I love keeper leagues. Love ‘em. Can’t get enough of ‘em. Redraft leagues are fine and all but with keeper leagues you become more connected to certain players and have an affinity for them over all others. They become the unofficial “face of your franchise” and are synonymous with your team. Hanley Ramirez will always be one of my favorite players because he was one of my keepers from 2007 (back when he was a 50 base stealing FLORIDA Marlins shortstop) until 2012. I grabbed 26 error third basemen Ryan Braun in 2007 and he was my ride or die until he was 61 games-played outfielder Ryan Braun in 2013. I still haven’t forgiven him for embarrassing the Roswell Aliens like that…
Keeper leagues add a new wrinkle to your draft strategy. You’re keeping Gary Sanchez? Great! You don’t have to decide whether you want to draft James McCann or Tucker Barnhart in the 25th round! Keeping one of the big-4 aces? Wonderful! You can now load up on offense early and wait to take Kyle Hendricks as your second starter.
If I were writing this article pre-season 2017 pitchers would be few and far between on this list. Only Clayton Kershaw would’ve been found in the top 25. Now, in this juiced ball era, starting pitchers find themselves a bit more valuable. Although, with this universal humidor situation it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the faces of our teams. For example, the day after the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that they would utilize a humidor in their stadium I saw a tweet that said Paul Goldschmidt fell to the 15th overall pick in one draft. If they kept Paul Goldschmidt himself in a humidor for all of 2018 I’d still draft him before pick 15.
Let’s get into my methodology here. I’m going to be mainly focusing on 2018 because the future is hard to predict. However I’m not going to completely ignore that if you’re reading this article you’re probably not in a 1-year keeper league so there will be some projecting for the next few years as well. That means age will be a factor here. Joey Votto can still smash, but is 34 while his younger brother Freddie Freeman hits just as well and is only turning 29 at the end of this season. Position will also be a factor. Needing 1 second basemen in a shallow pool means that they’re more valuable than the 3-5 outfielders you’ll need. The intersectionality of speed/power and age will also be considered. Dee Gordon is turning 30 in April — how long will his legs hold up? Chone Figgins went to Seattle in his 30’s in 2012 and his career was donezo by 2013. Injury history should also be considered. Giancarlo Stanton was an MVP in 2017, but had over 500 ABs just twice in his previous 7 seasons. As a Yankee fan I’m hoping he stays healthy, but as a fantasy baseball owner I’m cautious. Have any of you actually read any of this or did you just jump straight to the chart to find your players?
Oh well, enough jibber-jabber! Let’s get into it:
The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!
- By the end of this season Turner could be a solid #2. His 50+ stolen base potential paired with his 12-15 HR is money in this offensive climate.
- Bryce in a walk year scares me in a good way. He’s gotta be the clubhouse leader for NL MVP.
- Betts hitting in front of Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, JD Martinez and Rafael Devers could see him honestly reaching the 140 plateau.
- Lindor is a big gainer after more than doubling his HR total while keeping his SB total respectable. The drop in AVG should bounce back a little bit.
- I think the humidor concerns over Goldschmidt are a tad overblown, but I’m going to trust the experts on this one who see him losing about 5-7 HRs at home. With Freeman, Rizzo and Votto nipping at his heels — his value drops a bit.
- With Bellinger the concern is definitely with that average. The potential for 40 HRs from a 22 year old is great, but that 26.6% K/rate worries me.. He could take a step back in his sophomore year as pitchers figure him out and he fights back.
- Of this group, the player I could see cracking the top 10 in 2019 is Alex Bregman. Before July 1st he had 8 HRs and 6 SBs with a .249 average. After: 11 HR, 11 SBs and a .315 AVG. And don’t forget his post-season performance. He slugged HRs off of: Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, and Chris Sale twice!
- Poor Anthony Rizzo. He’s so predictably great that we get bored of him. High 90s in runs, 32 HRs, 100+ RBI and a .275-.290. The most predictable player in fantasy baseball.
- Aaron Judge: see Cody Bellinger except make it a 30.7% strikeout rate. Grey seems to agree.
- This is where my pitchers start to fall and here are my elite five. With a healthy 2018 Syndergaard could be the top starting pitcher keeper for 2019.
- Biggest concern with Gary Sanchez is when they move him off the position. Luckily for his owners he is blocked by an equally young Greg Bird so for the next 3-4 years Sanchez will have C eligibility.
- The flipside of my Betts run prediction is JD’s RBI. He’s hitting behind Betts, Benintendi, and HanRam. Ladies and gentlemen your 2018 AL RBI leader.
- Some might say I’m a little high on Severino, but his 2017 was exactly what he’s done every year in the minors. He’s a 10+ K/9, close to 1.00 WHIP, 2.XX ERA pitcher.
- I put Buxton and Moncada right next to each other because they’re very similar to me. Both consensus #1 prospects who scouts were drooling over who didn’t set the world on fire immediately as everyone predicted. Buxton is starting to come around and I think Moncada will as well.
- And there he is — the most talked about man in Major League Baseball this year — Shohei Ohtani. Will he got 400 ABs? Will he throw 150 IPs? He’s a really fun novelty — but I think next season he’ll decide to just be a SP and THAT’S when his value will really start to shine.
- I wrote a Philadelphia Phillies team preview on my other blog and boy did it get me excited about Rhys Hoskins. In front of him he has: Cesar Hernandez (.372 OBP in last two seasons), Odubel Herrera (.344 OBP in last two seasons) and Carlos Santana (.365 OBP in last two seasons.) Ladies and gentlemen your 2018 NL RBI Leader.
- Starling Marte took quite a fall from grace after his 2017 PED suspension. However, even with those missed games he was on pace for over 45+ SBs and around 15 HRs. Still a worthy investment in my book.
- One of the youngest guys on this list, Devers hasn’t even lost his baby face fat yet, but came up hitting amazingly with 10 HR and a .284 average in only 58 games. A full season hitting right behind JD Martinez could mean biiiiiiigggg things for the 21-year old.
- Robbie Ray and the other Diamondback pitchers will benefit from humidor-gate. His 12.1 K/9 was best in the bigs and that number should only go up more this season.
- Aaron Nola might be one of the biggest gainers by the time we’re writing this article next year. He’s got close to a 10 K/9 and was 11th with a 1.91 GB/FB ratio.
- Go ahead and try to get me excited about the 10 HR/10 SB potential of Xander Bogaerts. I don’t love him, but he’s young enough to rebound somewhat.
- I’m worried Sano might turn into one of those tragic stories. This offseason he got himself involved in a sexual assault situation and now apparently has shown up to camp out-of-shape while everyone else is bragging about being in the best shape of their lives. Sano has 50 HR power potential in his body, but has Korean League potential in his brain.
- Don’t sleep on Joey Gallo just yet! The 40 HR and 80+ run and RBI potential is there and I think there is sleeper potential for a .235 average. The closer that average creeps up to .250 the better he is for your fantasy team. He’s still only 24 and was only just finally entrusted with his first full season of ABs. Let’s give the kid a chance!
- Some keeper rankings have Acuna in the 20’s, but I can’t commit to that until I see him face a major league pitcher in the big leagues. See: Byron Buxton and Yoan Moncada.
- Domingo Santana might have had the quietest 30 HR/15 SB season of all time in 2017. The only thing holding him back in 2018 is playing time. The Brewers have 5 (or 6 depending on how you feel about Keon Broxton) outfielders who deserve playing time so he might lose out on some ABs.
- I’m not giving Khris Davis enough love here. He’s a surefire bet for 40 HR and 100+ RBI and will probably last much deeper in your drafts than other outfielders.
- Tommy Pham will probably be ranked higher by other people, but I need to see that 25/25 potential for a second season.
- If he were 6 years younger (and healthier), Justin Turner would be in the 30-40 range. Turner deservedly finished in the top-10 in MVP voting the past two years and if he stays healthy should be there again this year. But at 33 years of age and with an extensive injury history — how much longer?
- I’m definitely higher on Margot than most. I think he has legitimate 15 HR/40 SB potential. It might not happen in his age 23 season, but it’s coming. He is going very late in drafts so far and you could win in 2019 by drafting him late now.
- If I wasn’t worried about his shoulder Conforto could’ve found himself in the 30-40 range this year. He has a solid walk rate, a great hard hit rate and is good at using all parts of the field as witnessed by his 27.9% opposite field percentage compared to his pull percentage of 32.4%.
- Gregory Polanco could either be the greatest gainer on this list or will fall off completely. As a 2017 buyer in Polanco stocks, I can tell you that he was playing through injury last season. He has come into camp looking swole AF which will hopefully contribute to solid production on the field.
|100||Vlad Guerrero Jr.||3B||19||N/R|
- Lamet finished in the top 10 in K/9 among pitchers with at least 100 IPs. Unfortunately he was also bottom 10 in BB/9 among those same pitchers. Control has always been Lamet’s achilles heel, but if he’s worked on it this off-season and can get that aspect of his game under control he could be a top-25 SP.
- Alex Reyes was a tough addition to this list since we don’t know how he’ll respond to Tommy John surgery — but his pedigree and the history of successful TJ returners tells me that he’ll be okay by the time 2019 rolls around.
- Trevor Bauer seems like a strange inclusion on this list, but he’s someone you have to think is going to one day be better than his numbers show. He has a great K/9, solid GB/FB ratio and every year his FIP is lower than his ERA.
- Baby Vlad is the first prospect ever to receive an 80 out of 80 in his hit tool. The youngest man on this list has to get you excited to see what exactly that could translate to in the major leagues.
Now every keeper league has their own unique rules — if you’ve got different keeper rules and have specific questions leave a comment below!