. Still, the potential was always there for these guys to do this, and it makes sense to finally see this for some of them.

Age plays a huge factor in this as well. Of the top 30 home run hitters in 2017, a whopping 22 of them are below 30 years old. This is the lowest amount of any season of the 2000s. There are only three other seasons with either 20 or 21 players below 30. The average number of players below 30 years old from 2000-2016 is actually just 17. Seeing 2017 have five more than the average shows how unique this season truly is.

Of course, the season is still just under half way over, and there is time for sluggers like Cabrera, Pujols, Bautista, J. Upton and other older players to go on a tear and make their way back to the top 30 changing the complexion of this data. But even if they do, it’s clear that we are starting to see a change in the power hitters of the game, and that we are likely to be seeing these new names many times more in the near future rather than the relics from the past.

Fantasy Baseball Re-Rankings: First Base (1B)

We’re now over one month into the season, and, while we shouldn’t overreact too much, some things have definitely changed in the fantasy landscape. I’ve reflected those changes in my updated Top 25 First Basemen rankings. You’ll see some precipitous drops, a few fast risers, and some new names entirely. I’m mostly in points leagues, so these rankings may be slightly skewed by that bias. You can check out my pre-season rankings here:

Updated 1B Fantasy Rankings (previous rank in parentheses):

  1. Paul Goldschmidt, Ari 1B (Previous Rank: 1)
  2. Kris Bryant, ChC 3B, OF, 1B (2)
  3. Joey Votto, Cin 1B (5)
  4. Anthony Rizzo, ChC 1B (3)
  5. Freddie Freeman, Atl 1B (10)
  6. Daniel Murphy, Wsh 2B, 1B (8)
  7. Miguel Cabrera, Det 1B (4)
  8. Eric Thames, Mil OF, 1B (NR)
  9. Ryan Zimmerman, Wsh 1B  (NR)
  10. Wil Myers, SD 1B (12)
  11. Matt Carpenter, StL 2B, 1B, 3B (13)
  12. Buster Posey, SF C, 1B (11)
  13. Jose Abreu, CWS 1B (7)
  14. Edwin Encarnacion, Cle 1B, DH (6)
  15. Mark Reynolds, Col 1B (NR)
  16. Hanley Ramirez, Bos 1B (14)
  17. Travis Shaw, Mil 1B, 3B (21)
  18. Yonder Alonso, Oak 1B (NR)
  19. Carlos Santana, Cle 1B, DH (17)
  20. Brandon Belt, SF 1B (18)
  21. Eric Hosmer, KC 1B (16)
  22. Albert Pujols, LAA 1B, DH (19)
  23. Josh Bell, Pit 1B (24)
  24. Chris Davis, Bal 1B (15)
  25. Cody Bellinger, LAD 1B, OF (NR)

 

Let me try to explain myself.

  • Paul Goldschmidt is the best, most consistent 1B in baseball. That has not changed, and it will not change. He gives you production across the board, he’s not prone to streakiness, and you’ll never be disappointed. Goldy is to baseball what Vince Gilligan is to television.
  • Kris Bryant is still Kris Bryant. Which means he is very, very good. Also he has dual-eligibility on some sites, so deal with it.
  • Joey Votto over Anthony Rizzo and Freddie Freeman? You better believe it. Votto has been great so far this year, and his peripherals suggest he’ll keep getting better. He might be the best pure hitter in baseball right now.
  • Rizzo has been struggling, but you can expect that to turn around eventually, and the Cubs have scored the 3rd most runs in the NL despite his struggles – big numbers are on the horizon.
  • Freeman is ON FIRE, but because of his teammates, he’ll continue to be better in real life than in fantasy.
  • For Daniel Murphy, see: Bryant, Kris.
  • I never thought I’d rank Miguel Cabrera this low, but here we are. He’s struggled mightily so far, but he’s Miguel freakin’ Cabrera, so settle down.
  • Finally, here he is. The best story so far this season: Eric Thames. Yep, he’s in my Top 10. No, he shouldn’t be higher. Maybe he should be lower. Either way, I’m very much buying new and improved Thames.
  • Competing with Thames for the best story of the season is an aging veteran who looks younger than he ever has. Ryan Zimmerman would have to go hitless in his next 40 at-bats to drop below .300 on the season. I’m not saying he’ll do that, but I’m also not completely sold on him continuing like this.
  • Rounding out the Top 10 is Wil Myers, who has done nothing to suggest that he should be any higher or any lower than this.
  • Let’s look at some fallers: Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana, Eric Hosmer, and Chris Davis. All of these guys are incredibly inconsistent in short stretches, but generally end up with good-to-great numbers when it’s all said and done. A couple of them will bounce back and carry your team at different points this year, I’m just not sure you can bet on them all doing it. For what it’s worth, Hosmer and Abreu have showed signs of life, recently.
  • Now for some risers: Travis Shaw and Josh Bell. Shaw has been exactly what I hoped he would become in Miller Park. Slot him in at your corner infield or utility spot and enjoy the production. Josh Bell only rose one spot in the rankings, but with 5 new additions to the list, his rankings increase is deeper than it looks on the surface. He’s a good hitter who doesn’t strike out. He’ll keep it up.
  • A few new additions: Mark Reynolds, Yonder Alonso, and Cody Bellinger. All these guys do is hit bombs. They’re doing it consistently enough to warrant their addition to this group – Reynolds, especially, as he is on an unreal tear right now. Reynolds and Alonso are a lot safer bets to keep up their production than Bellinger is, but man he’s been fun to watch up to this point.

