Your 2017 Fantasy Baseball Primer

The season is about to kick off, which means fantasy drafts are taking place as we speak. Here is everything you need to know to prepare for the 2017 fantasy season, using a Donald Trump budget theme, courtesy of someone who has won his league three of the last four years:

  • Hard power. With the league-wide explosion in home runs over the past two years you no longer need to emphasize power. That means you can de-value home run-reliant players like Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and pretty much every other Oriole.
  • Stealing from the poor. Considering the paucity of steals in the league, it would be wise to target one of these guys: Billy Hamilton, whose BA, OBP, and base-stealing efficiency numbers are all trending in the right direction, giving him an outside shot at being the first player to make a run at 100 steals since the Rickey Era; as well as Dee Gordon, Jonathan Villar, Trea Turner, and Jarrod Dyson.
  • Meals on wheels. Speaking of steals, every year a couple of previously reliable base thieves age and/or eat themselves out of providing swiped bags. Who might be ready for a somewhat surprising decline in the steals category? How about Will Myers, Ian Desmond (injury+Coors=fewer attempts), and Jacoby Ellsbury.
  • The top 1%. There are nine players who I think clearly set themselves apart as first-round picks – i.e., they’re basically guaranteed to be top-25 players. They are, in order and separated into two tiers: Kershaw, Trout, Betts, Altuve/Goldschmidt, Arenado, Bryant, Scherzer, and Bumgarner.
  • Public broadcasting cuts. This isn’t about fantasy baseball, but I have to point out that Vin Scully is no longer calling Dodgers games. Sad! No wonder the world is falling apart.
  • Great Lakes restoration. Justin Verlander’s return to elite status is real, and I have him as my seventh-ranked pitcher heading into the draft. But I think most of the fantasy-worthy Tigers can be safely picked in the same range as their average draft position (ADP), including Miggy, Kinsler, Upton, Fulmer, V. Mart,  and Castellanos. I’m a little wary of J.D. Martinez, though.
  • National Endowment for the (Baseball) Arts. Some people are endowed with more baseball talent than others, to the point that they can come on the scene and make a huge impact at an early age. Some of the whippersnappers who I foresee having big years, and who are worthy of being drafted earlier than their ADPs, include Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, Javier Baez, Byron Buxton, Jameson Taillon, Sean Manaea, and Tim Anderson.
  • Refill the swamp. This looks like the best version of the Nationals that we’ve seen, and for fantasy purposes I’m buying into Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, Strasburg, Adam Eaton, and Anthony Rendon. However, I can’t say I’m really excited about Bryce Harper, and his one season of 150-plus games played (2015), in the first round or early second round.

Well, there you have it. Assuming society is still teetering on the brink six months or so from now, instead of having completely fallen off the ledge, I believe these tips will help you succeed in your fantasy baseball league.

Now we just need to work on developing a fantasy reality league. Come on, Zuckerberg, get on it.

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