After last week’s tl;dr bonanza, I soon delved back into my research, trying to find inspiration to prepare for an actual ranking post. I soon remembered that I’ve made several lists in my own tenacious past and began to frolic through my archive. And let me tell you, I have found such valuable insights to draw upon. For instance, a top 10 list for Tentacle Porn. And while I won’t ruin the surprise, I’ll give you a hint: the first place finisher’s DVD cover looks likes the poster for Anaconda 3: The Offspring, starring David Hasselholf. Oddly enough, he’s on both covers. I’ve also made a list for ‘Best Things to Do on a First Date’. Just for pointers, the best thing to do is be charming by bringing out unique and powerful one liners. This one’s a freebie; maybe start the night by stating how you would love to ‘Rufio’ her lost boys to ‘Bangerang’ all night long — remember to yell ‘Rufio,’ with emphasis on the ee-oh. Coincidently, that action also places first on my ‘Worst Things to Do on a First Date’ list, most likely due to the fact that a restraining order and Law Enforcement involvement depend on whether or not she’s seen Hook after the age of six. It’s okay, really. I know that my writing style equates to something like tapping your foot to a nice tune when all of a sudden someone stops the music and says, “You know who wrote this song? Hitler.” But hey, we’re in this together.
Just to reiterate, this post (like Part I) will contain names that you might not expect, or in different placements. That’s because we’re doing things deep league style, with extra sauce. And while there are many different formats and scoring systems for deep leagues, there are some constants we can base a formula on. All deep leagues have some sort of dynasty mechanism, which favors younger and/or cost-controlled players. Along with that aspect, you’ll have a robust MiLB system, usually with drafts and escalating long-term contracts that attach to those players once activated. And last, but not least, you are most likely dealing with leagues that have anywhere from 15 to 30 teams, NL-only, AL-only, more advanced scoring categories (OBP, SLG, TB, etc.) and you can even add simulation leagues like Box and Strato-matic into the mix. We basically have to smash all those things into one ranking sandwich, and then add your usual facets; 2012 production, lettuce, 2013 potential production, tomato, injury risk, past performance, bacon, positional scarcity, etc… So if you find yourself wondering what I was smoking when I made this list, just remember the sandwich I am making and putting in your mouth is going to be delicious to the extreme.
15. Matt Wieters and Buster Posey – Okay, okay, I cheated a little here by having two guys share one spot. If it makes you feel better, put one at sixteen and one at fifteen, makes no difference which to me. While they aren’t alike as baseball players, they are alike in fantasy baseball. They didn’t really have a smooth start to their careers; the former has taken a tad bit longer to develop, and the latter used his leg as a toll booth, of which said toll booth exploded. But both are young hot commodities in any dynasty format because of the offensive repertoire offered. While Wieters has had a large dry spell the last couple of months, the tease of 270/340/460 as a consistent stat line is enough for me to still buy. Long term, I think both of these guys are a coin flip, but for this year only, Posey has picked off where he left off from his rookie campaign. Hitting 315/379/498 so far, you can expect a similar line for quite a while. With positional scarcity and potentially long-term control of these youthful assets, your team won’t have to worry about drafting the likes of Miguel Olivo or John Buck, which is usually the sign of impending stigmata.
14. Felix Hernandez – The King has been a mainstay for quite a long time. While his velocity has dipped a bit this year (94.4 in 2010, 93.4 in 2011, and down to 92.1 so far during this season), he’s still an elite pitcher to own. Hernandez amazingly has found a way to up his K/9 from 8.55 in 2011 to 8.94 while lowering his BB/9 and HR/9 from 2.58 and 0.73 down to 2.37 and 0.61, respectively. And still only at the age of 26, you likely had to pay a hefty price for his services, but because of his ability, you also locked him down with multiple years. Ride the wave until you can’t, because he’s proven this year to still be effective even without that lock-down fastball.
13. Josh Hamilton – Most likely one of the most frustratingly talented players you can own in the fantasy realm, it’s almost always a foregone conclusion that he can miss up to 250 AB’s a year, yet still put up very good numbers to the tune of 300/360/550. And in stretches, he even has the ability to carry your team weeks at a time. While his bat is expensive, and the hardnosed play style and history of injuries isn’t a good thing to own, the offensive output is just too potent to ignore.
12. Clayton Kershaw – Now that he’s cut his BB/9 from 4.79 down to 2.44 the last three years, Kershaw will be a mainstay fantasy ace for years to come. Young, dominant, career 3.04 FIP… enough said.
