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May 20, 2014

Dynasty Dynamics

The U25 Top 150, Part Two

by Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

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To read the first edition in the rankings series, click below:

We’ve done it, Internet. We’ve compiled a Big List of Players just for you.

Craig and I have spent the past six weeks breaking down each division, forming individual top-30 U25 dynasty rankings and comparing those lists with some witty (read: tired) commentary in each installment. We’ve also been debating each list on TINO, with the help of Dear Leader Bret Sayre and Mauricio Rubio, and have fielded many questions and concerns on Twitter and via the comments section, too.

Now, Craig and I have combined forces to form a collaborative top-150 list meant to give dynasty leaguers a concrete view of where we think each player’s value lies at this point in time. This is a great exercise because it forced Craig and I to defend players we love and form cogent arguments (a new experience, to be sure) against players we dislike, and I know I’ve personally changed my evaluations of a few prospects and post-prospects through this process.

That being said, we’re still going to provide you with a few tidbits of our own personal feelings about these rankings, and we strongly encourage you to ask us questions in the comments below. We still disagree on some of these players, but overall I think we’ve come to a happy, reasonable consensus.

As always, players will have to be born after April 1, 1988, to qualify, and just like with the preseason lists, there is of course an element of subjectivity that comes with these rankings. But unlike the preseason lists, these rankings are all about fantasy.

Dynasty U25 Top 150 Rankings, Nos. 51-100

Ranking Ben Feels Best About: Travis d’Arnaud
Some might argue that this is low for d’Arnaud, but I think it’s exactly where he belongs. He’s an injury-prone player at a position that invites injuries, he’s just a good—not great—hitter for a catcher, and he’s playing in an unfavorable home ballpark and mediocre lineup. I will not be surprised if d’Arnaud has a few years as a top-10 fantasy backstop. But I will be surprised if he’s healthy and good enough at the same time to produce at that level consistently.

Ranking Craig Feels Best About: Chris Tillman
It’s not flashy, and I received a bit of flack for praising him in the preseason, but what Tillman does works. There’s late wiggle on his fastball that seems to avoid missing the barrels of bats, so while he’s not going to miss bats at an elite level, if he lives in the 19-21 percent strikeout rate range he’s been at the last two years, the amount of innings and strikeouts he accumulates will be extremely valuable. He’s always going to allow his fair share of home runs, the price he pays for pitching up in the zone, but at season’s end, he’ll be worth the price you pay on draft day, and then some.

Ranking Ben Feels Worst About: Will Middlebrooks
Craig and I should’ve both known better. Middlebrooks is now back on the DL (his fourth time in three years), and he’s flat out stunk for the majority of his MLB career. The thing about Middlebrooks that makes him so tempting is he has games where it all looks so easy. He has 70 raw power, he’s very good at coming in on balls at third base and his arm is well above average. Unfortunately, I’ve just described everything Will does well on a baseball diamond, and you’ll notice that “hitting” and “reaching base” are conspicuously absent from my evaluation. His Red Sox tenure is likely coming to a close, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he needs to establish himself as a second-division starter elsewhere to get another legit shot. Honestly, you can argue for not having him on this list at all.

Ranking Craig Feels Worst About: Trevor Bauer
It’s not that we question his talent, as both Ben and I (more notably Ben though) have stuck by Bauer’s side through his darker times. He ranked this low though, because he wasn’t in the majors and his path to the rotation wasn’t at all clear with the organization recently choosing Josh Tomlin over him. With his recent call up though, he has the talent to vault forward on this last, by a significant margin, and now he’s got the opportunity. If we were making this list a day ago instead of a week ago, he’d be much higher.

Ben’s Fastest Riser: Eddie Butler
Butler is already ranked at no. 56 here, so it’s quite clear that Craig and I both have some feels for him. But if Butler has not yet exhausted his prospect eligibility by the time next offseason’s lists come out, he could easily be a top-20 fantasy prospect name. Though the strikeouts have yet to come in spades, Butler is pitching quite well in Double-A this year, and as Jason Parks wrote yesterday, he has the arsenal to succeed even in Coors Field. Butler and Jon Gray are going to give Colorado their first legitimately good rotation in quite some time, and they’re going to be useful pieces even from a fantasy POV.

Craig’s Fastest Riser: Maikel Franco
It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t high on Franco, assuming he was destined for first base where his bat wouldn’t be the difference maker it is at third. Not so anymore, as Cody Asche doesn’t appear to be long-term obstacle (despite recent improvement in production), and Franco looks to be given a shot at the hot corner. He could be up in the latter half of 2014, and if he hits like he’s capable of, it would be no surprise to me to see him in the 40 of a list like this come next season. That seems aggressive but first-base-quality bats at third base tend to be worth their weight in gold.

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links



May 20, 2014 08:46 AM
rating: 2

wow, matt moore seems low - for a guy who put up 5 WAR, 3.5 era and about 9 k/9 in his first two seasons. even with the TJ...

May 20, 2014 09:40 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

WAR isn't a fantasy category. WHIP is. And I think TJ is still a fairly big deal, especially for someone with shitty command to begin with.

