Fantasy baseball draft debate: Who should be the No. 2 pick?

This was originally going to be a debate on who should be the No. 1 pick in 2022 fantasy baseball drafts, but our group is unanimous that Dodgers star Trea Turner is the clear choice. With that development following Fernando Tatis Jr. being sidelined for up to three months, Dalton Del Don, Scott Pianowski and Fred Zinkie decided to each make their case for who should be the second overall pick.

Why You should draft Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees, SP) at No. 2

Given most fantasy teams start around seven starting pitchers and 14 hitters, SPs are going to have around twice the impact on your categories. I’ve talked extensively about why I draft pitchers aggressively early, (editor's note: it worked out pretty well for Dalton last season), but my best way to summarize is by illustrating the difference in the pitchers’ impact.

Juan Soto may finish his career as one of the 10 best hitters in major league history (he had a .525 OBP after the All-Star break!), but his lack of steals would make it tough to spend a top-three pick on him. If forced to take a hitter, I’d prefer Bo Bichette’s bags as Scott ultimately came around to below, but I'm still going pitcher.

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Gerrit Cole had to deal with a sudden mid-season sticky-stuff ban, and while that resulted in some immediate struggles, he still finished with a 2.92 FIP that was nearly a full run lower than 2020. There’s no reason to worry about his second half. While Jacob deGrom is MLB’s best pitcher when healthy, Cole isn’t far behind, and he’s also a workhorse still in his prime who’s reached 180+ innings in four straight (full) seasons. Pitching for the Yankees is a huge advantage and should result in a bunch of wins, which is crucial during an era in which more and more random relievers are contributing to the category.

I also wouldn’t fault someone for taking Corbin Burnes here instead, as he too has an argument as baseball’s best pitcher. But I’m taking an SP at No. 2 either way. — Dalton Del Don

Gerrit Cole has been an ace for fantasy baseball managers, but how high should he go in 2022 drafts? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Gerrit Cole has been an ace for fantasy baseball managers, but how high should he go in 2022 drafts? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Why You should draft Bo Bichette (Toronto Blue Jays, SS) at No. 2

I was originally the Juan Soto part of this debate, so blame me if you’re on Team Soto. Ultimately, I decided to pivot from him because I want to check more boxes with a lottery pick, and I can do that with Bo Bichette.

Bichette is a five-category player and he’s insulated by the robust Toronto lineup. Soto led the majors with 145 walks last year, and judging from the pieces around him this time around, that number could go even higher. Soto’s also a coin flip on the bases, a mere 9-for-16 last year.

Bichette is a “see ball, hit ball” guy, an attacker at the plate. This type of player is often overlooked or undervalued, given the popularity of take-and-rake hitters. Bichette’s a .301 hitter for his 234 MLB games, so pitchers aren’t exploiting his aggressiveness. And when a modest-walk batter maintains a high average, you get extra mileage from it, since there’s more impact to the overall average of your fantasy team.

And when Bichette wants a bag, it’s his. He was 25-for-26 last year, and is 33-for-39 for his career. A 30-30 season isn’t just possible, it’s projectable. Grab a piece of this ascending, exciting Toronto lineup. — Scott Pianowski

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Why You should draft Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Guardians, 3B) at No. 2

Regardless of format, Jose Ramirez is my preferred option with the No. 2 overall pick (behind Trea Turner in roto formats and Juan Soto in points leagues). Ramirez is still on the right side of 30 and was one of just three players (along with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Shohei Ohtani) to amass more than 60 combined homers and steals last season. And Ramirez is the only player in baseball who ranks among the top-15 in homers (7th), RBIs (6th), runs scored (8th) and steals (6th) across the four seasons from 2018-21.

Ramirez is more appealing than usual this year because of the weak 2022 group at third base. There are few elite hitters at the hot corner, and those who wait on this position may be scrambling to find a serviceable option late in their drafts. I prefer to secure the services of Ramirez at the outset of my draft and then scroll through many appealing outfielders and middle infielders in the late rounds.

The batting average category is the lone downside of drafting Ramirez, as the 29-year-old has hit .268 across the past four seasons. But I’m happy to work on batting average with my subsequent picks while plucking players at deeper positions. And finally, the value of Ramirez could soar even higher if the retooling Guardians soon trade his services to a contending team. — Fred Zinkie