Welcome back to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Keepers. This week we will look at my Tier 5 group – players 125 to 101.
When it comes to putting together your dynasty team, you have to try to stick to your formula as much as possible. I’ve discussed my approach to how I build my dynasty teams, but here is a quick reminder:
- Young over old.
- Draft the hitter over the pitcher.
- Draft the starting pitcher ahead of the closer
Trust your gut
Heading into a draft, figure out what your approach is going to be then stick with it as much as possible. Yes, there are times when you need to be flexible, but in the end, just go with your gut instinct. You formulated a plan, so trust your plan and don’t make a panic pick because there is a run at a position.
If your plan is to build a team heavy on relatively unknown but high-ceiling players, then go for it. As the season progresses and you need to fill holes, you can always flip a young player and/or prospects (if you have a league with prospect rosters) for a key veteran.
You want to win right away? Then go heavy with proven veteran players, with the risk that many other teams are filling their rosters with younger players who can be core players for years to come. Three years from now your old players may start their decline and then you’re headed for a rebuild.
Let’s get to the Rankings!
I’m sure we can talk all day about how to build the perfect dynasty team. But we are not here for that. Let’s get to the 2023 Dynasty Rankings: 125-101.
NOTE: Age is as of March 30, 2023
Cleared for Takeoff
Triston Casas appeared in 27 games for the Red Sox and had a not-so-great batting average of .197. But the Sox have cleared the way for Casas to be the starter at first base/designated hitter this season to get his powerful bat into the lineup.
Hitting for average is not Casas’ strength as he is a career .269 hitter in the minors, and he posted a 24.2% strikeout rate with the Sox, just above the MLB average of 22.4%. But Casas gets on base. He had a 20% walk rate with the Red Sox and owns a career 13.6% career walk rate in the minors. But what he does best is hit the ball hard and far, hitting five homers with a 5.3% home run rate during his short stint with Boston. His raw power will lead to many 30+ home run seasons.
Still Have Great Stuff
Yu Darvish is getting up there in age, but he still is an effective pitcher, making him worthy of keeping for several more years. In 2022, he had a 3.10 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, a nice rebound from a so-so 2021 campaign. Darvish nearly reached 200 innings and struck out 9.1 hitters per nine while allowing only 1.7 BB/9 en route to finishing eighth in the Cy Young voting.
The only thing that keeps Luis Severino from being a yearly Cy Young candidate is injuries. He was limited to three starts in 2019, missed 2020, and appeared in four games with no starts in 2021. Severino finally returned to the mound last season, making 19 starts for the Yankees and posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He had a strikeout rate of 9.9 K/9, which is basically right on his career average of 10.0 K/9, and his walk rate of 2.6 BB/9 is exactly the same as his career rate.
When fully healthy, Severino has finished third and ninth in Cy Young voting (2017 and 2018) and there is no reason he can’t match those seasons again.
Poised for Big Seasons
Ian Happ is poised for a breakout season for the Chicago Cubs after slashing .271/.342/.440 with 17 homers, 72 RBI and nine steals in 2022. Both the batting average and RBI were career highs and his steals matched his previous best season. He hit 25 homers in 2021 and I expect Happ to find his power stroke and be a nice surprise in left field next season and be a constant producer for the next five years.
I fully expected Jonathan India to build upon his 2021 Rookie of the Year season. Instead, I was thoroughly disappointed with his 2022 season as he regressed badly. He slashed only .249/.327/.378 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. The good news is the improved as the season progressed, slashing .261/.351/.400 with six home runs and 26 RBI over his final 63 games. I am a firm believer that he will be closer to his 2021 form in 2023, so much so that I have traded for him in two leagues.
Solid Transition to MLB
In nine seasons in Japan’s NPB, Seiya Suzuki was a star. He slashed .315/.414/.570 with 182 home runs in 902 games. In his first year with the Cubs, Suzuki appeared in 111 games and slashed .262/.336/.433 with 14 homers, 46 RBI and nine steals. Hurting Suzuki’s numbers was a poor month of May in which he slashed .211/.279/.338 with no homers and only seven RBI. Subtract that one month and he was very solid all season. With a season of MLB ball under his belt, Suzuki is primed to look like the player he was in Japan.
If Tyler Glasnow can ever stay healthy, he would be ranked a lot higher than No. 119. But so far, staying healthy has been nearly impossible for the Tampa Bay hurler. Since breaking in with the Pirates in 2016, Glasnow has pitched in 106 games, 67 of them as a starter, but has racked up a total of 409.2 innings of work. A full-time starter since joining the Rays in 2018 (when he went 1-5 with a 4.20 ERA), Glasnow has thrown 268.1 innings in 50 starts, an average of 5.1 innings per start.
