2012 Fantasy Baseball: First Round Drama

2012 Fantasy Baseball: First Round Drama

Should Justin Upton be a first round pick in standard 10-team fantasy baseball leagues?

Steve Hamby @SteveOnSportsOK on Twitter

Got an interesting question from a Twitter follower recently that made me re-think how I approach drafting and fantasy baseball in general.

The tweet was – @liebsj ”Need some #fantasybaseball advice!! Got 1st overall in 5-year Keeper league – go with Kemp, Pujols, J Upton or Miggy? PLEASE help.”

The fact that he was considering Matt Kemp and Justin Upton over Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols went against everything I had been told about drafting and running a fantasy baseball team even in a 5-year keeper league.

But is he onto something?

Here are some player comparisons from 2011. Which one would you take?


Player A – 105 Rs, 31 HRs, 88 RBIs, 21 SBs, .240 ISO, .289 AVG

Player B – 115 Rs, 39 HRs, 126 RBIs, 40 SBs, .262 ISO, .324 AVG

Player C – 105 Rs, 37 HRs, 105 RBIs, 9 SBs, .242 ISO, .299 AVG

Player D – 111 Rs, 30 HRs, 105 RBIs, 2 SBs, .241 ISO, .344 AVG

Obviously, Player B jumps off of the page with his combination of power and speed. Finding 40-ish HRs and 40-ish SBs from one spot in your lineup can go a long way towards winning your 2012 fantasy baseball league.

Player B is Matt Kemp who is currently being drafted (on average) behind Player C (Albert Pujols) and Player D (Miguel Cabrera).

Player A is Juston Upton who is being taken in the 2nd Round of standard 10-team leagues.

Now, according to average draft position of players, you shouldn’t be able to get an ideal combination of Kemp, Pujols, or Cabrera to matchup with Upton in the 2nd Round. So what are we to do?

Decide for yourself whether you think 1.) Matt Kemp can repeat his 2011 fantasy baseball numbers and 2.)Justin Upton has reached his ceiling.

If the answer to 1. is “yes” then you take Matt Kemp #1 overall. If it is “no” then you take a safer bet like Cabrera or Pujols.

If the answer to 2. is “yes” then you take a Upton (a 5-tool player) where he is being drafted. If the answer is “no” then he should be drafted before guys like Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, and Joey Votto.

There are other things to take into consideration such as risks and ages.

Cabrera turns 29 in less than a month and Albert Pujols is 32. You know what you are getting with these guys and they are much safer plays.

Justin Upton is 25 and, I think, has a 35HR/25SB ceiling that he will hit this year and for the next several.

Matt Kemp is 27 and should be hitting his stride as a pro ball player.

I took Kemp #1 overall in a 20-team mixed league where the margin for drafting error is very small. But if he can turn in another 40/40 season – wait – if he can turn in a 30/30 season with decent average I think he returns #1 pick value.

If you have had past success playing it safe then, by all means, stick to your formula. But if you’re looking to shake things up and take the high risk – high reward approach, then get your hands on either Kemp or Upton.

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