I love surveys, man. Something about presenting open-ended questions to the nameless, faceless masses just makes me come alive. Maybe I missed my calling and should be working for Family Feud instead.
But alas, Fantasy Baseball is my game, and so my surveys are limited to that subject matter. The focus in this one is Dynasty leagues. The respondents all come from Twitter and Facebook.
The question is straightforward enough: Which player do you want most at each position in a Dynasty league? The answers are illuminating beyond just who happened to place first.
Let's review them together, shall we?
Rutchman has moved into the lead here even before playing his first major-league game, which seems appropriate given how he's being touted as the most perfect catcher prospect ever to exist. Genuine impact is hard to find at this position, what with all the health and playing-time obstacles, so it makes sense to accept some risk for the chance at a bigger score.
Clearly, Smith's production is good enough in the eyes of many, but if I'm opting for an established player, it's with maximum impact in mind. Give me Salvador Perez, who just became the first catcher since Johnny Bench to lead the majors in home runs and RBI and has a considerable playing-time advantage as a part-time DH. I get that he's four years older than Smith, but catchers aren't guaranteed longevity.
Who is this year's (blank)?! The Fantasy Baseball Today team jumped on the pod to break down everything you need to know about finding the next Robbie Ray and more in your 2022 drafts:
The real dark horse here is Daulton Varsho, who could have a similar playing-time advantage as a part-time outfielder while also being the one true base-stealer at the position.
Will Smith. He's only 26 and I don't have concerns about his production or if he'll change position. I know Rutschman is the latest "sure-thing" C prospect, but it feels like those guys max out at "fine, I guess" all the time. Keibert would probably be my number 2.— Just Some Guy 🦬 (@jeremylatzke) January 26, 2022
My choice: Rutschman
Nothing like a consensus, huh? There was never any doubt Guerrero would be the top choice here. Turns out it's by the biggest margin since I first began conducting these surveys in 2020. I thought maybe Spencer Torkelson, a former top overall pick on the verge of his debut, would have a stronger showing, but seeing as Guerrero is only five months older and already competing for Triple Crowns in the majors, it would take a real contrarian to go against him.
Note that the top choice from the past two years, Cody Bellinger, didn't get a vote this time. True, he's more of an outfielder these days, but he didn't get a vote there either. It's a steep decline for a 26-year-old former MVP.
I think Vlad will be number one here, with sarcastic answers taking second place.— Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams) January 26, 2022
That is my honest prediction.
My choice: Guerrero
Albies also won last year, but check out who were second and third. It goes to show you the danger in selling out for a hypothetical. Granted, this year's 2 and 3 didn't even quality at second base at the time, but even so, the dynasty appeal of both Hiura and Biggio is clearly in the toilet right now.
Why Albies? He already has four years of high-end production under his belt at age 25, and there's nothing hypothetical about that. I'd venture to say he's peaked already, though, and doesn't have the first-round upside Trea Turner has, but he's also four years younger. Several respondents cited the likelihood of Turner shifting back to shortstop as a tie-breaker.
Matt Seaman, via Facebook: "Turner. Even if just for this year, he's so much better that I'd do it and figure out the position in later years if I had to."
My choice: Turner
It's still a two-horse race for now, but in a year, Austin Riley could be as big a part of the discussion. The calculation here is similar to the one at second base: Do you settle for third-round production from a player who might give you a few more years (in this case, Devers) or luxuriate in the first-round production of a player who himself is still in his prime (in this case, Ramirez). The consensus opted for the former in both cases. I'm more of the latter inclination.
I did expect to see more than one vote for the top third base prospect, Josh Jung, given that the major-league crop (beyond Devers, Ramirez and Riley, of course) is so lacking. Interesting that Jose Miranda got more votes, especially since both are expected to make their big-league debuts this year.
Have never played dynasty, but how can it not be Ramirez? Truly elite, no reason to believe he won't be for a few more seasons, and likely to end up on a better roster in the next couple years.— Sean Millerick (@miasportsminute) January 26, 2022
My choice: Ramirez
This one isn't as much of a runaway as last year, with concerns over Tatis' shoulder being the most cited reason for voting otherwise. The issue first popped up in the minors, so it may never be gone completely. Still, the fact Tatis is a big winner in spite of it -- and at this position, no less -- shows the sort of impact he's already capable of at age 23. His 162-game pace last year was 52 homers and 31 steals.
