The Top 50 Dynasty League Prospects, Mid-Season Update

*This list and commentary originally ran early this month at Baseball Prospectus. You should be reading BP, but I don’t think I need to tell you that.

What can three months teach us about the landscape of talent in the minor leagues? Most of the time, that short span teaches us not to overrate three months of performance. For example, if you had jumped off the Shelby Miller bandwagon at midseason last year, when he had an ERA of around 6.00 in the Pacific Coast League, you probably had a tough time squeezing back onto it when he turned things around. Then again, this isn’t specific to just three months worth of performance—the top of prospect lists are littered with players who had down years and were soured on. Eric Hosmer had a terrible 2009 campaign in Low-A before reestablishing himself as a stud the following season. Wil Myers had an extremely disappointing 2011 season, which caused his prospect star to dim.

And that’s without even getting into the players whose promise wanes without any good reason other than time. As we’ve become more aware of the minor leagues in general, the concept of “prospect fatigue” has taken center stage—and it’s only gotten worse with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper exploding into our consciousness at such a young age. It’s simple: The longer a player remains on the prospect scene, the easier it is to gloss over his talent. You don’t just see this with post-hype prospects like Domonic Brown, Julio Teheran, and Martin Perez (all top-10 talents at one point), but you see it with current members of this list. It’s starting to happen to Billy Hamilton and Jonathan Singleton. The climb for prospects is never one that is straight uphill—and just because a certain player’s stock is down from a fantasy standpoint, that doesn’t mean that the “next big thing” has more value.

First, there are a few disclaimers specific to the prospect list to go over before we jump in. Again, these rankings are for fantasy purposes only and do not directly take into account things like an outfielder’s ability to stick in center or a catcher’s pop time. Of course, these things do matter indirectly, as they affect a player’s ability to either stay in the lineup or maintain eligibility. So, while Austin Hedges may be a top-20 prospect on BP’s Top 101, this is due in large part to his defensive value, and you’ll see that he’s not on this list because his upside isn’t nearly as great for fantasy. They are also measured for a reasonably deep mixed league (15-16 teams) with standard rotisserie settings. That means if you’re in a 10-team league, the big risk/reward prospects should get a bump in value—with the safer prospects getting more of a bump in a single-league or 20-team mixed format.

Additionally, home parks need to be factored in, just as they are when we discuss the fantasy merits of major-league players. Since A.J. Burnett’s fantasy potential increased greatly when he went from New York to Pittsburgh, we can’t pretend that these prospects operate in a vacuum, unaffected by park factors. Of course, there’s no guarantee that they will reach the majors with their current organizations, so although present teams are reflected in the rankings, they are not a heavy consideration. Most importantly, the intention of this list is to balance the upside, probability, and proximity of these players to an active fantasy lineup.

Finally, with the ambiguity of mid-season eligibility hanging over our heads, I decided to remove all players who are currently in their future roles at the major-league level. That means no Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, or Wil Myers, even though they all still technically have prospect eligibility. I also did not rank players like Tyler Skaggs or Trevor Bauer, who, despite still having eligibility, are more known commodities at the major-league level. And finally, I am only including 2013 draft picks that have officially signed, which is why Kris Bryant isn’t on the list. If he had signed, he’d be right inside the back end of the top-20.

So without any further ado, here are your top 50 fantasy prospects, as of the halfway mark of the 2013 season:

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The Top 500 Dynasty League Overall Ranks, July 2013 Update

We’ve now reached the midpoint of the 2013 season. When we last took a look at this list in mid-May, we were still dealing with relatively small sample sizes from both major leaguers and prospects, so there weren’t huge shake ups to the order. This time is a little different. The further into the season we get, the biggest the variance from the preseason list gets. Whether it’s current fantasy superstars like Chris Davis and Yasiel Puig or minor leaguers who have taken legitimate steps forward like Gregory Polanco, Tyler Glasnow and Maikel Franco, we know more now–and with more knowledge comes more trajectory to the risers. The fallers, however, are still subject to similar whims as the first run through. For the most part, only injuries led to precipitous falls in the Top 500. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Ike Davis and Huston Street found this out the hard way.

