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May 27, 2014

Dynasty Dynamics

The U25 Top 150, Part Three

by Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

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To read the previous editions 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, No. 1-50

  1. Mike Trout, OF, LAA
  2. Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS
  5. Manny Machado, 3B, BAL
  6. Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS
  7. Chris Sale, SP, CHW
  8. Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
  9. Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT
  10. Javier Baez, SS, CHC
  11. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
  12. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
  13. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC
  14. Jason Heyward, OF, ATL
  15. Oscar Taveras, OF, STL
  16. Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF
  17. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WAS
  18. Wil Myers, OF, TB
  19. Julio Teheran, SP, ATL
  20. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY
  21. Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX
  22. Shelby Miller, SP, STL
  23. Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA
  24. Matt Harvey, SP, NYM
  25. Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL
  26. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU
  27. Addison Russell, SS, OAK
  28. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC
  29. Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT
  30. Michael Wacha, SP, STL
  31. Yordano Ventura, SP, KC
  32. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN
  33. Starling Marte, OF, PIT
  34. Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN
  35. Sonny Gray, SP, OAK
  36. Zack Wheeler, SP, NYM
  37. Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM
  38. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI
  39. Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL
  40. Starlin Castro, SS, CHC
  41. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL
  42. Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA
  43. Jean Segura, SS, MIL
  44. Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
  45. Christian Yelich, OF, MIA
  46. Jon Gray, SP, COL
  47. Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET
  48. George Springer, OF, HOU
  49. Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS
  50. Mark Appel, SP, HOU

Ranking Ben Feels Best About: Jason Heyward
There were plenty of candidates for this spot for me. I love where we have Teheran, my personal Shelby Miller crusade is reflected here, I’m glad we’re not out on Sano or Hamilton, and I like that we’ve bought into Castro and Gray, too. But I’m still proudest of Heyward, who I think will have more seasons like his 2012 campaign than his 2013 year moving forward. Heyward’s approach remains strong and his BABIP is slightly dragging down his average right now. He’s running like he did a few seasons back, and I’m a firm believer that the power will return as well. Heyward isn’t going to hit for high averages, but if he hits .270 with 20-plus homers and 20-plus steals on a regular basis, you won’t care. He’s especially valuable in OBP leagues, and I look forward to seeing him in a Red Sox uniform in 2016.

Ranking Craig Feels Best About: Xander Bogaerts
This was an aggressive ranking made by a Red Sox fan, and someone who is in love with Bogaerts. I stand by it though. Bogaerts is being shunted to third base, at least part time, but has already played enough to retain SS eligibility into 2015. I think he moves back there next year as Drew goes elsewhere. He’s not hitting for power right now, but he’s got the frame for it and makes enough contact that he should do damage in time. He continues to walk a lot - a borderline passive approach - but he’s also proven he can make adjustments and I think finding that line between selective and passive comes soon. He’ll hit for average and get on base in the meantime, and there’s plenty of value in that. When the power comes, he’ll be one of the best young players in baseball.

Ranking Ben Feels Worst About: Zack Wheeler
I’ve been on the Wheeler bandwagon for a long time, but I wonder if I’m being a bit too lenient with him because of my long-standing fondness for his swing-and-miss stuff. Wheeler is striking out batters at a good-but-not-elite 21.2 percent rate this season, but walks continue to be a huge struggle for the soon-to-be 24-year-old. I do eventually think we’ll see him challenge for 200-plus strikeouts per season, but some of that value might be mitigated by his WHIP. I still think he belongs on this portion of the list, but if you want to argue he should be 20-30 spots lower, I’d listen.

Ranking Craig Feels Worst About: Starling Marte
I’ve long been a low man on Marte, and the concerns were founded in his approach. I can’t argue with the season he put together last year, nor his improvement in stealing bases this year (12/15 compared to 41/56 last year), but he’s hitting closer to .260 like he did in his debut season rather than the .280 his did in 2013. If that’s who he is, his on-base issues become more of an issue, even if he can seem to supplement them with an inordinate amount of hit by pitches. His placement in this category is less about Marte than it is about the players behind him. I think Marte will continue to be valuable in fantasy, thanks mostly to stolen bases, but that the players around and behind him will surpass him in short order.

Ben’s Fastest Riser: Gregory Polanco
An obvious choice, perhaps, but still a good one. Polanco is laying waste to Triple-A right now and would likely already be in the majors were it not for the unfortunate economics of baseball. He’s a true five-category fantasy threat, the Pirates’ no. 3 hitter of the near future and a threat for NL ROY this season, even if he only receives 400 PA. Headed into the year, we often spoke about the “elite four” group of prospects consisting of Bogaerts, Baez, Buxton and Taveras. Honestly, Polanco should probably be a part of that discussion now and if we’re ranking him next to Puig in a year, I won’t be surprised.

C​raig’s Fastest Riser: Yordano Ventura
Editor's note: This was written before Ventura left Monday's game with an injury. Craig regrets his hubris, but is pleased to confirm that our god is a merciless god.

By year’s end, he’ll be the only healthy starting pitcher, elevating him to elite status and causing those of us who believed at him as a starter all the way to laugh deliriously at those who threw the reliever label on him.

Legitimately though, he’s pushing a 2.80 ERA through his first 50-plus innings, averaging better than a strikeout per nine innings with a healthy 1.134 WHIP. If he can finish the season with close to 200 innings with some minor regression, he’ll have been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball much less of those 25 and under.

Ben’s Surprising Name Who Could Drop: Bryce Harper
This is a bit of a #hotsportstake, but I’m going to throw it out there nonetheless. If we’re halfway through the 2015 season and Harper has once again spent a month-plus on the DL, at what point do we start acknowledging that staying on the field isn’t a strong suit here? Harper is immensely talented and I agree with those who say that 40 homers are coming someday. But I expect the SB totals to continue to drop as he ages, and while he might be better than 90% of the league with just 75 percent of the playing time, that still means he could find himself down a few spots on this list. Aside from a career-threatening injury, there’s pretty much nothing Harper can do to drop off the top-10 here. But I don’t think we can assume that he’ll stay at no. 2 forever. He may have more staying power because of his age, but Stanton and Puig are better players right now. At some point, that will need to be reflected in these rankings.

Craig’s Surprising Name Who Could Drop: Manny Machado
This isn’t a prediction so much as acknowledging a possibility. Machado is still so young that what he’s doing deserves to be recognized as impressive. He produced an OPS+ above league average at 20 years old in 2013, which is absolutely remarkable. That said, he did much of that damage in the first half of the season and has struggled to return to form here in 2014 following a late season injury. It’s a little unfair to hold this against him, as if these struggles happened in the minors they’d be labeled as part of the developmental process. He is at the major league level however, and when he struggles and his production flags, it negatively impacts your fantasy team. So if you’re going to roster him, that affects his overall value. I’m still 100 percent on board the Manny Machado bandwagon, but we’re looking at a player who had some questions on his future power production to begin with, who is struggling badly out of the gates after a poor second half last year. At some point that has to come into play, and newer, shinier, more effective options could (not necessarily will) pass him by.

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  U25

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