 

How’d I do? Let me know on Twitter @baselinekory.

Catcher (C) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

As always: The positional eligibility here comes from FantasyPros combined eligibility. So…hello, Kyle Schwarber.

jonathan lucroy fantasy baseball catcher
  1. Kyle Schwarber, ChC OF, C
  2. Buster Posey, SF C
  3. Jonathan Lucroy, Tex C
  4. Gary Sanchez, NYY C
  5. Willson Contreras, ChC C, OF
  6. Yasmani Grandal, LAD C
  7. Evan Gattis, Hou C, DH
  8. Salvador Perez, KC C
  9. J.T. Realmuto, Mia C
  10. Russell Martin, Tor C
  11. Welington Castillo, Bal C
  12. Brian McCann, Hou C, DH
  13. Yadier Molina, StL C
  14. Stephen Vogt, Oak C, DH
  15. Mike Zunino, Sea C
  16. Derek Norris
  17. Matt Wieters, Wsh C
  18. Travis d’Arnaud, NYM C
  19. Cameron Rupp, Phi C
  20. Francisco Cervelli, Pit C
  21. Tony Wolters, Col C
  22. Austin Hedges, SD C
  23. Yan Gomes, Cle C
  24. Devin Mesoraco, Cin C
  25. Tom Murphy, Col C
  • Kyle Schwarber is very likely not a catcher for more than 5-10 game appearances (read: maybe an inning or two at a time, and perhaps 1 emergency start). That’s enough, though, for him to retain catcher eligibility on CBS Sports, and potentially earn it on other sites, as well. He’s not a catcher, but he’s the best hitter on this list, and he’ll probably start 140 games.
  • Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy are again the two best real catchers in fantasy, but Gary Sanchez is chomping on their heels. If Sanchez has a full season like he did last year, he’ll be far and away the best catcher in fantasy, but he won’t repeat his ratios from last season. He’ll still be plenty good, but he’s overdrafted right now, and I can guarantee I’ll end up with him on 0% of my teams.
  • Like Schwarber and Evan Gattis, Willson Contreras has the added benefit of being able to play non-catcher positions throughout the regular season. This makes them more valuable just based on volume alone. None of them are slouches at the plate, either.
  • Yasmani Grandal might be the most underrated catcher in all of baseball, and he’s in a great lineup. He’s a mainstay on my teams, and I usually end up reaching for him about a round before his average draft position (ADP). He’s well worth it.
  • Salvador Perez avoided serious injury in the WBC, so he should be good to go as one of the more consistent catchers in fantasy this year.
  • One of the most overdrafted players in fantasy baseball is Yadier Molina. He goes earlier than he should, based solely on name-value. The numbers just don’t support it.
  • Don’t draft Matt Wieters.
  • The most interesting players left on the list are catchers who I don’t want to draft in a one-catcher league, but could definitely end up inside the Top 12 by the end of the season. Mike Zunino, Travis d’Arnaud, Cameron Rupp, Austin Hedges, and Tony Wolters/Tom Murphy. Tom Murphy is injured, but he seems to be a better hitter than Tony Wolters. If you’ve got a couple DL spots, I’d take a chance on Murphy in the last round. You can always cut him if you have other injuries arise. If DJ Lemahieu taught us anything, it’s to always bet on Coors.