Since 2019 he has a 2.75 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP and an impressive 12.7/9 strikeout rate and 151 ERA+. It is those numbers that tantalize fantasy players such as me because of the massive potential Glasnow has to carry a staff.
Expect a Repeat
Anthony Santander is not the perfect outfielder at the plate. He is not going to help you with your team slash line – at least when it comes to average and OBP as he has a career .245 average and .300 OBP. But power is a huge factor in building teams, and Santander hits homers. An everyday player this past season, he smashed 33 homers and drove in 89 runs and his 162-game average is 31 homers and 88 RBI. Simply put, the power is not a fluke. His career home run percentage is 4.6% and his career EV is 90.0 mph.
Who is the real Josh Bell? Is it the player who hit 26 homers and drove in 90 runs as a 24-year-old in 2017 or had 37 homers and 116 RBI with a .936 OPS in 2019 in Pittsburgh? Is Bell the player who drove in 88 runs and had 27 homers for the Nationals in 2021 and was slashing .301/.384/.493 with Washington in 2022 before being traded?
Or is Bell the player who followed his 2017 season with a 12 homer, 62 RBI season, or the guy who was traded to the Padres and proceeded to slash .192/.316/.271 with three homers and 14 RBI in 53 games? He is likely the player between the two extremes, which means a 20-25 homer player with 85-90 RBI, which is a solid player to have on your team.
He’s a Solid Starter – Really!
For the first three seasons of his career in Milwaukee, Freddy Peralta was used mainly as a reliever, making 23 starts out of the 70 games he appeared in. So perhaps people still think of him as a reliever. But since becoming a full-time starter in 2021, all Peralta has done is pitch well. He has posted a 3.08 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. Even better is the fact he notched an 11.4 K/9 rate in 222.1 innings of work.
The drawback for Peralta is the same as Glasnow – the fear of injury and lasting more than five innings in a start. Peralta started only 17 times in 2022 and in 2021 he made 27 starts but threw only 144.1 innings. Overall, I think Peralta is being overlooked, and would love to have him on my staff.
Kris Bryant can still hit. I do not question that. What I do question when it comes to Bryant is his ability to stay on the field. He appeared in only 42 games this past season and is entering the part of his career when injuries happen more often and take longer to recover from. But it is hard to ignore Bryant’s bat as slashed .306/.376/.475 in ’22. Considering he played in 144 games in 2021 and has basically been healthy his whole career, I expect him to be on the field much more in ’23 and produce the numbers we are used to seeing from him.
This is the year for Brendan Rodgers to really step his game up and take it to another level at the plate. Last season he slashed .266/.325/.408 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI. In 2021 he hit 15 homers and drove in 51 runs and his 162-game average is 17 home runs and 74 RBI. With a few years now under his belt, I think those numbers are going to increase and turn him into one of the better hitting second basemen.
The Newest Twin
With the Marlins loaded in starting pitching and in need of another bat, they sent to Pablo Lopez to Minnesota. Over the last three seasons, he has a 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 119 ERA+. He also has a strikeout rate of 9.2 K/9 and a nice K/BB ratio of 3.59. Lopez should be at worst the No. 2 pitcher on the Twins’ staff and would be a good addition to your fantasy staff.
Can Kwan Do It Again?
Steven Kwan had a great rookie season, slashing .298/.373/.400 last season with 19 steals to finish third in ROY voting and even winning a Gold Glove, though that doesn’t matter in fantasy baseball. When it comes to making contact, not too many players are better than Kwan.
He ranked in the 95th percentile or higher in K%, Whiff % and Chase Rate. His only drawback is the lack of power. But that shouldn’t keep you from drafting him, not when he can slap the ball all over the field and get on base.
Need Some Consistency
Ty France had a nice overall season for the Mariners, hitting 20 homers and driving in 83 while slashing .274/.338/.436. But he was wildly inconsistent in 2022. After hitting .337 in April and .355 in March, he dropped to .244 in June, jumped up to .275 in July, and then went into a swoon in August, hitting .177. He then finished with a .254 average in September/October. But over the last two years, he has a .283/.354/.441 slash line with an average of 19 homers and 78 RBI. Those are pretty solid numbers for someone entering his prime.