May 20, 2014 09:41 AM
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

I'll second Ben here. As much as I have hope for Moore, and the strikeouts are nice, he doesn't work deep into games and he puts too many men on base. Add in that a 3.5 ERA just isn't what it used to be, and waiting a year plus on TJ and it's just not a special package right now.

May 20, 2014 11:05 AM

One last thing: Have we swung the pendulum a bit too far for Danny Salazar? He was obviously over-hyped coming into the season. But looking at it now: Is he really that different than Matt Moore? Both have amazing stuff, but Moore has no control and Salazar has had bad command. Both have health concerns now too.

May 20, 2014 11:57 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

I don't think 14 slots this far down the list suggests they are terribly dissimilar. But I still prefer Moore by a significant margin.

May 20, 2014 12:05 PM
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

I don't think we have, personally. Moore has the elbow surgery at present, but was previously healthy. Salazar has had health issues previously, and workload is a concern given his build. I don't think his raw stuff is any better than Moore's either. I'll second Ben's statement that the number of spots between them isn't necessarily representative of their talent gap.

May 20, 2014 12:08 PM

I think you guys are seriously underestimating moore and how long it can take big league pitchers to really figure everything out. remember that verlander didn't start to put it together until his 4th full season. prior to that he was known for his inconsistencies and putting up 3-4 bb/9

matt moore's first two seasons -
23 -31 games,177 IP, 3.81 era, 1.348 whip, 8.9 k/9, 4.1 bb/9
3.93 fip
24 -27 games,150 IP, 3.29 era, 1.297 whip, 8.6 k/9, 4.5 bb/9
3.95 fip
Justin verlander's first two seasons -
23 -30 games,186 IP, 3.62 era, 1.328 whip, 6.0 k/9, 2.9 bb/9
4.35 fip
24 -32 games,201 IP, 3.66 era, 1.230 whip, 8.2 k/9, 3.0 bb/9
3.99 fip

not saying matt moore is going to be JV, but to put him behind unproven commodities like Robert Stephenson, stroman, Rosenthal, etc. seems foolish, tommy john or no.

May 22, 2014 13:33 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

Well, the walk rate is kind of a big deal in that situation. If we don't think he's going to throw strikes (and a full walk per nine or more is a significant difference there) then I think we're justified in our ranking.

Add in that the last thing to come back to pitchers from TJ is control/command, and we're looking at the debuts of those "unproven" guys probably before Moore comes back and well before he's back to 100%.

Also, picking out a guy like Verlander to comp him to is a bit of a stretch in my book. How many guys in that time came up with bad walk numbers, struggled and never established themselves as elite? I'm betting more than turned themselves into Verlander or something close. Verlander also did not have Tommy John surgery mid-development.

I understand being patient with young pitchers, honestly, but you can't actually have watched Matt Moore these last few years and tell me that he's been good.

Stephenson et al might benefit from the fact that they haven't hit the developmental obstacles that Moore has - even those they've yet to clear those obstacles. But we've seen Moore struggle in a way we haven't seen them struggle. I don't think factoring that in is overlooking it so much as giving a snapshot of how we feel these guys stack up against one another. If you feel differently, that's fine, and 8 spots in a ranking of this nature probably isn't enough to make a big stink over, in my opinion.

May 22, 2014 13:41 PM
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

There's definitely an argument to be made for Moore ranking higher, but it doesn't involve Verlander.

May 22, 2014 13:45 PM

Martin Perez pre-TJ?
He is obviously still young, but still has a lot to work on considering he has no breaking ball and mediocre fastball, and that is just being pushed back another year. I think otherwise the gap between Perez and Corbin is too big, especially because Corbin has a 200IP of #2 starter performance under his belt.

My other big one was Garin Cecchini. He just feels like a much more valuable real-life player than fantasy one because so much of his ability is tied up in his on-base skills,which also gives him a very high floor. Single digit homers and potential double digit steals is an odd package at 3B. He is almost the anti-Will Middlebrooks.

May 20, 2014 11:35 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

Yes, the ranking was made pre-TJ, which would likely address most of your concerns. I never held the view that Corbin was going to repeat his #2 starter performance and if they're both healthy, would likely see them around the same ranking, with a slight edge to Corbin for his strikeout edge.

As for Cecchini, I think Ben and I both think he's got double-digit power coming at some point, even if it's never more than 15 home runs. It's a weird profile, but that doesn't mean it's a bad one and it's one that should arrive relatively quickly.

May 20, 2014 11:40 AM

if tillman's late wiggle avoids missing barrels, does that mean it finds barrels

May 20, 2014 14:49 PM
rating: 1

What are your long term thoughts on Nick Franklin? If he started everyday what kind of production would he be able to put up?

May 21, 2014 09:55 AM
rating: 0

this is a little late coming in, but how is cecchini ranked above betts? i know the mookie mania thing has gone overboard, but the guy has solid power for MI and is fast; he also has cecchini's OBP skills.

May 27, 2014 09:02 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

He won't be an MI if he stays in Boston, and I'm a bigger believer in Cecchini's bat than most. And again, they are three spots apart, so it's clear the gulf isn't that big in our minds.

May 27, 2014 09:14 AM
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