Fantasy Baseball 2017: Draft Starting Pitchers Earlier Than Usual

With the rise in power numbers, valuable hitters are a dime a dozen. This means that you should target ace pitchers earlier than usual in your draft.

Over the last couple of seasons, we have seen a change in the way fantasy baseball owners draft. Elite hitters occupy the first round with at least one pitcher sneaking in there. However, with the number of power hitters emerging this season, I think the tide is turning. You should draft a top pitcher earlier than normal next season.

According to the ESPN Live Draft Results, only three starting pitchers were selected in the first 20 picks. It wasn’t until the third and fourth rounds where more starters were drafted. The performance for the top-tier pitchers stands out more than the rest. If you were a team that waited to draft your rotation, like myself, you were left with average pitchers.

Of the top-10 players on the Player Rater, four of them are pitchers. They are Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw and Rick Porcello. Scherzer and Kershaw were among those picked within the first two rounds. Unless you used an early round pick on one of those pitchers, you missed out on an elite player.

On the hitters side of things, there are plenty of options. There are 35 hitters with at least 30 home runs. There are 17 more hitters between 27 and 29 homers.

It gets even better for hitters. Six batters have at least 40 home runs and that get up to 10 by the end of the season.

While home runs aren’t everything, they are the main stat fantasy owners go after when drafting a hitter early. The nine hitters drafted in the first round all have at least 20 home runs. Two of them, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, weren’t even drafted as power hitters.

Let’s take a look at Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics. He is one of those hitters with 40 home runs. Yes, that is correct. He is ADP was 198.9 (20th round) and is in the top five among home runs hitters. His average may stink, 40 home runs is more than welcomed.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Duvall has 33 home runs and he wasn’t even drafted in most leagues. I can keep listing names of hitters that have high home run totals and low ADP, but I think I made my point.

Similar to my philiosophy around saves and steals, you can draft for power in the later rounds.

Entering the 2017 fantasy baseball season, owners should be drafting the elite starting pitchers earlier than usual. You cannot be without an ace in your rotation, especially with the large amount of poor performances this season. I will be drafting at least two pitchers within my first five picks, and you should do the same.