If pitchers and catchers reporting is the first official sign of spring, then the initial rumblings about fantasy baseball drafts is the first sign that hardball is right around the corner.
The Boston Red Sox are back to defend their World Series title on the field, but the race for the crown in your fantasy league is far more important. With that in mind, here is a mock first round (assuming a 10-team league) and then some details on a few players who you should consider with your opening pick.
|1||Mike Trout||Outfield||Los Angeles Angels|
|2||Miguel Cabrera||First Base||Detroit Tigers|
|3||Andrew McCutchen||Outfield||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|4||Clayton Kershaw||Pitcher||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|5||Paul Goldschmidt||First Base||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|6||Chris Davis||First Base||Baltimore Orioles|
|7||Robinson Cano||Second Base||Seattle Mariners|
|8||Hanley Ramirez||Shortstop||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|9||Carlos Gonzalez||Outfield||Colorado Rockies|
|10||Troy Tulowitzki||Shortstop||Colorado Rockies|
All projected picks are personal opinion
Note: Miguel Cabrera included as a first baseman after the Detroit Tigers traded Prince Fielder.
Paul Goldschmidt: First Base, Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt doesn’t get as much recognition as a number of other superstars largely because he plays in Arizona, but expect that to change this year when he puts up his second consecutive monster season.
ESPN Fantasy Sports is anticipating this as well, and ranked him accordingly:
Goldschmidt produced across the board last year with a .302 average, 36 home runs, 125 RBIs, 103 runs and 99 walks. What’s more, he even swiped 15 bases last season, so you are getting a rare power-hitting first baseman who will contribute a bit in the steals department.
The concern with Goldschmidt is the lack of elite support surrounding him in the Arizona lineup, but he produced last year with the same issues. There is no reason to think he can’t do the same again.
Chris Davis: First Base, Baltimore Orioles
There are few players in the entire league with the type of ceiling that Chris Davis has heading into the 2014 campaign.
He hit a respectable .286 last year, but it was his power numbers that made him so valuable as a late-round steal. Davis posted 53 home runs and 138 RBIs and also scored 103 times.
Who would you rather have at first base?
However, picking Davis with one of the first five picks is a high-risk, high-reward venture. He only walked 72 times compared to 199 strikeouts, so his pitch selection could use some improvement. More pressing for fantasy implications though are potential durability concerns.
Last season was the first time in Davis’ career that he played in more than 139 games and only the third time in seven seasons he even reached triple digits in that department.
There is a chance that Davis comes back down to earth a bit in 2014 after an incredible 2013 campaign. Considering his status as one of the best power hitters in the game though, that is probably a risk that is worth taking in the first round.
Robinson Cano: Second Base, Seattle Mariners
Speaking of risks, Robinson Cano will no longer have the friendly short porch awaiting him in Yankee Stadium for 81 games in 2014.
Safeco Field, the home of Cano’s new team the Seattle Mariners, is known as something of a pitcher’s park. However, Cano is still valuable as a first-round pick because the depth at second base is nothing compared to the likes of first base, outfield or even shortstop and third base.
Furthermore, if his comments to Matthew Sizemore of klewtv.com when he reported to spring training are any indication, he is ready to go for his new team:
Feels good, was exciting you know…Get to spend time with teammates, coaches...you know, new team, all new faces. Faces I've played against with, now we're on the same team and I had a lot of fun today.
Cano will be expected to carry Seattle’s offense this season. He may not be able to do the same for your fantasy team, but he is by far the best second baseman available this year. That makes him worth a look in the first round.
Follow me on Twitter: