You can talk about a player's ADP. You can point to his projections. But at the end of the day, people are going to do whatever feels right. Now where's the metric to measure that?

Right here, that's where. Rather than keeping to my own analytical bubble, I like to take the pulse of the Fantasy Baseball-playing public with a good old fashioned survey. So that's what I've done here, dishing out eight questions to my Twitter (yes, I'm still calling it that) and Facebook followers and tallying up their responses. Think of it as the wisdom of the masses.

I should mention that I've been sitting on these results for a couple weeks because they take a long time to put together (and I'm kind of busy right now, you guys). But based on my own drafting experience, the responses still ring true.

Who's the one player you have to have this year?


Top three last year: Corbin Carroll (17), Oneil Cruz (17), Jordan Walker (15)

Cruz ties for the lead for a second straight year, and it's more surprising this time around given that a superior model, Elly De La Cruz, is now on the market (and a trendier name in baseball circles). I presume it's something of a value play for regular listeners of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast, who know I'm still high on Cruz. And if they know I'm high on Cruz, then they know I'm obsessed with Cole Ragans, a top-15 pitcher in my mind who's barely being drafted inside the top 30. I see screenshots of people taking him in Round 10 or later and burn with envy.

Overall, the responses to this question were more varied than for any other. The move to the Yankees seems to have totally flipped the script for Juan Soto, who people were drafting begrudgingly when he was in San Diego. Royce Lewis and Triston Casas are among my breakout picks for 2024, and yet I'm usually priced out of drafting them. Meanwhile, few analysts are doing anything to defuse the hype on Yoshinobu Yamamoto (myself included).

The enthusiasm for prospects Jackson Chourio and Wyatt Langford grows by the day, particularly with outfield being so weak this year. If I'm responding to this survey myself, Chourio would be a close second to Ragans here.

Received three votes: Mookie Betts, LAD; Riley Greene, DET; Nolan Jones, COL; Aaron Judge, NYY; Edouard Julien, MIN; Noelvi Marte, CIN; Parker Meadows, DET; Adley Rutschman, BAL; Corey Seager, TEX; Tarik Skubal, DET; Mike Trout, LAA

My choice: Cole Ragans

Which starting pitcher is the best bet to break out?


Top three last year: Nick Lodolo (24), George Kirby (22), Dustin May (14)

Tarik Skubal, yes. I've already committed to him as my AL Cy Young pick for this year, and I've called him a breakout elsewhere. But as an arbitrary rule-setter for these sorts of discussions ... I don't know. He seems a little too easy, like he's being drafted too high to fit the spirit of the question. I think the next three -- Bobby Miller, Grayson Rodriguez and Eury Perez -- are more along the lines of what I was thinking, and those three standout sophomores are indeed sure to send groans through the draft room when they have their name called. My preference is Perez because his strikeout potential is just on another level -- maybe the best for anyone not named Spencer Strider -- but Miller and Rodriguez have fewer workload concerns.

Tanner Bibee is sort of the forgotten member of that sophomore hurler club, so it's nice to see him get some love here. I can confirm that Ryan Pepiot and Michael King generate plenty of attention in drafts, to the point it's effectively quashed my interest in them, and I bet if I ran this survey again, Bailey Ober would be up there with them based on the buzz he's been getting this spring.

Dakoda McKennon (via Facebook): I like Skubal a ton. All the spin rate and analytic stuff looks great, but I like what I saw with my eyes. Pitch clock didn't bug him and he attacked like a guy who trusts his stuff. I think he takes a step towards ace territory this year. Caveat being health like most of these flamethrowers.

Received two votes: Tyler Glasnow, LAD; George Kirby, SEA; Matthew Liberatore, STL; Max Meyer, MIA; Casey Mize, DET; Cristopher Sanchez, PHI

My choice: Eury Perez

Which early-rounder do you want nothing to do with?


Top three last year: Jacob deGrom (27), Bobby Witt (23), Michael Harris (12)

I'm pretty much out on Luis Robert in the early rounds, too. Between his injury history and poor supporting cast, it seems like his numbers could only go backward. It's so tempting reach for him in the name of outfield scarcity once the first-round types are all gone, but you'll find better production elsewhere. I'm not as on board with the Elly De La Cruz skepticism. While there is downside risk with the batting average in particular, he has the upside of maybe the second-best player in Fantasy. Pace out last year's numbers, and you're getting something like 60 steals. And if he improves as a hitter, living up to his power potential, my goodness.

