15 Fantasy Baseball Players You Must Target in the First Round

Fantasy Baseball: 15 Players You Must Target in the First Round

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With Opening Day right around the corner, fantasy baseball drafts everywhere are kicking off in earnest. Whether you participate in an auction or typical snake draft format, the tenets of the game still ring true across the board. If you're trying to figure out who you must take on draft day, here's a list of players to consider.

15. David Wright

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15. David Wright

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David Wright is one of the best third basemen in the game and when he's healthy, he is a lock to finish in the top 20 in points. When you factor in position scarcity, Wright is a great choice for anyone picking late in the first round.

14. Bryce Harper

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14. Bryce Harper

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While Bryce Harper battled injuries last season, he still hasn't come close to matching his enormous potential. Harper showed up to Spring Training in the best shape of his life and what follows could be the breakout year everyone has been waiting for.

13. Yu Darvish

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13. Yu Darvish

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Darvish is one of only two pitchers on this list, as snagging the top hitters is generally a better bet this early in the draft. That being said, Darvish is one of the rare pitchers worth a first-round selection as his wins, strikeout rate and lack of runs allowed combine to make him a very dangerous weapon in fantasy.

12. Adrian Beltre

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12. Adrian Beltre

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Adrian Beltre's numbers have taken off since getting to Texas, and he consistently finds himself at the top of the third base rankings. While Beltre turns 35 in April, he's likely got at least one more very good season under his belt and should be a first-round consideration in all formats.

11. Joey Votto

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11. Joey Votto

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Although Joey Votto's power production has taken a bit of a hit lately, he still remains a virtual lock to hit over .300 with 20 plus home runs. Votto has also led the league in walks in each of the past three seasons, so he's a good bet to be on base quite a bit. He should be a sure-fire first-rounder in every draft that has more than 10 teams.

10. Chris Davis

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10. Chris Davis

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Last season, Chris Davis came out of nowhere to lead the majors in home runs with 53. There are some who will wonder whether Davis is a flash in the pan, but he did hit 33 homers in 2012. It remains to be seen whether Davis can replicate his 2013 numbers, but his potential makes him a good bet to be a first rounder on draft day.

9. Hanley Ramirez

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9. Hanley Ramirez

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Hanley Ramirez is one of the few middle infielders worthy of being a first-round pick. Of course, that comes with the caveat that he must stay on the field, making him perhaps a bit more risky than some other first-round talents. However, to land a player like Ramirez at a thin position gives teams a significant advantage.

8. Clayton Kershaw

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8. Clayton Kershaw

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Clayton Kershaw is an anomaly in these rankings as he's the only pitcher I deem worthy of a top-10 pick on draft day. Like many aces, Kershaw can fall victim to poor run support, affecting his win totals, but he's a pretty good bet to be in the Cy Young conversation once the season is over and can anchor any fantasy team he's on.

7. Carlos Gonzalez

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7. Carlos Gonzalez

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When Carlos Gonzalez remains healthy, he's one of the best all-around players in baseball. Couple that with the fact that he plays his home games in Colorado, he's a good bet to be one of the top overall scorers when the season ends.

6. Troy Tulowitzki

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6. Troy Tulowitzki

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Much like his teammate Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki blends a ridiculous amount of talent with a frustrating inability to stay healthy for a full season. Tulo is the ultimate risk/reward pick; as a shortstop, he provides the drafting team a rare advantage over every other team in the league (save for Hanley Ramirez owners), but that's only IF he remains off the disabled list.

5. Paul Goldschmidt

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5. Paul Goldschmidt

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Paul Goldschmidt went from surprise fantasy contributor to one of the top fantasy players in all of baseball last season. Goldschmidt had a MVP-caliber season in 2013 and hopes to replicate that production this year. While Goldschmidt doesn't have the proven track record of some of these other guys, he's still young and should be taken in the mid-first round in every draft.

4. Robinson Cano

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4. Robinson Cano

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While Robinson Cano's power numbers could suffer moving from the short porch at Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field, he's still a pretty good bet to be the top-ranked second baseman when the dust settles. Cano doesn't have as good a lineup as he had in New York, but most of his lineup protection was injured last year and it didn't affect his numbers one bit. You should continue to draft him with confidence in the top five.

3. Andrew McCutchen

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3. Andrew McCutchen

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Andrew McCutchen has established himself as one of the top overall players in baseball, showing a rare blend of speed, power and defense. While defense is rarely counted in fantasy baseball, the former two traits make him a must-draft if you pick in the top five. McCutchen is one of the few players in the league capable of going 30-30, which he may very well do one of these years.

2. Mike Trout

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2. Mike Trout

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Mike Trout burst onto the scene as a rookie two seasons ago and hasn't slowed down at all since. He is an absolute machine offensively and if you don't take him first overall, you better take him second.

1. Miguel Cabrera

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1. Miguel Cabrera

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Was there any question who No. 1 would be? Miguel Cabrera is the best player in fantasy baseball and although his position scarcity will lessen a bit this season with his move back to first base, he still represents a huge upgrade over just about everyone else at that position. If you're fortunate enough to land Cabrera on draft day, thank your lucky stars and know that you've landed a bona fide fantasy stud.


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