2016 Dynasty League RankingsUncategorized

Position Scarcity: Top 500 Trends

Hey, not sure if you heard, but this site has wrapped up its consensus rankings and published Bret’s top 500 for the year. Totally understandable if you missed it, not like we make a big deal about it or anything. If you hadn’t checked it out yet, go ahead and take a look, this article can wait.

OK now that you’re back, I hope you’re edified and that you left a half dozen comments asking why Bret’s rankings are different from the consensus or why Chris Davis doesn’t appear as an RP.

This site now has four years’ worth of Bret’s top 500. The consensus rankings have changed a bit over the years, but the top 500 has remained. Since 2013, the top 500 has been a great tool to evaluate players across the span of age and position. It’s been an indispensable resource for teams preparing for drafts, comparing trade values, or considering how some of the game’s top prospects stack up against productive veterans. Compared to the consensus ranks, the top 500 represents the undiluted opinion of a singular Pepsi One-addled mind. We may not all agree on each player’s individual ranking, but we keep coming back year after year for more.

While these lists have been a great tool for evaluating players against each other, they also provide, as a whole, a window into the state of the player universe. By stepping back from the player-by-player comparison and looking at trends in this year’s’ list compared to the previous lists, we can find trends around the state of each position. What can comparing the 2016 top 500 to previous years tell us about which positions are shallow or deep heading into the year? What can we learn from these lists about the strength of prospects at each position in order to predict future positional scarcity?

I took each of the last four years’ worth of top 500s, combined them into one spreadsheet, and compared the number of players at each position showing up on each list. I then compared across groups of 50 players, so that I had a count of players at each position from 1-50, 51-100, 101-150, etc. Finally, I identified the prospects on each year’s list in order to segment prospects from major leaguers. What I ended up with was lists of tiers at each position by year and sorted by MLB vs Prospect.

This list points to some interesting trends to watch going forward. You can view the complete tiers for every year here. A summary of some conclusions I’ve extrapolated follows, but first some stipulations:

  • I only took the top 500s from the beginning of each season. I did not include any mid-year updates.
  • Because the top 500 is created only by Bret, fluctuations from year to year are just as likely to be based on factors individual to him as they are to actual values across the league. I do not have any secret window into Bret’s mind or process, although digging into four years of his list has made me inexplicably biased in favor of Jaime Garcia and Domonic Smith.
  • In determining who counts as a prospect, I used my own best estimate of whether a player would be eligible for a first year player draft in a dynasty league. Rather than determine playing time minimums, I more or less guessed based on whether a player was projected to have started the relevant season in the minors or majors. International players entering their first year of MLB were counted as prospects for that year.
  • 2015 was the only year that players were listed at DH as a position, so those three players (Kennys Vargas, Chris Carter, and David Ortiz) are ranked as first basemen for that year.  

With those out of the way, on to some wild conclusions based on an absurdly limited data sample!

 

Catcher

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
C 23 5 29
1-50 2 2
51-100 1 1 2
101-150 4 4
151-200 2 2
201-250 3 3
251-300 2 2 4
301-350 2
351-400 3
401-450 4 2 6
451-500 1 1

State of the Position: For the first time in the Top 500’s history, a second catcher joins Buster Posey in the top 50. Beyond Kyle Schwarber and Buster, the position remains spread thin at the top: only 15 catchers are ranked in the top 200, consistent with the past three years. While the graduation of some key prospects looms and could inject some much needed depth to the top echelon, catcher remains far and away the weakest position for dynasty leagues for the foreseeable future.

First Base

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
1B 35 12 47
1-50 6 6
51-100 3 3
101-150 1 1
151-200 5 5
201-250 4 2 6
251-300 4 4
301-350 5 1 6
351-400 1 5 6
401-450 3 3
451-500 4 3 7

State of the Position: While 47 First Basemen ranked is a four year high, the position at the major league level is the weakest it’s been since 2013. Of the 35 Major League 1B’s ranked for 2016, only nine are in top 100 material. If you’re starting Chris Davis at first, then you can make that ten and still have a dispiriting lack of impact at a position that generally needs to provide production. With 15 players making up the 200-500 range, there are plenty of bounceback candidates to choose from should you not be able to land one of the top names.

Second Base

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
2B 30 13 43
1-50 4 1 5
51-100 3 1 4
101-150 3 3
151-200 3 3
201-250 3 3
251-300 2 2 4
301-350 5 1 6
351-400 5 2 7
401-450 3 3
451-500 2 3 5

State of the Position: The names at the top have fallen a bit and shifted around, 2B is finally coming out of its long, long slump as one of the most brutally depressing positions for fantasy. 30 major leaguers found their way on the top 500, up from 25 in both 2014 and 2015. An influx of major leaguer and minor league talent in the back half of the list promises a brighter tomorrow, but this also points to the changes in depth across the rest of the infield, with the corner infield spots especially looking at dry periods ahead.

