THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 125 DYNASTY LEAGUE OUTFIELDERS, #21-60
The rankings continue! The Dynasty Gurus trudge forward with the next best group of outfielders today – those ranked from #21-#60. Let’s get right to it!
21. Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 47)
Seiya Suzuki’s career stat line in 9 years of the Nippon Professional Baseball league was a stellar .315 Average, .414 on-base, and a .570 slugging. Not counting the 2 early years where he only accumulated 76 at-bats, he averaged 26 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and 79 RBIs per year. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 2022 to a 5 year $99.6 million contract that included the pay-off to his former team the Hiroshima Carp. Typically I take a wait-and-see approach to foreign players once they make the leap to the states just because it can be such a big culture shock. Seiya held his own though as the Cubs plug-and-played him in right field to the tune of a .262 average, .336 on-base, and a .433 slugging. He added 14 home runs and 9 steals. I would say this was an absolute success and he is only going to be better coming into his 2nd season stateside. (Brian Shanks)
22. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (Age:31, Previous Rank: 21)
I began to say in the middle of the 2021 season that Christian Yelich is starting to return to the dominant self he was in 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t happened, and at this point, I think we know what he is. A slightly above league average outfielder. The batting average is going to top out in the low 260’s at best. He will have a nice on-base percentage that is never gonna kill your team. Coupling that with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases, he is still a valuable asset just not the true superstar that he used to be. (Brian Shanks)
23. Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox (Age:24, Previous Rank: 35)
Andrew Vaughn surprised me last year as I thought the power numbers were gonna go through the roof and the average would stay around the .240 range. While the power was still displayed with 17 home runs, the average climbed to a palatable .271 with an on-base of .321. That being said I think 2023 is gonna be the year of Andrew Vaughn. My crystal ball is telling me he is gonna be a top 10 outfielder (if the eligibility remains) and the best part about it is he is gonna have first base eligibility as well, most likely being the ChiSox primary first baseman. I’m projecting north of 25 home runs and an average staying above .270. (Brian Shanks)
24. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 18)
At this point, we all know the story of Byron Buxton. This guy has ALL the baseball talent in the world but the question will be asked every year, “can he stay healthy?” Typically I avoid players that are perpetually hurt and take this with a grain of salt but I think we finally see 500 at-bats from Buxton (haven’t seen that since 2017) and if he showcases the talent we are gonna see some MVP votes coming his way. He had 28 home runs last year in 340 at bats while dealing with those pesky, lingering, soft tissue, annoying, no-good injuries. This year he gets some luck and stretches before games, and we will reap the benefits. Grain of salt! Do not bank on this. (Brian Shanks)
25. Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
I hear the train a-comin’. It’s a rollin’ round the bend. One of my favorite things to say about a player/prospect when they start to light things up is he is on a rocket ship to the moon. Well, Jackson Chourio is certainly on a rocket ship, the issue is he is blowing a hole straight through the moon and headed completely out of the galaxy. I wanna beat this point to death: he is 18 and will be 19 in March of 2023. He is already in Double-A. The stats are nice, in 2022 across three different levels and 400 at-bats, Jackson Chourio’s slash line was .288/.342/.538. 18 years old and finishing in Double-A. A brilliant friend of mine asked me who else has done this at this age and progressing this fast through the minors. Juan Soto and Vlad Jr. Mic drop and walk away with a stern look on your face. (Brian Shanks)
26. James Wood, Washington Nationals (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 120)
Rocketship, meet James Wood. While talking about this prospect from the Washington Nationals I like to start by stating his size. Six foot seven, two hundred and forty pounds! But wait it gets better, his career slash line in 2 years in the minors, .326/.430/.535, in 377 at-bats. Of course with a body like that the power numbers showcased with 12 home runs and 27 doubles in 2022. Now the fun one, he stole 20 bags! He was traded along with Robert Hassell to the Nationals (the Padres got peanuts) and I think this only increases his value because the timeline just sped up tremendously. The Nationals will need him in the bigs sooner than later, so look for a promotion to Double-A and Triple-A in 2023 with him seeing the bigs in 2024. (Brian Shanks)
27. Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies (Age:31, Previous Rank: 25)
Kris Bryant’s slash line last year was .306/.376/.475. The unfortunate thing is that was in only 181 at-bats that were cut down by the injury bug. 2021 wasn’t an awful year either: he added 25 home runs, 10 stolen bases to a .265 batting average in 586 at-bats. Will the cool Rocky Mountain air age Kris Bryant like a fine wine, or are the injuries and age just gonna be to much for him to overcome? I think people are jumping off the bandwagon prematurely. We have 5 years of solid productive play and maybe even a couple really shiny years in there. I’m calling a big bounce-back year in 2023. (Brian Shanks)
28. Adolis García, Texas Rangers (Age:30, Previous Rank: 76)
2022 was a career year in every statistical category minus home runs for Adolis Garcia. In 2022, Adolis hit 27 home runs, just 4 off the pace that he set in 2021 with 31. Everything else improved in 2022 with a slash line of .250/.300/.456, adding 34 doubles, 5 triples, 101 RBI, and 25 stolen bags. Stat line stuffer for sure. The one big bugaboo in the room is the 30 percent strikeout rate. The reason I bring this up is if pitchers start to expand that zone on him and he can’t showcase the bat, we could see a huge decline in year three. Not something I am predicting, but certainly something I would be very cautious and cognizant of. Texas has had a great couple of years of adding to the roster and Adolis projects to be batting 4th with Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Nate Lowe ahead of him. RBI should be a great CAT for Adolis in 2023. (Brian Shanks)
29. Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians (Age:25, Previous Rank: 103)
The Cleveland Guardians are gonna be darn good in 2023 and it will all start with Steven Kwan. If not for amazing seasons by Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman (his college teammate), we would be talking about Steven Kwan being the Rookie of the Year. In 563 at-bats, Kwan’s batting average was a stellar .298, his on-base was .373 and he slugged .400. The beauty of him leading off is he walked 62 times and only struck out 60 times (11%). Jose Ramirez is going to love driving this guy in on a regular basis. He’s not gonna have amazing power but look for 10 home runs annually and add 20+ steals to go along with a .300 average. Go get ‘im. (Brian Shanks)
30. Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals (Age:27, Previous Rank: 19)
This is exactly the profile that you need to look at where a 30 percent or above strikeout rate is completely unsustainable. In 2021 Tyler O’Neill hit .286 with 34 home runs and 15 stolen bags. It was a great season but he struck out 31% of the time. In 2022, his batting average plummeted to .228 because the strikeout percentage remained at 31%. Home runs took a nosedive to 14 but he kept up the stolen bases at 14. O’Neill did deal with some injuries and a couple of trips to the bench. Do I think Tyler O’Neill is a heck of a baseball player? Yes. Do I think he will have another 2021? Yup, but it will be few and far between if he can’t control that strikeout rate. Look no further than Joey Gallo to see what kind of effects strikeouts can have on a career and Tyler O’Neill is on that path right now. (Brian Shanks)
31. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 64)
The pride of Cheyenne, Wyoming. With a nickname like Tater, how could you not enjoy a player like Brandon Nimmo? He owns a career batting average of .269 while holding a .385 on-base percentage. The biggest issue has been injuries as last year his 580 at-bats were a career-high. While on the field though Nimmo displays great patience at the plate and flashes good pop. And on December 10, 2022, he signed an extension with the Mets for 8 years worth $162 million. The Mets obviously believe he can put the injury history behind him and showcase his skills on the diamond. (Brian Shanks)
32. Druw Jones, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age:19, Previous Rank: NR)
Druw Jones is the son of former major leaguer Andruw Jones and was selected number 2 overall in the 2022 Major League Draft. We did not get to see Jones on the diamond in 2022. In his first batting practice, it was revealed that he had a left shoulder issue and he underwent surgery to repair a posterior labrum. What we do know about Jones is he stands 6’4″, weighs 180 pounds, and has outstanding fluid motions while roaming center field. Right now he is an athlete that plays baseball. 2023 will show us if he can translate that athleticism and actually become a baseball player. His right-handed swings projects plenty of pop to all fields and should showcase that as he fills out. Right now the Diamondbacks have a very nice outfield core with young players such as Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, and Corbin Carroll, so they have time for Druw Jones and can be patient. (Brian Shanks)
33. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees (Age: 33, Previous Rank: NR, DH: 4)
2022 wasn’t kind to Stanton as far as average was concerned. In 398 at-bats his .211 average was the lowest it of his career and the first time under .240. That being said the power is still plentiful when he steps to the plate. In his 13-year career, he has accumulated 5,237 at-bats and 378 home runs (35 in 2021 and 31 in 2022). His strikeout rate has always been out of control but he does keep his batting average and walk rate up, so it hasn’t hindered his career. He is signed through 2027 with a club option for 2028 and he should be able to fulfill that contract while still being a productive player. Even if he isn’t playing in the field his bat should play for years to come. (Brian Shanks)
34. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 58)
Drafted in the first round out of the University of Cincinnati in the 2015 draft, Ian Happ is an interesting case for me to figure out. His career slash line tells me he is a good ball player, in 2,127 at-bats his slash is .249/.339/.460 with 104 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Certainly a productive player and one I should be looking to add and not avoid. In 2022 he made his first All-Star game and won the golden glove award in left field. He should belt 20 home runs annually and with the new rule changes, his stolen bases should increase. 2023 is a contract year for Happ so the importance of showing out has only increased. I believe we see a nice season for Happ this year and I am trying to obtain him as much as I can before the big breakout occurs. (Brian Shanks)
35. Starling Marte, New York Mets (Age:34, Previous Rank: 27)
One of the most slept-on players I can think of in the past 5ish years, Starling Marte has been a great ball player in his 11-year career. In 4,808 career at-bats, he holds a .290/.346/.453 slash with 142 home runs and 314 stolen bases. At 32 years old in 2021 he added 12 home runs and 47 stolen bases while carrying a .310 batting average. He plucked another 16 home runs in 2022 but the stolen bases fell off a cliff, only swiping 18. If he can keep the power numbers in the mid to high teens and if the rule changes allow him to time stolen bases to the tune of 30 while carrying that .290 average you have yourself a 34-year-old taking your team to the ‘ship. (Brian Shanks)
36. Nick Castellanos, Philadelphia Phillies (Age:30, Previous Rank: 22)
2021 was a banner year for Nick Castellanos where he sported a .309/.362/.576 slash line, contributing 34 home runs and 100 RBI for the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately for Castellanos and his new ball club he wasn’t able to replicate any of those numbers in 2022. While with the Phillies, everything dipped and dipped hard. In 524 at-bats his slash line was .263/.305/.389, only adding 13 home runs and 62 RBI while having 7 less at bats than the year before. While I do believe 2022 was a fluke and his stats should normalize back to an average in the high .270s with mid-20 home runs, I am also cautiously watching to make sure 2021 wasn’t a fluke. (Brian Shanks)
37. Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels (Age:29, Previous Rank: 177)
Taylor Ward was first drafted in 2012 in the 31st round by the Tampa Bay Rays but he honored his commitment to California State University. He was rewarded by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2015 draft being selected in the first round number 26 overall. Ward really had some great seasons in the minors most notably in 2019 where he batted .306/.427/.584 and jacked 27 home runs in 421 at-bats. He has had multiple callups to the majors starting in 2018 but his 2022 season is where he finally got a full season of at-bats. He took advantage to the tune of .281/.360/.473 with 23 home runs. I am not completely on the Taylor Ward train yet but this was a nice showcase of what he can do. Nonetheless, as our #37 outfielder, this is terrific value if he can add to those power numbers while maintaining a .280 average. (Brian Shanks)
38. Jake McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
The Diamondbacks should be a really fun team to watch in 2023 and moving forward and Jake McCarthy is gonna be one of the big reasons why. Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 1st round number 39 overall in 2018, McCarthy cruised through the minors, and having plenty of speed and a high average, he got a cup of coffee in 2021. It only took 141 at-bats in Triple-A while hitting .369 for the diamondbacks to give McCarthy the full-time outfield role in 2022. McCarthy showcased a .283 batting average along with a .342 on-base and .427 slugging in 321 at-bats adding 8 home runs and 23 stolen bags, finishing 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. The surface has been scratched and 2023 will be a banner year for McCarthy. My recommendation is to get him now before he breaks into the top 20 outfielder rankings. (Brian Shanks)
39. Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles (Age:28, Previous Rank: 90)
The Baltimore Orioles, another team that is trying to erase recent lackluster seasons and are on the verge of being perennial contenders. Anthony Santander will be the big power bat in the middle of the lineup. He debuted in 2017 but he didn’t gain much traction until 2019 where he batted .261 and hit 20 homeruns. He was on his way to a real breakout before injuries plagued him in 2020 (oblique) and 2021 (multiple leg issues). 2022 he was finally healthy enough to have 574 at bats and he showed the power display as he hit 33 home runs while carrying a .240 average. If the Orioles hope to succeed Santander is going to have to continue putting up these kind of power numbers with the likes of Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman, and Gunnar Henderson batting in front of him. Sneaky power value at number 39 in our rankings and should be relatively inexpensive to acquire. (Brian Shanks)
40. Jasson Domínguez, New York Yankees (Age: 19, Previous rank: 56)
The New York bias on Jasson Dominguez immediately turned me off. It was such things as “this is the greatest hitter to come through the New York system in a long time” and “he is the savior that we didn’t know we needed”. I am paraphrasing, but it certainly put a bad taste in my mouth. When he debuted in 2021 and hit .252 in 206 at-bats I have to admit that I kind of loved it. The greatest hitter in the world can’t hit. I say this to the New York bias, not to the player. I want all players to succeed. Then in 2022, since I could be his fan now, across 3 different levels, he had 451 at-bats with a slash line of .273/.375/.461 adding 16 home runs and 37 stolen bases. A gosh darn great season considering he is 19 years old and has already taken Double-A at-bats. The sky is the limit for The Martian and in 2023 he will be seeing a full season at Double-A (and maybe some Triple-A). We are gonna see what this kid really can do. Now he just needs to get traded so I can become a full fanboy. (Brian Shanks)
41. Pete Crow-Armstrong, Chicago Cubs (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 66)
If you’re not yet familiar with Pete Crow-Armstrong’s pro journey, allow me to summarize: A shoulder injury limited him to 6 games total after being drafted in 2020 by the Mets. At the ‘21 deadline, PCA was the sole return piece for the Chicago Cubs fire sale of Javy Baez and Trevor Williams. Because of the short track record, PCA was little more than an “all glove and hit tool” prospect at that point. Using the post-trade offseason to retool his swing, he unlocked some sweet pull-side power this past season. Combined between both A levels, PCA socked 16 homers, padded nicely with .208 ISO. Pop went his bat, and his fantasy expectations. There are some flags in the profile though. His K rate ticked up at High-A, so pitch recognition could be an issue, and at the same level, he was only successful on 19/26 SB attempts (73%). (Chris Knock)
42. Evan Carter, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 107)
Despite our combined TDG ranking, I’m a bigger fan of Evan Carter than PCA above. A full year younger at 20 years old, Carter spent the majority of ‘22 succeeding at High A and then spent one hell of a hot week at Double-A to round out the year. He finished the combined season with a triple slash of .295/.397/.489, which tickles the goal line of .300/.400/.500. I get Brandon Nimmo vibes with the lefty line drive swing and his build, and I think that’s a reasonable expectation from Carter; a dependable all-around player and an OBP balloon. There is a chance he ends up with more power as he ages, as there’s definitely room for him to add muscle to his 6’4” frame. While not directly fantasy relevant, he committed only 2 errors in 600+ centerfield innings, so the bat will get the chance to shine regardless of total power output. (Chris Knock)
43. Colton Cowser, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 92)
After we finished debating our OF ranks, I wasn’t too surprised that many of these names fell into the same relative tier. Colton Cowser is yet another outfield prospect who brings 5 category potential, underlined by a strong hit tool. Cowser is no exception to this theme with potentially the best-graded hit tool out of this grouping. The team at Fangraphs gives him a future 70-grade bat-to-ball ability, which theoretically allows for a great fantasy floor. His strikeout rate this year doesn’t necessarily agree with that (27.8% K-rate combined between A+/AA/AAA) but he saw almost 4.2 pitches/PA – which is in the top 1% of qualified MiLB batters. Combined with a 15% walk rate means that Cowser is patient at the plate, almost to a fault.
