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Who is The First Pick for Fantasy Baseball Drafts in 2024?

Ronald Acuna Jr. - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Injury News, Betting Picks

We all love the conundrum that comes inherently with having the first pick in a fantasy draft. The first stage is joy. The second stage is thinking about that shiny star being the centerpiece of your burgeoning team. The third stage is unadulterated fear; what happens if your pick fails to live up to the hype? Can you survive the scrutiny of your peers in the league? In most seasons, there can be some question as to which player deserves to be coronated as the top pick. Much of that conversation might center on your plan for building out your team.

This year, there seems to be little doubt as to who the top pick will be in most drafts: Ronald Acuna Jr., who turned in the greatest fantasy season on record in 2023. That being said, you could make a valid argument for any of the NFBC top-five as being the top pick in your draft this season.

Let's take a look at the top five players by average ADP and familiarize you more with what you might be able to expect from these stellar players.

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Ronald Acuna Jr. Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Acuna is going to be the number-one pick in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. And rightfully so as his 2023 season was one for the ages. His minimum pick has been one and his maximum pick has been number three. And who wouldn't want to build their team around this skill set?

Acuna had 41 home runs, 106 RBI, and a whopping 73 stolen bases while hitting .337 with 149 runs. What more could you ask for? Oh yes, a meager 13% strikeout rate with an elite 87% contact rate. His previous high contact rate had been 73%. An 8.3 WAR and a wRC+ 0f 170 are amazing. It was the best season ever in fantasy baseball.

The question is, what does he do for an encore? Let the buyer beware; regression is an undefeated monster and there doesn't seem to be any rational way that Acuna can repeat his last season. Still, even with some pullback, a 35-home run and 40 stolen base season is well within reach. He's a great choice for you with the number one selection in the 2024 draft.

Acuna's ATC projection: 36 home runs, 93 RBI, 126 runs, 54 stolen bases, and a .314 batting average. This projection bakes in some regression, but these are very approachable numbers for Acuna provided he is healthy.

The ATC projections suggest a slight pullback from 2023, but even with five fewer home runs and 19 fewer stolen bases, are you taking someone else with your number one here? His projection places him ahead of the other players on this list.

Take a look at last year's Statcast data. What's not to like here?

Bobby Witt Jr. Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Witt continues to be a top-five pick in almost every fantasy league. Witt has gone first in some leagues, and his max pick in NFBC drafts so far has been seven. Witt is a stat sheet filler. He smashed 30 home runs and 96 RBI with 49 stolen bases to go along with a .276 batting average. There was no sophomore slump for Witt. And there is no reason to believe that he will struggle in 2024.

Witt shaved his strikeout rate from 21.4% in 2022 to 17.4% in 2023. His walk rate inched up to 5.8%. His ISO went from .174 in 2022 to .218 in 2023. His batting average jumped from .254 to .276. And here's the thing: he turns 24 in June, so there is room for growth in his skill set. Note the growth below: hard-hit% up, K% down, BB% up slightly, and xBA, WOBA, and xWOBA all up as well. Could Witt hit .300?

What we like about Witt is he plays a premium position, shortstop, and has played 150 and 158 games, respectively, over the last two years. Come hell or high water, he will be in the Kansas City lineup. That's a quality you must have with a top-five pick; they have to play that many games for you to be able to compile the most statistics.

Witt's ADP thus far in 2024 NFBC drafts has been 2.88, with a minimum pick of one and a maximum pick of seven. With an ATC projection of 29 home runs, 90 RBI, 99 runs, 42 stolen bases, and a .278 batting average, Witt provides a solid foundation for your team if you do not have the number one pick and are looking to start with a broad base of home runs and stolen bases. He will be the first infielder off the board in drafts this year.

 

Julio Rodriguez Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Rodriguez is arguably the best outfielder not named Acuna to draft in your league. Rodriguez hit 32 home runs with 103 RBI and chipped in 37 stolen bases and a .275 batting average. After battling injuries in 2022, Rodriguez was able to play in 155 games last year for the Seattle Mariners. And that translated to results: four more home runs, 28 more RBI, and 12 more steals while maintaining a close batting average to 2022 (.275 versus .284).

Counting stats is what we are after early in drafts, and Rodriguez will give you plenty, provided that he is healthy. The Mariners added Mitch Haniger, Luke Raley, and Mitch Garver to a lineup that already includes J.P. Crawford, Cal Raleigh, and a hopefully resurgent Ty France.

Rodriguez's ADP thus far in 2024 has been 2.95, with a minimum pick of one and a maximum pick of seven. Rodriguez's ATC projection calls for 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 99 runs, 31 stolen bases, and a .280 batting average. Outside of Acuna, Rodriguez is the best outfielder in baseball, and if his skills coalesce in 2024, he could easily make a run at the top pick for next season. He's a great consolation prize if you do not get Acuna and you want to start your build with an excellent outfielder who will help across the board.

 

Corbin Carroll Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Carroll took the MLB and fantasy world by storm in his rookie season. Managers who took a chance on Carroll with a mid-round pick in 2023 were greatly rewarded. Carroll smacked 25 home runs and 76 RBI, with 54 stolen bases and a .285 batting average and 116 runs.

Carroll's ADP in 2024 NFBC drafts has been 4.51, with a minimum pick of two and a maximum pick of 11. Fantasy managers do not appear to be too worried about the shoulder issues that slowed him at times last season.

His ATC is 25/77/105/46/.277. His ATC projection puts him in the top five projected picks, and why not? A base of 25 home runs and almost 50 stolen bases is a great start to any draft. Carroll will hit atop a lineup with veterans Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, and the newly signed Joc Pederson hitting behind. On top of the home runs and stolen bases, Carroll should easily score 100 runs.

 

Mookie Betts Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Doesn't it feel like Mookie Betts is an old reliable first-round pick? The dual eligibility at second base and outfield makes him even more valuable as you build your team through the draft. Betts had 39 home runs, 107 RBI, 126 runs, 14 stolen bases, and a .307 batting average. The 39 home runs were a career-high for Betts, who at age 31, is still firmly in his prime.

Add in that you can use him at second base or outfield, and you have a linchpin for your team wherever you choose to use Betts. He's the best leadoff hitter in the game and will be hitting in front of two guys you may have heard of, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. Betts should lead the MLB in runs scored and easily hit 30 home runs with double-digit stolen bases again, making him a stat sheet filler as usual.

Betts' ADP in 2024 drafts has been 4.94, with a minimum pick of two and a maximum pick of 12. You might call this a bargain. Look at the chart below. There are very few ways to assure you get him out.

His ATC projection of 34 home runs, 89 RBI, 13 stolen bases, 119 runs scored, and a .283 average looks very similar to his 2023 stat line. Draft Betts with confidence within the top five picks of any draft. More than anything, you need to have a solid floor with your first-round pick. Betts gives you that every season. There is no reason to think he will not continue to give you a high yield.



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