Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep No. 1 Contenders: Can Mike Trout actually get better? –

Chances are, someone other than Mike Trout is going to finish as the No. 1 hitter in Fantasy baseball this season. As brilliant as he is, Trout has only finished as the No. 1 hitter in Roto leagues in two of his five full seasons in the majors, though no player has topped him twice in that span.

With that in mind, this preseason series is going to look at the seven players with the best chance to finish ahead of Trout in 2017. We’ll look at the path that could take them to the No. 1 spot, as well as the potential pitfalls along the way.

First, of course, we’ll start with the true No. 1 contender: Trout, himself.

Path to Glory

There really isn’t much we need to say about Trout. He has been a model of consistency, posting elite production across the board in basically every season in the majors. Trout can be bested, as we’ve seen over the last few years, but it typically takes another player’s career-best season just to top another ho-hum Trout season.

What is really mind blowing about Trout is that we’ve never really seen him have a season where everything goes right. We saw Bryce Harper have a season like that in 2015, when he put everything together — and got a bit of luck from the flyball and BABIP gods — to sneak past Trout in the rankings. We saw the same from Betts, who produced eye-popping run production numbers in an historically great offense and yet again edged out Trout by the end of the season. Every great player seems to have at least one of those years, like Ryan Howard in 2006, Albert Pujols in 2003 or Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

We haven’t seen that from Trout. We’ve seen the big power breakout year in 2015 when he hit 41 homers. We saw him ride a career-best BABIP in 2012 to a .326 average. We saw him drive in 111 runs in 2014 in the best lineup he’s ever played in. We haven’t seen it all come together for him at once, the way it sometimes does for other players, stars and role players alike. recently did an exercise where they tried to put together what a “peak” Trout season might look like by putting together the best aspects of every year of his career. That Frankenstein Trout season produced some pretty monstrous results: a .343/.461/.633 line, with 43 homers.

We talk about what can go right for every other first-round pick so often, but it’s worth remembering that Trout might just put together a career year of his own this season. Think about that before you even let the possibility of taking someone else cross your mind.

What could derail him?

Let’s just tweak that exercise from the first segment and just take Trout’s career-worst numbers in every category together. If you do that, you end up with this line:

104 runs, 83 RBI, 27 home runs, 11 stolen bases, .287/.377/.550

That would be a pretty fantastic line for someone like Corey Seager or Carlos Correa, two players who might end up first-round values this season in the end. There is, of course, always the chance Trout gets hurt, however, after missing just 29 combined games in five seasons, it’s hard to find a player to feel safer about from that end. Barring something truly unforeseen, Trout is just about a lock to finish as a top-five Fantasy option.

Chances he finishes as the No. 1 player: 40%

Trout has finished as the top hitter in two of five seasons, so this one’s pretty easy. You probably take the field over him, but you won’t be passing up on him if you have the top pick. It’s the easiest call you’ll make in your draft.


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