Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the safety of every first-round draft pick
Every fantasy manager worries about their first round picks more than they should, and I’m no exception. After all, the impact of making the wrong choice with your biggest investment is hard to ignore.
Those who want to make sure they come out of the first round with the safest superstar they can find should reorder their draft queue according to the rankings below.
1. Trea Turner (CC, Philadelphia Phillies)
Turner has been a solid fantasy writer for the last five seasons. The .302 career hitter can carry a fantastic midfield team, breaking 20 homers, scoring 100 points and placing among the MLB leaders in steals. The move from the Dodgers to the Phillies is an improvement in terms of home park for the 29-year-old, and his new roster should be a reasonable counterpart to the one he’s leaving.
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2. Jose Ramirez (3B, Cleveland Guardians)
Ramirez gives Turner a shot at success in terms of safety, ranking among the league leaders in homers, runs, RBIs and steals over the past three seasons. He has been a fantasy star for most of the past six years, with his only hitch being a mediocre performance in 2019. At age 30, Ramirez is gearing up for another great season as the centerpiece of a solid Cleveland roster.
3. Freddie Freeman (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Freeman, a .298 hitter who has hit over .300 in six of the past seven years, is arguably the most reliable source of a first-round average. As the centerpiece of a Dodgers roster that always picks up a lot of runs, he should hit the century mark in runs scored and RBIs. Homer Freeman’s results tend to fluctuate between acceptable and excellent, and that’s the only thing keeping the 33-year-old from topping this list.
4. Kyle Tucker (HF, Houston Astros)
Tucker offers a great combination of high floor and ceiling. At 26, he is still young enough to take a step forward. And with 60 homers and 39 steals over the past two seasons, he’s built a solid foundation to deliver an elite combination of power and speed. Tucker spent most of last season playing fifth or sixth in the roster, but moving up to a premium spot could really raise his ceiling.
5. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (1B, Toronto Blue Jays)
Last year, Guerrero Jr showed that even his disappointing stats are pretty good when he hit .274 with 32 homers, 97 RBIs and 90 runs scored. These numbers should serve as a suggested low for the 23-year-old going forward as he will play many campaigns that are more reminiscent of his 2021 season (48 HR, 111 RBI, 123 R, .311 BA). I see the reason for ignoring Guerrero in the first few elections, but in the second half of the first round, he is a solid option.
6. Mookie Betts (UF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Betts was great last season when he hit 35 homers, 82 RBIs and 117 runs scored. And as Sportzshala colleague Scott Pianovski commented Betts over the years, even his worst seasons are quite valuable in terms of fantasy. Betts no longer steals bags regularly enough to play a role in the opening eight or 10 picks, but he is a high-ranking option closer to the 1-2 round.
7. Aaron Judge (UF, New York Yankees)
After hitting .311 with 62 homers, 131 RBIs and 133 runs last season, Judge deserves consideration as the first overall pick. But the imposing batter still poses a greater risk of injury than the players who preceded him in this article, as he missed 142 games in the 2018-2020 seasons before establishing an improved baseline of stamina over the past two years.
8. Shohei Otani (UTIL, Los Angeles Angels)
Otani has demonstrated undeniable skill as a hitter with 80 homers, 193 runs, 195 RBIs and 37 steals over the past two seasons. And by competing in all but nine competitions in those two years, he has proven himself capable of being a reliable fantasy star while working off the rotation. But Otani will always come with the risk that an injury on the mound could see him miss several starts as the Angels’ designated hitter.
9. Juan Soto (HF, San Diego Padres)
Seemingly one of the safest options a year ago, Soto now carries an element of risk. In 2022, the left-handed batter fared below expectations for the Nats before bottoming out as a member of the Padres and finishing the campaign with .853 OPS, by far the worst performance of his five-year career. I expect Soto to rebound in his 24 year season but I can’t take him higher on this list until he’s back in shape.
[2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]
10. Julio Rodriguez (HF, Seattle Mariners)
Rodriguez’s ceiling is sky-high, but he only has one year of MLB experience and therefore can’t find his name higher on this list of MLB superstars. In addition, the youngster’s rookie season had ups and downs, such as .544 OPS in April and .701 OPS in August. Finally, Rodriguez is known as a speedster, but since last July 1, he has only captured six bases.
11. Ronald Coin Jr. (UF, Atlanta Braves)
Full disclosure: Acuña Jr. is my best overall player for 2023. I’m willing to ignore his warts and use him as an anchor for my line-up, but I also have to admit there’s serious cause for concern after he’s been battling knee soreness since his April 28, 2022 comeback from an ACL tear. ligaments. I expect the 25 year old to once again be the dominant asset in strength speed this year, but I can’t guarantee that it will happen.
12. Jordan Alvarez (WF, Houston Astros)
Alvarez dropped to the bottom of that list when he reported some arm soreness in the early days of spring training. The illness is alarming because Alvarez faced the same problem last August when he dropped to .638 OPS in 23 games. The left-handed slugger also played just two games in the 2020 season and missed a total of 45 competitions in the last two campaigns.