The Dynasty Guru Podcast Episode 4: Third Base Rankings

The Dynasty Guru Podcast Episode 3 is live. Listen below, subscribe on iTunes or stream here. – Tom Trudeau, Nick Doran, and Tyler Baber discuss the consensus third base consensus rankings from the TheDynastyGuru.com.

Topics include:

  • Will one of Anthony Rendon, Alex Bregman, or Kyle Seager jump up to the same tier as Josh Donaldson?
  • What to make of Miguel Sano
  • Vets vs Youth: Justin Turner and Adrian Beltre or Jose Ramirez, Nick Castellanos and Maikel Franco?
  • Third Base Prospects: Rafael Devers, Nick Senzel and beyond
  • The back half of the top 50:Hernan Perez, Ryon Healey, Jeimer Candelario and the ghost of David Wright
  • We don’t talk about Mike Moustakas

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Building a Balanced Team: Third Base & Shortstop

Over the last several weeks, we have identified catchers, first basemen, and second basemen who have the potential to contribute to three or more hitting categories. Today we continue our quest to build a balanced team and turn to the third basemen and shortstops. As a reminder on the methodology behind this series, I began this exercise by gathering data for each position over the past decade (plus a bonus year because why not?) to determine the average production for each hitting category. In order to eliminate outliers resulting from limited sample sizes, I used a 400-plate appearance qualifier for all positions with the exception of catcher, for which I set the threshold at 300 plate appearances. I also wanted to control for lost playing time resulting from unforeseeable injuries, so rather than calculate the average counting stat totals for each category, I calculated the ratio of plate appearances to each counting stat (e.g. 30 plate appearances per home run as opposed to an average of 20 home runs).

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Third Basemen, Nos. 1-20

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.

As we move to the hot corner, we find a new hitter atop the mountain–despite a reigning league MVP holding the top spot last season :
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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Third Basemen, Nos. 1-20

Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month  traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

The hot corner has lost some valuable commodities in recent years, as the like of Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion no longer qualify, and it’s yet to gain ascendant talent like Anthony Rendon. Still, The Bringer of Rain proved he was more than a one-time wonder with a second straight dominant season that pushed him to the top of the third base rankings, and there’s plenty of promising prospect talent behind him:

1) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays  (Age 29, Previous Rank: 7)

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Breakout or Fakeout: 2nd Half Risers

This time of year it’s always fun to start looking at some of the players who took big steps forward production-wise in the second half. It’s a valuable exercise for dynasty leagues, as it can be a big help in setting up early off-season target lists and getting a head start on thinking about keepers for next season. So today a simple exercise: I’ve sorted out the top 20 hitters in baseball for the second half by wOBA, and below are four who have performed most dramatically better than their first half efforts. Let’s take a look and see if we can identify anything helpful in the profiles of these guys.

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Prospect Perspective: Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos are Still Elite Prospects

When a young player has been in the major leagues for awhile it seems like they are older than they really are. It is uncommon for a player to break into the major leagues at the age of 20 or 21 but it does happen. There are usually a couple players who do it each year. Oftentimes those players struggle quite a bit their first year or two in the majors, Mike Trout being the exception that proves the rule. Guys like Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Manny Machado, and even Yasiel Puig and Freddie Freeman are much younger than people think they are. It is easy to forget that these guys are still younger than many or most top prospects. Many baseball fans and fantasy team owners fall into the trap of believing that a player who has been in the majors for awhile “is who he is” and fail to consider the context of the player’s situation. The reality is that all of the players on the list below are still kids who are a long way from reaching their peak performance. You can expect significant performance increases from every player on this list over the next several years, even the ones who are already stars.