What do you think? Take issue with me or some of my choices? Tell me where I went wrong on twitter at @BaselineKory on Twitter. As always, please subscribe to the Rounding Third podcast on iTunes.

Relief Pitcher (RP) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

Justification for some of these surprising rankings will be coming shortly. For now, here’s my top 25 RP for 2017 in fantasy baseball.

  1. Kenley Jansen, LAD RP
  2. Aroldis Chapman, NYY RP
  3. Zach Britton, Bal RP
  4. Edwin Diaz, Sea RP
  5. Wade Davis, ChC RP
  6. Seung Hwan Oh, StL RP
  7. Mark Melancon, SF RP
  8. Roberto Osuna, Tor RP
  9. Kelvin Herrera, KC RP
  10. Ken Giles, Hou RP
  11. Craig Kimbrel, Bos RP
  12. Andrew Miller, Cle RP
  13. Cody Allen, Cle RP
  14. Alex Colome, TB RP
  15. Francisco Rodriguez, Det RP
  16. Dellin Betances, NYY RP
  17. David Robertson, CWS RP
  18. Jeurys Familia, NYM RP
  19. A.J. Ramos, Mia RP
  20. Tony Watson, Pit RP
  21. Koda Glover, Wsh RP
  22. Raisel Iglesias, Cin RP, SP
  23. Sam Dyson, Tex RP
  24. Greg Holland, Col RP
  25. Blake Treinen, WAS RP

Starting Pitcher (SP) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

Comments and analysis are coming, but here are my standalone rankings so you can get them prior to your fantasy draft. Disagree? Tell me on twitter. 

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD SP
  2. Madison Bumgarner, SF SP
  3. Yu Darvish, Tex SP
  4. Corey Kluber, Cle SP
  5. Chris Sale, Bos SP
  6. Max Scherzer, Wsh SP
  7. Noah Syndergaard, NYM SP
  8. Jake Arrieta, ChC SP
  9. Justin Verlander, Det SP
  10. Jon Lester, ChC SP
  11. Chris Archer, TB SP
  12. Stephen Strasburg, Wsh SP
  13. Jacob deGrom, NYM SP
  14. Johnny Cueto, SF SP
  15. Carlos Martinez, StL SP
  16. Carlos Carrasco, Cle SP
  17. Masahiro Tanaka, NYY SP
  18. Kyle Hendricks, ChC SP
  19. Gerrit Cole, Pit SP
  20. Jose Quintana, CWS SP
  21. Danny Duffy, KC SP, RP
  22. Marcus Stroman, Tor SP
  23. Kenta Maeda, LAD SP
  24. Kevin Gausman, Bal SP
  25. Cole Hamels, Tex SP
  26. Rich Hill, LAD SP
  27. Lance McCullers, Hou SP
  28. Danny Salazar, Cle SP
  29. David Price, Bos SP
  30. James Paxton, Sea SP
  31. Aaron Sanchez, Tor SP
  32. Zack Greinke, Ari SP
  33. Rick Porcello, Bos SP
  34. Taijuan Walker, Ari SP
  35. Drew Smyly, Sea SP
  36. Aaron Nola, Phi SP
  37. Julio Teheran, Atl SP
  38. Matt Shoemaker, LAA SP
  39. Vince Velasquez, Phi SP
  40. Jon Gray, Col SP
  41. Michael Fulmer, Det SP
  42. Steven Matz, NYM SP
  43. Carlos Rodon, CWS SP
  44. Felix Hernandez, Sea SP
  45. John Lackey, ChC SP
  46. Sean Manaea, Oak SP
  47. Zach Davies, Mil SP
  48. Dallas Keuchel, Hou SP
  49. Jerad Eickhoff, Phi SP
  50. Jameson Taillon, Pit SP

 

Outfield (OF) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

It has been a grind over the past few weeks, here, so I’m going to release these without player comments for now. If you want clarification about a ranking, reach out to me on twitter. My notes on individual players are coming as soon as possible!

