Spring training is already underway so baseball fans are a couple weeks away from watching their favorite teams and players on opening day. That also means that it's time to gather all of your friends and family together to draft the perfect fantasy team. For fans, the big names are of course, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and other MLB mainstays. Then there are the power hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and others. There’s also "Flash" Dee Gordon who ran his way up to the top of the rankings. These are just a few names you’ll want to consider in the first round.
When choosing your first pick you definitely don’t want to choose it ever so bluntly. It looks as though the top picks are ready and healthy for opening day, so there are no setbacks drafting a solid first pick. As far as who you want as your first pick, it’d most likely be an outfielder or if in the top three, Kershaw may be the only pitcher you want. You could reach early and get Jake Arrieta or Max Scherzer, but they’re probably best as your second pick; even though both pitchers did have a no hitter last season, it may be wise to wait. You can’t go wrong with Kershaw, but Trout or Harper could have another breakout season. Either way, those three should be on your radar if you’re in the top three.
Sometimes the first round isn’t always the best for some, because their first pick could get hurt during the season or even worse, in Spring training. When injuries happen there’s really nothing you can do about it, but hope the players you choose wind up recovering from minor setbacks. Even if they’re healthy, some might not have the season you were hoping for. The good news is that the season is 162 games long so suspensions and injuries will fly by, much like this article will. So here are our picks for the top 15 picks of the 2016 MLB Fantasy Draft, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
15 Clayton Kershaw
The loss of Zach Greinke is a lot for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they still have their ace pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. So why is the former CY Young and NL MVP the number one pick. Well for one there’s no Greinke this time around, and Kershaw is just the man. Those that don’t believe he’ll get 20 wins this season are dead wrong, especially considering how he earned 301 strikeouts. Plus a 16 and 7 record isn’t bad.
In 2014, he had an era of 1.77 and last season it was 2.13, many pitchers out there dream to have the numbers Kershaw does. Also his WHIP, which basically means the amount of walks and hits over the amount of innings pitched, is .86 showing how scary his arm was in 2014; he nearly duplicated that in 2015 with a WHIP of .88. Kershaw is a definite candidate for the first pick, and the only pitcher you should take in the first round.
14 Mike Trout
It’s hard to say if anyone is now at the level of outfielder, Mike Trout. In the AL, Trout was third in home runs and fifth the whole league with 41. The amounts of hits he gets each season have been consistent, falling high in the standings. Last season, it was 172 hits with 104 runs and 90 RBIs. It’s hard to compare what Harper and Trout can do because Harper is just getting started, but Trout is gaining traction by consistently doing great each season, making it hard to imagine him not doing it again.
13 Bryce Harper
The timing seems about right for outfielder, Bryce Harper to have another phenomenal season. Being a runner up in the home run derby in 2013 is nice, but tying Arenado in the NL for most home runs with 42, and also having the second best batting average (.330) is pretty good too. He can smile about his performance last season with 172 hits, 118 runs, 99 RBIs, and of course his 42 home runs; there’s no doubt he can launch one out of the park. The only thing scary about Harper is that he’s 23 years old so he’s just getting started to rack up numbers like the ones last season.
12 Paul Goldschmidt
Although he’s not a big name that stands out, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt still manages to produce a lot of big numbers for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last season in the National League, Goldschmidt placed third in batting average, fifth in home runs, and second in RBI's. He got 182 hits, 103 runs, 110 RBIs, and 33 home runs, and he also drew 118 walks. If your anxiously hoping and waiting that Kershaw, Trout, or Harper don’t get picked then by all means take one of them, but as a top five pick Goldschmidt is up there. Also if that doesn’t encourage you enough, he also received a Gold Glove last season.
11 Dee Gordon
Honestly, who wouldn’t love a guy on their fantasy team with the name "Flash". Second baseman, Dee Gordon is the definition of breakout superstar, after being traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Miami Marlins, Gordon has electrified his way to the top.
In 2014 and in 2015, he was number one in stolen bases with 64 and 58 respectively. Outfielder, Billy Hamilton is on the edge of passing him, but it will be hard to pass someone named "Flash". Gordon was also number one in hits last season and second in batting averages. In those two categories he’s dominant, but why exactly is he such a high pick? Well stolen bases is a hard category to predict and he’s the one individual that you count on.
10 Andrew McCutchen
One person fantasy owners can count on is outfielder, Andrew McCutchen. So far every season in his career, he’s had more than 100 hits. Every season for him seems to be a constant one, for example, last year he earned 165 hits, 91 runs, 96 RBIs, 98 walks, and 23 home runs. Throughout his career, those numbers have stayed similar to his career averages; McCutchen has proven he can stand out being a good all-around player. No matter what others say, McCutchen doesn’t seem to break down, sure he’s had a few injuries, but he’s come back and put up numbers.
