My preferences in Fantasy Baseball this year are well documented. In fact, you could argue that documenting them is all I do.
What happened to the wisdom of the masses? How does this one guy get to run roughshod over it? Who appointed me dictator anyway?
This survey is my gracious attempt to give power back to the people, if only temporarily. I recently posed eight questions on a range of Fantasy Baseball matters to our social media accounts and then tallied up the results. They are as follows.
Who's the one player you have to have this year?
A question so open-ended makes for a less-than-decisive winner, but even so, I found Ketel Marte to be a surprising choice. Don't get me wrong: I like him fine, but I expected someone ... I don't know ... buzzier? If anything, Marte's ADP (around 75th overall) would suggest he's being under-drafted, which tells me I've surveyed a savvy bunch.
Or maybe I'm just in a feedback loop. Several of these picks -- namely, Joey Votto, Justin Verlander, Willy Adames and Salvador Perez -- have my signature all over them, which is the downside of surveying only those who've actively chosen to follow you. Presumably, they came to hear when I have to say, and as much as anyone writing about Fantasy Baseball, I've had a lot to say about those four.
The buzz on Sandy Alcantara and Patrick Sandoval is a little louder and more universal, and you can understand why Wander Franco and Bobby Witt -- the top prospect of last year and this year -- would garner such enthusiasm. The Mike Trout pick is refreshing given that his stock is at an all-time low. If he's truly a must-have for you, though, you'll still have to take him in Round 1.
Salvador Perez…since in a class by himself. A slugger that is capable of carrying your team, with the next best catcher being a distant 2nd.— T-Mat (@Tmattern1) March 3, 2022
My choice: Salvador Perez
Which SP seems like the best bet to break out?
Understandably, there's some disagreement as to what it means to break out. Has Sandy Alcantara already broken out? Has Logan Webb or Max Fried? Clearly, some people believe those pitchers have another rung to reach, and as someone who himself classifies Frankie Montas as a breakout this year, I can dig it.
Most of the pitchers depicted here, though, were rookies last year or are otherwise new to the starting rotation. Alek Manoah and Shane McClanahan both demonstrated big strikeout potential last year and just need the big workload to go with it. Logan Gilbert isn't getting as much hype comparatively, having sputtered to a 4.68 ERA last year, but in a way, that offers him even more room to grow. The pedigree is rock solid, and the underlying numbers are strong.
Once again, Patrick Sandoval has prominent placement here. He didn't arrive to the hype of a Manoah or Gilbert, so it's taking much of the Fantasy-playing world longer to catch on. His changeup might be the best swing-and-miss pitch in baseball, though, and he was surging before a lumbar injury brought him down late last year.
Patrick Sandoval. He’s my “have to have” player too. He shows up on so many lists with the best in the game. Statcast numbers look awesome. I think he’s this year’s Logan Webb/Freddy Peralta— Zachary Blain (@Zachman285) March 3, 2022
If he gets the rotation spot I’m extremely confident in what the Brewers can do with Aaron Ashby— Camp Calhoun (@CampCalhoun) March 3, 2022
My choice: Alek Manoah
Which early-rounder do you want nothing to do with?
Marcus Semien is on my bust list, and between his outlier production last year, his unfavorable Statcast readings and his removal from last year's venue and supporting cast, the sentiment appears to be widespread. It's to the point that I sometimes see him drop a couple rounds below his ADP, in which case I absolutely would have something to do with him. That's the rub with bust picks. You can't be so sure of yourself that you pass up obvious value. Just look at who was the top answer to this question last year.
Jacob deGrom is understandably high given the concerns about his elbow, as is Fernando Tatis given the concerns about his shoulder (though I don't share those so much). There are lesser injury concerns for Shane Bieber and Mike Trout, and Robbie Ray has yet to prove he can sustain last year's massive control gains. I take personal offense to those who said Salvador Perez. Sure, he won't repeat his record-setting season, but he was far and away the best catcher in 2020 as well and looks to be the single biggest advantage you could have at any position.