They May Be Old, But They Can Still Hit
He may be getting up in age at 34, but Starling Marte continues to produce like he is 24. Marte is coming off a .292/.347/.468 season with 16 homers, 63 RBI and 18 steals. Amazingly, those 18 steals are the fewest he has had during his career outside of the COVID season (when he still swiped 10 bags). Marte is still producing close to his career slash line of .290/.346/.468.
No one expected Salvador Perez to match his amazing 2021 season of 48 homers and 121 RBI, but the longtime Royals’ catcher still had a great 2022 season, slugging .465 with 23 homers and 76 RBI in 114 games. In the last six full major league seasons, he has topped 20 homers. Yes, he is getting older at a position that ages players quicker than other spots in the field, but the man just knows how to hit.
Take These Young(ish) Pitchers
I know I have warned against the urge to nab young pitchers too quickly because I like more seasoned pitchers. But as everyone knows, warnings are just suggestions!
I ignore my own warning when it comes to Nick Lodolo, who had an outstanding season for the Reds in 2022. In 103.1 innings, covering 19 starts, Lodolo allowed only 90 hits and had a 3.66 ERA with 10.2 K/9 rate. He did walk too many hitters (3.1/9) but he features a mid-90s fastball and ranked in the 81st percentile in Whiff%, 87th percentile in K% and in the 83rd percentage in curve spin. In fact, opposing hitters had a 46% Whiff% against his curve.
Logan Webb doesn’t have the “stuff” that Lodolo has, but while he doesn’t rack up the strikeouts at the same rate Lodolo does, Webb still gets hitters out thanks to his command. Over the past two seasons he is 26-12 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and an ERA+ of 138. And it’s not like he doesn’t strike anyone out as he has an 8.5 K/9 rate the last two years.
My Baseball Man Crush
If you have read my past articles about keepers, then you can’t be surprised to see Jake McCarthy ranked here. Basically, I have a baseball man crush for McCarthy. With the change in the number of pickoffs allowed to first base and with the slightly larger bases in 2023, McCarthy should take advantage of these new rules to rack up quite a few steals. In his first full season with the Diamondbacks, he stole 23 bases in 354 plate appearances last year and slashed .283/.342/.427 with hit eight homers. Both the steals and power will increase this season.
Good Trade, Brew Crew
I understand the thinking behind the Rays trading Willy Adames to the Brewers in 2021 – they were making room for Wander Franco. Milwaukee fans, I’m sure are loving the trade. Since becoming a Brewer, Adames has hit 57 homers and driven in 166 runs in 238 games.
All he did this past season was slug .458 with 31 homers, including this blast in Pittsburgh, and 98 RBI. Those numbers are not out of the norm as his 162-game average is 27 homers and 80 RBI with a .255/.322/.448 slash line. I’ll take that every day on my fantasy team.
From Savvy Vets To An Up-And-Coming Stud
Robbie Ray can be one of the best pitchers in baseball, just look at his 2021 Cy Young season in Toronto as proof. But Ray’s first season in Seattle was a mixed bag. His overall numbers were decent as he had a 3.71 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 10.1 K/9.
But Ray was two different pitchers during the 2022 season. When pitching in Seattle, Ray posted a 3.54 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and a 10.4 K/9 rate. On the road, however, he had a 4.00 ERA, 1.347 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 rate. Those numbers are a concern, but I don’t think they are going to be the norm. In the end, Ray has too much talent to pass up.
It is hard to rely on closers as they are so up and down. But Edwin Diaz has largely avoided the rollercoaster ride since his disastrous 2019 season. Since 2020, he has notched 70 saves and has a 2.28 ERA and 0.998 WHIP with a 15.4 K/9 rate. This past season he was simply filthy, striking out 17.1 hitters per nine with a 1.31 ERA.
Ray’s teammate, George Kirby, had a solid rookie season for the Mariners, going 8-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. The right-hander doesn’t walk anyone, issuing 22 free passes in 130 innings of work, while striking out 9.2 batters per nine. While Kirby throws strikes, he does give up more than a hit per inning. Perhaps that is because he throws six pitches, none of which overpowers any hitters. I think if he cuts his selection down to four pitches and concentrates on those, he will become a solid No. 2 starter on a fantasy staff.
Speed With Enough Power
Tommy Edman doesn’t pop into anyone’s head when you think of top second baseman. But he is coming off a season in which he slashed .265/.324/.400 with 13 dingers and 57 RBI with 32 steals.
It is the second straight season for him to have 30 or more steals. Speed is always in demand, and Edman adds enough pop to make him a great player to park at second base.
The End…Until Next Week
Thanks for reading. Next week I will break down my Tier 4 players, No. 100-76. Until then, have a great week.
In case you missed the earlier rankings: