Why are we talking about the Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Keepers again? I know, right? I thought we were past this, but then I had a revelation… and an email from Jay. After reflecting on some of the comments, I felt that I owed you guys… and five girls a little more about my evaluations. Got it? Good! Let’s not beat around the bush (TWSS), and jump right into this. When I started the keeper list, I was looking at this through the lens of people already in existing keeper leagues. I think to rank out a first year draft would require 200-plus ranked players and a multi-format strategy guide to compliment it. Then we would need meditation sessions to help conquer the inner conflict of win now versus win later. Pulling off the now and later is a tall task that requires two elements: 1) A hefty haul of young talent that takes a step forward this year and 2) A league of morons that don’t know how to draft… kidding… sort of. My general assumption is that if you are reading this site, then you are already gaining an advantage over your league-mates. We do a damn good job between writers and active commenters to cover anything and everything fantasy related. Now go grow your in-season stache, sign up for an RCL commenter league or start your own, and buy a round of daquiris for your bartenders (that’s us). Hhhhhmmm, does that make Grey Sam Malone?
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Below, I’ll be going over select players that are on and off the keeper list. Some will reflect my strategic mindset, while others will be right on the cusp and arguable based on keeper pairings. Speaking of keeper pairings, I prefer to do that when I can to maximize all cats to open a draft. Why put yourself in a hole when you think you need to only keep power hitters? Roster construction people!… that reflect format. Speaking of format, everything I write is with roto in mind. Even writing the abbreviated H2H makes me queezy. Great, now I need a ginger ale and some saltines.
Delino DeShields – This omission got my balls busted by Grey more times than when I liked Braun last year (BTW, I was right). I like Delino this year, I actually like him immensely, but it’s because he’s a great VALUE in redraft leagues. Unfortunately, this is a keeper ranking and I have a degree in SAGNOF with a special emphasis in reality. Speed with a meh batting average can always be found like how anything can be found at a truck stop (sorta-NSFW). Like the subject in the video, if she/he/he-she isn’t there, just wait a few minutes and another will be with you shortly… or so I’ve heard. That’s the crux of my argument against this, you can always find these types of guys and they don’t need to be kept. But for funzies, let’s look a little deeper as to why I left him off this year. I’m going to start with the game’s two elite speedsters and how their different paths unfolded and why Delino may be a ways away before he becomes a bona fide keeper. It took Dee Gordon over 600 AB’s across 2011,2012, and 2013 before he broke out in 2014. He opened his career in 2011, when he hit .304 with 24 steals in 233 plate appearances and the future looked bright. As a Dodger-watcher, my chops were salivating. He followed that amazing breakout with a .229 BA over his next 436 plate appearance (2012 & 2013) and was almost forgotten. It wasn’t until 2014 when an opportunity opened up and he literally ran with it. Our resident DFS studmeister Sky called that one. Billy Hamilton came up with lots of fanfare for his speed and didn’t disappoint with his ability to swipe. He stole 56, 70% success rate, in his first full year and 57 (87%) the second, but as we all know, he hasn’t hit for average (.240 between 2014 and 15) and is still a borderline keeper, even though he has proven that 55+ steals is easy for him without a full season of ABs. To get back on Delino, no, not like that, I think he’s a .260 hitter for now with some room to grow and regress. He had a very average contact rate, high K-rate for a ground ball hitter, and doesn’t usually hit the ball far or hard. Sorry guys who think he gets double-digit dongs this year. It’s not likely. On the positive side, he can take a walk, is hitting atop the Rangers lineup this year, lays off stuff outside the zone, and has the pedigree (I love kids of former players). Enough about his hitting, let’s talk about the steals. For this year, I have him down for 35 stolen bases, yes I said it. 35… with a chance at 40. Before you pop a vein in your neck, consider this for a minute. In the first half (193 PA’s), he went 14 for 16 (87%) and in the second half (299 PA’s), he was 11 of 17 (65%) or 75% success rate on the season for those of you keeping score at home. If he repeats that rate or even improves on it, he will need to have 60+ attempts to get to 5o steals. In the last three years, only three players (Dee, B-Ham, Altuve) have attempted over 60 in a season. Is he fast? Yes. Will he be a perennial 50 SB guy, maybe. Stolen bases are such a situational stat. Look at the Reds, they run like they just stole it and Todd Frazier will never get back to his previous SB totals on the ChiSox. Wait! What does that have to do with this? Oops… Long term Delino has speed, upside, and lots of room to grow, but I need to see that bump across the board before I anoint him. Like Dee, it could take him a few years and while I wait I’ll play SAGNOF like a boss.
Troy Tulowitzki – It would be easy to call him an old guy going into the twilight of his career but that would be too dismissive. What I see is him evolving into a boring steady shortstop that will be an 80/20/80/0/.280 hitter with some home park upside. The move to Toronto should of produced better numbers, and we all expected it, but instead we saw him struggle to the low point of his career. Some feel the shock of the trade got to him while others feel he is hitting the regression wall harder than Sky hitting the local Oregon brew. I’m banking on the former and seeing a steady contributer at the most scarce of positions. The ceiling is lower than his prime but I think the floor is higher than you think… if he’s healthy. I like the change away from turf in Toronto and I’m not ready to throw the towel in yet. You can do it… Tulo!
Rougned Odor – The man that was almost not there. This was a tough one. I had him all over this list as I went cray-cray trying to figure out his long term value. On one hand, he just hit 16 bombs in his age-21 season, while on the other he is projected to hit at the bottom of the order for 2016. After this year, I think his ceiling peaks out in the two-hole. A 20/10/.270 hitter feels safe to me. His contact% is fine, but he chases too much out of zone. As he matures that should correct… I hope. He struggles taking walks and always has. With being how young he is, the career can take two different arcs. To be fair, I’m really rooting for him, but when I see guys like Wong and Russell, and where they are being valued, I have to lump him into that group. With Wong you are sacrificing some power for speed and with Russell I’m seeing similar power upside with a little less speed and better average than Odor. Maybe he should be a few spots higher in my ranks, but nothing higher than the mid-80’s.
Adam Wainwright – This is the one guy I would like to take a mulligan on. But to defend myself, he is so damn close. Few pitchers can provide 200-plus innings, great ERA and WHIP, high win totals and a really really high opinion of himself. Would you want to mess with his crazy a**? To error on the side of caution and avoid regretting that decision, I’m gonna let him be Beltre on the mound and call it a day. Seriously, he’s boring, undervalued, but still pretty damn good. As a second pitcher in a keeper league you could do a lot worse. But still, I get the arguments against, lets call him a preference call of the floor kind. I don’t mind age on certain guys, they will never be what they once were but guys like Waino won’t be going out like a chump.
Have we had enough about the players yet? I think I accomplished what I set out to do. I could of gone into more depth about players like Piscotty or why I left off Pederson but how long do you want this? I think after 500 words of my drivel, you’d rather turn on foreign language TV. The strategies employed to be successful in a keeper can vary so much from format to format. Just as what works in an RCL is worthless in our Scout.com leagues. Just as your five keepers 12-teamer is vastly different than six keepers in a 16-teamer. I think there is no right or wrong answer about what combination of players is the winning formula. You know your opponents in a keeper, you play against them every year. Use that to construct YOUR roster and win.
Okay, I’ve gotta run, listen to this song and I’ll see you next time!