Prioritizing hitting over pitching on draft day is the way to go, and I don't think my stance on this will change anytime soon. The early-round hitters are generally more consistent from year to year than the early-round pitchers, and it's often easier to find breakout pitchers on the waiver wire throughout the season than it is to add a highly productive bat. And even among the mid-round and late-round draft picks, it's harder to predict the pleasant surprises on the offensive side. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Just ask the owners of these players, and while you're at it, congratulate them on a job well done. For each of the five standard rotisserie hitting categories, I've chosen one player who unexpectedly ranks among the league leaders.
Adam Duvall: 22 HR (4th in MLB) - How many fantasy owners even knew who this guy was heading into the season? Duvall is certainly making the most of his first extended stay in the big leagues, and though expecting him to finish the year with 40-plus homers sounds a little crazy (he's destined for a power drought at some point), he doesn't need to do much to surpass 30 home runs. Note that in 125 games at Triple-A last season, Duvall recorded a .264-30-87 line. Pretty good. I wouldn't be in a hurry to trade him at a steep discount in anticipation of the bottom falling out.
Wil Myers: 57 RBI (8th in MLB) - Maybe we really shouldn't be surprised. After all, Myers is a former Rookie of the Year, and he's finally healthy this season. But with 12 homers and 35 RBI since the beginning of June, he's now on pace to close out 2016 with 38 home runs and 115 RBI. Considering his tremendous first half along with his name recognition, I would at least think about dealing him as the return could be substantial.
Ian Desmond: 60 R (Tied for 5th in MLB) - Based on the Desmond signing alone (one-year, $8 million), the Rangers are looking like the winners of this past offseason. I did expect a bounce back season from Desmond, but this? Not quite. In addition to the .323 batting average (career .268 AVG), the 60 runs are especially noteworthy being that he has yet to score more than 77 runs in a season. While a significant batting average regression is likely (.394 BABIP), how about 25 homers, 85 RBI and 90 runs sound from a shortstop-eligible player with a NFBC ADP of 107? And those projections are conservative.
Jonathan Villar: 26 SB (1st in MLB) - OK, the stolen base production isn't really surprising, as we all knew that Villar had speed. The surprising part is that he is still Milwaukee's everyday shortstop. The 25-year-old was supposed to be merely a placeholder until the Brewers called up top prospect Orlando Arcia sometime in June. Well, June is over and Villar is batting .301 with 40 runs and a .383 OBP to go along with the 26 swipes. Arcia is posting fine numbers in Triple-A, but at this point, there's little incentive for the club to make a change. Perhaps a trade is in Villar's near future.
Wilson Ramos: .340 AVG (4th in MLB) - You're kidding, right? The year that I finally decide to move on from drafting Ramos in multiple leagues is the year that he decides to stay healthy and register a batting average more than 70 points above his career mark. His .350 BABIP strongly suggests that a correction is in store. But Ramos is rewarding his owners with more than just a high batting average, as he leads all catchers in RBI (44) and is tied for 2nd in home runs (12). If you're fortunate enough to be a Ramos owner, stick with him.
I wish I did.