2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Top dynasty targets based on polling results
Who does the Fantasy Baseball community like most for the long haul? Scott White polls the people to find out.
Sometimes I just like looking at poll results, you know?
Draft prep season is normally a sprint to deliver the best possible advice as efficiently as possible, which normally means rejecting others' ideas along the way. What this COVID-19 lull provides me, then, is a rare opportunity to get out of my own headspace and see what other people think. And by "other people," I don't just mean the majority, but a full breakdown. Often, it's who appears on a poll that's more interesting than who actually wins it.
So I kept these polls as open-ended as possible in the hopes of seeing some diversity of thought. The question posed on Facebook and Twitter was straightforward enough — which player do you want most at each position in a dynasty league? — but it gave respondents much to consider. "Want most" is different from "draft first" because it's not requiring you to consider where these players actually go. Of course, some respondents were so beholden to ADP that they made a value judgment, responding with who they thought gave the best bang for the buck.
I think it works best if you tune everything else out — all preconceptions and league context — and ask yourself, if playing against yourself, who you'd want the most at each position.
Let's see what the people say ...
Catchers aren't known for aging well, with few continuing to perform at a high level beyond age 30, and it just so happens that J.T. Realmuto, the consensus No. 1 at the position right now, is already 29. If there's a position where it might make sense to prioritize the top prospect over someone more proven, then, it's this one, especially since each of the past two drafts has seen a catcher taken within the first two picks. But Realmuto's stable profile barely beat out Adley Rutschman, a fast-tracker who's regarded as can't-miss after going No. 1 a year ago. Joey Bart, the No. 2 pick in 2018, also placed high.
From David Nielson, via Facebook: "I'd still take Realmuto. I understand the idea of dynasty favoring young players you can keep for a long period of time, but Realmuto is the projected No. 1 catcher this year and there is no predictable reason besides injury not to expect him to be the same for next year. With a position you can turn over as frequently as catcher I don't need the youngest player available there."
My choice: Rutschman
This position featured the biggest runaway winner, and seeing as Cody Bellinger is a 24-year-old who won NL MVP only two years after winning Rookie of the Year, it makes sense ... mostly. Second place, Pete Alonso, also just won Rookie of the Year while leading the majors with 53 home runs, so you might presume those particular accomplishments would hold more sway. Turns out, though, Alonso is actually the older of the two by seven months, making it easier to side with Bellinger's longer track record and more rounded skill set. In fact, this position could have been an even bigger blowout. Several responded that they would have picked Bellinger if they weren't expecting him to be exclusively an outfielder moving forward.
My choice: Bellinger
A two-horse race, this one, between the 23-year-old Keston Hiura and the slightly younger but more proven Ozzie Albies. It might have been a three-horse race, also including another 23-year-old, Gleyber Torres, if not for some confusion over his long-term position. Several pointed out that his time as a second base-eligible player may be at its end, but he didn't receive any more support at shortstop, it's worth noting. All three would appear to be among the most sought-after dynasty targets considering Gavin Lux, a consensus top-five prospect on the verge of a big-league job, was a distant fourth and Ketel Marte, coming off an MVP-caliber season and only 26, barely registered. It's worth noting that Jose Altuve would have been an easy No. 1 here as recently as two years ago.
My choice: Torres, and I'll take my chances on having a place to play him
Position confusion wasn't enough to unseat the winner here, Alex Bregman, who also received votes at shortstop. He was playing at such a high level so early that it's easy to overlook he only just turned 26, and his skill set seems like the sort that should age particularly well, being built on premium plate discipline and contact skills. Third base has no shortage of viable dynasty targets — from last year's top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero, to one of last year's biggest breakouts, Rafael Devers, both on the right side of 24 — but I don't see how you'd opt for either over the 26-year-old who has already shown himself twice over to be an MVP candidate. Shoot, even the soon-to-be 29-year-old Nolan Arenado would be difficult to pass up if not for fears of him being traded out of Colorado. Note also that neither Manny Machado nor Eugenio Suarez received a vote.
My choice: Bregman
This position might be the one most dependent on format, and I'm not just talking about categories or points. The potential of Wander Franco, top prospect in baseball and possibly the next teen sensation in the majors, looms large here, and depending on the precise keeper rules for your league — how many and how for how long and for what cost — I might be inclined to go with him myself, given how poorly players at this position age and how likely some are to move off it. He's my top bet at the position for the next 10 years, particularly if we're already counting Bregman and Torres at other positions. Still, it's hard to go against Fernando Tatis after what he just accomplished as a 20-year-old, even acknowledging , and Francisco Lindor at 26 should have several studly years ahead of him, too.
Guiesseppe Consigliere, via Facebook: "Everybody who said Tatis and Bichette please join my next league. Like, pretty please?!? Lindor, Story and Franco are the correct answers."
My choice: Lindor
No surprise Ronald Acuna is the winner here given that he's the consensus No. 1 overall pick as a 22-year-old, but him winning by so much may qualify as a mild upset. After all, he's going against a player tracking as the best ever and another who has offered comparable production each of the past two years. Many of the responses were pained, though, noting the difficulty in passing up Mike Trout and Christian Yelich for Acuna. The most regrettable omission for many, though, appeared to be Juan Soto, who's actually a year younger than Acuna but has likewise already established himself as one of the game's elite, putting up a .282-34-110-110-12 line last year. In fact, if I was conducting these polls exclusively for Head-to-Head points leagues, Soto may well have won on the merits of his superior plate discipline.
My choice: Acuna
Another runaway winner here and perhaps the most surprising given the volatility of the position, the volume of alternatives and the fact that Walker Buehler isn't already the top pick in redraft leagues. Of the four pitchers who tend to go ahead of him, though, two (Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander) are on the wrong side of 35 and another (Jacob deGrom) is on the wrong side of 30. Given that the consensus No. 1, Gerrit Cole, is only 29, it's a little surprising he didn't get more love, but when Buehler, Jack Flaherty and Shane Bieber are already performing like they are before turning 25, the competition is stiff. I'm a little surprised Chris Paddack, Jesus Luzardo and Mike Soroka were beaten out by Nate Pearson and Casey Mize, but we're talking one or two votes' difference there.
Ted Gehman, via Facebook: Buehler, Flaherty or Bieber should be the only answers here.
My choice: Buehler
I may need to do a supplemental poll to see how many respondents here are Indians fans, because wow, enthusiasm is high for the presumptive next-in-line there ... assuming we can agree on who it actually is. James Karinchak indeed has massive strikeout potential and Emmanuel Clase indeed compelled them to forfeit Corey Kluber, but by far the biggest variable here would be the likelihood of retaining the closer role for years to come. And that's almost impossible to predict. It's a notoriously volatile role that often changes hands on a whim, and longevity in it is rare.
Perhaps, then, it makes the most sense just to go with the top closer today, Josh Hader, and take your chances, but the Brewers were so reluctant to install him as the closer in the first place that longevity would be an especially great concern. Roberto Osuna, meanwhile, already has five years of full-time closing under his belt as a 25-year-old.
Received only one vote: Julio Urias, LAD; Carlos Martinez, STL; Alex Colome, CHW; Raisel Iglesias, CIN; Will Smith, ATL; Jose Leclerc, TEX; Adrian Morejon, SD; Andres Munoz, SD; Zack Britton, NYY; Darwinzon Hernandez, BOS
My choice: Osuna
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.
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