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Shortstop should be one of the first positions filled in a majority of fantasy baseball drafts.
A trio of shortstops, led by Francisco Lindor, are the preferred options once Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Christian Yelich are off the board. Lindor, Trevor Story and Trea Turner could be selected in succession if owners do not want to go after elite starting pitchers in the middle of the opening round.
In the case of Lindor and Story, there is a possibility for owners to take teammates on the left side of the infield with their first two picks.
Fantasy Baseball 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
3. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
7. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado
9. Trea Turner, SS, Washington
10. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets
11. Juan Soto, OF, Washington
12. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado
Predictions for Top Infielders
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
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Lindor’s three consecutive 30-home run seasons, combined with his consistency to reach base, should make him the first non-outfielder chosen.
The 26-year-old totaled at least 170 hits in each of the past four campaigns and has had an OPS over .830 in four of his five major league seasons.
Lindor is expected to set the tone at the top of the Cleveland order, and his ability to get on base could result in plenty of stolen bases and runs. He has 47 stolen bases over the previous two seasons, and he has scored at least 99 times in every year since 2016.
The shortstop’s run total should remain high with Oscar Mercado, Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez hitting behind him. The latter had more RBI and stolen bases than Lindor in 14 fewer games, and some owners could combine him with his teammate on the left side of the infield.
Taking two players from the same team in the first two rounds comes with a risk if they are facing an unfavorable matchup, but it may be worth it given how well both players have performed.
Prediction: No. 6 overall.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado
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The top third of the Colorado Rockies order should also be intriguing to fantasy owners in the opening two rounds.
Trevor Story carries an edge over Nolan Arenado in fantasy rankings because of his potential to score more runs and steal bases. The shortstop recorded 111 runs and 23 stolen bases compared to the 102 runs and trio of stolen bases from Arenado in 2019.
Story also possesses comparable power to his teammate, who could be a late first- or early second-round selection.
In the past two seasons, the 27-year-old had at least 35 home runs, a .290 batting average, .550 slugging percentage and .910 OPS. Were Lindor chosen at No. 6, Story could be the next player off the board because of his consistent numbers.
If the draft falls a certain way, Story and Arenado could be on rosters together, but that would require a few starting pitchers to be taken above the Colorado third baseman.
Prediction: No. 8 overall.
Trea Turner, SS, Washington
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Turner lost some support in the Washington Nationals order with Anthony Rendon departing for the Los Angeles Angels in December.
That move puts more pressure on Turner to combine with Juan Soto to provide the Nationals with offense from the heart of the order.
Turner has yet to produce 20 home runs in a single season, but he has had back-to-back seasons with 35 stolen bases and 150 hits. If he remains healthy, he has a chance to increase his power numbers, as he produced 19 home runs in 122 games in 2019. In 2018, the shortstop hit the same number of long balls over 162 appearances.
If he produces home runs and RBI at a higher level with more responsibility in the Washington order, Turner could finish the campaign as the top-ranked infielder.
There is a small chance he is paired with Soto on some fantasy rosters. But that may require the shortstop to drop a few spots in the first round and some pitchers to be taken ahead of Soto for him to land early in the second.
Prediction: No. 9 overall.