The Starling Marte pick may surprise some people, but I think it's mostly a matter of fit. Yeah, he's a little old and a little injury prone, but more than anything, investing in his speed means sacrificing power. At the cost, I'm not willing to make that exchange.
Kyle tucker. Think we are baking in an increase in steals that may not be there. Great hitter, just not sure first rounder.— craig schumann (@craigschumann) March 3, 2022
Mookie Betts… I worry he stops running (like Trout) except he is not as good of a hitter as Trout is, so it’ll really hurt his value— Elijah (@LipkinIcedTea) March 3, 2022
Received two votes: Ronald Acuna, ATL; Tim Anderson, CHW; Javier Baez, DET; Walker Buehler, LAD; Gerrit Cole, NYY; Kevin Gausman, TOR; Bryce Harper, PHI; Francisco Lindor, NYM; Cedric Mullins, BAL; Max Scherzer, NYM; Trevor Story, COL; Trea Turner, LAD
My choice: Jacob deGrom
Who's your go-to for cheap power?
Your interpretation of "cheap" may vary, and yes, Nos. 1 and 3 on this list are going 100 picks apart on average. But neither is being drafted early, per se, and the gist of the question is whose power output is too affordable to pass up. As someone whose top priority in 5x5 leagues this year is not to underdo it in home runs, I live for these little power pockets at various stages of the draft.
I'm always looking to take Kyle Schwarber beyond Pick 100, believing he's capable of exceeding 40 home runs. I'm comfortable taking Hunter Renfroe as my No. 2 outfielder, seeing as he was the 19th-best in 5x5 scoring last year. I'm typically looking to take Jorge Soler as we approach Round 15, hopeful that his second-half power surge can bring him closer to being the 48-homer guy he was in 2019. I'll happily take the hit in batting average to grab Adam Duvall's 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI for my fifth outfield spot. I think Luke Voit going outside the top 200 is just plain silly.
Those are my favorites, but all of these choices are logical if we're not confining "cheap" to a particular ADP range.
Kyle Schwarber... and if some rumors of him signing with the Rockies comes to fruition... OMG.— BK 2412 (@bk_2412) March 3, 2022
My choice: Hunter Renfroe
Who do you always count on drafting for SBs?
Top three last year: Adalberto Mondesi (16), Nick Madrigal (13), Trea Turner (11)
Naturally, counting on any particular early-rounder for stolen bases is a recipe for disappointment since your chances of getting him are closely tied to your draft position. I think, though, that by suggesting so many early-rounders, respondents were making a point: Stolen bases are a category best filled early. Maybe not with Trea Turner and Jose Ramirez because you don't pick early enough for them, but maybe instead with Whit Merrifield or Starling Marte.
And to that, I say they're right. If you're looking to win stolen bases, sans a timely pickup of the routinely injured Adalberto Mondesi (who got surprisingly few votes), you need to take a bite out of that apple early. But if you're only looking to place in the middle of a category that has no bearing on any of the others, then you can pick up enough dribs and drabs over the course of the draft to make it happen. Turner and Ramirez contribute so much offensively that I'm not opposed to drafting them at the appropriate spot, but for what Merrifield and Marte would cost, I think the power hit is too great.
If I am going to count on any player for speed, it would have to be someone early like JoRam. I don't like the idea of trusting someone like Myles Straw.— Dozer (@rdknott) March 3, 2022
My choice: Nicky Lopez
Who's your favorite late-round target?
This question allows for too wide a variety of responses, and I may want to rethink the wording next year. Patrick Sandoval again places high, though. He clearly has plenty of backers, myself included, for a guy who's drafted around 200th overall. It's also nice to see that Alex Kirilloff's wrist-plagued rookie season did little to dampen enthusiasm. He crushed the ball in spite of it, according to Statcast. How might his numbers have looked if it had been healthy the whole time?