But he’s not just watching baseballs get thrown past him at the plate. He hit 19 homers combined in ‘22, supported by a good (but not great) ISO of .191. He spreads the ball evenly as well, almost 33% of hits last year went to each field, so shouldn’t be hampered by O’s new park dimensions. Lastly, the O’s seem ready to give Cowser a chance in ‘23, and I think he has 20/20 peak potential with a 15/10 achievable floor. (Chris Knock)
44. Lars Nootbaar (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 130)
The first non-prospect in this group, Lars Nootbaar’s hype is just starting to percolate. What would have been a surprising line a year ago, he wrapped up a 125 wRC+ season that wasn’t overachieving or seemingly unlucky. His .342 wOBA was on par with his xwOBA of .346. Playing in 108 MLB games, Nootbaar showed great plate discipline with a 14.7 % BB-rate and 20.5% K-rate. He hit 14 homers in that two-thirds of a season span, and had a total of 36 extra-base hits, ending with a great .221 isolated power rate. There’s a lot of Lars hype bubbling based on his MLB Savant sliders. I don’t necessarily disagree, but those pretty sliders are descriptors not necessarily predictors. My thoughts? Look out if Nootbaar starts to put the ball into the air more. Last year his launch angle was 10.7 degrees, with a line drive rate of less than 20% and a fly ball rate of only 38.8%. Without those adjustments, he’ll continue to be a mid-teens homer bat. (Chris Knock)
45. Jesse Winker, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 23)
2022 wasn’t a pleasant season for Jesse Winker. Last year my fellow Gurus and I ranked him at 23 overall after a strong 2021 season with Cincinnati. Two trades and one year later, we’ve almost doubled his ranking in our OBP dynasty list. As concerned as many were about Winker’s ‘21 struggles versus lefties (.176 AVG that year), he actually hit poorly against both types of pitchers as a Mariner in ‘22. His extra-base power disappeared (only 29 total XBH) but he was still an on-base machine (OBP of .344 vs .219 AVG).