 

  1. Mike Trout, LAA OF
  2. Mookie Betts, Bos OF
  3. Kris Bryant, ChC 3B, OF
  4. Bryce Harper, Wsh OF
  5. Charlie Blackmon, Col OF
  6. Trea Turner, Wsh 2B, OF
  7. Starling Marte, Pit OF
  8. George Springer, Hou OF
  9. Ryan Braun, Mil OF
  10. Giancarlo Stanton, Mia OF
  11. Nelson Cruz, Sea OF, DH
  12. Carlos Gonzalez, Col OF
  13. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM OF
  14. Gregory Polanco, Pit OF
  15. Andrew McCutchen, Pit OF
  16. Christian Yelich, Mia OF
  17. J.D. Martinez, Det OF
  18. Jose Bautista, Tor OF, DH
  19. Billy Hamilton, Cin OF
  20. A.J. Pollock, Ari OF
  21. Justin Upton, Det OF
  22. Adam Jones, Bal OF
  23. Kyle Schwarber, ChC OF
  24. Mark Trumbo, Bal OF, DH
  25. Jose Ramirez, Cle 3B, OF
  26. Wil Myers, SD 1B, OF
  27. Andrew Benintendi, Bos OF
  28. Khris Davis, Oak OF, DH
  29. Stephen Piscotty, StL OF
  30. Matt Kemp, Atl OF
  31. Jackie Bradley Jr., Bos OF
  32. Adam Eaton, Wsh OF
  33. Ben Zobrist, ChC 2B, OF
  34. Michael Brantley, Cle OF
  35. Miguel Sano, Min 3B, OF, DH
  36. Marcell Ozuna, Mia OF
  37. Dexter Fowler, StL OF
  38. Willson Contreras, ChC C, OF
  39. Joc Pederson, LAD OF
  40. Ian Desmond, Col OF
  41. Jose Peraza, Cin SS, OF
  42. Lorenzo Cain, KC OF
  43. Odubel Herrera, Phi OF
  44. Kole Calhoun, LAA OF
  45. Byron Buxton, Min OF
  46. Carlos Gomez, Tex OF
  47. Randal Grichuk, StL OF
  48. Yasmany Tomas, Ari OF
  49. Hunter Pence, SF OF
  50. Mitch Haniger, Sea OF

Shortstop (SS) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

Obligatory: The positional eligibility of the players in this list was determined by using FantasyPros’ eligibility information, which was gathered from all the major fantasy sites.

Shortstop has traditionally been a fairly weak position, but that’s changed in the last couple of years. There has been an abundance of young SS talent called up to the majors recently, and these kids have taken over my rankings. I’m sure you’ll think I’m too high on a few of them, but I’ll do my best to justify the questionable rankings below.

corey seager fantasy baseball shortstop
  1. Manny Machado, Bal SS, 3B
  2. Carlos Correa, Hou SS
  3. Corey Seager, LAD SS
  4. Francisco Lindor, Cle SS
  5. Xander Bogaerts, Bos SS
  6. Addison Russell, ChC SS
  7. Trevor Story, Col SS
  8. Jean Segura, Sea SS, 2B
  9. Jonathan Villar, Mil SS, 3B
  10. Aledmys Diaz, StL SS
  11. Jose Peraza, Cin SS, OF
  12. Marcus Semien, Oak SS
  13. Elvis Andrus, Tex SS
  14. Troy Tulowitzki, Tor SS
  15. Brad Miller, TB SS, 1B
  16. Eduardo Nunez, SF SS, 3B
  17. Dansby Swanson, Atl SS
  18. Brandon Crawford, SF SS
  19. Javier Baez, ChC 2B, 3B, SS
  20. Tim Anderson, CWS SS
  21. Asdrubel Cabrera, NYM SS
  22. Jedd Gyorko, StL 2B, 3B, SS
  23. Jose Reyes, NYM 3B,SS
  24. Didi Gregorius, NYY SS
  25. Jurickson Profar, Tex 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF
  • Manny Machado is the best of the bunch. That is a fact. Do not try to argue with me here.
  • Carlos Correa and Corey Seager could be flipped. They’re near equals in my opinion, and you’d do well for yourself by drafting either of them.
  • I think the player inside this Top 5 who is most likely to fall out of the Top 10 this year is Francisco Lindor. He’s defense-heavy with about average hit skills (he and Jose Ramirez had basically the exact same offensive season last year). He could either take a step forward into that Correa/Seager group this year or he could regress out of the Top 10. I can’t decide whether Lindor or Trevor Story is the player I’m least confident in this season.
  • The pick I’ll catch the most flak for is probably slotting Addison Russell, who comes in at #6 ahead of Story, Jean Segura, Jonathan Villar, and Aledmys Diaz who all had better seasons than Russell last year (not to mention Marcus Semien, who had nearly identical numbers). There are 4 reasons that contribute to me being higher on Russell than most people. 1) I’m a Cubs fan. A big one. 2) More importantly, and bear with me, Addison Russell is about to turn the corner. He actually already started, but let me explain. As noted in the linked Bleacher Nation piece, Addison Russell’s .197 ISO (isolated power) was third on the team in the second half of 2017 (behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo). Only Corey Seager topped that at SS in the second half. 3) His K rate has been getting consistently better over time. He’s growing into his bat (he’s 23). 4) Addison Russell’s .277 BABIP was a touch unlucky. He’s due for some positive regression. All this is to say, if you get good value on Addison Russell in the draft you’re probably going to have a good time.
  • This has already been covered in this and previous rankings, but Story, Segura, and Villar are due for some pretty heavy regression this year. Hell, Villar is not a .376 BABIP hitter, so that alone should cause you to pause.
  • #12-#18 are all one in the same to me. Marcus Semien, Elvis Andrus, Troy Tulowitzki, Brad Miller, Eduardo Nunez, Dansby Swanson, and Brandon Crawford are all completely unspectacular players, but they won’t kill you, either.
  • Hello again, Javier Baez  ❤.
  • Rounding out the bottom of the list are a bunch of players I probably won’t own on any teams, except Jose Reyes and Jurickson Profar on very rare occasions. I love Profar’s flexibility, and I mean…he is only a few years removed from being an organizational top prospect. There’s some talent there to take a risk on.
  • Final note: If your league has a DL slot, and you don’t grab Ian Desmond, there’s no harm in drafting Didi Gregorius, who should be solid when he returns from his injury.

