I've given youpicks, picks and picks. I've offered my perspective on first-rounders and prospects. I've said what I think. It's documented and done.
But I'm just one guy. What do the masses say?
I was just as curious as anyone else, so I used my social media heft to find out, delivering an eight-question survey to my Twitter and Facebook followers. And the results are in.
1. Who's the one player you have to have this year?
This question is particularly wide open, so it's no wonder the responses ranged far and wide. But after a long and painful tally, we do appear to have reached a consensus. Zac Gallen is the Fantasy Baseball-playing world's biggest crush. He and No. 2 on the list, Jesus Luzardo, are both among my breakout picks for 2020, and it's interesting that both are starting pitchers entering their first year. High-end starting pitching has been in particularly high demand this year, and those two offer hope of similar production at a lower cost.
Keston Hiura is a young player with a far-ranging skill set and big upside at a position of need, so it's no surprise he ranks near the top, too. Mike Clevinger is a curious choice among starting pitchers, though — not because he isn't good, but because it's not so clear how he stands out from others in his same tier.
I don't know what those who picked Ronald Acuna do if they don't get the first or second overall pick this year. Maybe they play in an auction league?
Received two votes: Bo Bichette, SS, TOR; Shane Bieber, SP, CLE; Alex Bregman, 3B, HOU; Byron Buxton, OF, MIN; Mark Canha, OF, OAK; Luis Castillo, SP, CIN; Patrick Corbin, SP, WAS; Lucas Giolito, SP, CHW; Josh Hader, RP, MIL; Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHW; Corey Kluber, SP, TEX; Ramon Laureano, OF, OAK; Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE; Kenta Maeda, SP, MIN; German Marquez, SP, COL; Marcell Ozuna, OF, ATL; Franmil Reyes, OF, CLE; George Springer, OF, HOU; Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY; Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS; Fernando Tatis, SS, SD
My choice: J.D. Davis
2. Which starting pitcher seems like the safest bet to break out?
If the winners of the last, more open-ended question were a couple pitchers with breakout potential, then it stands to reason Gallen and Luzardo would run away with this one. Four of the top five on this list (Max Fried and Dinelson Lamet being the others) are featured in my column, and the one who isn't, Frankie Montas, certainly has a case. I tend to think he already broke out last year, but because a suspension limited him to only 16 starts, it's not an open-and-shut case.
Some respondents were quick to point out that some of these pitchers had already broken out, such as Jack Flaherty, Tyler Glasnow, Chris Paddack, Walker Buehler and Lucas Giolito, but I do think each of those pitchers has another rung to ascend. It's a more difficult case to make for Flaherty and Giolito, perhaps. Zack Wheeler is a curious choice as an established 29-year-old headed to a more hitter-friendly environment, but some of his respondents just liked the idea of him leaving the Mets.
Received two votes: Sandy Alcantara, MIA; Jose Berrios, MIN; Matthew Boyd, DET; Aaron Civale, CLE; MacKenzie Gore, SD; Andrew Heaney, LAA; Kenta Maeda, MIN; Nate Pearson, TOR; Dustin May, LAD; Jose Urquidy, HOU; Luke Weaver, ARI
My choice: Zac Gallen
3. Which consensus first-rounder do you want nothing to do with?
I can understand why someone might not want to invest his first-round pick in a pitcher. I can't understand why Gerrit Cole is being singled out among the first-round pitchers, except maybe because he tends to be the first off the board. It's not like he's some fly-by-night. His 2019 was a follow-up to a big transformation in 2018. And when you consider Cole had 71 more strikeouts than Jacob deGrom — who led the NL last year, by the way — any concerns about his ERA going up a little with his move to the Yankees should be secondary.
Of course, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are the most concerning of the first-round hurlers, both being on the wrong side of 35, but for most respondents, performance was a greater concern than durability. Some suggested that home run power was Cody Bellinger's only bankable skill, pointing to his suspect sophomore season and shaky second half. Those who chose Trevor Story were mostly concerned with the possibility of the Rockies playing their games in Arizona this year, and Nolan Arenado got some votes for the same reason.
Cole and Story were the more popular choices among Twitter users while Facebook users gravitated more toward Bellinger and Alex Bregman. I presume it was just a copycat situation, with later respondents inspired by those that came before them.
Received two votes: Jacob deGrom, SP, NYM; Anthony Rendon, 3B, LAA
My choice: Max Scherzer
4. For which top prospect do you not get the hype?
A bit of the blind leading the blind here, I suspect, as some of the most high-profile prospects ended up dominating this poll. You have to know a name to nominate it, I guess. Probably some recency bias, too, given that the last we saw of Jo Adell, Gavin Lux and Forrest Whitley was less than appealing. Some who responded with Luis Robert did so for more philosophical reasons. The gist is that because he's going so much higher than other prospects and prospects are inherently volatile, he's by definition overrated, and I guess there's a case to be made there. But it really wasn't in the spirit of the question.
The question was seeking answers more along the lines of a Nick Madrigal, whose appeal resides mostly in his contact skills, or a Christian Pache, whose ranking mostly depends on him continuing to tap into his raw tools, so I consider them the true leaders for this question. They're kind of on opposite ends of the spectrum — Madrigal being a low-risk prospect with limited upside while Pache is high-risk with potentially higher rewards — but I get having insecure feelings about both.
