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Fantasy411 Podcast: Assessing 1st-round hitters

MLB.com

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

Leach: We're going to start talking about first-round hitters. Mike Trout is a given. Jose Altuve is a given. And there are a whole bunch of guys that we're not really sure how exactly you rank them. And some of it is going to be your priorities, and some of it is going to be how your league works.

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

Leach: We're going to start talking about first-round hitters. Mike Trout is a given. Jose Altuve is a given. And there are a whole bunch of guys that we're not really sure how exactly you rank them. And some of it is going to be your priorities, and some of it is going to be how your league works.

But when we talk about first-round-type hitters, let's put it this way: Who is one guy out of the following list that you are really going to have your eye on, and who is one guy that you're kind of going to be willing to let somebody else take that leap. The names that we have in front of us are Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts and Charlie Blackmon. Give me a guy that you're really high on and a guy that you're not down on because we're talking first-rounders, but a guy maybe you're kind of willing to let somebody else take him.

Zinkie: Yeah, I'm going to actually get away from the actual players and think philosophically. If I'm going to draft a hitter in Round 1, I want some steals -- just the way the landscape is right now with so much power and not a lot of steals, I want some steals from my first-round pick. So I would be very interested in Turner and have some interest in Goldschmidt and Betts and Blackmon. I don't have anything against -- obviously, how would you have anything against Nolan Arenado? But I like to get some steals from my first-round pick if I'm going with a hitter, because that means I'm probably going to need a pitcher in the second or third round, and I don't really want to have to take a pure steals guy in one of those next couple picks.

I'd like to come out of those first few rounds with some steals. That's just the landscape now. Harper would be my low man on that list, but I'm probably just not going to draft Stanton or Arenado this year because of that steals philosophy. I think the ones I'm most likely to draft are probably Turner and Betts. What do you think about that group? Because I've seen basically every order imaginable in some of the early mock drafts.

Leach: I kind of feel like, talking philosophy, when you're picking in that range, you're not going to win the league with the fourth, fifth, sixth pick, but you sure could put yourself in a hole. To me, the guy that really jumps out to me is Goldschmidt, because I feel his floor is so high. His worst season in the -- well he was injured in '14 -- but he was on pace for 29 and 103. He has hit at least .297 five straight seasons. He has had 33 or more in three of those seasons and was on pace for about 30 in another. RBI, really consistent. Runs, he cranks out runs, and he gets you some steals. He's not going to get you 30 steals again, but I'd feel really safe saying 10, 12 steals. And to me, that broad base, that high floor, that's the guy out of that bunch I really like, because boy, the odds are really slim that you're going to regret taking him there.

Another guy I think -- if people are down on him, and we get back to that topic of relative value -- if people are down on Mookie Betts after a relatively down year, he's a guy I'd be absolutely thrilled if he fell a couple of spots and I were picking him somewhere later in the first round. I'd have a hard time taking him three, but boy, if he fell a little ways to me, I'd be thrilled. I'm a little cool on Blackmon. I'm a little skeptical he repeats.

But to me, the guy out of that bunch is Goldschmidt, because as you know, he's going to get some steals, even if that starts fading. And in his age-30 season, I wouldn't be surprised if it does start to slip a little bit. Albert Pujols was a guy who would get you 10-15 steals at one point, and then that kind of went away quickly. But that's the guy to me. To me, he's a pretty easy third hitter, even just because that floor is so high and the ceiling is high. That's a pretty rare combination.