Acuna over Trout??
Updated: May 30, 2020
Yup, that's right! It’s time to take the GOAT out of the top spot in Fantasy drafts. As crazy as that may seem, it’s the right call especially in roto leagues. Hey I grew up in SoCal and am a huge Mike Trout fan, but after really diving into Acuna’s numbers, he’s the slightly better pick.
The argument could be made for either player of course, but what really sets Acuna apart is his potential on the base paths. Even putting Yelich above Trout is debatable, but with the addition of Rendon to the lineup, its just too hard for me to move him down to third overall, even though I actually do have Yelich’s projections slightly higher.
You won’t go wrong selecting any of these three guys as 1, 2 or 3, but when steals are such a hot commodity in leagues, Trout is going to help the least in that department. That's a major attribute to consider when drafting, especially out of the very top spot. Yelich may not be as aggressive either coming off the knee injury. I have them Acuna 1, Trout 2, Yelich 3.
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Acuna spent some time in the cleanup spot last year and although he did relatively well there, he had more RBI per AB out of the leadoff spot. (58% rbi/gm batting 4th, 66% rbi/gm leadoff) The Braves are projected to have a very good bottom of the lineup (Swanson possibly in the 8 hole) and possess a very deep bench consisting of players who present good matchups vs R or L’s. Combine that with the bullpen being so good and starters who don't pitch deep into games, Atlanta will have the luxury of pinch hitting often for their pitchers, resulting in many more RBI chances for the top of the lineup.
Another major factor to consider is Acuna stole 35 times batting leadoff in 118 games, with only 2 stolen bags coming out of the 36 games he started in the cleanup spot. With Acuna expected to be the full time leadoff hitter next year, a spot he thrives in, you have to think his total numbers will only increase, especially the stolen bases.
Ozzie Albies also vastly helps Acuna's value. He is the perfect #2 hitter backing him up because he's not only a great hitter, but takes enough pitches to allow Acuna to pick his count to run. In addition, Albies doesn’t have the type of power where Snitker (Braves manager) won't let Acuna steal. It’s an exemplary set up for Acuna to maximize his stolen bases and runs scored. Add in the perennial All-Star Freddy Freeman batting third and you have arguably one of the best 1-2-3 combos in baseball in how they complement each other.
Expect about 40 to 45 steals with a ceiling of 50+, Close to 40 HR's, 100 RBI and 125 R's scored. The strikeouts are a bit glaring, but the hard hit rate should still allow for .280 ba with some wiggle room. With another year of experience and maturity, expect a few adjustments to help cut down on Acuna's k’s as well. Considering he’s only 22 and entering his third season, the sky is the limit for the young Venezuelan star. He’s already won a Silver Slugger award and has now surpassed the all mighty Mike Trout in fantasy baseball and ultimately deserves the number 1 overall pick.
Still not convinced? Trout hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2016 and his steals have steadily been on the decline. A total that could decrease even more with the accomplished hitters batting behind him this year. Trouts 4 other categories should be off the chart, but with stolen bags hovering around 10 to 15 max, Acuna’s the slightly more valuable pick in roto leagues this season. This will be the first time in six years I won’t be selecting Mike Trout first overall.