What do you think? Take issue with me or some of my choices? Tell me where I went wrong on twitter at @BaselineKory.  As always, please subscribe to the Rounding Third podcast on iTunes. 

First Base (1B) Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017

I know I’m getting a late start here, and you might have already drafted, but this list is not for you. This list is for people who are in leagues that aren’t awful. I’ll be trying to drop these lists position-by-position every couple of days for the next two weeks, which should give you time to read my rankings and subsequently ignore them by March 28th. Note: These rankings are using FantasyPros combined position eligibility, so that’s why Kris Bryant, Buster Posey, and Jonathan Lucroy make an appearance, even though they’re not eligible for 1B on ESPN.  Without further ado, here’s the list. I even followed up with commentary for the picks I thought needed it. You’re welcome.

 

  1. Paul Goldschmidt, Ari 1B
  2. Kris Bryant, ChC 3B, OF, 1B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, ChC 1B
  4. Miguel Cabrera, Det 1B
  5. Joey Votto, Cin 1B
  6. Edwin Encarnacion, Cle 1B, DH
  7. Jose Abreu, CWS 1B
  8. Daniel Murphy, Wsh 2B, 1B
  9. Jonathan Lucroy, Tex C, 1B
  10. Freddie Freeman, Atl 1B
  11. Buster Posey, SF C, 1B
  12. Wil Myers, SD 1B
  13. Matt Carpenter, StL 2B, 1B, 3B
  14. Hanley Ramirez, Bos 1B
  15. Chris Davis, Bal 1B
  16. Eric Hosmer, KC 1B
  17. Carlos Santana, Cle 1B, DH
  18. Brandon Belt, SF 1B
  19. Albert Pujols, LAA 1B, DH
  20. Brad Miller, TB SS, 1B
  21. Travis Shaw, Mil 1B, 3B
  22. Justin Bour, Mia 1B
  23. Greg Bird, NYY 1B
  24. Josh Bell, Pit 1B
  25. Dan Vogelbach, Sea 1B

 

