The back-end of the first round is a nice position to be in for 2018. You may be missing out on the Trouts or Altuves of the world, but there are still some extremely good players at the first/second round turn. I wanted to finish off my favorite draft pairings by looking at the back half of the first round. If you missed part one of this draft prep, it can be found here http://sixmanrotation.com/fantasy-baseball-draft-advice-top-first-round-pairs-1/
Mookie Betts/Aaron Judge (.277/64HR/196R/185RBI/28SB)
Despite being stuck on rival teams, these two young outfielders make a perfect pair. Betts was unlucky in 2017, and his .264 average showed it. Based off xStats which attempts to use Statcast data (exit velocity/launch angle data) to predict what should have occurred, Betts had an xAVG of .302 in 2017. Depth Charts is expecting Betts’ average to jump back up to .300 in 2018, and projecting him to provide 25HR/25SB + in offsetting Judge’s low average and lack of stolen bases. In 2018, Judge is expected to do Judge things, which means hitting massive dingers. Depth Charts has predicted him to hit 38 HR in 2018, which looks to be light after hitting 52 in his rookie season. This combo should give you stats in every category which gives you the flexibility to take the best player available in round 3.
Giancarlo Stanton/Joey Votto (.292/87HR/209/R/225RBI/7SB)
I want to take this moment to illuminate what Depth Charts is predicting Giancarlo Stanton to produce in 2018. They expect him to put together a ludicrous fantasy slash of .287/58HR/111R/ 134RBI/3SB, similar to what he produced last year on a worse Marlins lineup. Votto is an excellent pair for Stanton due to his high floor. He has hit .300+ in 9/10 of his healthy seasons (not including 2014 due to injury). He has put up two consecutive seasons with 100 runs, and 28+ HR. I wouldn’t put it past Votto to continue to improve, even in his age-34 season. This combo will leave you low on stolen-bases but players like Marte, Hamilton, or Gordon can make that up for you in the following rounds.
Bryce Harper/ Kris Bryant (.294/70HR/204R/199RBI/18SB
A year ago, both players were drafted within the top-10 of all fantasy drafts. Both players are cornerstones of their franchises and feature in 2 of the top offenses in National League. They both have extreme upsides and carry high floors. Kris Bryant despite having a “down” year in 2017, he still produced 100 runs. Keep a close eye on where he hits in the lineup because he took a majority of his plate appearances out of the second position, limiting his RBI opportunities. Harper, despite only having 492 at-bats, still improved on almost all his statistics from his 2016 season. This combo has the potential to still produce like the top two players in baseball, and at this price, it is hard to pass up two generational talents.
Just a forewarning on the next few pairs, I won’t be including any starting pitchers. This is around the time where Scherzer, Kluber, and Sale are typically selected. Depending on your strategy they are fine value here, but I personally tend to wait on starting pitchers in H2H formats.
Carlos Correa/ Aaron Judge (.273/68HR/192R/201RBI/15SB)
I think I may love Carlos Correa more than his mother. The man put together a .315/24HR/82R/ 84RBI/2SB in only 481 at-bats as a 22-year-old last season and still isn’t going outside the top-12. This may be the last time you can select Correa outside the top-5 picks. I have already talked about Judge in the previous Mookie/Judge pairing so I will be brief. Judge just seems like good value anywhere in the 2nd round. He may see a reduction in his batting average due to his high K% but his power is immense. He hits in the middle of one of the top AL offenses surrounded by the likes of Stanton and Sanchez. His run and RBI opportunities will be through the roof.
Carlos Correa/Freddie Freeman (.291/61HR/186R/199RB/15SB)
If you don’t know by now, I want Correa at the 1/2 turn and I will be devastated if someone takes my precious from me. Taking Correa gives you the option to take your favorite second round bat. Don’t be a slave to the rankings here because after your 2nd selection none of these guys will make it back to your next pick. That’s why I reach a bit and take Freeman even at the top of the 2nd round. With the news of the humidor installation in Arizona, it pushes Freeman up to the #1 first baseman heading into 2018. He hits for a high average, increased his power each of the last three seasons. His only question mark is his surrounding team. The Braves have been in the bottom 10 of the MLB in runs scored in each of the last three seasons, but the infusion of youth like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna looks to change that. Freeman is currently a “steal” at the end of the second, and I am perfectly comfortable taking him at the top of the second round.
If you are looking for stolen bases with your pairs, past the top first-round picks it gets a little barren. Only Lindor and Jose Ramirez are your main options if you are looking to add speed to your roster early. There is always speed guys to find later in the draft in the form of Dee Gordon, Starling Marte, and Billy Hamilton. So keep an eye on those guys if you don’t secure a 20+ SB guy in your first two picks.