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Who to Pick First in Your 2020 MLB Fantasy Draft

| May 16, 2020 2:39 am PDT
2020 MLB Fantasy Draft

We’re approaching that time of year when MLB fantasy drafts are becoming prevalent. One of the most exciting times of fantasy baseball leagues is finding out the draft order — especially for those who land the first pick.

It’s been several years since I was awarded the top selection in my league, but I want to be prepared in case 2020 is when the trend gets broken.

What if you are on the clock when your 2020 MLB fantasy draft gets underway? Who will you draft first?

Let’s examine the 11 candidates worthy of consideration.

Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

2019 Stats

  • .291 BA
  • 45 HR
  • 101 RBI
  • .438 OBP
  • .645 SLG

Mike Trout captured his third AL MVP Trophy in 2019 despite being limited to just 134 games. It’s worth noting that Trout has missed 98 games over the last three years, but it’s also worth pointing out that it hasn’t stopped him from filling up the stat sheet with gaudy numbers.

If a crystal ball told you Mike would be on the field for 150+ games, it’d be hard to argue picking anyone else ahead of him.

Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves 

2019 Stats

  • .280 BA
  • 41 HR
  • 101 RBI
  • 37 Stolen Bases
  • 127 Runs

If you play in a fantasy baseball league with custom scoring, pay close attention to how much each statistic is worth. If stolen bases are held to a high standard, Ronald Acuna Jr. deserves to be the top pick.

Heck, you can make a case for picking Acuna Jr. first overall in standard-scoring leagues as well. He’s protected by Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman in the batting order and has zero weaknesses to speak of.

Coming off an NL-high 37 steals and 127 runs, the upside attached to Ronald is shooting through the roof.

Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

2019 Stats

  • .329 BA
  • 44 HR
  • 30 Stolen Bases
  • .429 OBP
  • .671 SLG

No player in baseball averaged more fantasy points per game than Christian Yelich did in 2019. Perhaps the best five-tool player in baseball, a late-season knee injury is the only thing that held Yelich back from winning his second consecutive NL MVP Award.

Yelich led the National League in hitting during each of the last two seasons and is a force to be reckoned with on the basepaths. Considering he hit 44 HR in 130 games, Christian could be staring at the Triple Crown in 2020.

Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees

2019 Stats

  • 1 Innings Pitched
  • 20-5 Record
  • 50 ERA
  • 326 Strikeouts
  • 8 SO/9

Gerrit Cole strolls into the Big Apple after breaking the record for the largest contract in the history of the sport. Nevertheless, Cole will have the biggest impact of all the MLB free agents in 2020. Not only are his strikeout numbers simply off the charts, but his 2.50 ERA was the lowest in the entire AL a season ago.

Having a bonafide ace on your staff goes a long, long way in fantasy baseball, and they don’t get any better than Gerrit Cole. 

Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers  

2019 Stats

  • .295 BA
  • 135 Runs
  • 40 Doubles
  • 29 HR
  • 97 Walks

Everybody is saying the 2018 AL MVP had a down year in 2019. Imagine if your “down year” included a .391 OBP and a Major-League leading 135 runs scored.

Mookie Betts arrives in Los Angeles and is slated to hit leadoff, meaning his opportunities to score runs will be plentiful. A fifth straight Gold Glove might not help out your fantasy team, but his ability to contribute in all rotisserie categories makes him a viable candidate to be the first pick in your MLB fantasy draft.

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers  

2019 Stats

  • .305 BA
  • 47 HR
  • 115 RBI
  • 97 Walks
  • 15 Stolen Bases

Cody Bellinger tapered off dramatically as the season wore on and was especially disappointing in the playoffs. In fact, Cody Bellinger’s deterioration is one of the main reasons I predict the Dodgers won’t win the 2020 World Series.

At the same time, 47 jacks and 15 stolen bases combined with stellar discipline at the plate do wonders in fantasy baseball. 

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

2019 Stats

  • .315 BA
  • 41 HR
  • 118 RBI
  • 102 Runs
  • 343 Total Bases

If you don’t want to take any chances with the first pick in your 2020 fantasy baseball draft, do yourself a favor and pluck Nolan Arenado off the board.

The Rockies’ “hot corner” has appeared in 155 or more games in each of the last five years and has racked up all sorts of video-game-like numbers.

Nolan Arenado – By the Numbers
Year Doubles HR RBI BA
2015 43 42 130 .287
2016 35 41 133 .294
2017 43 37 130 .309
2018 38 38 110 .297
2019 31 41 118 .315

I rest my case.

Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

2019 Stats

  • .284 BA
  • 32 HR
  • 40 Doubles
  • 22 Stolen Bases
  • 101 Runs

Shortstop isn’t nearly as deep as outfield or third base, which is why drafting Francisco Lindor with the first pick in MLB fantasy drafts isn’t the worst idea.

His ceiling might not match the likes of Mike Trout or Ronald Acuna Jr., but Lindor’s got a substantial floor and plays a position that’s incredibly scarce. That’s enough to warrant being part of the “1st pick” conversation.

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros

2019 Stats

  • .296 BA
  • 41 HR
  • 112 RBI
  • 122 Runs
  • 119 Walks

Without shortstop eligibility, Alex Bregman is on the brink of being a top-5 pick. However, having SS eligibility puts the Houston infielder firmly in the discussion for being the top pick in your 2020 MLB fantasy draft.

Of course, how much of his remarkable 119:83 BB:K ratio in 2019 had to do with Astros personnel stealing signs remains to be seen. But for now, I’ll give Bregman the benefit of the doubt.

Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets

2019 Stats

  • 204 Innings Pitched
  • 11-8 Record
  • 43 ERA
  • 255 Strikeouts
  • 3 SO/9

Speaking in terms of fantasy baseball, it’s hard to call Jacob deGrom anything but a poor man’s version of Gerrit Cole. With that being said, a lot can change from one year to the next in Major League Baseball.

If the Mets catch fire and win a bunch of games, deGrom’s status gets elevated into another stratosphere. As opposed to just being one of the first pitchers off the board, he turns into one of the first players to be drafted.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

2019 Stats

  • .319 BA
  • 34 HR
  • 44 Doubles
  • 126 RBI
  • 117 Runs

Anthony Rendon led the Big Leagues in RBI in 2019, and now he’ll be hitting behind Mike Trout in Los Angeles.

Talk about a reliable bat in the middle of your lineup, Rendon has amassed 41 or more doubles in three straight seasons. He continues refining his batting average (.301 in 2017, .308 in 2018, .319 in 2019) and posted an OPS+ of 1.010.

Don’t look now, but Anthony could end 2020 as fantasy baseball’s top-scoring individual.

The Verdict Is In…

Give me Ronald Acuna Jr.

Ronald possesses immense power at the dish and could potentially lead the MLB in HRs. He’s also on the shortlist of legitimate candidates to lead the league in SB. How’s that for a deadly combo in your fantasy baseball league?

Keep in mind — as proficient as Acuna Jr. was at the plate during his second season in Atlanta, he was still just a 21-year-old kid learning the ropes. The sky is the limit in year three.

The Braves outfielder was my pick in my NL MVP prediction post, and I pegged the Braves to win it all when I covered the 2020 World Series odds.

It’s not rocket science that Ronald gets my vote to be the first pick in 2020 MLB fantasy drafts.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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