Fantasy Baseball 2013: Forecasting your Top-10

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

We have had a pretty solid debate going via our Facebook page about who should go after the first 4 picks. It seems unanimous that the first four players off the board in any snake draft should be: Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout and Robinson Cano, though not necessarily in that order. But regardless of order, you should not be reaching past those four guys in the first four picks.

In our Draft Kit we have the top 10 as:

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Miguel Cabrera
  3. Mike Trout
  4. Robbie Cano
  5. Matt Kemp
  6. Andrew McCutchen
  7. Albert Pujols
  8. Joey Votto
  9. Carlos Gonzalez
  10. Prince Fielder

Note a few things about that list:

  1. There are not any pitchers we would justify taking in the first round,  I will get to those reasons in a bit,
  2. Other than Miggy and Cano, these are exclusively first basemen and outfielders
  3. Most of these guys are three-hole hitters, as they offer you the best combined stats in Runs, HR, and RBI.

Before going over those, let’s talk about the players.

Ryan Braun is the most complete and bankable player in the first round, which is why he should go first overall in any snake draft, no matter your categories. He will hit for near (if not more than) the same in Runs, HR, RBI, and AVG. as guys like Miggy, Pujols and Cano, and will steal three times the bags as those others. Trout may steal more and score more runs BUT he will not get within 40 RBI of Braun.

Miguel Cabrera hit for the Triple Crown last season and did it as a 3B, which is terrific for Miggy owners. In all honesty, that might get him to be my first overall pick if I had it. He can mash, everyone knows that. With Torii Hunter coming to town, Detroit is also a stronger lineup than last season. It would be improbable for him to get back to back Triple Crowns, BUT, not impossible.

Then we have Mike Trout, the kid that surpassed ALL the expectations last season, and they were not easy expectations to surpass.  He is a big, strong, fast kid who loves to play the game. His numbers last year were downright amazing, and given another month in the show he would have probably accrued enough numbers to win the MVP trophy from Miggy, Triple Crown or no Triple Crown.  So what do we say about Trout that makes him unworthy of the number 1 overall pick?

First he is batting leadoff, which is great for his Runs, but not so great for his RBI total, even though he had an insane 83 last year. That matters a great deal because RBI is just about the hardest category to gain ground in later in the season. The only other reason you need to cool your jets on Trout is that he is still a possibility for a sophomore slump. Call me negative, but he has created even higher expectations this year, he just might not exceed them. However I highly doubt he completely comes apart or anything of that nature, so take him third confidently, He just doesn’t quite stack up to the more proven commodities of Braun and Cabrera.

Lastly for our Big 4, we have Robbie Cano. Truly, I am a Yankee hater as well as a HUGE Dustin Pedroia fan, but this kid is easily the most valuable 2B and belongs in the Top-4 without a doubt. He hits the ball so well and is a run producing machine. This is what Robbie will do for sure: Play in 160 games, hit over .300, rake in 100 RBI and I like his steady rise in HRs enough to say, hit 30 bombs. For a middle infielder that is about as elite as you can get these days.

Now here is where the first round gets interesting. The next picks are clearly subject to preference, perhaps unique league categories and sheer gut reaction.  For this article we are going to draft on the typical 5 categories:  Runs, HRs, RBI, Steals, AVG. and I am going to explain my preference of player.

Matt Kemp should be the next player off the board. He contributes in ALL five categories, is in the prime of his career, and has NEVER had a better lineup around him than he will next year. I believe he will bounce back in a big way and probably take home an MVP (after being robbed in 2011) in the process. On our Facebook thread someone commented on injury concern. To that I say that he is starting to find his timing at the plate this spring after a slow start and has only had one injury weakened season to his name. I am not sure there is pause for injury here.

Joey Votto is my 6th pick overall because he is an absolute professional hitter!  He will produce great numbers in runs, HRs, RBI and AVG and should even steal double digit bags. He had a down year (in power, anyway) due to injury, but is still in his prime years, and has an improved lineup around him. Also this pick has a little more to do with the knocks on the next two players than it does with my expectations for Votto.

Andrew McCutchen, Dixon made a very compelling argument against McCutchen in our thread.  He pointed out that without much around him, McCutchen is relatively easy to pitch around. So as dynamic as this young star is, he may not get as many opportunities at good pitches as the rest of these first rounders. However, with everything equal, this kid would be a steal at 7, because he will give you great numbers across the board!

Albert Pujols is one of my all-time favorites. More than that, he is one of the all time greats. However, he’s started the last two seasons really  slow and is being relegated to DH in Spring Training right now. The writing is on the wall. Albert is old and on the decline. He may still get you 100-30-110-10-.300, BUT if he has another slow start, and maybe takes a long DL stint at some point, he may destroy your chances at winning your league because you will have passed on so many other great 1B options after drafting Pujols in the first round.

With Fielder going just a pick or two later, and guys like Edwin Encarnacion or Billy Butler available just a couple of rounds later, I would personally pass on Pujols even at this spot. Still, he’s a first round player and with Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton surrounding him, I can see the temptation being too great.

That would of course be in favor of Carlos Gonzalez, but I would not be thrilled about it by any means. Cargo is as dynamic as Braun, Trout, Kemp and McCutchen, he just has so many question marks on him. He also boasts one of the craziest home road splits for an “elite” player.  Of course, there is always the chance that Cargo returns to his 2010 dominance. Still, Cargo has never played more than 150 games in a season, and furthermore, he strikes out A LOT. So if you are all about high risk high reward type guys, Cargo is your man!

Lastly we have Prince Fielder. If I am in a 10-team league, I am excited about this pick only because with the wrap around pick I would be taking Buster Posey. That said, if I am in a 12-team league or deeper, I am taking Buster Posey here and will gladly take whatever criticism is dished out. Prince is a terrific hitter, and is probably about as bankable as they get in round 1, but there is just something about Buster Posey and how he has been ELITE in his 2 real seasons in the majors.

So, this is how I would see your first round going.

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Miguel Cabrera
  3. Mike Trout
  4. Robinson Cano
  5. Matt Kemp
  6. Joey Votto
  7. Andrew McCutchen
  8. Albert Pujols
  9. Carlos Gonzalez
  10. Prince Fielder

To end I want to go back to the things I noted at the top.

First, pass on pitching in round 1. Worst case scenario is that you end up with an even better hitter in your lap in round two because your league mates took the top-tier pitchers. Also, the difference between Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander to Felix Hernandez isn’t that much, so if you get Felix at pick 20, you’ll be fine.

Second we have a lot of 1B and OF in Round 1. So, if you are going to reach for a player, make sure it is a C, 3B or Middle infielder like Buster Posey, David Wright, Jose Reyes or Dustin Pedroia. Otherwise you are reaching for a position that you can easily be drafting for.

Lastly, when in doubt, go for a three-hole hitter as opposed to a lead off or even clean up guy. They just give a better overall shot at the 5 major categories.

Also, remember that it is your team, and you have to cheer for your players. So if you like Andrew McCutchen more than Matt Kemp on a personal note, then who cares where we experts rank them? Within reason of course.

Tags: 2013 Fantasy Baseball Albert Pujols Andrew McCutchen Carlos Gonzalez First Round Joey Votto Matt Kemp Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout Mock Draft Prince Fielder Robinson Cano Ryan Braun

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