 

Shortstop

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
SS 24 20 44
1-50 3 1 4
51-100 3 1 4
101-150 1 3 4
151-200 3 3 6
201-250 3 3 6
251-300 3 2 5
301-350 3 3 6
351-400 1 1 2
401-450 3 2 5
451-500 1 1 2

State of the Position: A fresh infusion of youth at the top of the list has brought shortstop from a wasteland to one of the most interesting positions to watch, but don’t mistake more talent in the top 50 as indicative of depth. Questions surrounding the fantasy impact of many of the glove-first shortstops across the game at the Major- and Minor-league levels have made this position incredibly volatile: the number of ranked prospects is at a four-year high right now, while the number of ranked major leaguers is at its lowest point in the list’s history. If those prospects stick at shortstop and deliver on their fantasy upside, the middle infield could experience a renaissance in the next few years. Just as likely, though, is the possibility that many of the SS prospects ranked this year move off the position or fail to reach their ceilings. The most likely scenario is that some of the young major leaguers with question marks in the 51-150 range start to make good and jump up in the rankings, making this a top-heavy position very soon.

 

Third Base

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
3B 27 7 34
1-50 5 1 6
51-100 3 3
101-150 3 3
151-200 1 2 3
201-250 1 1
251-300 7 7
301-350 1 1
351-400 1 2 3
401-450 4 1 5
451-500 2 2

State of the Position: For the first time in the top 500’s short history, there are more than 25 ranked major league third basemen, and fewer than 10 ranked prospects. Don’t mistake this shift as indicative of a wave of fresh talent pumped into the position, though: the top 100 is the weakest it’s been in four years of the list’s history. The talent moving up to the major league level hasn’t been good enough to replace the veterans falling off the list either due to retirement, position change, or reduced fantasy relevancy. There is always the possibility that several of the current middle infield-ranked players move to the hot corner in the near future, but that shift down the defensive spectrum in fantasy traditionally results in falling down rankings. The middle third of this list continues to provide interesting depth, as the difference between 10th and 15th best player is not that big.

 

Outfield

2016 MLB 2016 Prospects 2016 Total
OF 81 40 121
1-50 16 1 17
51-100 13 2 15
101-150 11 1 12
151-200 6 6 12
201-250 5 5 10
251-300 6 4 10
301-350 8 6 14
351-400 6 4 10
401-450 5 5 10
451-500 5 6 11

State of the Position: If you’ve read this far, you might wonder where the talent is going if it’s disappeared from Catcher, First Base, Shortstop and Third Base. Here’s your answer: outfield is now far and away the strongest fantasy position across the board. While the top 50 has seen a little dip compared to the recent past, 32 outfielders ranked in the top 500 is a four year high. A number of players have jumped into the top 100 from the 150-200 range, and the number of outfield prospects knocking at the door in the back half of the list promises the trend will continue. It’s never been easier to get value out of each outfield position in a dynasty league, and subsequently the need to invest heavily at the top is offset by the possibility of upside in the OF3- through OF5 spots.

 

The Author

Tyler Baber

Tyler Baber

7 Comments

  1. Ian
    March 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    Re: shortstops, what makes you think the question mark guys will break the contribution route rather than the disappointment route? Don’t you live in Philly, aka the land of no dreams or happiness?

    • March 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm — Reply

      Here are the shortstops ranked between 50 and 150: Tulo, Lindor, Kang, Crawford, Desmond, Tim Anderson, Brendan Rodgers, Trea Turner.

      Let’s throw out Kang and Desmond, who are unlikely to have SS eligibility for 2017. Let’s also throw out Tim Anderson because Bret is super high on him IMHO, and Brendan Rodgers because he’s not going to be hitting the majors soon.

      That leaves Tulo, Lindor, JP Crawford, and Trea Turner. Four names who would not need to do much to prove they deserve to be top 50 players.

      Below them, there are players like Brandon Crawford, Dansby Swanson, Marcus Semien, Orlando Arcia, Wilmer Flores and Trevor Story who could take huge leaps forward in the next year and should be producing on major league teams in 2017.

      If you swap Brandon crawford for Tim Anderson (which I think Bret should), there’s a case to be made for five shortstops currently outside of the top 50 standing a good shot to produce top 50 type of value if you adjust for position.

      • March 3, 2016 at 3:52 pm — Reply

        also philly is the land of underdogs. The land of no dreams or happiness is across the bridge, it’s called new jersey

        • Michael
          March 4, 2016 at 9:51 am — Reply

          Speaking of shortstops, how would you rank these 3 in order of how you would target them for your own Dynasty team: Alex Bregman, Tim Anderson, Dansby Swanson

          • March 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

            for me, i’d go Swanson > Anderson > Bregman, although Swanson and Anderson are very close and I could see swapping them depending on the year. I don’t know if Bregman sticks at Short, but I do think he moves quickly and his hit tool will be fantasy relevant. I think all three of these guys are contributing to some degree by mid-2017.

        • Davin
          March 7, 2016 at 9:16 pm — Reply

          philly = Rocky = underdogs.

          and the land of no dreams or happiness is obviously Cleveland.

          Would be interested in seeing a breakdown of players who have moved 50+ spots from year to year, or over greater length of time. ie- a rookie-ball type who progresses as expected annually.

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