He may still be considered a platoon risk BUT don’t forget that Miller Park AmFam Field hearts lefties. Statcast park factors rank it the fourth-best park for homers by left-handed batters, which should help Winker remain viable. Additionally, there’s an argument that Winker was unlucky last year. His BABIP was slightly below his career and he slightly underperformed his xwOBA. I like him as a bounce-back candidate this year, but I wouldn’t fully buy in and assume a ‘21 repeat. (Chris Knock)
46. Mitch Haniger, San Francisco Giants (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 39)
We all know Mitch Haniger and his penchant for excellent baseball when on the field. Unfortunately, we also recognize the fact he’s played over 100 games in just two of his seven seasons. But when he’s healthy Haniger hits the baseball very well. His launch angle, average exit velocities, and max exit velocity have all increased yearly since 2019. He’ll need to maintain those advanced metric gains now that he calls Oracle Park home. Overall for a right-handed batter, it’s not a terrible batting environment but it saps home run rates. Throw in that he’ll likely be batting in the heart of a middling offense, a mid-20’s strikeout rate, and getting on base at a respectable rate means he won’t hurt you in any singular category. But I wouldn’t count on Haniger necessarily being a stalwart on my fantasy roster either. (Chris Knock)
47. Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 41)
This is my second year in a row writing about Zac Veen, and I can’t believe he’s DROPPED in our rankings down to 47 overall from 41 last year. As I mentioned last year, Veen oozes offensive upside. He was known for power when drafted out of high school in 2020, but he still hasn’t shown it. Only 12 home runs in ‘22 after 15 in ‘21. Extra bases weren’t to be had either as his combined ISO (between A+ and AA as a 20-year-old mind you) was an unfortunate .139. But what Veen has lacked in power so far he’s made up for with speed. Add in his AFL thefts, and Veen stole a crazy 71 bases in 82 attempts. He maintained the improved walk rate (11.8% this year) with a reasonable 24.4% K-rate. Showing me that his eye and bat-to-ball skills are legit thus far.
His 6’4” lanky frame means he could add muscle as he ages. It also means I’m still excited for Veen to play 81 games at Coors Field. All in all, the skill set plus his hair and mojo all say the Rockies could have an heir apparent to prime Chuck Nazty knocking on the door by the end of the 2023 season. (Chris Knock)
48. Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 40)
From a huge upside player to the fantasy baseball equivalent of plain yogurt. Just like the yogurt in your fridge, Alex Verdugo is someone you don’t mind having around but you’re not thinking of him when it’s snack (trade) time. The best fantasy season in his short career was the sprint 2020 year. Otherwise, he’s been essentially league average w/ a career 107 wRC+ and .331 wOBA. A useful fifth outfielder, and less fun fourth, Verdugo doesn’t contribute much power or speed. The Red Sox offense may be a bit improved this year so he could add some R+RBIs but I wouldn’t recommend chasing those stats by trying to necessarily target Verdugo. He’s a better real-life baseball player than fantasy. (Chris Knock)
49. Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 45)
Another player with a track history of injury, plus a little bit of PEDs suspension sprinkled in, Laureano still hasn’t been able to get close to his sexy 2019 numbers. He missed almost 30 games last year because of suspension and missed another 30ish with injuries. Yet he still hit 13 homers and chipped in 11 steals in only 94 games. Unfortunately those solid, but unspectacular numbers were alongside an ugly .211/.287/.376 triple slash. With a 26% career K-rate and 7% BB-rate, don’t expect a rebound to excellence in either AVG or OBP formats. Laureano doesn’t have an inspiring lineup around him, which won’t help his R+RBI totals either. We’re still in fifth outfielder territory at best here when talking about 2023 expectations from Laureano, though at least he’ll be getting you acceptable 5 category production as long as he plays a half-season of games. (Chris Knock)
50. Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 12)
Ugh. It’s tough to summarize Jarred Kelenic’s outlook for fantasy baseball in 150 words or less. For all the guff the fantasy (and real baseball) community gave him after his 2021 debut, he was actually statistically worse in 2022. He now has essentially a full season of MLB games under his belt so we can’t say it’s just a blip. There is some sunshine, though. Just like his end of the ‘21 season, he ended with 2 weeks this year (starting 9/22) with a 109 wRC+. Additionally, he may have had a lot of bad luck throughout his time in the majors. Kelenic’s BABIP is again well below his minor league numbers, and his expected stats (xwOBA, xAVG, xSLG) are all above (albeit not substantially) his actual numbers. He’s definitely worth a flyer in a startup draft in my opinion, but I don’t think you’ll have anyone selling him in trades at a discount. Anyone who’s holding Kelenic as we head into ‘23 season likely doesn’t know what a sunk cost fallacy is or is thinking the same things I just wrote about luck. 188 words. Dang. (Chris Knock)
51. Esteury Ruiz, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
I don’t know if any fantasy leagues count minor league stats exist, but if they do, all the teams with Esteury Ruiz won last season. He had a .332/.447/.526 slash line, 16 homers, 114 runs, and 85 steals in just 114 games across two levels. If he could do that in the majors, he’d be about 50 spots too low in these rankings. The reality is he would be hard-pressed to repeat those numbers even in the same offense-friendly environments, and his first 36 PA in MLB produced a much less exciting .171/.194/.257.