Getting back to the question, though, I'm more intrigued by the even higher-end choices mentioned here. Perhaps I should have said "first-rounder" rather than "early-rounder," but we could quibble over what that would mean, too, given the various formats.

Shohei Ohtani received the most responses of the possible first-rounders, and he has a couple factors working against him. One is that he's coming back from a major elbow procedure that will prevent him from pitching this year, but I think the greater concern is just that he'll occupy your DH spot rather than meeting a positional need. Corbin Carroll, meanwhile, has lingering concerns related to the shoulder injury that never really amounted to much last year. I don't so much share those concerns. I want to like Yordan Alvarez because I think he's a tremendous hitting talent, but the injury history has me opting for Matt Olson and Jose Ramirez in most instances.

Received two votes: Zac Gallen, ARI; Michael Harris, ATL; Nico Hoerner, CHC; Aaron Nola, PHI; Marcus Semien, TEX; Blake Snell, FA; Yoshinobu Yamamoto, LAD

My choice: Yordan Alvarez

Who's your go-to for cheap power?


Top three last year: Rowdy Tellez (38), Hunter Renfroe (27), Jorge Soler (18)

Jake Burger, I totally get. I've professed my love for him in various places, and maybe that's why he was top of mind for so many respondents. No doubt, he's a a great source of power, having hit 34 home runs last year despite not becoming a full-time player until June. But is he all that cheap? Undervalued, yes, but more of a mid-round target than a late-round target as about the 150th player drafted on most platforms. I guess it depends on the format, but since the question presupposes a particular category target, I'm presuming Rotisserie, with its larger lineups and longer drafts. What I'm trying to say is that, in this particular context, Burger wasn't the first place my mind went. (Now, if you were to ask me about lunch ...)

Nolan Gorman and Rhys Hoskins tend to go a little bit later, and I'm keen enough on them. I also think Max Muncy and Marcell Ozuna are good bangs for the buck, likely to help in multiple categories, even. But these are all top-200 picks still. I'm thinking cheaper, and if you like Gorman for the power he offers at second base, Brandon Lowe offers much the same at about 100 picks later. There's more injury risk there, but there's more of a track record, too. Lowe has a 39-homer season in his past and performed at about a 30-homer pace last year.

Received two votes: Byron Buxton, MIN; Mitch Garver, SEA; Joc Pederson, ARI; Anthony Santander, BAL; Matt Wallner, MIN

My choice: Brandon Lowe, TB

Who's your go-to for cheap speed?


Top three last year: Jon Berti (26), Esteury Ruiz (21), Jake McCarthy (12)

I'm going to be honest with you: I'm not much for cheap speed these days. With last year's stolen base revolution making 50-, 60-, even 70-steal threats available in the early rounds (and 30- and 40-steal threats available at all points in the draft), I have the category pretty well covered by the time the late rounds arrive. I think the responses here are mostly spot on. I like that Jarren Duran fills a critical position need (particularly in five-outfielder leagues) and is likely to help in batting average and runs as well as stolen bases. Good value there. It's also worth noting that Tommy Edman's cost is beginning to plummet amid reports that he won't be ready for the start of the season due to his recovery from wrist surgery. I'm more likely to draft him as a result.

But again, when I think "cheap" with a question that's obviously geared more for Roto leagues, I think about 100 picks later than those guys are going. Maikel Garcia is intriguing, but I'm not sure the bat is going to measure up. Willi Castro, meanwhile, may not get enough playing time to repeat last year's stolen base total. I prefer Jose Caballero to both, probably, and he gets a mention here. Jackson Chourio is a big part of my stolen base plan, so I appreciate the acknowledgment here, but again, he's not cheap.

Where's his teammate, Sal Frelick? I'm guessing overlooked because he happened to steal only seven bases in 57 games last year, but that's going to change. Stolen bases were a big part of Frelick's game in the minors and figure to be once he gets comfortable in the majors as well. He could turn out to be a good source of batting average, too.

