Mock drafts are useful, but limited. ADP is instructive, but sterile. If only there was some other way to take the pulse of the Fantasy Baseball world ...
How about a survey? With the power of social media, I can find out which players have captured the minds of hearts and minds of Fantasy Baseballers with a few open-ended questions.
I took the time to do just that, corralling hundreds of responses from Twitter and Facebook and sharing them with you here. The results might offer some insight into what your opponents are thinking or even open your mind to new possibilities.
Who's the one player you have to have this year?
The responses ranged far and wide for this one, which was foreseeable given how open-ended the question was. Incidentally, one of the leaders this time around, Zac Gallen, got the most responses for this question last year, too. I presume it's because he's seen as bankable at the position most likely to make or break you, yet you can actually game plan for him because he's not a first- or second-rounder. Granted, some first- and second-rounders got their share of responses, too, which is kind of amusing since you have so little control over whether you end up with those particular players.
Some of the top vote-getters happen to align with my own, thinking, with Corey Seager being my favorite third-round target (particularly if I begin pitcher-pitcher), Nick Castellanos being one of my favorite breakout picks and Andrew Vaughn being one of my favorite sleeper picks.
Corey Seager. Has been seriously undervalued due to injury concerns but could be the #1 SS in the league.— Devin (@ThickeyHendrson) March 8, 2021
Great lineup too.
My choice: Ke'Bryan Hayes
Which starting pitcher seems like the safest bet to break out?
Jesus Luzardo got the second-most responses to this question a year ago, bettered only by Gallen, who himself still ranks high. I expected him to see more strikeout potential from him as a rookie last year and am a little less sure of the upside now, though he's a solid pick just as he is. Joe Musgrove and Tyler Mahle both appear in my Breakouts 2.0 and did see an uptick in strikeouts last year. I've seen Pablo Lopez and Aaron Civale hyped by other Fantasy Baseball analysts, but I view both more as high-floor than high-ceiling guys. It's nice to see Shohei Ohtani get some love with the glowing reports out of spring training.
Is it so unfair to say Blake Snell? He’s been around and he’s won a Cy...and he did that being treated with kid gloves. Can’t imagine SD brought him in to pitch 5 innings every start. We have NO IDEA what he’s really capable of.— Dave Diamond (@AlwaysDiamond19) March 8, 2021
Received two votes: Sanday Alcantara, MIA; Adbert Alzolay, CHC; Zach Eflin, PHI; Deivi Garcia, NYY; Lance McCullers, HOU; Brady Singer, KC; Blake Snell, SD; Brandon Woodruff, MIL
My choice: Joe Musgrove
Which early-rounder do you want nothing to do with?
My bust case for Walker Buehler -- which is more having to do with the way the Dodgers use him than his actual ability -- must have been a compelling one because he's a decisive winner here, with only Adalberto Mondesi and his especially volatile profile even coming close. While Mondesi could almost single-handily take care of your stolen base needs, it'll come at the expense of most everything else you'd be looking to secure in the early rounds. Cody Bellinger methodical return from shoulder surgery is understandably making drafters gun-shy, and Trevor Bauer's inconsistencies and Max Scherzer's age are obvious risk factors as well. I share the sentiments for Buehler and Bellinger, and I'll also nominate Luis Robert, whose profile is nearly as volatile as Mondesi's.
It is insane that Bichette is going in the second round. Same could be said for Tucker in the 3rd. Both guys could be worth the price in the end but there is a lot of hope in those picks.— Whiskeyjack (@patrick_dwyer3) March 9, 2021
Bregman- deadened ball worries me that those homers turn into warning track fly outs as he doesn’t hit the ball a mile even with the juiced ball. He does look more beefy this spring though. We’ll see.— John B (@KissMyAstros27) March 8, 2021
Received two votes: Gerrit Cole, NYY; Jack Flaherty, STL; Aaron Judge, NYY; Trea Turner, WAS
My choice: Walker Buehler
Who's your go-to for cheap power?
"Cheap" is of course a relative descriptor, which is why the responses run the gamut of value. How someone drafted as early as Nelson Cruz got so many votes I don't know. Joey Gallo is the 132nd player off the board on average, which isn't so cheap in, say, a 15-team league, but given the ease with which a healthy version will hit 40-plus homers, it's still a nice discount.
My thinking here was more along the lines of a late-round type in a deeper Rotisserie league, and by that measure, C.J. Cron claims the prize. His move to Coors Field is generating some low-key enthusiasm, though I think the effect will do more for his batting average than his home run output. I like a lot of the suggestions here beyond Cron. Franmil Reyes and Jorge Soler both tend to slide because of their DH-only status, though they're more in the Gallo class of "cheap." Austin Riley I believe has 40-homer potential, and Bobby Dalbec and Jared Walsh both showed big power late last year. I find myself repeatedly turning back to Hunter Renfroe at a next-to-nothing cost, though. It seems like his swing is perfectly suited for Fenway Park.
Surprisingly missing from this list is Kyle Schwarber, who goes outside the top 200 on average.
Bobby Dalbec. He might strike out a ton, but he also could hit 30 homers— Emma Houghton (@emma_houghton9) March 9, 2021
Received two votes: Josh Bell, WAS; Khris Dais, TEX; Clint Frazier, NYY; Randal Grichuk; TOR, Ian Happ, CHC; Nate Lowe, TEX; Mike Moustakas, CIN; Gary Sanchez, NYY; Anthony Santander, BAL; Christian Walker, ARI
My choice: Hunter Renfroe
Who do you count on drafting for stolen bases?
