2024 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty Baseball

TDG 2024 RISERS AND FALLERS: OUTFIELDERS

Every year, we at the TDG office identify Risers and Fallers from our consensus rankings. But how did we get here!? And what’s real and what’s noise? Well, the Gurus are here to help. In each “Risers and Fallers” article, the Gurus will take you on an explanatory journey as to why these players have seen a fortunate rise, or an unfortunate turn toward their demise. Thanks for reading!

RISING: NOLAN JONES, COLORADO ROCKIES (AGE: 25, CURRENT RANK: 20, PREVIOUS RANK: UR)

Nolan Jones went gangbusters for the Rockies in 2023 and we, like many in the baseball world, did not see it coming.  But a player capable of going 20/20 in 106 games; how did we miss this?  I think the answer is prospect fatigue, and we are all guilty of it.

Jones was drafted 55th overall by Cleveland and spent six seasons meticulously climbing the minor-league ladder (not including the lost season of 2020).  At no point in his minor league career did Jones have a wRC+ of less than 113 and a walk rate of less than 12.5%.  He has always had quite a bit of swing-and-miss in his game, with his strikeout rate peaking at 36.6% in rookie ball.  Jones was a standout performer at the plate in the minors, but what held him back was his defensive position.  From 2017 through 2021, Jones exclusively played third base and if you did not know, the Guardians have a pretty good one at the major league level.  Then, in 2022, Jones traded in his third baseman’s glove for an outfielder’s glove.  That was not the only trade that would happen in 2022; on November 15th, the Guardians traded Jones to the Rockies for Juan Brito.

With Cleveland behind him, Jones would make his first trip to Denver on April 12, 2023, and his permanent move to Coors Field on May 26, 2023.  From there, Jones put up a triple slash of .297/.389/.542 with 122 combined runs and RBI, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases while holding his own defensively, making appearances at all three outfield positions, first base, and third base.  Jones’s dynamite season garnered national recognition as he finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year race.  And for dynasty managers who either held on to Jones through his painstakingly slow ascent through the minors, or who picked him up off the waiver wire, Jones ranked first in our hearts.

Here at TDG, we are believers in Jones and see more of the same for the foreseeable future.  His Statcast metrics support the dominance (65th percentile in average exit velocity, 94th percentile in barrel percentage).  His minor league numbers tell us that Jones may even have a bit more future success because he could improve his strikeout rate (his 30.0% strikeout rate in Triple-A in 2021 was improved to 25.8% in 2022) and his walk rate (Jones has posted walk rates as high as 20% at times in the minors).  And best of all, Jones plays in Coors where his power stroke should continue to thrive.

Now that he has made it all the way to number 20 in our rankings, Nolan Jones will be front and center for a long time.  Dynasty managers should be thrilled to plug him into their lineups where he will put up video game numbers in baseball’s best hitters park for 2023 and beyond.

(Double R)

FALLING: ELOY JIMÉNEZ, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 27, CURRENT RANK: 127, PREVIOUS RANK: 24)

The precipitous fall of Eloy Jiménez on our rankings all comes down to availability.  And while that is oversimplifying the matter, no one can deny that Eloy has spent a fair share of his time in the trainer’s room, to the point where dynasty managers have a tough time depending on him.  Even after a season where Eloy played the second most games in his short career, Eloy’s place on our dynasty rosters is being questioned as young outfielders make their way into the league.

Throughout his five years in the league, Eloy has been productive.  By wRC+, he has posted two seasons of great offensive production (138 and 143 wRC+), one season of good production (115 wRC+), and two average seasons (105 and 100 wRC+).  When he steps onto the field for his age 27 season, he will bring with him 162-game averages of 33 home runs, 77 runs, 102 RBI, and a career batting average of .275.  But the story is headlined by the following numbers:  122, 55, 84, and 120.  These are the games played by Eloy in non-2020 seasons; an average of 95 games per season.

Statistically, 2023 was one of Eloy’s worst seasons, posting a 105 wRC+.  He had the lowest ISO of his career (.169).  He also had the lowest barrel rate of his career (9.3%) and tied for his lowest launch angle (5.7).  On the positive end, he had the lowest strikeout rate of his career (19.0%) and he continued to hit the ball hard (113.5 maximum exit velocity).  He also appeared in 120 games, DH’ing approximately 90% of the time.  So to sum it up, in 2023, Eloy played in a lot of games (for him), but had a bad year (for him).

What should dynasty managers make of it?  Personally, I think Eloy will bounce back and we will see him rise again (likely in the DH rankings).  Last season, he was the DH more than ever and that could have necessitated an adjustment period.  This was not the first average Eloy season; in 2021, Eloy had a similar year and then came back in 2022 and was a monster (143 wRC+).  Additionally, we cannot ignore the fact that the 2023 White Sox were a total mess, which could have affected his focus.  Going into his prime, savvy dynasty managers may want to buck the trend and invest in Eloy.  The full-time DH role can keep him on the field and those theoretical, tasty 162-games averages can become reality.  The price may never be lower.

(Double R)

The Author

The Roto Red

The Roto Red

Managing fantasy baseball teams since 2001, Roto Red is a strong believer in building a dynasty team through its minor league system. Happy to talk baseball at any time! Follow on Twitter @TheRotoRed

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