Being the No. 1 pick in a fantasy draft carries a lot of weight. It signifies that you are the best of the best and that you have what it takes to carry a team to a championship.
Major League Baseball players don't actually think in terms of how they can help your fantasy team, sadly, but that doesn't mean you can't do it for them. If you are lucky enough to have the top pick, you will no doubt study trends in age and performance for the players you might be considering.
Instead of leaving all the heavy lifting to you, we wanted to provide you with a handy guide about what you must do if you have the No. 1 pick. Here are the players, ranked for your convenience, that should be in the conversation for that selection.
Note: Rankings are based on standard rotisserie drafts, not keeper leagues or head-to-head leagues.
No. 3: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun actually had a better season in 2012 than he did when he won the National League MVP Award in 2011. He hit a career-high 41 home runs, drove in 112 runs, scored 108 runs and stole 30 bases.
To put that into context, the only other player in baseball to go 30-30 was named Mike Trout. While Trout was being touted as a once-in-a-generation talent, which he certainly appears to be, Braun almost got lost in the shuffle because there wasn't an MVP campaign for him.
Braun is going to be 29—right in the middle of a typical hitter's peak years—so he could be a consistent 30-30 threat for another year or two. When you add in the fact he hits over .300 every year, you have one of the most valuable fantasy players in baseball.
No. 2: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Who will be the No. 1 fantasy player in 2013?
There is a huge difference between Cabrera and the two other players on this list. Cabrera isn't the athlete that they are, but he is the best pure hitter in baseball. Since fantasy is all about offensive production, how do you not include him on this list?
Since being traded to the Tigers prior to the 2008 season, here are Cabrera's season averages in every major offensive category: 37 home runs, 102 runs scored, 120 RBI, 192 hits, 41 doubles, .323 average.
That level of consistency is something so rare in baseball that you almost want to make him the consensus No. 1 player. The only thing that stops me is the fact that he provides no real value on the bases—at least as far as stolen bases.
Cabrera is about as perfect a hitter as one can imagine, so he doesn't have to do anything else to warrant being taken No. 1 in a draft. There is just one other player who provides slightly more fantasy value.
No. 1: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Of course it comes down to Cabrera vs. Trout. Why wouldn't the argument continue heading into 2013?
While we are not going to get preachy about the MVP here, since that isn't what we are talking about, Trout made his ascent to the No. 1 spot in fantasy baseball look almost too easy last season.
Despite missing a month playing in Triple-A while the Angels let Vernon Wells take up a roster spot for reasons unknown, Trout had an historic season that almost makes expectations for him this year too high.
Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs, 129 runs scored, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases. He also collected 182 hits, 27 doubles and eight triples. And he did all that playing most of the season at just 20 years old.
I can't sit here and tell you if Trout will be able to duplicate those numbers again, especially considering how young he is. But I do know that he doesn't have to be that incredible to be the most valuable fantasy player.
When you can change the game on offense in the number of ways Trout can, even a slight drop in production is going to make you more valuable than any other fantasy player out there. Believe the hype, folks, because he is going to be great for a long, long time.