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Previous entries in this series:

2015 U25 NL East Rankings

2015 U25 AL East Rankings

2015 U25 NL Central Rankings

Remember this from last year? We do. That’s why we decided to do it again.

Here’s the intro from the 2014 round of U25 rankings:

For this exercise, we're each going to rank our top 30 U25 fantasy players by division before we collaborate on a top-150 list once this portion of the project is complete. For each division, we'll give you our individual rankings and then discuss any major discrepancies in our rankings, talk about some sleepers we wanted to rank higher and take cheap shots at each other along the way. It will be like the TINO podcast, but for your eyes, complete with an imaginary Bret Sayre breaking up our fights.

You get the idea, then. Players have to be born after April 1st, 1989 to qualify. Here’s the linked to last year’s U25 AL Central Rankings.

Ben's Rankings

Craig's Rankings

1. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN

1. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC

2. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC

2. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN

3. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN

3. Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW

4. Yordano Ventura, SP, KC

4. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN

5. Trevor Bauer, SP, CLE

5. Danny Salazar, SP, CLE

6. Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW

6. Yordano Ventura, SP, KC

7. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE

7. Trevor Bauer, SP, CLE

8. Salvador Perez, C, KC

8. Tim Anderson, SS, CHW

9. Tim Anderson, SS, CHW

9. Salvador Perez, C, KC

10. Danny Salazar, SP, CLE

10. Avisail Garcia, OF, CHW

11. Oswaldo Arcia, OF, MIN

11. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE

12. Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET

12. Oswaldo Arcia, OF, MIN

13. Avisail Garcia, OF, CHW

13. Kennys Vargas, 1B/DH, MIN

14. Clint Frazier, OF, CLE

14. Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE

15. Jose Berrios, SP, MIN

15. Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET

16. Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE

16. Jose Berrios, SP, MIN

17. Kohl Stewart, SP, MIN

17. Kohl Stewart, SP, MIN

18. Sean Manaea, SP, KC

18. Clint Frazier, OF, CLE

19. Raul Mondesi, SS, KC

19. Anthony Gose, OF, DET

20. Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC

20. Raul Mondesi, SS, KC

21. Kyle Zimmer, SP, KC

21. Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC

22. Alex Meyer, P, MIN

22. Kyle Zimmer, SP, KC

23. Kennys Vargas, 1B/UT, MIN

23. Nick Gordon, SS, MIN

24. Nick Gordon, SS, MIN

24. Brandon Finnegan, P, KC

25. Miguel Almonte, SP, KC

25. Francisco Mejia, C, CLE

26. Francisco Mejia, C, CLE

26. Miguel Almonte, SP, KC

27. Jose Iglesias, SS, DET

27. Giovanny Urshela, 3B, CLE

28. Anthony Gose, OF, DET

28. Sean Manaea, SP, KC

29. Brandon Finnegan, P, KC

29. Alex Meyer, P, MIN

30. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

30. Jose Iglesias, SS, DET

Disagreement One: Danny Salazar

Craig’s Take: We always talk about development not being linear and guys taking steps back before taking steps forward. I think coming into 2014, we wouldn’t have blinked much at my placement of Salazar here. He was everyone’s sleeper and while I still might have been high on him, I probably wouldn’t have been alone. After a rough season though, he’s back and notably better than he was, even in the season he ascended to the majors. He’s missing more bats than The Joker right now, and has a tidy walk rate of five percent. For a guy who was never short on stuff, being around the zone that much is a good thing. Add in the bump in ground-ball rate and Cleveland’s shoddy defense that will soon feature Francisco Lindor, and there’s an argument that any impending regressions (some of which are likely) could be offset.

Ben’s Take: Honestly, I like how aggressive you are on Salazar. If he’s healthy, I think there’s a pretty good chance this ranking looks better for you than it does for me. I am worried about his long-term health, though, and while it’s easy to point to his 2013 and say, “look how good he was,” his mediocre 2014 still weighs on me as well. Honestly, a lot of this has to do with who’s above him, too. I’ve always been crazy high on Bauer, I share your enthusiasm for Rodon and while it’s weird to think of Ventura as a high-floor player, I think he’s the safest best of this bunch. I think I can agree that Salazar has the highest ceiling of these four arms, but I don’t think his ceiling is *so* much higher than Bauer’s or Rodon’s that I can ignore the risk. I get it, though, and I hope you’re right because god he’s fun to watch.