As with any list like this, it is a snapshot of value at this exact moment. This list would be different if I put it together today and released it tomorrow–that’s just the nature of the beast. However, if you have any questions about values going forward, you can always just ask me. I try to be as accessible as possible, either through Twitter, e-mail or the comments on this site. You all are the reason why I continue to put so much time and effort into this site. So thank you for reading and interacting. You guys are the best.

And now for a couple of disclaimers. First of all, this list is for fantasy purposes only. Also, this list does not include any 2013 draftees–if you want to see how I feel about that crop of prospects, you can check out the Top 40 that I did a few weeks back for more detail. After the signing deadline passes, they will all get incorporated into the list as a group. Finally, the list is meant for a reasonably deep mixed league (15-16 teams) with standard categories, positions and farm systems. The list for a 10-team league would skew a lot more towards the high-upside players and the list for a 20-team league would have a heavier focus on steady players who project to have longer periods of production.

Finally, with the new rankings comes a reminder. If you’re enjoying the rankings, and all of the other work here at The Dynasty Guru, I hope that you will make a donation to show your support for the site. As a non-subscription site, this is how you can help make sure we’re still around at this time next year, producing the best dynasty league content out there. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

And now what you came here for, the updated Top 500 list — as of July 1, 2013:

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The Top 500 Dynasty League Overall Ranks, May 2013 Update

He who is resistant to change is destined to perish.

On one hand, it’s so simple. The whole off-season we build value-based mausoleums around all of these players, as time stands still long enough for us to construct them. But the only problem with that is that these players are not dead–they are, in fact, very alive. As as soon as you think you’ve built the perfect chamber, with statistics and narratives covering the walls, things begin to change. Quickly. And as dynasty league owners, it’s even more important to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to early season performance. If we wait too long to notice real changes, or if we refuse to accept the ones which are in front of us, it can derail a team off its course for years. So it’s in our best interest not to have static valuations, and part of that comes from placing a higher value on current season production. The future is great, but current production is king. So when Jose Reyes is out for two months, not only does his redraft league value go down, but his dynasty value does as well. Just not as much, since it’s unlikely to be something that will affect him long-term.

The risers on this list are sure to catch your attention, and in fact, there are 20 players who have jumped more than 100 spots in the rankings (including those who weren’t ranked in the top-500 last time around. Many are names which will not surprise you, like Carlos Gomez, Chris Davis and Josh Donaldson–but the important thing to note is that they are based on skill-set improvements which can be sustainable. On the other hand, you’ll find 17 players who dropped 100 spots or more, and those are even easier to spot. The vast majority of these are either older pitchers who have undergone surgery or players (closers-slash-otherwise) who have lost their roles. You won’t find healthy players drop very far based solely on performance, except in extreme circumstances. That tends to be more of a slow burn.

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The Top 500 Overall Dynasty League Ranks

So this is it. We’ve finally made it to the final day of the project. I hope it’s been a fun read — I certainly know it’s been a long one. After this post, it’ll be at 50,000+ words. Next week, it will be back to regular content, so if you’re one of the many new readers who found this site through the rankings project, I think you’ll enjoy sticking around once it’s over.

And as a final reminder, if you’ve enjoyed the series, please consider donating to the site if you can. I’ve received many donations so far, and am grateful for each and every one of them. When I started working on these rankings back in October, I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but it’s morphed into something even better (and more time consuming) than I had originally imagined. To donate, you can go here, or you can click on the “Donate” button at the top right-hand corner of the homepage.