How deep is shortstop in dynasty talent? The consensus top prospect last year, Wander Franco, is only fourth here. One of the contenders for top prospect this year, Bobby Witt, is only fifth. Neither Xander Bogaerts nor Corey Seager, two proven and premium bats still in the prime of their careers, got a single vote. Seriously, hat tip to Willy Adames for getting more than one.
My heart says Tatis but my head says Bichette. The shoulder thing scares me, even if it shouldn’t. I’d take Tatis in redraft but maybe Bichette in dynasty.— Its_Kirby_Hancock (@MickieSol) January 26, 2022
Beautiful thing about this question is that there’s maybe 10 defendable answers— Randy Lorber (@R_Lorber08) January 26, 2022
My choice: Tatis
The gap between Soto and Acuna has widened from a year ago, and the reason why should be obvious. Acuna is recovering from a torn ACL. Soto is not. The road back from such an injury, particularly for a 24-year-old, is fairly straightforward, but when the decision is already so close, why take any chance at all? Stolen bases would be the main reason. Acuna, at least prior to the injury, contributed them in much larger quantities than Soto. But several respondents actually dinged him for it, saying that his standout skill wouldn't age as well as Soto's other-worldly plate discipline.
It's interesting that Tatis didn't come close to either of them, but most respondents probably still thought of him as a shortstop exclusively. Also interesting is how a transcendent prospect like Julio Rodriguez could fetch only a couple votes, but that just goes to show you the extent of Soto's and Acuna's dominance at such a young age. How could Rodriguez possibly improve upon what they're already doing?
Juan Soto - doesn’t have Acuna speed but I trust his skill set to age better. Don’t wanna send any jinxes out in the universe so I’ll stop there.— J Kolo (@JohnnyKolo) January 26, 2022
My choice: Tatis, followed by Soto
That's a steep drop for Shane Bieber, who of course missed most of last year with a shoulder injury but is still only 26. Seems like even in redraft leagues, the perception of him has soured quite a bit, but I can't say I agree. Still, Nos. 1 and 2 here are the most logical choices, with Buehler representing the safe pick and Corbin Burnes representing the upside pick. You may be surprised to learn both are already 27, though.
Beyond even Bieber, the most surprising placement in the poll is Gerrit Cole, who also didn't place in the top three last year. He's only the top pitcher off the board in redraft leagues and has been in that discussion for, what, four years now? I get that 31 isn't young in the strictest sense, but it's young enough for him to have a future still. I mean, Alek Manoah over him? Casey Mize, seriously? Either I just uncovered a sell-high candidate or this survey question somehow found its way into Tigers fan Twitter.
Couple years ago I said Buehler. He’s probably the safest option still, but I want to say Burnes. So I’m gonna.— Matthew Vandenbrand (@MVandenbrand87) January 26, 2022
My choice: Buehler
Look at the error so many made with James Karinchak last season. Relievers only matter in dynasty for as long as they're getting saves, so the question here mostly comes down to who has the most job security, which means it mostly comes down to Hader and Liam Hendriks. Hader being five years younger, he's the runaway winner.
Emmanuel Clase had a nice showing, though, after a breakthrough season that saw him record 24 saves with a 1.29 ERA. Sure, he's not especially proven, but the stuff is viscerally nasty, inspiring GIFs aplenty across the Internet. And how secure is any closer's job really?
Possibly in accordance with that line of thinking, some respondents took a different approach entirely, eschewing saves for a rotation candidate with relief pitcher eligibility. Michael Kopech, Ranger Suarez and Nate Pearson all fit the bill.
Richard Sands, via Facebook: "How different would it be than in a redraft? Not at all, most likely. You want the best guy there is now. That's Josh Hader or Liam Hendriks. It also matters what your window for winning is. If it's not now, why sweat who your closers are?"
My choice: Hader