Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Power Ranking Positions You Must Draft First

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorMarch 29, 2012

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - MARCH 25:  Shortstop Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins fields a ground ball against the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at the Charlotte Sports Complex on March 25, 2012 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Having a strong draft strategy is key to building a fantasy baseball champion. However, you have to prioritize what positions you want to draft first. 

Here is a list of which positions you should make a move on early. While other roster spots you can wait on till later in the draft, because of the deep pool of talented players. 

(Note: This list is based on ESPN Fantasy Baseball 10-team AL/NL leagues with standard point scoring and projections are based on 2012 stats.)

1) Shortstop 

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 28, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Picking a shortstop early is key to winning your draft. After a small window of five players, the talent level drops off. According to 2012 projections, only two players from this position will score over 700 points, with six who will score 600 points. 

Who you should draft

If you can grab a player early like Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez, then do it. Both players are projected to finish No. 1 and 2 in the final standings for 2012, and both players should average at least 4.7 points per game. 

If Tulowitzki and Ramirez pass you by, then you should grab Starlin Castro, Jose Reyes, Alexei Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins. All of these players should finish with at least 600 points and average four points per game. 

2) Catcher

The catcher position has a huge drop-off in talent from the top-five to the rest of the players. You shouldn’t go crazy and draft a catcher in round one or two, but picking one of these players in the third or fourth round would be a smart move. 

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 11:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians swings the bat against the Texas Rangers during a spring training baseball game at Surprise Stadium on March 11, 2012 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Who you should draft

Like I said above, this position has five players and then that’s it. 

So you have to make it a point to draft either: Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann or Matt Wieters. 

All five of these players are projected to score between 600-700 points, and will be their teams' everyday catchers. 

However, if you happen to whiff on these five players, you can take a chance on: Miquel Montero, or Buster Posey. Both of these players are projected to score over 515 points this year. 

3) Second Base

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox follows his solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty I
Rob Carr/Getty Images

This position is worthy of a first or second-round pick, because of the small window of elite-level players. If you miss on these top-three guys, then your chances of scrambling to fill this position everyday are increased. 

Who you should draft

Like I said, there are three players and only three players who you have to take early in this position. Those players are: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler. 

All three of these players are projected to score over 700 points in 2012, while averaging five points per game. 

However, if you happen to go a different route, early in your draft, and miss out on these three, then picking Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips or even Dustin Ackley later in the draft will not crush your team. Each of these players are projected to have a solid 2012, where they score over 620 points and average over 4.5 points per game. 

4) Third Base

This position has a group of elite level players that can win you your fantasy league. Third base has the best fantasy player, while having another 11 players that are projected to score between 600-800 points this year. 

Who you should draft

If you have the first pick in your draft, then you have to take Jose Bautista. He has slugged at least 40 home runs in the last two years, while driving in at least 100 RBI. This year, he’s projected to have another huge season, where he finishes with 800 points, averaging 5.1 points per game.

However, if you do not land Bautista with the first or second pick, then you can still get a quality player in Evan Longoria. Longoria is projected to finish 2012 with 759 points, while averaging five points per game. 

After these two fantasy studs, the position still has a deep pool of players that will be a solid addition to your team. These players will average at least four points per game, while finishing 2012 with over 600 points: David Wright, Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Zimmerman or Brett Lawrie.

5) First Base, Outfield and Pitching

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 10:  (L-R) Prince Fielder #28 and Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers stand on the field against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee,
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The last category you should be worried about are these three positions. They are very deep in talent, where if you happen to miss out on the big superstar players, you can make up for it by grabbing quality guys later. 

You can take the top-level players with the first-overall pick as in: Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun. 

However, passing on those five players in round-one for one of the players mentioned above will not kill your team. In fact, it will help your team reach fantasy baseball supremacy. 


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