The offseason trade to Oakland won’t help him much in terms of park or lineup, but it should give him a great opportunity to earn playing time. And when you give someone as fast as Ruiz at-bats, you get stolen bases. They may be accompanied by mediocre numbers that look nothing like his 2022 minor-league marks, but cheap steals have plenty of value. (Ben Sanders)
52. Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland Guardians (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Oscar Gonzalez is a man of extremes. He has huge raw power, blazing speed, and is very good at making contact. That sounds like a potential superstar in the making, and it might be, but there are plenty of flaws too. He swung at 48.3% pitches outside the zone last season – in case it’s not immediately clear how atrocious that is, the league average is 32.6%. He also has no idea how to steal bases despite being fast, going just 19 for 36 over the course of more than 600 pro games.
Gonzalez’s .296/.327/.461 rookie line looks good, but he wasn’t great in any fantasy categories, with 11 HR, 1 SB, 39 R and 43 RBI in 91 games. He’ll need to improve the plate discipline at least a little bit to really tap into those tools. The upside and risk are both high here. (Ben Sanders)
53. Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 43)
Alek Thomas has looked like a potential five-category fantasy star over the past two seasons in the minors, but his MLB rookie season was less impressive. He slashed .231/.275/.344 with eight homers and four steals in 411 PA before getting sent back to Triple-A in September. His 5.4% BB-rate was much lower than it had ever been in the minors, and his aggression led to an excessive 58% groundball rate.
Thomas hit .315/.395/.555 with 22 HR and 18 SB in 626 PA over the last two minor league seasons, and showed off 75th percentile max exit velocity and 95th percentile sprint speed in MLB. All the tools are there, and he doesn’t turn 23 until late April. If dynasty managers can be patient while Thomas learns to handle MLB pitching, the rewards could be big. (Ben Sanders)
54. Hunter Renfroe, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 61)
Hunter Renfroe’s numbers the last two seasons have been eerily similar. He slashed .255/.315/.492 in 2022, a virtual carbon copy of the .259/.315/.501 line he posted the prior year. His 7.5% walk rate and 23.2% K-rate were also right in line with 2021. Those aren’t spectacular, but they should lead to an OBP you can live with, which wasn’t always the case in his younger days. His best category is home runs, and he delivered 29 of them in just 522 PA.
Renfroe’s run production took a hit last season, but you can blame that on the trade that sent him from Boston to Milwaukee. That problem may have solved itself this offseason, as he was dealt to the Angels, where he’ll have the likes of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Taylor Ward hitting ahead of him. Pair that with his dependable power output and Renfroe is a player you can feel pretty good about in your everyday lineup. (Ben Sanders)
55. Juan Yepez, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 17 at 1B)
Juan Yepez posted a respectable .253/.296/.447 line as a rookie in 2022, and it could’ve been better had a midseason forearm strain not slowed his momentum. He hit a total of 28 home runs in just 482 plate appearances between MLB and AAA, and with 95th percentile max exit velocity, 30 homers seems very attainable – assuming he can get a full season of at-bats in the big leagues.