Craig’s Take: My biggest concern is the home run rate, but if he’s going to limit the free passes the way he is now, those longballs will do less damage. As a smaller pitcher he’s always going to give up homers to some degree—and the injury concerns weigh on me too, but I can’t ignore the present production, quality of the pitches, and strikeout rate going forward. He misses more bats than Yordano, and while Bauer could probably match him there, I think Salazar can forge more consistency over time while Bauer will always be something of a hit or miss. I’m with you on Rodon though, which is why I have him ranked over Salazar ;).

Ben’s Take: Yeah. I can’t really get worked up over this one. Everything you said is fair and these guys are largely in the same tier for me, so it’s fine. It’s not like Yordano is the picture of health either, and while I think Bauer will be fine your point about his lack of consistency is well taken. And yet… I don’t really feel the urge to move Salazar up. I’m going to do the time-tested, smart fantasy thing here and just trust my gut, as tough as that is for me to do as a #numbersguy.

Imaginary Bret: Please don’t wink at each other in public. Or ever, really.

Disagreement Two: Anthony Gose

Ben’s Take: I don’t believe in the hit tool, which makes the .463 BABIP this year even tougher to look past. He doesn’t walk, he strikes out way too much and he’s got no power. He’s not even an especially adept base stealer (7-for-11 this year). He’s just fast. His entire profile is based on him hitting for a good average and using his legit 40-steal speed, but that’s a terrifying profile to bank on when you don’t believe in the hit tool. I get that his defense is good enough to keep him in the lineup fairly regularly, but at the end of the day he’s a no. 9 hitter who’s probably going to actively hurt you in three categories, do well in steals and maybe not be a negative factor in runs. I’m assuming you disagree because you see something in the hit tool that I don’t?

Craig’s Take: Perhaps, but I’m guessing not. I just don’t know how successful he needs to be at hitting to be valuable in fantasy. The stolen base percentage isn’t elite but it’s more than enough to break even (he was 75 percent last year too), and he could be something of a Rajai Davis type over the years. I don’t buy the batting average in its current incarnation whatsoever, but what does he need to hit to stay in the lineup? .250? He was a prospect I’ve long liked, so I’ll admit bias on that front, but also note who I have him in front of. None of those guys are impact guys (in fantasy) or close to the majors. So sure, I’ll take the guy with notable warts who is contributing now.

Ben’s Take: The “everyone behind him sucks” argument is probably the most compelling to me. I get valuing the fact that he’s producing now. I just don’t think that’s likely to continue, and if Gose is a fourth outfielder at this time next year (or hell, this time by August) it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

I know you hate comps, but that makes me want to make comps even more often. Last year, Jarrod Dyson hit .269(nice)/.324/.327 with 36 steals. I view that as sort of a best-case scenario for Gose. Dyson was only the 54th-best outfielder for fantasy even with that season, per ESPN’s player rater. If that’s the type of ceiling we’re talking about with Gose, I’ll gamble on prospects who might not look like stars, but who at least look unlikely to bounce between a roster and the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.

Craig’s Take: Sure, but Dyson was also that in 290 plate appearances. More playing time means more runs, and even if the stolen bases are the same, that would probably pump up his rankings someone substantially. I never mind gambling on someone, but let’s not pretend there’s not upside in the current player. If we’re talking most likely outcomes and what they play as in 12-team leagues, then the majority of the guys behind him are likely to be bench guys/waiver material, at least as I see it. There’s a very fair chance that he’s a fourth outfielder multiple times in his career, but he’s not right now and Steven Moya’s hit tool is worse than Gose’s so I’ll stick with him for the time being.

Imaginary Bret: Anthony Gose has The Bad Face.

Craig’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: Ffffffffffff-I don’t know. Matt Davidson? Derek Hill?

There’s no one I really wanted to rank higher. I like Hill but he’s forever away. Davidson only has Cole Gillaspie in front of him but… Spencer Adams I like but again… forever away. It’s just not going to matter right now.

Ben’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

What do you want me to do? Rank Derek Hill here? Kelvin Herrera? Bubba Starling? No, I’m not about that. This is a bad, dumb list that gets pretty miserable once you hit 17 or 18. A lot of these guys just won’t matter to those of you who keep it to 14-team leagues. When Jose Iglesias makes both lists in this type of format, it’s time to pack it up and head home. This is the Matt Collins of divisions.

Ben, say something nice about Craig: He ranked Kohl Stewart well. I’d trust him to bring good cheese to a wine and cheese party.

Craig, say something nice about Ben: He’s fun to talk to while he’s monitoring a Draft Kings contest because he gets super mad/happy at anything that happens.