Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuña, Walker Buehler highlight Fantasy Baseball Today’s All-2020s team picks


It’s a lot easier to look backwards at the last decade to pick a Fantasy All-Star team than it is to try to project the next decade’s best players, but the latter has a lot more practical utility for Fantasy players. While it was fun to debate whether Elvis Andrus or Troy Tulowitzki was the best Fantasy shortstop on last week’s Fantasy Baseball Today podcast, it’s a lot more useful for you to know who we think the next decade’s best shortstop will be. 

That was one of the toughest calls we had to make on Tuesday’s episode of the podcast when Frank Stampfl, Scott White and I put together our All-2020s teams. Some of the calls were obvious and unanimous — Orioles catching wunderkind Adley Rutschman, plus Mike Trout, Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña make up all of our outfields, and Cody Bellinger is on all three teams as well — while some led to disagreement such as my decision to fudge some positional designations, and Scott’s surprising No. 5 starters. But they all represent our best guess at what the top of the Fantasy world will look like for the next decade. 

Surely someone will come out of nowhere, the way Paul Goldschmidt did in the 2010s, to change our expectations, of course. Projecting what the next year will look like is hard enough, let alone the next decade, after all. But here’s who we think the best players in Fantasy will be from now until 2029, with each of us giving some thoughts on our teams:

Chris Towers’ All-2020s Team

Hitter was pretty easy — especially since I opted to play a little fast and loose with the rules. Scott and I both went with Cody Bellinger at first base, despite the fact that he has been trending more to the outfield in recent years, where he rates out very well defensively. That’s defensible enough, given that he is likely to see enough time at every season even when he’s a full-time outfielder to qualify at first base at some point. My more controversial pick, then, is Wander Franco at second base. Franco has played shortstop exclusively as a professional, but as I wrote in my prospect profile for Franco, there are questions about his chances of sticking at shortstop long term. Add in the Rays’ reliance on positional flexibility, I’m betting Franco has 2B eligibility more often than not.

Those two moves allowed me to clear out logjams at shortstop and outfield, two of the three toughest positions to narrow down for this exercise. With Franco clear at shortstop, Fernando Tatis was the easy choice, and with Bellinger locked in at first, Acuña, Soto and Trout were the obvious choices as well; Christian Yelich was a very close winner over Yordan Alvarez for utility, and I’m still not sure I made the right call. I expect his bat to age well. Unfortunately, there was no such weasel move I could make at third, where I swapped Bregman in at the last minute over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Rafael Devers was a very close third place as well.

I’ll be honest: I hated doing this exercise for pitcher. The defining traits of our consensus picks for the 2010-19 team was a combination of unusual longevity and a clear track record heading into the decade. You can’t expect any pitcher to match the longevity of Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer or Zack Greinke, and there aren’t many young pitchers with a proven track record of multiple high-end seasons. Buehler, Flaherty and Bieber were the easy picks, as was Osuna. Hicks, Luzardo and Severino are all wild cards, but that comes with the territory at starting pitcher.

Scott White’s All-2020s Team

“Projecting the next 10 years isn’t the sort of thing you’d typically do even in a dynasty league, and so my answers here differ slightly from the ones I gave in my recent piece polling the Fantasy Baseball community on their top dynasty targets at each position. It made even me more willing to play hunches rather than just take the path of least resistance, which is generally how to approach things the further out you’re looking. There comes a point when it’s too far out to be any more than a guess, really, so you might as well make one you feel good about.

My biggest snub is probably Christian Yelich, and the margin between him, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts is razor thin. Trout having a lengthier track record and Betts being a year younger are what made the difference for me. It almost makes me want to project Betts for a move back to second base just to fit them all in there.

My toughest decision was at starting pitcher, where it feels wrong to leave someone like Gerrit Cole, who, at 29, may remain the best pitcher in baseball or something close to it for next half-decade. Ultimately, though, there’s just too much promise among those younger than 25.”

Frank Stampfl’s All-2020s Team

POS

PLAYER

2020 AGE

C

Adley Rutschman

22

1B

Pete Alonso

25

2B

Ozzie Albies

23

3B

Rafael Devers

23

SS

Fernando Tatis

21

OF

Mike Trout

28

OF

Juan Soto

21

OF

Ronald Acuña

22

U

Cody Bellinger

24

SP

Walker Buehler

25

SP

Jack Flaherty

24

SP

Shane Bieber

25

SP

Lucas Giolito

25

SP

Jesus Luzardo

22

RP

Josh Hader

25

RP

Roberto Osuna

25

“Projecting the All-Decade team for the 2020s was a fun, albeit tough task. When you take a look back at our All-Decade teams from the 2010s, a lot of the players we included were either just getting started back in 2010 or debuted a few years into the decade. If we were to take a look-back at these selections in 2030, we’d be lucky to get just a few positions correct. It’s not exactly just selecting your top player at each position in Dynasty leagues, either. In Dynasty, you want to project three years in advance; maybe five, at most. For this exercise we’re projecting an entire decade.

For me, I focused on players in their low-to-mid 20s who are either in their prime or just getting ready to enter that stage of their respective careers. The only player over 25 years old on my team is Mike Trout … because he’s Mike Trout. The toughest decision I faced throughout this process was at third base. At 26 years old, Bregman deserves to represent this next decade, plus he’s in his prime. He fits all the criteria. However, this position also features Devers, who’s coming off a ridiculous season, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whom we expect to progress. So do you take the 26-year old who’s a borderline first-round player now, a 23-year old with prospect pedigree whose best is yet to come or a 21-year old who, just a year ago, was viewed as a generational talent? I went with the 23-year old in Devers. 

There are always going to be snubs throughout this process. My two biggest omissions were probably Christian Yelich and Gerrit Cole. Yelich has been ridiculous since joining the Brewers, but as good as he’s been, Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña could potentially become better. When it comes to Cole, projecting starting pitchers seemed nearly impossible. At 29 years old, there’s a chance he pitches at an elite level deep into his 30s, like Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Or he’ll begin to exit his prime in the next 3-4 seasons. I wound up focusing on pitchers 25 years old or younger who have already flashed their massive upside. Admittedly, Luzardo was my leap-of-faith pick at the position.”





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