  • Honestly, I won’t argue with you if you wanted to say that Rizzo and Goldschmidt should be flipped. Rizzo is the new Miguel Cabrera, as far as consistency is concerned (he obviously has not put up a Miggy-in-his-prime season, yet, but you get what I mean). He plays in a better lineup, with more protection behind him and better hitters in front of him, but Goldy is just so damn good. I’m betting on Goldschmidt having a slightly better season, aided by steals and a better OBP.
  • I was tempted to go with Joey Votto at #3, but I couldn’t put Miggy any lower. I know what Miggy is, you know what Miggy is, so we don’t need to talk about him. Votto, on the other hand, could be one of two players. Do you believe he’s closer to his putrid 1st half numbers from a season go, or are you betting on his second half? As a betting man (and someone who has watched baseball for more than one year), I’d say Votto is as good as ever. Count me as a believer in a huge season from him.
  • I’m a little higher on Jose Abreu than quite a few experts out there, but I like him for the same reason I like Votto. I tend to buy in on big second halves *if* the hitter makes a noticeable adjustment in his game. Abreu did, and I’m predicting a return to form in a big way. I drop him 2 to 3 spots if Frazier is traded, however.
  • Daniel Murphy and Freddie Freeman…these are the two players in the top 10 who I’m least confident about. I don’t really have an actual, in-depth reason to not love Freddie Freeman, but I just don’t. He strikes out a lot, I don’t think he’s a .300 hitter, and I just don’t like him, okay? Daniel Murphy could certainly be legit, but we’ve almost certainly already seen his best season. What’s more likely? A guy who’s on the wrong side of 30 who only has one postseason+one regular season worth of good stats, or there was some magic in his bat that was boosted by a BABIP that was above his career average? There’s a decent chance he regresses to somewhere in between who he was last season, and who he has been the rest of his career.
  • I’m higher on Carpenter than FantasyPros Consensus. I think I’m right. I think they’re wrong. He’s a bit of an injury risk, but so is everyone who plays a professional sport, so whatever. He’s got great positional flexibility, and I this his bat is legit.
  • Hanley, Davis, Hosmer, and Santana. You’d be fine if you waited on a 1B until the later rounds to draft one of these guys. They all have question marks, but they’ve all good pretty solid floors. Hate strikeouts? Don’t draft Davis. Hate super boring players? Don’t draft Hosmer. Santana gets a boost because of Encarnacion, by the way. There’s some upside there.
  • I want to talk about Brandon Belt for one sentence. Brandon Belt is one of the 3 potential breakout players on this list, and I think he could finish in the top 10.
  • Pujols, Gonzalez, Miller, and Napoli. We’ll call this tier “Fine, but I’m not going to draft them.” Look, they’re fine. They’re not that good, but they’re also not that bad. Miller is boosted by SS eligibility, but shortstop is pretty deep itself. There is a 0% chance I will own any of these players on my fantasy teams this season because I won’t be taking them where their ADP (Average Draft Position) has them going.
  • The final 5: Shaw, Bour, Bell, Bird, and Vogelbach. This is honestly my favorite tier, and you’ll see me grab one of these players towards the end of almost every draft. Shaw is my absolutely favorite of the bunch. He’s my 2nd breakout pick. The dude has huge breakout potential because he’s absolutely built for Miller Park. I could see Shaw finishing in the top 10. He could also finish well below where I ranked him. That’s the nature of this tier of players. Bour just needs a full season’s worth of at-bats. He’s my third breakout pick, so the Marlins better let the man play. Josh Bell has some contact issues for sure, but he has a strong minor league pedigree, and he showed well at the Major League level last year. Technically still a rookie, I have Bell going toe-to-toe with Dansby Swanson for the Rookie of the Year. Greg Bird wasn’t on this list a week ago. Things changed, and now I believe. He’s going to be the best Bird since Tweety.
  • Finally. My man. Dan Vogelbach. He gets his own bullet. This 400-pound penguin in baseball pajamas can do one thing, and one thing only: hit. He has hit at every level. He makes good contact and has decent bat speed to go with excellent control of the plate. He is my super deep sleeper, and something tells me he’ll have a pretty strong showing if he doesn’t hurt himself waddling around first or sliding into the ocean.
  • Just missed: These players didn’t make the cut because I didn’t like them. In no particular order: Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Tommy Joseph, CJ Cron, Chris Carter, Lucas Duda, Steve Pearce. They all suck, okay? But if I have to draft one, it’d be Mauer. He’s Joe Mauer. He’s fine. He’s going so late (or never) in drafts, that I actually find myself taking him sometimes. I think he’s undervalued on a Twins team that should feature an improved lineup, and I actually swapped him out for Bird at the last second before posting this.

How’d I do? Got beef with some of my choices? Tell me how stupid I am in the comments or @KoryRoundsThird on Twitter. As always, please subscribe to the Rounding Third podcast on iTunes.