9 Jose Altuve
If you want someone that can swing the bat and get on base then second baseman, Jose Altuve is your guy. In 2014, he earned 225 hits and last year he got 200 which was the second most in the entire league. Not only can he get on base, but he gets a bunch of stolen bases as well with 38 of them last season along with 86 runs. Altuve was fifth in the league among stolen bases. If you look closely at his past seasons in the MLB, his numbers seem to keep increasing so if he gets 200 hits again with that many stolen bases owners can’t complain.
8 Nolan Arenado
Another player who had a breakout season last year is third baseman Nolan Arenado. His numbers from the time in came into the MLB practically doubled from last season. Last season was definitely a good one for him earning 177 hits, 130 RBIs, 97 runs, and 42 home runs tying third in the whole league with Bryce Harper. His first two seasons in the MLB, Arenado basically did half of what he did last year. If you end up in the middle of the draft order, there’s nothing wrong choosing him after the season he just had.
7 Manny Machado
The Baltimore Orioles were on the verge of making it to the postseason last season and one of the reasons why was because of third baseman, Manny Machado. The AL East is packed with a bunch of good teams including the Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays. However player wise, Machado had a breakout season, so the odds of him replicating it again sound like a good bet. Last season, he had 181 hits, 102 runs, 86 RBIs, and 35 home runs being in tenth place with the most in the AL. Not to mention he had 20 stolen bases, so he’s a good contender for a late first round pick.
6 Giancarlo Stanton
Another power hitting outfielder, Giancarlo Stanton didn’t exactly have a bang out season like he normally does last year. The Miami Marlins have a team that are capable of making it to October; Stanton is one of the key pieces that’ll probably help them. Last season, he had 74 hits, 67 RBIs, and 27 home runs. Normally he ranges around 100 hits, so his mediocre performance last year can only encourage him to do a lot better this season. He does have a tendency to strikeout a lot, but that’s because he loves trying to hit home runs.
5 Jose Bautista
There’s no doubt that outfielder Jose Bautista can smash the ball for a home run, participating in multiple home run derby competitions. Over the past five seasons, Bautista has hit 227 home runs. That’s at least 25 home runs every season. As for last season he was third in most RBI's with 114 surpassing his teammate Edwin Encarnacion. On top of that he hit 40 home runs, tying Albert Pujols with the fifth most in the AL. Last season, he had 136 hits, 108 runs, and was walked 110 times, but keep in mind he also struck out 106 times. Having numbers in the 100s is certainly nice, but seeing your home run category go up is also a plus.
4 Edwin Encarnacion
Its only fair to say that first baseman and designated hitter, Edwin Encarnacion will have yet another solid season. Last season, he was fourth in most AL RBIs with 111. He also helped the Toronto Blue Jays in the postseason with a home run and five RBIs. Last season, he had 146 hits, 39 home runs which placed him in the top ten for most homers, and 94 runs. Also, his batting average is .277 and his on base plus slugging is .929 which are solid numbers. So if you want a guy that will surely put up numbers on the board, he’s your guy.
3 Carlos Correa
Shortstop Carlos Correa is like Jose Abreu, both are just getting into the hang of things in the MLB, but have proven they shouldn’t be ignored. With one season in the MLB, Correra had 108 hits, 68 RBIs, and 22 home runs. Yes, there’s a possibility he could turn out to be a dud, but there was a reason why this first round pick won Rookie of the Year. He also had two home runs and four RBIs in the postseason last year, which was impressive for a rookie in the playoffs. So much like Abreu, they both can turn out to be good sleeper picks, plus, he’s 21 years old so there’s only room for improvement.
2 Jose Abreu
After a couple of seasons in the MLB, first baseman, Jose Abreu has proven he can play. For example, Abreu had 176 hits, 80 runs, 107 RBIs, and 36 home runs for his first season. Then the season after, he had a similar outing, with 178 runs, 88 runs, 101 RBIs, and 30 home runs.
It’s hard to imagine him not having the same type of season this year. If it’s possible to get him in later rounds, then he’s a good sleeper pick. It’s kind of reaching for him this high after only two seasons, but numbers don’t lie, plus some people might not have his heard name yet so he could be a steal.
1 A.J. Pollock
If you’re looking for someone to get hits, stolen bases, and runs then outfielder, A.J. Pollock is your guy. Last season he ranked fourth in most hits and stolen bases in the whole league with 192 hits and 39 stolen bases - he also had 111 runs. Although, Pollock isn’t much of a power hitter, he clearly gets on base and is able to make use of it. He did hit 20 home runs last season, which is helpful when he is on his game, but his on base percentage of .367 also helps. Pollock is certainly a safe pick when it comes to hits and stolen bases for some solid points.