The definition of a prospect as defined by the baseball scouting industry is a hitter who has not reached 130 ABs or a pitcher who has not yet thrown 50 innings in the major leagues, but that definition is misleading. That may be the cut-off for Rookie of the Year eligibility, but a 22 year old doesn’t cease being a prospect just because he has seen a modicum of major league time. Continue reading

TDGX Draft Recap: Rounds 1-20

We’ve been flying through this Dynasty Guru Experts League draft. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #TDGX, or just check back here for recaps from myself and other writers. It’s been a lot of fun and there have been a number of different strategies employed. My co-owner Paul and I decided we wanted to go as young as possible without sacrificing any big values that fell to us as the draft unfolded. Some of those values came in the form of bounce-back candidates that we chose to bet on. We also made a decision not to draft pitching or prospects too early. Through the first half of the draft (400 picks) we’re very happy with our team. As we head into the deep, uncharted waters of rounds 21-40, we’ll probably have to get more creative and a little less picky! I guess you could look at it as no big deal, since half of our team will be cut heading into 2015 anyway. More on that here. Enough chatter, let’s get to the breakdown…

1.1 Mike Trout

2.40 Jason Heyward

3.41 Starlin Castro

The only question surrounding Trout at this point is whether the 15-keeper price we paid for the rights to him will do us more harm than good. We’ll have to wait to find out. Price aside, he’s the best player in baseball and at 22 has no blemishes to make us think twice about drafting him #1 overall. Heyward and Castro are both looking to come back from bad years in 2013. Both are also young, talented baseball players that we are willing to invest in. Machado went one pick before us, and he would have been our choice over Castro had he fallen. We discussed taking Profar instead of Castro as well, but we felt that Castro’s position as well as his (slightly) longer MLB track record made him a more comfortable pick for us. More on the Castro pick here.

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Third Basemen, Nos. 1-20

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. 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.

Third base, like last year, has some heavy hitters at the top. In fact, the top-five at the position may be as strong as any other position on the diamond (including first base). However, once you get beyond that, it’s a number of players who either haven’t proven anything or have been breakout stars without the requisite prospect status to give that extra layer of comfort. Then you have the aging third basemen who are still hanging on to their value despite being one year closer to retirement. It’s a position of power, and that’s only going to get stronger as the two prospects who clock in highest on this list both have at least 70 power potential.

Now the 20 best third baseman in dynasty leagues, starting with one of the best hitters in the game today:

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospect Sleepers – NL West

The NL West doesn’t offer a great group of post-prospects to choose from, but with any luck everyone is tired of this idea. Let’s bring up the rear with a total lack of style!

Arizona Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius – SS

Billed as the next coming of Derek Jeter by Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, Gregorius had unrealistic expectations placed upon him entering the 2013 season. Known to prospect fans as a glove-first shortstop with a short swing and a chance to be an empty batting average type, Gregorius proved to be mostly that. He’s still very good with the glove, but was significantly less than Towers was hoping for, and likely not even as good as those with more moderate expectations anticipated.

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Digging for Diamonds: Infield BABIP Outliers

I spent a couple weeks earlier this fall looking at a few starting pitchers worth monitoring for deeper and dynasty league purposes over the winter and through spring training, and today we’re going to shift gears to the offensive side of the game. As noted previously, the focal point of my player research this time of year is identifying players who may be worth keeping an eye on as we build up to draft day. I like to start each offseason with a longish list of names that may provide value at the back end of a rotation or bench, and then depending on how organizational depth charts shake out over the winter I narrow that list down to my spring training watch list.

Earlier in the off-season I wrote about one of my favorite quick and dirty methods for evaluating base-stealing prowess. Today we’ll look at another rough starting point for uncovering unheralded offensive value, and it involves looking at LD% and BABIP for players who suffered poor luck in the form of a batting average well south of what we might expect given the player’s batted ball profile. Line drive rate is among the more helpful correlative elements of batting average, though with a caveat that it does tend to be among the more variable statistics year to year. This past summer batters hit a collective .295 on ball in play. They also hit line drives at a league-wide 22.3% clip, and on those line drives players posted a .688 average.  Translation: the more line drives you hit, the more likely you are to produce a strong batting average. Despite the variability, I’ve found it a useful starting point metric in identifying some hitters that suffered bad luck in 2013 and may be due for positive regression going forward.

My general rule of thumb for this exercise is to take the top 50 or so hitters by LD% and cross-check them with players who posted sub-.300 BABIP numbers, and this exercise yields a couple particularly notable infield names for dynasty leaguers heading into 2014. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of them and see what we may be able to expect in 2014.

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