Who is the Best First Overall Pick in 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Who is the best pick at first overall in fantasy baseball 2024?

In most seasons, there is never one clear number-one overall pick in fantasy baseball. Last year, for example, players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Trea Turner, Corbin Carroll, Shohei Ohtani, and more all garnered first-overall picks in fantasy drafts.

This year, however, things have changed, and after an incredible season, Ronald Acuña Jr. is a near-unanimous choice as the top pick for fantasy managers. But is that the right way to go?

Who is the best first-overall pick in 2024 fantasy baseball?


The Obvious Choice


Ronald Acuña Jr. – OF ATL


Ronald Acuña Jr. had an absurd 2023 season, leading the MLB with 73 steals.

The last time a player stole more than 70 bases was José Reyes‘ 78 steals in 2007. What makes Acuna’s season more impressive is that he also had 41 home runs, which was fifth in baseball. Acuna also led baseball in runs scored, tied for sixth in RBI, and was second in batting average and wRC+.

This all makes Acuna a near consensus top choice for the first overall draft pick in fantasy drafts this season. He is a perennial leader in most Roto stats, and early projections systems expect him to be among the leaders in many of the offensive Roto categories again this season.

Acuna’s underlying data supports that he could continue to be one of the best – if not the best – players in baseball in 2024.

He significantly improved his strikeout rate last season, which had been a knock against him. Acuna more than halved his previous career strikeout rate of 25%, getting it down to 11% in 2023. He chased less than in 2022 and made more contact on pitches in and outside of the strikezone, which resulted in the best contact rate of his career at 83%.

His PLV data on Strikezone Judgment, Contact Ability, and Decision Value all show an elite contact hitter:

Some of his most significant improvements came against breaking pitches, in particular sliders and curveballs. If he can continue this into 2024, he will be nearly impossible to pitch against.

Acuna also has elite hard contact. He averages a 14% barrel rate and a 51% HardHit rate for his career. His 15% barrel rate in 2023 was the third-best of his career and his 55% HardHit rate was the second-best of his career. He also drove and pulled the ball well.

All of this makes Acuna a safe and easy choice to be the number-one pick in fantasy drafts for 2024.


The Other Option


Bobby Witt Jr. – SS KC


Another direction to go at the first pick of the draft is Bobby Witt Jr., who was one of four players to hit at least 30 home runs and steal at least 30 bases, and one of only two players to go 30/40. Witt may not have the same home run upside as Acuna, but he has made significant strides from his rookie season and could continue to improve into his third season in the bigs.

Witt played in just eight more games last season than in 2022, and had just 60 more PAs, but hit 10 more home runs, stole 19 more bases, and had 15 more runs and 16 more RBI. He also improved his batting average to .276, a 20-point jump from 2022. Trends in his background data suggest that these were legitimate improvements and that even more success is on the horizon.

Witt shaved 4% off his strikeout rate, dropping it to 17%. He also improved his barrel rate to 11% and HardHit rate to 45%, which ranked third and fourth respectively among qualified shortstops. Witt drove the ball better and pulled the ball at a higher clip than in 2022, and still has room to improve there. All of this suggests that his BABIP of .295, which was identical to his BABIP in 2022, could have been higher and that his AVG could have been better too. In fact, his xBA was .297.

The young shortstop also made improvements in plate discipline, which should continue to trend in the right direction as he gains more experience at the plate. His chase rate and contact rates both improved.

Our PLV data supports this. Here is Witt’s Contact Ability from last season, which shows an excellent contact hitter that improved as the season went on:

Here is Witt’s Decision Value PLV data:

The exciting thing about Witt’s decision value is how much it improved, especially towards the end of the season. His improvements hopefully will continue into 2024.

Additionally, Witt also performed better against nearly every type of pitch except sliders last season compared to 2022, which is a great sign in his second season as a big leaguer.

Another case for drafting Witt first overall is the position he plays. Steamer projects one shortstop for 30 home runs and 40 steals – Bobby Witt Jr. Witt is one of two shortstops projected for over 100 runs, and one of three projected for 90-plus RBI.

Witt is arguably the best at his position, and in most fantasy leagues, managers start one shortstop with one middle infield position to fill. There are five outfield slots to fill. Fantasy managers who miss out on Acuna can still draft Corbin Carroll, Fernando Tatis, Julio Rodríguez, and Kyle Tucker, who all project at or around 30/30. No other shortstops project to go 30/30. In fact, five shortstops project for a 20/20 season, but just Trea Turner projects for a .275 average or better among them. The gap from Acuna to his outfield counterparts is not as large as the gap between Witt and the other shortstops. This means that Witt could present more value at that first pick than Acuna.

Yes, Acuna is the safe bet at #1. But is he the right bet?

Taylor Tarter

Taylor is a fantasy baseball champion that has been playing for over a decade. Tune into his podcast, Fastball Fantasy Baseball, every Wednesday for in depth analysis making sabermetrics friendly to the everyday fantasy player.

2 responses to “Who is the Best First Overall Pick in 2024 Fantasy Baseball”

  1. Bill Andrews says:

    Um, Carroll was a rookie last year, nobody would have picked him first.
    And please Acuña has to be 1.
    A better article would be who should the 2nd player drafted be.

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