With spring training just two weeks away, fans from all over the world will be tuning in to see their favorite teams hit the diamond, as baseball returns for another season. Some fans will tune to see how the newest team additions will flourish in changes of scenery. Others will just want to see their favorite players and teams return to action.
For those taking part in fantasy baseball, a few other things are on the line, like bragging rights and possibly a cash prize. Many will have their own strategies going to the upcoming draft. Also, questions arise such as which position to pick first. When the player they want is taken off the board, who do they go with?
Every pick and every adjustment will count for those who wish to climb to the top of their leagues. Fantasy baseball can be fun, but also a grind considering the season consists of 162 games.
Let’s take a look at some of the top picks in the draft pool, and some of my own.
ESPN.com indicates that Los Angeles Angels outfielder, Mike Trout, is the projected No. 1 overall pick on the draft board. This is surprising to some people solely on the fact that he missed a quarter of the 2017 season due to a thumb injury. But what he accomplished was nothing to sneeze at.
The six-time All-Star finished last season with a .306 batting average, 33 home runs and 22 stolen bases, not to mention he had a career-high slugging percentage at .629.
Following Trout is Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. The league leader in batting average and American League MVP was an instrumental piece in the Astros’ title run. The 27-year-old has posted at least a .313 batting average in each of his last four seasons. Do not let the 24 home runs fool you. He has messed with the best on the pitcher’s mound.
MLB.com has identified Dodgers ace, Clayton Kershaw, as the top pitching prospect in the fantasy pool, and with good reason. Kershaw has consistently shown the danger he brings to the opponent’s batting lineup, not to mention he is a seven-time All-Star. Kershaw led the NL in ERA in five of the last seven seasons and has won three Cy Young awards in a four-year span at one point.
More High-Profile Names
Another top-five pick to come after before anyone else is Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Although his defensive prowess has landed him in the spotlight, his batting has been catching fire in recent years. The 26-year-old smashed at least 37 homers in each of the last three seasons, and his .309 batting average last season is the highest of his career.
And how about Arenado’s defense? He has won a Gold Glove award in each of his five seasons, along with Wilson Defensive Player of the Year honors for his position in each of the last three seasons. Must I present further proof?
Another pitcher that should be on everybody’s radar is Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale. The six-time All-Star pitched with the White Sox in his first seven seasons before being traded to Boston in 2017. It is safe to say that he hasn’t lost a step. Sale went 17-8 in his first season in Boston and posted a 2.90 ERA.
Sale still hasn’t won a Cy Young yet, but blink once and you will foolishly miss what Sale can deliver.
As the draft approaches, here are a few pieces of advise for anyone getting into fantasy sports for the first time.
First, keep an eye on any notifications from the league, specifically for injuries. The sooner you find out any of your players are injured, the sooner you can react and adjust to fill in the ranks.
Second, do not be afraid if you are not very satisfied with your picks. You are not forced to keep all players you picked for the entire season. Throughout the season, you can pick and choose from the hundreds of players still in the pool after the draft has passed.
And with that, I wish the many taking part in the next fantasy season good luck.
Featured image from supportespn.com/fantasy baseball
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