A lot of these names are favorites of the CBS Fantasy Baseball crew. Luke Voit will be far and away the most underdrafted player in Fantasy if he begins the year as the Yankees first baseman, as currently projected. Adam Wainwright is ancient but was a top-10 pitcher in both 5x5 and points scoring last year (and was just as good in 2020). Jo Adell is one of our favorite post-hype sleepers, and Connor Joe one of our preferred late-round picks. And Carlos Carrasco is one of what I've dubbed the "forgotten ace trio," three of the most bankable pitchers of the past decade who've been discarded because of one bad season. All that's missing are Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke.
Alex Kirilloff, .291xBA .541xSLG while playing through a wrist injury. Dual eligibility never hurts too— Neil Mills (@NeilBMills) March 3, 2022
Zack Greinke. I have faith in his brain keeping the numbers solid and he can be counted on for plenty of innings.— Gary Wise (@GaryWise1) March 3, 2022
Received two votes: Akil Baddoo, DET; Mark Canha, NYM; Triston Casas, BOS; Anthony DeSclafani, SF; Camilo Doval, SF; Tanner Houck, BOS; Gavin Lux, LAD; Marcell Ozuna, ATL; Grayson Rodriguez, BAL; Julio Rodriguez, SEA; Adley Rutschman, BAL; Ranger Suarez, PHI; Spencer Torkelson, DET
My choice: Kyle Hendricks, Zack Greinke and Carlos Carrasco
Which closer are you most confident will lose his job?
How can we say which closer will lose his job if we don't know who most of the closers are? That was one of the most common responses I got to this question, and the point is well taken. But I have news for you: It won't have changed much by the time opening day gets here. We'll know by then where Kenley Jansen has signed and whether Craig Kimbrel has been traded, sure. But modern managers generally aren't into anointing closers, which means we'll have to make an educated guess as to most teams' first-in-line for saves.
The uncertainty did, however, lead to multiple relievers being nominated from some bullpens. (Camilo Doval and Jake McGee are good bets to lose their jobs to each other, just so you know.) It may have also contributed to one of the most stable closers of the past decade (Aroldis Chapman) getting the most votes. You have to have a job to lose it, after all.
Granted, you don't see Raisel Iglesias or Edwin Diaz listed here, and there are legitimate concerns about Chapman's inflated walk rate last year. Personally, though, I think Will Smith is the better answer given that Tyler Matzek and eventually Kirby Yates are both a part of the Braves bullpen. The most concerning case to me, though, is Giovanny Gallegos, who the Cardinals have always preferred to keep in a more flexible role.
Doval (does he even have the job? He’s being drafted like he does)— 𝗗𝗼𝗰 𝗖𝗿𝗼𝘁𝘇𝗲𝗿 (@DocCrotzer) March 3, 2022
I think it would easier to answer this question if there were more than 10 guys who we knew would even have the closer role to lose.— The Zach Duke Spirit (@apendygraft) March 3, 2022
My choice: Giovanny Gallegos
Which prospect (aside from Bobby Witt) will have the biggest impact this year?
Maybe I should have excluded Shane Baz, too? Oh well. It's interesting that Julio Rodriguez broke even with a guy who most likely has a spot on the opening day roster (or at least is being drafted like it). Of course, I've long said that Rodriguez himself has a reasonable chance of winning the job this spring. Sure, he has yet to progress past Double-A, but he hit .362 there last year. And there may be no team that can justify a service time complication more than the Mariners. They just missed the playoffs last year and are looking to end a 21-year drought.
I have only a few minor quibbles with these names and the order thereof. Jose Miranda deserves to be 3-4 spots higher as a 23-year-old who hit like an in-his-prime Albert Pujols between Double- and Triple-A last year. I'm confident he'll spend most of 2022 in the majors. Joe Ryan, who already has a spot in the Twins rotation, is underrepresented, as is Vidal Brujan for anyone who values stolen bases. I'm also expecting Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez to factor for the Royals this year and would pick both ahead of the Phillies' Bryson Stott.
Vidal Brujan. If he gets playing time, he could steal 30-40 bases easy. Doesn’t matter what anyone else does if he steals like he can— Neil Mills (@NeilBMills) March 3, 2022
My choice: Julio Rodriguez