Baseball is one of the most unique professional sports in the United States. Unlike the NBA and NFL, players in the MLB often have careers spanning well over 12 years. Some players start to hit their peak in their early 30s and continue to be dominant into their early 40s, like Justin Verlander and Nelson Cruz. This makes dynasty drafts incredibly intriguing. That 30-year-old all-star could have anywhere between two and 15 great years left in the tank, and it’s nearly impossible to guess where they will fall.
I’ve conducted a mock draft with 12 unique fantasy players to get a feel for the player evaluations of the top MLB athletes. The league scoring is category-based and the categories are as follows.
Hitters: home runs, runs batted in (RBIs), runs scored, stolen bases, and on base percentage (OBP).
Pitchers: quality starts, strikeouts pitched, earned run average (ERA), saves + holds (SVH), and walks and hits per innings pitched ratio (WHIP).
1.01 Julio Rodriguez, Outfield, Seattle Mariners
In a league with so much talent, there’s really no wrong answer here with the first pick. Rodriguez had a rookie year very similar to current top stars like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Rodriguez was the runner-up in the home run derby and displayed his five tool upside with 159 combined runs and RBIs, 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and his .345 OBP. The cherry on top is the fact that Rodriguez is the youngest bona fide star, he will be 22 years old for the entire 2023 MLB season.
1.02 Ronald Acuña Jr, Outfield, Atlanta Braves
In 2019 Acuña posted 127 runs, 101 RBIs, 41 home runs, and 37 stolen bases with a .365 OBP to go along with it. Acuña may be the only player in the league with 40-40 upside, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. Acuña’s main knock is the fact that he’s struggled to stay healthy so far in his young career, missing 123 games over just the past two seasons! This is truly an upside pick, Acuña may prove to be an injury riddled bust, but at only 25 years old, there’s plenty of time for Acuña to have an Aaron Judge-level MVP season.
1.03 Juan Soto, Outfield, San Diego Padres
Arguably the safest pick of any first round player, Soto will be 24 years old for nearly the entire MLB season, yet has somehow managed to play five full seasons with minimal injuries along the way. Through five seasons, Soto’s lowest OBP in a season was .401, a mark that most MLB players could never dream of achieving. His eye at the plate is unmatched in today’s game, and after joining the stacked Padres team, he may reach a career high in runs and RBIs in 2023. Soto is worthy of being drafted 1.01 in any league format.
1.04 Fernando Tatis Jr., Shortstop / Outfield, San Diego Padres
Speaking of that stacked Padres lineup, Tatis will be at the heart of it when he returns from his suspension. Tatis will miss 20 games in 2023, but in the grand scheme of things, that is no obstacle for dynasty players to worry about. Tatis scored 99 runs and 97 RBIs in 2022, he had 42 home runs and 25 stolen bases as well. Tatis put up these ridiculous numbers without Xander Bogaerts and Juan Soto in the lineup, both of whom will be helping Tatis pad his stats even more in 2023.
1.05 Yordan Alvarez, Outfield, Houston Astros
Alvarez is 25 and has been very consistent so far In his young career. He has put up at least 92 runs, 97 RBIs, and 33 home runs in each of the past two seasons. Alvarez has been able to stay healthy throughout his career thus far and has shown the potential to eventually win an MVP award. He does not contribute in the steals department, but is a monster performer in every other facet of the game.
1.06 Jose Ramirez, Third Base, Cleveland Guardians
The first player to be drafted older than 25 years old, Ramirez will turn 31 during the 2023 MLB season. Certainly, a more “win now” player, Ramirez is a dominant performer that has been incredibly consistent over the last five years, with no signs of slowing down. Ramirez’s keen eye and his ability to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position are traits that will not dwindle anytime soon. Ramirez is a fine pick and hopefully will be a solid contributor into his late 30s.
1.07 Aaron Judge, Outfield, New York Yankees
The reigning American League MVP performed at a truly historic level last season, scoring 264 combine runs and RBIs, as well as a whopping 62 home runs, a new AL single season record. Judge hit the most home runs in a season ever by a player not found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. Standing at 6’7, 282 pounds, his raw power is natural and will keep Judge fantasy relevant for a very long time.
1.08 Shohei Ohtani, DH / Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels
Ohtani’s fall in the draft finally comes to an end at pick number eight. Ohtani is the best player in MLB and could go down as the best player in the history of baseball. Ohtani could have easily been picked as the first overall pick and no one would have been surprised. His ability to aid your team on both sides of the ball makes him a unicorn, and he both pitches and bats at an elite level. In any league where you can utilize his pitching and batting performances at the same time, Ohtani should unquestionably be drafted with the first pick.
In most formats, though, you need to decide to play Ohtani as a pitcher or batter on a daily or weekly basis. This league is a weekly lineup league, similar to most fantasy football leagues. The reason Ohtani fell to eight is that the user will have to constantly monitor his potential starts and will have to adjust his lineup carefully each week. The user is bound to occasionally start Ohtani as a pitcher when he has a bad start, or may play him as a batter during a slump. These inevitable and unavoidable headaches are the only reason why Ohtani was not drafted earlier in this draft.
1.09 Kyle Tucker, Outfield, Houston Astros
Tucker is very similar to his teammate Yordan Alvarez. Both have phenomenal bats and are likely to get even better. In Tucker’s case, he isn’t as productive as Alvarez behind the plate, but he makes up for it with his speed on the bases. He has increased his stolen base count every year of his career, from one to five, then eight, then 14, and last year he stole 25 bases. His five category production warrants the late first round selection.
1.10 Vladimir Guerrero Jr., First Base, Toronto Blue Jays
“Vladdy” is two years removed from a runner-up MVP season where he had 123 runs, 111 RBIs, and 48 home runs. The 24-year-old is a force at the plate and has only missed three games out of the possible 324 games over the past two seasons. It appears the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Guerrero Jr. is potentially on his way to a hall of fame career.
1.11 Trea Turner, Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
The soon-to-be 30-year-old contributes in every facet of the game, his numbers are elite, and his play during the World Baseball Classic showcased his ability. Turner is a low ceiling, high floor pick here at the end of the first. He likely won’t get 120 runs or RBIs, he will likely fall short of 30 home runs, and his OBP will never reach .400, but he will provide very good production in every category without fail. Turner has also been very healthy over his career and has added value due to the scarcity of elite bat talent at the position.
1.12 Corbin Burnes, Starting Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
Burnes is the first pitcher to be taken, and at 28 years old he is at the very start of his prime for a pitcher. In five seasons, Burnes has had an ERA below 3.00 four times. His elite consistency, his production, and his young age for a pitcher all add up to make Burnes worthy of being the first pitcher off the board.