Everybody has their go-to for the scarcest category, right? Judging from these results, maybe not. The list is populated largely by early-round types like Mondesi, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Jose Ramirez, which would suggest that stolen bases aren't something most of us are willing to leave to chance. But there are some fun answers, too. Myles Straw, the Astros' projected leadoff man who once had a 70-steal season in the minors, is a late-round target of mine in a five-outfielder league. Many view the Rangers' Leody Taveras the same way. In the middle rounds, I've come back around to Tommy Edman, who underwhelmed across the board last year but is the Cardinals' projected leadoff hitter. He also figures to be quadruple-eligible within the first week. Raimel Tapia has begun to pick up steam as a sleeper for both steals and batting average, particularly if he bats leadoff for the Rockies.
The Mariners' Dylan Moore seems like an obvious miss here seeing as his steals potential is the reason so many of us are willing to see the glass half full after his surprising 2020 breakout. I'm a little surprised to see the versatile Jon Berti lacking in love here, as well as perennial tease Garrett Hampson and the Rays' Manuel Margot. The most egregious omission, though, is Andres Gimenez, who still has to beat out Amed Rosario for the starting shortstop job in Cleveland but is the one generating all the headlines this spring.
Jose Ramirez— Zachary Blain (@Zachman285) March 8, 2021
Real answer: I want to take care of SB in the first 3 rounds so I’m only targeting high steals guys if I’m going hitter there. Jose Ramirez is a great example of a guy I target there
Received two votes: Ronald Acuna, ATL; Tim Anderson, CHW; Jon Berti, MIA; Tim Locastro, ARI; Whit Merrifield, KC; Luis Robert, CHW; Nick Senzel, CIN; Fernando Tatis, SD; Jonathan Villar, NYM
My choice: Tommy Edman, followed closely by Andres Gimenez
Who's your favorite late-round target?
Again, with such an open-ended question, you have to expect a wide variety of responses. The top seven players are all ones I've hyped to some degree, and down-ballot names like Ty France and Nico Hoerner have also captured my attention of late. Whether or not Trey Mancini, Andrew Vaughn, Clint Frazier and Ke'Bryan Hayes qualify as late-round targets depends on the size of your league, but the hype is justified in each case, with a likelihood they'll be well represented on my teams as well. The one reliever here, Amir Garrett, also happens to be my favorite late-round target for saves, unless we're counting the Braves' Will Smith as a late-round target.
Some of the responses that surprised me include Luis Severino and Chris Sale, who are fine to stash away but might make for a roster crunch while we await their return from Tommy John surgery. Also, I'm not sharing the enthusiasm for Jesse Winker and Brandon Nimmo given that they're likely to sit against left-handed pitchers.
I’ll go with Clint Frazier again. Again if he truly is going to be an everyday player, his potential in that lineup is huge.— 2020 World Series Champions (@NotoriousHEC) March 9, 2021
My choice: Andrew Vaughn
Which closer are you most confident will lose his job?
Several pointed out that we don't know who most of the closers are yet, and it's true we don't with 100 percent assurance. Managers aren't as forthright about it as they used to be. But part of pursuing saves these days is reading between the lines, and for most teams, we have a pretty good idea who'll be working the ninth inning. Still, it's probably no coincidence that the leading vote-getters here are both pitchers who carry an official closer designation. You have to have the job to lose the job, right?
We've seen both Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel lose the job several times over the past few years (in Jansen's case, it's always in the playoffs), but both still show enough promise to get another shot. I share my reservations about them, but really, every closer is a bad week away from losing the job. Third and fourth place here, Matt Barnes and Jose Leclerc, do strike me as riskier bargain-basement saves sources than, say, Greg Holland and Daniel Bard.
Karinchak. Tito doesn't like command issues in the 9th inning.— Andy (@CleSportsFan34) March 9, 2021
Rafael Montero, partly a function of many "worse" closers not really crossing the threshold of having the job in the first place.— Brad Johnson (@BaseballATeam) March 9, 2021
Received two votes: Daniel Bard, COL; Giovanny Gallegos, STL; Greg Holland, KC; Trevor Rosenthal, OAK; Kirby Yates, TOR
My choice: Jose Leclerc
Which prospect who isn't already in line for a job will have the biggest impact this year?
I can't argue with the top three vote-getters. Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, and MacKenzie Gore are absolutely the prospects that need to be stashed away in virtually every league. There's some question as to which prospects actually qualify for this category since, after all, we don't know whether Andrew Vaughn and Alex Kirilloff will make the team. But, like ... we know. If they're sent down, it'll be only briefly and purely for service time reasons. They have a job, even if it turns out their claim to that job is delayed slightly.
As for which of the big three prospects actually gets the call first, I'm guessing that the need will present itself sooner for Kelenic and Gore than for Franco, but I imagine they're all up before the end of May. And for as much squawking as Kelenic has done about service time manipulation, the Mariners might feel compelled to call him up sooner.
Received two votes: Triston Casas, BOs; Jazz Chisholm, MiA; Daulton Jefferies, OAK; Josh Jung, TEX; Michael Kopech, CHW; Trevor Larnach, MIN; Daniel Lynch, KC; Mickey Moniak, PHI; Adley Rutschman, BAL; Simeon Woods-Richardson, TOR
My choice: Kelenic