The answer that bothers me most is Carter Kieboom, especially since the accompanying commentary raised questions about his upside. Look, I don't foresee him being a first-rounder someday, but the Nationals have an excellent track record with their top prospects and already foresee him as their starter. A middle infielder with a plus hit tool and excellent batting eye who already shows the capacity to hit for power absolutely has the potential to be a perennial All-Star, with a best-case outcome being along the lines of a Xander Bogaerts.
My choice: Drew Waters
5. Who are you most confident will bust this year?
A surprise runaway winner here in Pete Alonso, who indeed may have a hard time repeating last season's 53 home runs but nonetheless seems among the safer bets for 40-plus. It's possible he's being overdrafted, but enough to rise to the level of bust? Some respondents also expressed concerns about his batting average bottoming out, but in the context of big-time power hitters, his strikeout rate is fairly tame.
Gerrit Cole shows up here again while the Jose Altuve pick strikes me mostly as wishful thinking — a sort of payback for the Astros' indiscretions. Fernando Tatis and Paul Goldschmidt are the first two who appear in my own , with several others close behind. This question is among the more wide open ones, though, making it more difficult to reach any kind of consensus.
Received two votes: Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL; Javier Baez, SS, CHC; Shane Bieber, SP, CLE; Yu Darvish, SP, CHC; Lucas Giolito, SP, CHW; Tyler Glasnow, SP, TB; Yuli Gurriel, 1B, HOU; Aaron Judge, OF, NYY; Anthony Rendon, 3B, LAA; Gary Sanchez, C, NYY; Blake Snell, SP, TB; Trevor Story, SS, COL; Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS
My choice: Madison Bumgarner
6. Who is your favorite late-round target?
This question at least narrowed the pool from all draftable players to the lower end of draftable players, and yet the answers ranged too far to tell us much. There was disagreement, of course, as to who qualifies as a "late-round target," which I wasn't necessarily looking to clarify. But the person who responds with Dansby Swanson is certainly accustomed to a deeper league than the one who responds with J.D. Davis.
I myself am a big backer of Josh James, but I may have underestimated how much helium Ian Happ has among Fantasy Baseballers right now. He showed late last year that he may have whipped his strikeout issues, allowing him to make the most of his 30-homer potential, but I'm not sure the ceiling is enough for him to relegate Albert Almora to the bench completely. And if he's playing less than every day, it'll be difficult for Happ to make a significant Fantasy impact.
The biggest head-scratcher for me otherwise is Starlin Castro, who got good results when he began elevating the ball better in the second half. He has such a long track record of mediocrity, though, and the full-season batting line falls right in line with it. I think enthusiasm for him hinges on a particularly optimistic outlook.
Received two votes: Dylan Bundy, SP, LAA; Eduardo Escobar, 3B, ARI; MacKenzie Gore, SP, SD; Trent Grisham, OF, MIL; Rich Hill, SP, MIN; Scott Kingery, 3B, PHI; Michael Kopech, SP, CHW; Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW; Andrew McCutchen, OF, PHI; Franmil Reyes, OF, CLE; Brendan Rodgers, 2B, COL; Austin Voth, SP, WAS; Joey Votto, 1B, CIN; Christian Walker, 1B, ARI; Evan White, 1B, SEA
My choice: Mark Canha
7. Which closer are you most certain will lose his job?
Seeing as the most drafted non-closers include Scott Oberg, Will Smith and Seth Lugo, the leaders here aren't at all surprising, though I'd like to see Wade Davis be a more distant No. 1. Whenever a team's best reliever isn't the one in line for saves, it's a recipe for change, and Will Smith is indeed better than Mark Melancon. But I feel like people forget just how high-end Melancon was during his Pirates and Nationals days, and he seemed to recapture that form in the second half in 2019.
Josh Hader is an unusually high-end selection here, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell was so reluctant to move him to the closer role in the first place that Corey Knebel's return from Tommy John surgery could create an issue, especially since the delayed start to the year makes it even more likely Knebel is back to full health.
My choice: Wade Davis
8. Who isn't getting enough love?
Thanks, guys. We really narrowed that one down. My fault, I guess, for not roping off part of the player pool in the question. I don't have any major objections to the names that got three or more votes. They all make some sense, and I myself have a significant investment in Marcus Semien, Willie Calhoun and Miguel Sano.
The one I might question is Eloy Jimenez, whose upside is of course significant. I feel like he's being drafted largely on the basis of upside, though. His actual production last year doesn't warrant him being the 61st player off the board, including 18th among outfielders, which isn't to say he couldn't perform at that level. But if we're giving him credit for something he hasn't done yet, how is he not getting enough love?
Received two votes: Jose Abreu, 1B, CHW; Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU; Tim Anderson, SS, CHW; Javier Baez, SS, CHC; Bo Bichette, SS, TOR; Cavan Biggio, 2B, TOR; Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL; Walker Buehler, SP, LAD; Robinson Cano, 2B, NYM; Luis Castillo, SP, CIN; Starlin Castro, 3B, WAS; Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK; J.D. Davis, OF, NYM; Max Fried, SP, ATL; Tyler Glasnow, SP, TB; Austin Hays, OF, BAL; Rich Hill, SP, MIN; Josh James, SP, HOU; Carlos Martinez, SP, STL; Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY; Gleyber Torres, SS, NYY
My choice: Jorge Soler
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.