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
- Mike Trout, OF, LAA
- Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
- Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS
- Manny Machado, 3B, BAL
- Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS
- Chris Sale, SP, CHW
- Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
- Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT
- Javier Baez, SS, CHC
- Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC
- Jason Heyward, OF, ATL
- Oscar Taveras, OF, STL
- Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF
- Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WAS
- Wil Myers, OF, TB
- Julio Teheran, SP, ATL
- Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY
- Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX
- Shelby Miller, SP, STL
- Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA
- Matt Harvey, SP, NYM
- Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL
- Carlos Correa, SS, HOU
- Addison Russell, SS, OAK
- Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC
- Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT
- Michael Wacha, SP, STL
- Yordano Ventura, SP, KC
- Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN
- Starling Marte, OF, PIT
- Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN
- Sonny Gray, SP, OAK
- Zack Wheeler, SP, NYM
- Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM
- Archie Bradley, SP, ARI
- Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL
- Starlin Castro, SS, CHC
- Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL
- Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA
- Jean Segura, SS, MIL
- Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
- Christian Yelich, OF, MIA
- Jon Gray, SP, COL
- Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET
- George Springer, OF, HOU
- Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS
- 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.
Câ€‹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.
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RIP Ventura :-(
As for the more established options, my reasoning would be that the ceiling outweighs theirs. There's an argument to be made that he won't reach that ceiling, and I'm open to that. If you wanted to take Freeman over Baez, I get it. But we're talking a potential 35+ HR bat at shortstop, with a batting average that won't hurt you. That's a rare thing, and as good as Freeman is, 1B is a little deeper when it comes to impact bats.
Again, that's our (or at least my) reasoning. I don't think it's crazy to prefer a Freeman/Myers/etc, though.
I was actually going to make the same #hotsportstake as Ben. I might have actually ranked Stanton ahead of Harper. Stanton has already shown the elite power Harper is suppose have. Harper is somehow more injury prone than Stanton and he is reaching that point where 15 SB might be more likely than 30. We all love Harper because he has the "one of these years is going to go bonkers and hit 50 HR and steal 20 bases". But Stanton is practically doing that right now. He could reasonably end up with 45 HR and 10 SB this year.
As for Harper vs Stanton, I don't think that's a mistake at all. I'll agree with Ben that he might drop in the future, but I still firmly stand behind the ranking now. He's three years younger than Stanton, and while Harper is hurt now and Stanton isn't, Stanton missed 39 and 46 games each of the last two years and has more concerns about his build than does Harper. I'd still argue that Harper's injuries are mostly freakish - especially the thumb injury, though if you want to argue about style of player, I'll listen.
Because on your Manny Machado "drop": Do you view him that differently than Rendon? They both seem like high average/15HR/doubles guys with projection for more power. Machado is younger, but Rendon has a more advanced approach that is might take Machado two years to develop. I know Machado has the higher ceiling, but he isn't there yet and I feel like he is a case where is real life value is creeping into fantasy.
I think both players I mentioned have a shot to be solid; I just think that each is significantly overvalued in this list because there is not enough upside to overcome the risk of being a bust.
Miller hit a wall and had a sore shoulder so they didn't pitch him in the playoffs. I don't think that's something to get particularly worked up over, nor do I think it's worthy as a primary reason to dismiss a player of Miller's talent.
I'm not sure we can say this start to the season is "significant regression" more than we can say it's a "small sample size." His strikeouts are down and walks are up, but his hits allowed are about the same and he's been through a bout of bad starts before - where he *looked* awful as well - only to come back as the dominating force he was in the first half of last year.
Both Ben and I believe he can apply the same work ethic he did in adjusting previous to his current situation, and come out of it. It's certainly possible that he won't, but even if he doesn't he can be a useful fantasy asset, hence his ranking.
If you think otherwise, so be it - there's certainly a case to be made for that - but you also haven't yet mentioned one risk factor except to say that "they exist." What are their risks of being a bust? What qualifies as bust to you? Perhaps you're more risk averse than we are (though Appel is rather safe in most eyes), which is fine.
My comment wasn't particularly helpful, to be sure, but the point was that yours brought nothing to the table except you assuming we screwed up by ignoring something. If there's an issue that you're particularly concerned about, either Ben or I would be happy to address our thoughts on that issue and how we weighed it in the overall valuation.
There is no greater red flag than that, yet by ranking him #22, you are essentially ignoring it. And then in your comment, you confirm your dismissal of his struggles by trying to attribute them to a "small sample size," and assuring us that his BABIP is "about the same" this season. I guess we should just ignore the fact that K/BB stabilizes long before BABIP?
The truth is his peripherals have not been good since last July, or 140+ IP ago -- i.e., for more than half of his career. Let's stick to quickly stabilizing stats. The average K%-BB% for an NL starter is ~12%. Here are Miller's last five full months:
July 13: 13.7%
Aug 13: 14.2%
Sep 13: 1.6%
Apr 14: 3.4%
May 14: 6.7% [estimated after tonight's game]
Total K%-BB% since last July (141 IP): 7.5%
How bad is that? Of the 65 NL SPs with 140+ IP across 2013-2014, a grand total of five of them had a K%-BB% worse than 7.5%.
So, yeah, that's implies just a touch more "risk" that I would tolerate in a supposed top 25 U25 fantasy property. The reason I didn't waste time/space with these stats in my original comment is because I think everyone here is already at least reasonably aware of the trend and how long it has been occurring. Maybe you are not. Or maybe you consider 140 IP to be a tiny sample for K and BB rates. I have no idea. Nor am I interested in engaging in any further argument over it. (FWIW, I'm actually rooting for Miller to turn it around).
As you may recall, I simply stated an opinion on two players you ranked, which for some reason triggered a snarky (non-)reply, followed by a depressingly shallow "defense" of your ranking: Small sample (incorrect) + injury (unsubstantiated, at best) + work ethic (no specifics), when mixed with a recently bottom-10-percent K%-BB% pitcher, sprouts the #22 most valuable U25 asset in fantasy baseball.
First and foremost "getting worse" isn't a risk factor. It's a thing that's happened but risk factors tend to be things that affect process. When you detail his K%-BB%, that is an example of a risk factor that I can respond to. When you just assume I ignore an unnamed risk factor, it makes it difficult to address your question.
Second, I'm aware he's been struggling since the second half of last year. It jives with what I said before which was that he hit a wall. You might find that a convenient explanation or dismissal and I'm understanding to that but it's the information that I've been told, and so I'm going with it. I apologize if that's not enough for you.
I, in fact, never mentioned BABIP. I was looking at hits per nine, not the most advanced stat, to be sure but it was in line with last year.
I'm not denying his struggles since July (well, September if you want to be honest since July/August were above average by your standard). I'm saying he hit a wall and has had a bad start, certainly. I am also saying that development isn't linear. Sometimes guys struggle once the book is out on them and need to fail before they adjust. I believe Miller makes that adjustment because he's shown adaptability before.
In terms of work ethic, I figured you knew about his horrible struggles at Triple-A in 2012 during the first half. The second half he rebounded thanks to some adjustments he made and earned a call up. My apologies for assuming you knew that.
As I said before, you might not believe that he does and that's fine. I didn't intend for my reply snarky but leaving an opinion (that was more of a criticism) with no explanation of what you're talking about isn't especially helpful. You could have said "I think you're undervaluing Miller's struggles dating back to last season.