That’s unfortunately not a safe assumption. Yepez’s glove is questionable at best, and the Cardinals are loaded. He played all four corner positions last season, but first and third are taken by a couple guys named Goldschmidt and Arenado, and the outfield competition includes Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, and Alec Burleson, with elite prospect Jordan Walker not far off. Yepez looks promising long-term, but his playing time isn’t guaranteed just yet. (Ben Sanders)
56. Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 29)
Dylan Carlson is a safer bet to be in the Cardinals’ lineup than Juan Yepez thanks to his solid outfield defense, but he’s still ranked a spot lower for a reason – he doesn’t hit the ball nearly as hard. Carlson’s average exit velocity and hard-hit rate were both among the worst in MLB last season, leading to a .236/.316/.380 slash line. That was a significant dropoff from 2021 when he hit .266/.343/.437 with 18 HR.
Carlson cut his K-rate from 24.6% to 19.3%, although he did it by making more weak contact on pitches outside the strike zone. If he can put those improved contact skills to better use in the future, he should develop into a high-floor OBP machine. There’s still a significant ceiling here if he can hit the ball with more authority and/or put his decent speed to use on the basepaths, but I’m not as optimistic about those things happening. (Ben Sanders)
57. Robert Hassell III, Washington Nationals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 42)
Robert Hassell III produced a .299/.379/.467 line, 10 HR, and 20 SB through 75 games at High-A in 2022. Those numbers backed up the scouting reports, which painted him as a high-floor prospect carried by an excellent hit tool. Then the Padres traded him to the Nationals as part of the Juan Soto deal, and it all fell apart. He struggled at both High-A and Double-A for his new team, slashing .219/.311/.281 with an alarming 28.1% K-rate.
It’s fair to give Hassell a mulligan for those struggles, as they came in a small 167-PA sample and involved multiple changes of scenery in a short time. I wouldn’t worry as long as he reigns in the strikeouts and gets back to hitting this season. That said, he’s not a prospect with freakish power or speed, so I wouldn’t be overly patient if his struggles continue. (Ben Sanders)
58. Austin Meadows, Detroit Tigers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 26)
Austin Meadows never got going in 2022. Between an Achilles injury and mental health struggles, he played in just 36 games, slashing .250/.347/.328 with no home runs or stolen bases. He cut his K-rate almost in half to 11.5%, but it’s hard to get excited about that, considering his power output totally collapsed.
Meadows’ five-year career has been very inconsistent, but he’s produced huge fantasy seasons in both 2019 and 2021. Comerica Park isn’t the best place to hit, and the Tigers’ lineup doesn’t look very intimidating, but perhaps the front-office shakeup in Detroit can help get Meadows and his teammates back on track. He’s too young and has shown too much to give up on him just yet. (Ben Sanders)
59. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 46)
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had surgery in October for a nagging issue in his left wrist and is expected to make a full recovery by spring training. Hopefully, that explains why he only hit five home runs in 121 games last season. His .291 average and .343 OBP would’ve made for a nice fantasy season if they came with his usual 20 homers, but five isn’t going to cut it.
Gurriel’s long-term future is a bit cloudy after his recent trade to Arizona. The Diamondbacks trading Daulton Varsho wasn’t a surprise, but Gurriel coming back in the deal means they still have an outfield surplus. He should have a starting spot on opening day, but with so much young talent lurking, he’ll probably need to hit more than five home runs to keep it. (Ben Sanders)
60. Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 28)
We here at the Dynasty Guru tirelessly analyze players, pore over statistics and scouting reports, and extensively debate amongst ourselves to bring you the best rankings out there. But then we get to Cody Bellinger and it’s like, why even bother? If he went from NL MVP to being non-tendered by the Dodgers in the span of three short years, can anyone really know anything? Or is this game we play just a nonsensical cosmic lottery, where we all just try to sound smart while flinging darts into the void?
Bellinger was terrible in the last two seasons. There’s no way around that, and nothing in the numbers suggests an imminent rebound. And yet… he’s only 27, and we’ve already seen superstar production from him. This could be the chance to pull off the ultimate buy low. Is that a gamble worth taking? I have no idea. Follow your heart, I guess. (Ben Sanders)