Who should I draft in the first round of my fantasy baseball draft?

By no stretch am I going to come here and say that a first-round pick is just as important as a 25th round pick in your fantasy baseball draft, but as far as attention and thought put into each pick, there truly is no comparison. But what if you drafted Michael Harris in the 25th round last year, would you still be saying that? To some degree, you likely still would as who you select in the first round ultimately dictates the rest of your draft. 


Under that premise, it makes sense for us to dig into the first baseman who as the highest ADP and is coming off the board at the average cost of pick 12 in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. Jr. Do we agree with this ADP and should you be looking for him towards the back half of the first round?

Based on the way the player pool has shaken itself out this season, by the time you get into this range, I would argue that all bets are off and you can truly go in any direction. So, with that being said, if Guerrero is the best player available on your board and fits your draft plan, don’t fight it and instead embrace it. 

While he did steal eight bases last year, this is not something that I’m looking to plan for or bank on when constructing my team, so the two main knocks against Guerrero at this point in the draft is that he is not a starting pitcher and that he is not considered a true base stealer. But is everything else that he does enough to warrant that selection?

Guerrero truly was a league winner in 2021, as he hit .311 with 48 home runs, 111 RBI, and 123 runs scored in what was a monster season. Even though it was not at the same level, Guerrero did not exactly disappoint last year as he hit .274 with 32 home runs with 97 RBI and 90 runs scored. 

For anyone that drafted Guerrero based on his 2021 season, then yes, there was some disappointment, but finding that level of security from your first-round pick should not be overlooked as it begins your team build in a secure manner with a strong base of production. 

We do have to answer the big question though, what can we expect from Guerrero in 2023 from a statistical perspective? And for as reasonable and rudimentary as it might be, can we just split the difference between his last two seasons?

For starters, Guerrero’s expected home run totals in the last two years were 48 and 30 so he is performing as we would expect him while also not seeing any benefits from his home park. After the fences being moved in for Guerrero’s home games in Toronto, that can only serve to benefit the first baseman. 

From a Statcast perspective, Guerrero’s batted ball performance is truly so good that he ranks in the upper percentiles across just about all metrics to the point that I’m not sure how much value there is in listing them all. Essentially, when the ball hits Guerrero’s bat, great things tend to happen. The fact that his strikeout rates from the last two seasons were just 15.8% and 16.4% make things that much better. Toronto’s strong lineup also ensures that Guerrero will often see pitches to hit and there will be traffic on base ahead of him in most situations. 

The only knock we can find on Guerrero is the fact that his average launch angle last season was just 4.3 degrees. It does make it that much more impressive to see his home run totals from a year ago, but even in 2021, Guerrero’s average launch angle was just 9.4 degrees. Simply put, Guerrero’s swing does not have a ton of loft, but it clearly doesn’t stop him from putting the ball over the wall. Based on his expected home runs from the last two seasons, we can continue to feel good about that potential and the fact that Toronto has moved the fences in only helps here. 

If Guerrero’s swing continues to develop and he adds some more loft, or even brings it back to his 2021 levels in which it clearly did not impact his ability to be a .300 hitter, then another 40-plus home run season, with the possibility of flirting with 50, is very possible. 

No player is a sure thing, but Guerrero is pretty close to it, and that makes him worthy of a first-round selection. 


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