For Whom The Bell(inger) Tolls

With rankings season rapidly approaching, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. As part of last year’s Top 500 coverage, I wrote this about Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger, who checked in as the #49 ranked first baseman on the list:

“Bellinger spent all of 2015 in the hitter-friendly California League at the High-A level, putting up video game numbers in the process, hitting .264/.336/.538 with 30 home runs, 97 runs, 103 RBI and throwing in ten stolen bases for good measure. He also struck out a ton in posting a 27.6 percent strikeout rate. With a little more discipline, Bellinger could turn into a very, very interesting deeper league sleeper. If you’re digging this deep at first base in a dynasty league, this is the type of prospect you want to gamble on.”

I remember writing this, but I also remember not really being sold. Sure, I looked at Bellinger’s numbers before starting on the entry and I was impressed. That said, I wasn’t sure that he was too much more than a nice, young player that was feasting on lower level pitching. Or for a more generous interpretation, “a very, very interesting deeper league sleeper”.

Oh boy was I wrong.

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Using ISO and Age to Unearth Fantasy Gems

The key to continued success in a dynasty fantasy league format is to continually identify quality future major leaguers before other owners do. This often means culling through minor league statistics, reading scouting reports, and generally keeping one step ahead of the competition. I began thinking about strategies that would give me an advantage over my league mates. After a bit of unsuccessful trial and error with regression equations and correlation tables I happened upon something much simpler and more effective. I started by brainstorming a list of what I considered the most informative statistics and settled on ISO . I chose this based on personal preference towards hitters that specialize in run production at the expense of players with value dependent on speed. I also hoped that it would be more predictive – Garin Cecchini once stole 51 bases after all! I applied a point value to players with ISO in different ranges from 1 through 6, then did the same with age versus average age in that player’s league.  Then I cross referenced players that exceeded my filter against their draft position and highest prospect rank at Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America. My goal was to identify players who were ranked outside the top 50 prospects but had the draft pedigree and statistics/age qualifications. From the statistics of all minor leaguers in 2010, I came up with the following retroactive information.

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League First Baseman, Nos. 21-50

It’s the time of the year where we offer congratulations to those of you brave dynasty league owners that survived the offseason. The greatness that 2016 will surely offer is upon us and that means we’ll be spending the next six weeks moving our way through the positional landscape, offering thoughts on the respective values of roughly 700 players throughout the process.

We sincerely hope that you enjoy the countless hours of hard work that went into these rankings and continue to support The Dynasty Guru by showing your appreciation through this link or via the splendid ‘donate’ button located on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

Players are ranked where they played 20 or more games at during the 2015 season at their highest position on the defensive spectrum, e.g. Chris Davis played 30 games in the outfield, meaning he’s an outfielder for our purposes. We can’t assume that a player will have eligibility at a position in the future (so no Hanley Ramirez at 1b for these rankings) or that a player will lose eligibility at a position in the future. This should clear things up for all non-Javier Baez/Jurickson Profar players, and we’ll do our best to explain where those players are ranked when the time comes. All DH types, such as Evan Gattis and David Ortiz, appear on the 1B rankings, as we will not be doing a UTIL rankings list.

We lead off the second-half of our first base rankings by taking a look at a Cardinals slugger who has had his stock drop a bit from this time last winter:
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