Who's number one in 2021 fantasy baseball drafts?

If you have the first overall pick, Yahoo Sports' Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski offer fantasy managers a few options, including an outfielder who hit 41 HR back in 2019.

Video Transcript

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ANDY BEHRENS: Welcome back to Yahoo Fantasy Baseball 2021. We're back for another season, and somebody is gonna get the first pick in your draft, and they have to figure out what to do with it. It's a cluttered year. There's no consensus number one.

In an average Yahoo draft right now, I can tell you that Ronald Acuña is going first overall. Again, not all the time, but most of the time. The thing you like here, he nearly had a 40-40 season just two years ago, right? It was 41 homers, 37 steals. He's leading the league in stolen bases. He's led the league in runs scored.

He can hit for average or close to it. He's also an ascending player. He's 23 years old. So that's the kind of player, somebody who's already proven at the top of the ranks, that I think I want to hitch my fantasy wagon to. But, Scott, it's tough. There's no clear number one this year.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: There isn't. I actually lean towards Fernando Tatís Jr. as my number one pick, but I have no problem with Acuña, Betts, Soto, Trout. We got five dominant hitters, and they're all in the prime of their careers. In the case of Acuña and Tatís, I mean, these guys are on the escalator. They could have MVP seasons coming down the pipe. And they're surrounded by really good pieces around their offense, so you think that run production will be really strong.

This is why, if you're in a league where you get a say in when your draft slot is, I'd like to pick fourth, fifth, sixth, something like that where I can get maybe Mike Trout slips that late, maybe Mookie Betts slips that late. If I want to go a pitcher in the first round, which I think is perfectly reasonable, you might take a Cole, you might take a deGrom.

There are some years in fantasy football and fantasy baseball when the number one pick feels like you won the lottery. There's one guy who's separated himself. Oh my God, I get to take this guy and then get a really early third round pick. It sounds like such a bonus. I don't think this is that year. This is a year where you want to pick in the middle.

ANDY BEHRENS: You know, it's funny. We obviously have a ton of data on this sort of thing at Yahoo, right? We have like two decades of data on where you want to pick, and there is an advantage historically to picking near the top in any sport, in any draft. It is pronounced in baseball, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the guys that we've actually been picking first overall have been among the greatest in the history of the sport, right?

For years it was Trout, and they were peak years. For years it was Pujols, and they were peak years. It was A-Rod. Peak years of A-Rod look unlike almost anything else, and that gave you just an absolutely huge advantage.

Honestly, I feel like this year, I can make a case-- it may not be a great case, but I feel like I can make a case for everybody all the way down to Trea Turner as a plausible number one overall pick. If I gave you your choice, and I made you pick one slot, which would it be?

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Probably the five or six slot. But I want to say one other thing about the mindset of your first pick, especially that first overall pick, but really with any of these selections. I'm not asking myself who do I think is gonna be the best fantasy player this year. I'm thinking what high upside player do I also think has such a high floor that it's incomprehensible, short of injury, to imagine him having a bad season.

That's one reason why Trout or Pujols were always great number one picks in their heyday. And Trout's still in the middle of his heyday. It's not so much that they were the MVP every year or the number one fantasy player every year, but they were always in that conversation. They're always in that top five or top 10. I'm trying to put down a foundational brick. The problem is that just all these guys look like foundational bricks for me.

And I don't see it. Maybe somebody would argue the downside of a pitcher is too risky to take one of them early. I think, though, if you hit on that pitcher, it gives you more advantage in the category standings. But, man, you have so many choices here. You are at the best bagel shop in town, and they have 10 different varieties, so I don't think you can really go wrong with any of your choices. Just make sure you get a dozen of them.

ANDY BEHRENS: You can go wrong on a bagel choice. For me, it's blueberry. It would never be any other bagel. But agree--

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I would agree with that.

ANDY BEHRENS: --to disagree.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: That's correct.

ANDY BEHRENS: Agree to disagree on that front. Folks, get yourself signed up for fantasy baseball today over at Yahoo. Go to sports.yahoo.com/fantasy.