Mike Trout is the hands-down No. 1 overall pick in 2020 fantasy baseball drafts but there’s no debate when it comes to taking Ronald Acuna Jr. with the second overall pick. The Braves third-year outfielder smacked 41 home runs and 101 RBIs in 2019.
According to Sports Illustrated’s fantasy baseball analyst Shawn Childs, Acuna “finished as the most valuable hitter in 2019 based on SIscore (12.36), which is created by his five-tool skill set.” When it comes to drafting the Braves power-hitter, Childs advises fantasy baseball players to “buy his edge in runs with the high floor in power and speed.”
Childs was joined by BravesCentral’s Bill Shanks in the attached video and discussed Acuna Jr’s fantasy baseball value.
Read the transcript from their conversation:
Corey Parson: One of the most exciting young players in baseball plays for the Atlanta Braves. I'm Corey Parson with SI.com getting ready to talk some Braves baseball with Bill Shanks, our Braves insider, and SI fantasy and gambling analyst Shawn Childs. Bill, I'll start with you. What do you think this outlook is for Acuna coming into this season?
Bill Shanks: Well, I think it's a great outlook, to be honest with you. I mean, obviously he has shown in the last two years he's one of the best young players in baseball. I think we're going to know that Brian Snitker going to leave him in the leadoff spot for the entire season this year. Of course, last year he started to clean up spot. I still think the Braves would love to get him there one day. But for now, they've got to have him up there at the top with Ozzie Albies. Look, this kid's a five-tool player. He's got all the tools. He's a great right player to start that line up with, and I think he's only going to get better. He's just a star. He's a superstar, really, and look, he's going to lead this Braves team. Even though Freddie Freeman at 30 years old is the veteran leader, if you will, I don't think there is any doubt about the fact that Acuna is the guy moving forward.
Corey Parson: Shawn, he's a big hit in fantasy, what do you think?
Shawn Childs: Last year, he was the most valuable fantasy hitter. He got beat by a couple of pitchers, but if you drafted him on your team in the 12 team format, you gained 12 points in the standing just by putting him on your team. In a Roto 5x5 format, all you had to do was get everybody else to do what they were supposed to and you'd have a huge advantage out of the gate. The only problem he had last year was his strikeout rate came in at 26%, which is about 5% points higher than his minor league career, and even in the second half the year, it kind of spiked to 30%. When he hits the ball, he's hit over 400. When you put the ball in play the last three seasons, which include one year in the minors, his average hit rates 1.85 which is really strong and really sets up for 35 home runs. You know the steals are going to be there. He just does it all. He's a good foundation batter. The main thing between him and maybe Mike Trout or Yelich, is will his batting average get into the 300? But when you can hit over 400 and he gets that strikeout rate more in line with the league average, he's going to be a pretty explosive player in all five categories. He's rightly so drafted as a top player in fantasy baseball this year.
Corey Parson: No doubt about that. So excited, my dog is even happy about it. For the latest from the majors. Stay right here at SI.com.
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