Should Paul Goldschmidt Be the Top Overall Pick in Fantasy Baseball?
I'll tell you this right now. Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is going to be my pick for National League MVP in 2016.
No, he's not a "sleeper" pick, I'll grant you that. Goldschmidt has been one of the very best players in the NL for the last three years.
In fact, in two of the last three seasons (2013 and 2015) he's finished second in the MVP voting, and the only reason he didn't flat-out win it in 2014 was because he got hit by a pitch after 109 games and missed the rest of the season.
So Goldschmidt is awesome, we all know this. But when it comes to season-long fantasy, only one player can be drafted first overall. And if you have that first pick, you have a tough decision on your hands.
Do you go with the best player in the game, Mike Trout? That would seem to be a logical choice. There is the best player in the NL, Bryce Harper, who dominated just about every statistical category there was in 2015. Giancarlo Stanton is oft-injured, but if he can make it through a season unscathed, he would certainly be an obvious choice.
At the end of the day, what this really comes down to is a three-man race between Trout, Harper and Goldschmidt.
Let's look at the numbers, because the numbers are fun.
These are some of the most commonly used stats in season-long baseball, and as you can see, all three players fill up the stat sheets.
Harper's 2015 season was simply unparalleled. He led all three players in multiple categories: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and runs scored. Goldschmidt led in two: RBI and stolen bases. Trout, surprisingly, led in none.
Now, there are some leagues that use additional counting stats. Goldschmidt and Harper both hit 38 doubles; Trout had 32. And some leagues take away points for things like strikeouts. Trout K'd 158 times in 2015, while Harper struck out 131 times and Goldschmidt fanned in 151 plate appearances.
It's also important to take a look at the positions that all three men play. Both Trout and Harper are outfielders, where are there a ton of great players from which to choose. And while there are a number of quality first basemen in baseball right now (Votto, Chris Davis, Anthony Rizzo and Edwin Encarnacion to name a few), it is a position with fewer high-end players.
That being said, while I would put Goldschmidt ahead of Trout in my season-long fantasy rankings, I would still pick Harper if I had the first overall pick in the draft. While Arizona's offense would appear to be more formidable on paper, giving Goldschmidt more RBI opportunities, and while Goldschmidt steals a surprising amount of bases, especially for a first basemen, Harper is simply too good to put number-two.
Of course, Harper has an injury history, and even though he was fully healthy last year, it is something to at least consider.
But for my money, Harper should be drafted number-one overall in fantasy drafts, with Goldschmidt right behind him.