Also, as promised, here is a downloadable Excel sheet with all of the rankings in one convenient place to take with you wherever you go:

DG Ranks-Final

Thanks everyone for reading, and without blabbering on too much longer, here are the Top 500 overall dynasty league rankings:

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The Top 225 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Part 3 (#126-225)

At this point in the project, I don’t have too many words left. However, I do have one note about the make up of this part of the starting pitcher list. You’ll notice that as we get down to the bottom, there are a lot more uninteresting major league arms than there are prospects – which might seem strange because there is no shortage of high-risk pitching prospects in baseball. The reasoning for that is in the statement. Because there is such high fluctuation year-to-year with low-level pitching prospects, you’re more likely to get value out of the Bronson Arroyo type pitcher who can help you as a matchups play, versus a rookie-league starting pitching prospect who is very likely to flame out prior to getting to the majors. There is always value is keeping tabs on the pitching prospects who break out, like your Dan Strailys and your Brandon Maurers, but the fact that those types of guys pop up so often is an indictment on putting too much stock into your minor league flier.

And now your next 100 dynasty league starters, with sporadic commentary:

#126 – Bud Norris, Houston Astros

In the shocker of the year category, the player now making the most money on the Astros is now on the trade block.

#127 – Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates
#128 – Johan Santana, New York Mets
#129 – Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates

If this were 2009, these three left-handers would all be way, way higher on this list. Unfortunately, injuries and underperformance have left them as shells of their former fantasy selves. Fortunately, all three find themselves in attractive places to pitch, especially Way-Rod and Liriano, who will call PNC Park home – the place where RH power goes to die.

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The Top 225 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Part 2 (#51-125)

We both you know that you don’t want some sort of long-winded introduction here. You just want to see the list.

Your wish is my command.

And now your next 75 dynasty league starters, with commentary:

#51 – Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

#52 – Jaime Garcia, St Louis Cardinals

Garcia is a guy I pumped hard last off-season and was burned by his injuries. I’m at it again this off-season, however, I freely admit that if he did not have the shoulder concerns, he’d be well inside the top-50. 2012, although shortened, was the second year in a row that Garcia achieved holy trinity status, and I don’t think it will be the last.

#53 – Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks

#54 – Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks

#55 – Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers

One of the best calls I made last pre-season was that I’d take Matt Harrison flat out over his more hyped rotation-mate Derek Holland (who has yet to make an appearance on this list). Harrison will never be a big strikeout guy, but his stuff is better than you would expect, and he has the skill to sustain his performance as a strong three-category performer.

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The Top 225 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Part 1 (#1-50)

There are nearly a million ways to construct a starting staff for your dynasty league team. However, I cannot stress how important it is (especially for starting pitchers) to know your league’s scoring system inside and out. The rankings you’ll find below are for a standard 5×5 rotisserie league, but more and more leagues are switching over to a points format, which makes pitcher valuations a little trickier. Does your scoring system value overvalue or undervalue strikeouts? Does it give a lot of weight to wins, losses and quality starts, or not? How important is it for a starter to accumulate 225+ innings? The easiest way for you to determine where you can take advantage of your scoring system is by looking at previous season totals and comparing them to standard 5×5 end of season valuations (like the ESPN Player Rater). No matter how sharp the guys in your league are, there’s always room for arbitrage.

There is a lot of great information out there, when it comes to individual starting pitcher analysis, but nothing more comprehensive than Paul Sporer’s Starting Pitching Guide. If you don’t know what it’s about, check out the link here. And if you do, and haven’t ordered it yet (like I have), you’re starting out at a disadvantage. He’s running a 33% discount off the regular price, which you can get if you order it before my dynasty league rankings are complete on February 14th.

And now your top 50 dynasty league starters, with commentary:

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The Top 75 Dynasty League Relief Pitchers

In a dynasty league, relievers are rarely more than a necessary evil. You’re way behind the eight-ball without them, and it’s the most difficult position to project over the course of a year or more. As you’ll notice much more in my overall rankings, relievers are extremely devalued in a dynasty league for this reason. And you don’t need to go very far back to see what I’m talking about.