Received two votes: Ji-Hwan Bae, PIT; Oneil Cruz, PIT; Nico Hoerner, CHC; Ha-seong Kim, SD; Jordan Lawlar, ARI; Noelvi Marte, CIN; Adalberto Mondesi, FA; Cedric Mullins, BAL; Johan Rojas, PHI; Trevor Story, BOS

My choice: Sal Frelick, MIL

Which position is the most critical to fill early?


Top three last year: third base (90), outfield (24), second base (17)

You see how much this can change in just a year. Few people consider third base to be a weak position today even though it was nearly as dominant of a choice last year as the outfield is now. So what can we take away from that? Absolutely nothing, I would say. You can only work with what's in front of you, and what's in front of you is a miserable outfield crop that runs out of surefire starters well before any infield position does. And I'm speaking with three outfielder leagues in mind. If it's five outfielders, like in standard Rotisserie, forget it.

Or more like obsess over it ... early and often. I've said elsewhere that the two positions around which you should gameplan your draft this year are starting pitcher (because one is always starting pitcher) and outfield. These survey results support that thinking. I will throw out an honorable mention for shortstop, though. Especially in leagues that require an extra middle infielder, it can thin out quicker than you think, so I always try to grab one of Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager or Oneil Cruz if it's not too much of a reach. Otherwise, I'm probably taking rookie Jackson Holliday and hoping for the best.

My choice: outfield

Which closer are you most fearful will lose his job?


Top three last year: Scott Barlow (9), Clay Holmes (9), Paul Sewald (9)

You can see there wasn't a great consensus on this topic last year, which makes Carlos Estevez's high number of responses this year all the more damning. And of course, he's the right answer, having crash-landed with a 6.59 ERA in the second half last year. The Angels' big offseason investment was Robert Stephenson, who was arguably the best reliever in baseball after the Rays got their hands on him in June, going on to deliver a 2.35 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 14.1 K/9 the rest of the way. Manager Ron Washington is insisting on Estevez as his closer to begin the year, but I've always known him to be a sensible man. And there will come a point when swapping the two makes too much sense.

But who else? Craig Kimbrel might seem like a reasonable choice given how much he's been in and out of the role in recent years, but his numbers over the past three years are still those of an elite reliever. The Orioles haven't equivocated about his role since signing him either. For Adbert Alzolay and Jose Alvarado, I think it's less about their effectiveness than the quality of the alternatives, and it doesn't help that neither one's manager has confirmed he's in the role yet. I wouldn't say Jose Leclerc, Alex Lange, Kyle Finnegan or Robert Suarez have a vice grip on ninth-inning duties, and Kenley Jansen has reached the age where he'll always be among the most worrisome.

Where's Tanner Scott? Dominant though he was last year, he doesn't have the steadiest track record, and his miserable spring performance might be scaring some away (not that I think we should be putting much stock in spring performance).

Received two votes: Edwin Diaz, NYM; Ryan Helsley, STL; Raisel Iglesias, ATL; Justin Lawrence, COL; Jordan Romano, TOR; Devin Williams, MIL

My choice: Carlos Estevez

Which prospect (Yoshinobu Yamamoto excluded) will have the biggest impact this year?


As you'd expect, it's a clear top three, though I'd venture to say Wyatt Langford has leapfrogged Jackson Holliday since the start of spring training. I'm not necessarily saying he should have. Of those three, I think Langford has the worst odds of making the opening-day roster. But he's also the oldest and would perhaps be the most prepared for the opportunity should it arise.

It's kind of strange seeing Evan Carter alongside the top three, and I'll note that he has the highest ADP of anyone on this list. I think it's just that he was around for so long last year, being a central part of the Rangers' World Series run, that few think of him as a prospect anymore even though he technically qualifies.

I understand Colt Keith for sure has a job and was certain to invite some responses here as a result, but I can't envision a scenario (barring injury, of course) by which he's more impactful than Noelvi Marte, who plays in a much more favorable park and should make a significant stolen base contribution as well. Shoot, I'd take Michael Busch over Keith, believing him to be the superior hitter. The other two who figure to have a job on opening day are Kyle Harrison and Shota Imanaga, but you can understand why the pitchers would be less attractive to respondents than the hitters. Also, take note here of Victor Scott, who could be a speedy fill-in for the injured Tommy Edman.

My choice: Jackson Chourio