Fantasy Baseball: Re-drafting the first two rounds
Wonder how the draft would look today? Scott White assesses the changing Fantasy Baseball landscape and tests whether we would approach the high-end players any differently.
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A lot has changed over the first one-third of the season (yup, that's about how far we've come).
But maybe not as much as you think.
One useful exercise for keeping up with the changing Fantasy Baseball landscape is to consider what the first two rounds of a draft would look like at various points in the season. It's all about today-forward. You're not getting credit for whatever numbers a player has already accumulated, but of course those numbers are sure to influence your opinion about him. To what extent they should is part of what we're looking to determine.
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Taking a moment to reset and approach every player as if the season was only starting today puts those knee-jerk reactions to the test. Steeped in the level-headedness of a draft, we're more likely to see the big picture.
But hey, there are differences. Player value hasn't remained stagnant all this time. And so now's when we take the time to put it in perspective.
Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels CF
|Now who could have seen that coming?|
Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox RF
|After taking a step back last year, Mookie Betts has reiterated he's a five-category stud and may well finish with better numbers than Mike Trout , but the power production has to come back down to earth.|
Jose Altuve Houston Astros 2B
|Home runs often come in bunches, and no part of Jose Altuve's batted-ball profile suggests he'll hit fewer than expected. Gotta wonder about those stolen bases, though ...|
Bryce Harper Washington Nationals RF
|Even with outrageous batted-ball luck, Bryce Harper has been an out-and-out stud. Expect even better days ahead.|
Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies 3B
|Nolan Arenado hasn't got much help from his supporting cast so far and needs to pick up the home-run pace, but he's still among the safest studs in Fantasy.|
Charlie Blackmon Colorado Rockies CF
|A road-heavy schedule has denied Charlie Blackmon the BABIP magic we've come to expect from him, but he has maintained the power gains from a year ago. That was the biggest question, right?|
Manny Machado Baltimore Orioles SS
|Playing for a payday and a chance to leave Baltimore, Manny Machado has blossomed into everything we hoped he could be, making him a definitive first-round bat.|
Max Scherzer Washington Nationals SP
|We've gotten the best-case scenario for Max Scherzer and the worst for Clayton Kershaw so far. And yet both would have seemed plausible coming into the season, which is why I'm willing to lean into it now.|
Jose Ramirez Cleveland Indians 3B
|A first-round performer a year ago, there were lingering questions about Jose Ramirez's power potential that pushed him to the second round this spring. How funny it seems now.|
Trea Turner Washington Nationals SS
|Though he may go a couple spots later in points leagues, where his stolen bases aren't as impactful, Trea Turner has been no less of a stud in that format despite some underwhelming batted-ball tendencies. In no way has he overachieved, so the impact is undeniable.|
Chris Sale Boston Red Sox SP
|After a frustrating period of limiting his innings in April, the Red Sox have turned Chris Sale loose in May, and he has been as studly as ever.|
Corey Kluber Cleveland Indians SP
|Corey Kluber actually hasn't been as overpowering as a year ago, but he has been plenty effective still. A pitcher with his ability who provides his length in today's environment is obviously first-round material.|
Aaron Judge New York Yankees RF
|Turns out Aaron Judge really is that much of a freak, getting nearly as much out of what little contact he makes as a year ago. He's an anomaly in many ways, but I'm willing to rate him at face value now.|
J.D. Martinez Boston Red Sox DH
|Though always a high-BABIP guy, J.D. Martinez has pushed it to its limits this year. But with his recent home run binge reaffirming his power gains of a year ago, it doesn't matter if the batting average comes down.|
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves 1B
|Though Freddie Freeman has distanced himself from the rest of first base, it's a position with a lot of correction coming. No points for scarcity here.|
Carlos Correa Houston Astros SS
|So ... Machado over Carlos Correa . This much we can say with certainty now. But the latter's skills haven't eroded in any way, and he's probably just a hot streak away from reminding us how much potential he offers at a weak position.|
Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians SS
|Francisco Lindor has already had the sort of hot streak we're waiting to see from Correa, confirming that his power gains from a year ago were legit. The collateral damage hasn't been as striking either, but it's worth pointing out that his strikeout rate is up.|
Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs 3B
|Kris Bryant hasn't done anything to fall in the rankings, actually continuing his development as an all-around hitter with improved strikeout and line-drive rates, but many of the players who were within striking distance have done what they needed to do to zoom past him.|
Gerrit Cole Houston Astros SP
|So is Kluber really seven players better than Gerrit Cole ? Look, moving a pitcher who few considered an ace coming into the year into the top 24 just two months later is a meteoric enough rise for now.|
Justin Verlander Houston Astros SP
|For all of Justin Verlander's ups and downs the past few years, he has consistently saved his best work for the second half, so the fact he's off to this kind of start in his first full season with those data-mining magicians in Houston has me buying the 35-year-old as a full-fledged ace.|
Luis Severino New York Yankees SP
|What about Luis Severino skeptics -- do they still exits? Didn't think so. The one hesitation is whether the jump in innings last year comes back to bite him this year, but health is of course a concern for every pitcher. True aces are increasingly rare, and he has proven to be one.|
Gary Sanchez New York Yankees C
|Gary Sanchez has continued to pull away from the pack at catcher, and he has done so with a disastrous BABIP -- the sort that would normally have his owners asking what's wrong with him.|
Giancarlo Stanton New York Yankees DH
|After scaring people with a bunch of strikeouts early, Giancarlo Stanton has brought his numbers back to about where they always were prior to last year. That version is good enough to draft here, and with the way his May has gone, I'm not ruling out further improvement.|
Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds 1B
|Joey Votto's always exceptional plate discipline probably moves him ahead of Stanton in points leagues and should give you hope that the notoriously slow starter is as skilled as ever with the bat. It could be worse, right? I mean, you don't see Paul Goldschmidt here.|
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