The year was 2010 (literally, just 27 months ago) and the season had just come to a close. There were 20 closers that year who finished the season with 25 or more saves. Want to take a guess as to how many of those 20 relievers currently are projected to be closers in 2013? Seriously, think about it for a second. Do you have a number in your head? Great. The answer is four. Seriously, four. And one of those four is Carlos Marmol, so it’s essentially three and a half. Here is your full list of closers who received 25 or more saves during the 2010 season:

Brian Wilson (48), Heath Bell (47), Rafael Soriano (45), Joakim Soria (43), Matt Capps (42), Neftali Feliz (40), Francisco Cordero (40), Carlos Marmol (38), Billy Wagner (37), Jonathan Papelbon (37), Kevin Gregg (37), Mariano Rivera (33), David Aardsma (31), Juan Oviedo (30), Bobby Jenks (27), Ryan Franklin (27), Brad Lidge (27), Jose Valverde (26), Francisco Rodriguez (25) and Andrew Bailey (25).

So if you’re wondering why I’m not delving too deep with the commentary on this piece, that should tell you everything you need to know. It’s also why you should always deal your closers first when you’re rebuilding. I can’t stress this enough. They should always be the final piece to the puzzle. Finally, remember that this list is for standard 5×5 value, so these rankings are not done with holds leagues in mind – adjust accordingly if you use that category.

And now your top 75 dynasty league relievers, with sporadic commentary:

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The Top 150 Dynasty League Outfielders, Part 2 (#51-150)

Not much of an introduction here for Part 2, as we’ll just jump right into the fold. The only thing to note is that here is where the underbelly of the position rests, and it causes there to be a minimal difference between a lot of players on this list. So if you think someone in the 80’s should be in the 60’s, you probably won’t get too much of an argument from me. Also, safety is out the window at this point in the list – since safety only works when the numbers are decent. For the back-end of your OF, it should be all about upside – which is the best way to take advantage of the depth in 4th and 5th outfielders.

And now your next 100 dynasty league outfielders, with sporadic commentary:

#51 – Shane Victorino, OF, Boston Red Sox

The combination of Fenway and John Farrell’s running tendencies should breathe life back into Victorino’s fantasy value. But to be perfectly honest, his value doesn’t even have to bounce back to be worthy of this spot – after all, he did hit 11 HR and steal 39 bases last year.

#52 – Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
#53 – Jason Kubel, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
#54 – Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres

So a safe OF, a medium risk OF and an upside OF walk into a bar. Ethier should have plenty of RBI opportunities in that Dodger lineup and Kubel should retain a lot of value by not being the Arizona OF that got dealt away from the desert. But Maybin is a guy I have my eye squarely on. He’s still only going to be 26 on Opening Day and he has power potential in the bat. He’s a very worthy flier if you’re looking for a guy with full-on breakout possibilities.

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The Top 150 Dynasty League Outfielders, Part 1 (#1-50)

There are two very distinct sides to the crop of outfielders out there today. The most obvious side that we see is the star side, which is as deep as ever – led by as strong of a top-10 at the position as we have seen this century. And not only are they a strong group, they’re a young group as well, including four players 23 years old or younger. And nearly all of these players are of the five-tool variety, except for potentially off-the-charts power guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Hamilton.

The dark side of the outfield position these days is the underbelly, which really shows itself once make your way beyond the top-40 or so. Essentially, the middle class of outfielders has nearly eroded – dropping the position quickly from your solid #3 OFs to your seemingly never-ending string of fliers. And the results of this are twofold on how you have to evaluate the position. First of all, high floor players are of greater value than at many other positions, and Nick Markakis is a great example of this. We’re not exactly waiting with bated breath for him to be a star anymore, but at least we know we’ll get some level of production from him. Because of this, he makes the top-50. Second of all, while it doesn’t show up in a positional list, the bulk of fliers out there for your final OF spot or two causes the entire group of players to get devalued on an overall standpoint. So unless there’s a particular guy you really like, you can wait and wait and wait – there will be outfielders starting the 2013 on waivers that will outperform most of the 4/5 OF types being drafted. So be patient and be prepared to scour the waiver wire.

And now your top 50 dynasty league outfielders, with commentary:

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