11. Matt Kemp – The injury bug has hit him a bit this year, and I don’t quite think last year’s 324/399/586 should be considered commonplace, but I do believe that his BB% improvement from 7.9 in 2010, to 10.7 in 2011, all the way up to 11.2 in limited action this year, is real. Any player who is as young and able to throw up a 30-30 has to be ranked high. If he can somehow stay healthy next year and the year after and provide close to a 300/400/600 slash with 30 SB’s, you have to consider him a top-3, maybe even a top-1, fantasy producer.
10. Justin Verlander – A career 94.9 fastball velocity, 3.07 FIP, and 8.33 K/9, his stats simply speak for themselves. While 2008 seemed like a blip in the radar when many blamed the off year on misuse, more specifically, overuse by Jim Leyland, he has shown no warning signs since. Throwing at least 200 innings every year since 2007, you have never had a more consistent ace.
9. Jose Bautista – I’m surely a bit biased with the ranking here, but I just can’t help it. Joey Bats is one of my favorite players. Never have I seen so much raw power, I mean, this guy has hit home runs one handed. Every time he hits a home run, it’s like his bat is Mel Gibson and the ball is Jewish. 124 HR’s the last the last three years, his value is pumped up even more in OBP leagues. Consider him to be a constant source of 260/380/600 for the next couple of years.
7. Stephen Strasburg – While a dark cloud remains due to injury and this year’s inning cap, his potential ceiling and long term control are just simply too great to ignore. Already one of the top pitchers in both leagues, all of his deep league appeal puts him as the top pitcher to own. So far this year, he’s put up an elite K/9 of 11.58 with a low BB/9 of 2.45 and a FIP of 2.53. And this is his first season back since tearing his collateral ligament and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Makes me giggle.
6. Giancarlo Stanton – Simply put, he’s the younger version of Joey Bats. These two guys might be ranked a little high, but there is a certain mystique in owning them. I have yet to find either one easy to acquire, and I think it might be because chicks and the rest of the human race still dig the long ball. 290/370/600 is his ceiling, and that is a mighty fine ceiling to have.
5. Joey Votto – Overtaking Pujols as the the best 1B and continuing the productivity this year has Votto on track to be a top-5 player in any format for perhaps the next five years, if not more. Expect 330/430/590 as a baseline for that time period.
4. Ryan Braun – A long time 300/380/580 producer with an added bonus of 20-25 SB’s and Grey’s numero uno rated player for this year, I wouldn’t expect any drop-off for a long time. But his herpes are another story. I would be hard-pressed to find another player to move Braun back. The only case I can make is if Kemp were healthy and putting up the same numbers prorated to 400 AB’s. But I can’t, so I won’t, so there. Herpes!
3. Bryce Harper – If you were to ask me why Harper would be ranked this high, I would tell you that was a clown question, bro. While his 265/338/435 isn’t quite what he’s capable of, I’m not going to knock a kid at the age of 19. And I doubt any of you will either. We all know the hype, and we all know the name. Simply put, he is the most valuable commodity in any dynasty format, even more so then the next two names. But I can’t put him there just yet. Why? Because that’s thinking with my heart, not my brain. And my brain says that I’m hungry. Also that even though Harper will one day go bonkers with a yearly 300/380/630 slash with 20 steals, we ain’t there yet. This year counts too, which brings us to our next player.
2. Mike Trout – Trout has made the Angels look smart and dumb at the same time. An amazing find in the draft, he was almost overshadowed by one of the worst trades in the history of the game. Of course, there were a lot of things to pick on in the Vernon Wells acquisition, but perhaps the most frustrating aspect as of now was the extra 200 AB’s the we’ve lost from this, Trout’s historic rookie campaign. Projected to a full season, his numbers look something like 350/30/100/125/60. And guess what? If you drafted him this year, last year, or the year before, you have him at a balls-tingling cost and long-term control. While he may never be better than this, even a step down to a more rational 300/20/75/100/50 would still put him in this spot next year, or even to the number one spot.
1. Andrew McCutchen – Is it any surprise the Dread Pirate is number one? While Mike Trout is really close behind, McCutchen is just putting up an insane year with a slash of 369/425/633 and adding 14 SB’s. Most likely the NL MVP, his numbers look sustainable for quite a while. He epitomizes the combination of youth, long-term and potential cost control, and an amazing ability in all offensive categories. Strangely, that is also the descriptor I use for my personality. While, over time, his spot may switch with Trout, and maybe even Kemp, for right now, Andrew McCutchen is your number one Deep League Fantasy Asset.
So what do you guys think? Do you have your own top 15? Share them with me. Don’t agree with my love advice? Too bad, go dateless! But don’t be shy, tell me why I’m wrong and who I forgot if you’d like. Even bring the hate if you want. But remember, as a great man once said, you gotta pay the troll toll if you want to get in this boy’s hole.