(When our friends over at FanDuel.com asked me if they could do quick a guest post on the upcoming fantasy baseball season, it was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. No one knows the sport of baseball and the fantasy implications of it all, quite like they do.
Enjoy, and when you get a moment, hop over to their site, and definitely check out the good work they're doing.
Each year, there always seems to be a mild debate over who should be the No. 1 pick in a fantasy baseball draft. Most of the time it does not get too heated, because one guy tends to stand out. In 2013, there seems to be three legitimate options that are all very close: Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Mike Trout. So with the No. 1 pick, who should you end up taking?
By now, every baseball fan is well aware of Cabrera’ historic season in 2012. The American League went without a Triple Crown winner since the 1960s, but Detroit’s third baseman had a hot bat nearly the entire season. His only weakness as a baseball player does not matter in fantasy baseball, as most leagues do nothing as far as defense is concerned.
Hitting wise, it is hard to argue with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. While those same power numbers might not happen again in 2013, his average continues to be solid each and every season.
Speaking of historic seasons, Trout started 2012 in the minor leagues and ended it in a huge American League MVP debate. While Cabrera had the nice, neat Triple Crown statistics, a very strong argument could be made that Trout was the best player in baseball. In fact, according to final 2012 fantasy rankings, he was the best.
What sets Trout apart from the other two is his ability to steal bases. Many are projecting that he won’t be able to match his power and average numbers from last year (30 home runs, .326 average), but even if he doesn’t he could still provide a lot of value and be worthy of the top pick. Some look at his youth as being a plus, while other see it as being a minus.
Finally, Braun quietly put up another consistent season in Milwaukee, hitting .319 with 41 home runs, 112 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He is kind of a hybrid of Cabrera and Trout in that he doesn’t do anything better than both of them, but he borrows aspects from each one. As long as he has his health and his legs, he will continue to provide value as an all-around, five-tool slugger. His team might hold him back slightly in the runs and RBI department, but nothing to be too worried about.
As you can see, there are many ways to go in this situation. Trusting Trout to duplicate his performance from a year ago seems less of a sure thing, and Braun continues to be linked to PED scandals that could wear him down. For that reason, Cabrera seems like the safest pick at No. 1, but to be honest, this could be the perfect year to have the No. 3 pick and let the two owners in front of you make the tough choices.