Welcome back to another week of the 2023 Dynasty Rankings. We have turned the corner and we are now racing down the home stretch as the focus this week is on players 50-26 – my Tier 2 group.
This tier is pretty diverse when it comes to the ages of the players and the percentage of pitchers appearing in this tier may surprise you. As you probably know by now, I like hitters more than pitchers.
However, in this tier, I have 10 pitchers. Why are 40 percent of the players in this tier pitchers?
Well, the answer is pretty simple. I don’t trust young pitchers nearly as much as I trust veteran pitchers or even young hitters. When starting a team in a new dynasty league or trying to fill holes in my current dynasty leagues, while I won’t chase pitching, I will look to take a top veteran pitcher over the stud rookie hurler.
Pitching Experience over Youth
As a whole, the pitcher in his mid- to late-20s, or even early 30s, has established his track record compared to a 23-year-old. That young pitcher could be great, but he can also take three to four years to get to that level of greatness, especially with so many major league teams now limiting the number of innings a young pitcher will throw in a season.
I don’t want to reach the playoffs only to have a host of pitchers shut down because they reached an arbitrary innings limit. Thus, of the 10 pitchers you will find in this tier, seven of them are between the ages of 25 and 30. Two are over 30 and one is 24.
The Urge to Win
The other reason for going for the older pitcher first over the young but unproven pitcher is because I want to win right away, even when putting together a new dynasty team. Because of that, I do not load up on all the players 24 years old or younger and this tier is a reflection of that philosophy. I love youth, but I also love dependable players who will still produce for the next five years.
The Position Players
Of the remaining 15 position players in this group, 11 of them are 30 or younger but only one of them is younger than 25 while four are over the age of 30. Those four players are dudes I firmly believe will still be top hitters over the next half-decade. And once again, I want to win. Obviously, if a stud 23-year-old falls into my lap I am going to take him. But in the opening few rounds of a draft, I will lean toward proven and experienced hitters and then load up on youth in the mid to later rounds.
Anyway, I’m sure I have now bored you to death. Time to get on with Tier 2 of my 2023 Dynasty Rankings: Players 50-26.
Note: Listed age is as of March 31, 2023
New Sherriff In Town
Jacob DeGrom decided to leave the Big Apple and head to the Lone Star State to become a member of the Texas Rangers. There is a lot to like about DeGrom, like the fact he is one of the best pitchers in baseball who puts up silly numbers like his 102 strikeouts and 0.75 WHIP in 64.1 innings of work last season. Just look at the chart above. Those are not the numbers of a pitcher in decline.
But there is a downside to DeGrom.
The right-hander has had a problem staying healthy. These injuries have limited DeGrom to a part-time player the last two years as he made 15 starts in 2021 and only 11 this past season. Is this a sign that at 34 DeGrom can no longer handle a full workload? To be honest – perhaps. But I think he is good for 25-28 starts and 160-170 innings per year with outstanding stats, offsetting the time missed.
Shifting to Right Field
The days of George Springer being a full-time center fielder have come to an end with the additions of Kevin Kiermaier and Dalton Varsho to the Toronto roster. But that may be a good thing. Springer goes full speed all the time when running around center field, leading to several injuries over the years. In right field he won’t have to cover as much ground and thus he may avoid some of the nagging injuries and collisions he has suffered over the years.
This means he will likely be even more productive at the plate since he will get more at-bats. He provides power and speed, as shown by his 25 homers and 14 steals last season (in 133 games) and his 162-game average of 36 homers, 94 RBI and 11 steals with a .269/.358/.494 slash line. As he ages, his speed will diminish, but not his power, so those numbers will be there for the next several years.
Stud at a Weak Position
One of the weakest positions in the majors is second base. It is a position many teams use to platoon players, which is why only 16 pure second baseman reached enough plate appearances (3.1/team games played) to qualify for the batting title in 2022.
Which is why Marcus Semien is a player to target. Semien won’t be in a platoon situation. In 2019 and 2021, he played in all 162 games seasons and played in 161 last year. There is something to be said about having a productive player on your team who will be in the lineup every night.
And when it comes to age, it seems to only be a number when it comes to Semien. After a dreadful first two months of the 2021 season, he was hitting .198 with a .274 slugging percentage with one home run, 17 RBI and six steals. But Semien then told Father Time to take a hike, hitting .267 over the final four months and slugging .490 while smashing 25 homers, driving in 66 runs and stealing 19 bases.
The Babies of Group
Of the five players in this group, four of them are 30 or older, with Carlos Rodon being the second youngest at 30 with Aaron Nola coming in at 28-years-old.
When it comes to Rodon, he is one of those pitchers I talked about above – the pitcher who took a lot of time en route to becoming an ace. From 2015-2019, Rodon was an average pitcher, posting an ERA+ of 101. He was 29-31 on the mound with a 4.08 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 8.8 K/9. But over the last two seasons, he has become one of the best hurlers in baseball, finishing fifth and sixth in the Cy Young voting. Combined, he has compiled a 27-13 record the last two years with a 2.67 ERA, 0.998 WHIP and a 12.2 K/9 rate with an ERA+ of 157.
While Rodon has become an ace over the last two years, Nola has been one since he debuted with the Phillies in 2015. He had two down years, the first in 2016 and then again in 2021, when he pitched in only nine games, but otherwise, he’s been outstanding with three Top 7 finishes in the Cy Young voting, including a fourth-place finish in 2022. Over the last four seasons, he has averaged 10.7 K/9 with a 1.11 WHIP.
A Bieber Believer
At only 27-years-old, Shane Bieber is just now entering the prime of his career, which is a scary thought for opposing hitters. For this career, Bieber is 54-26 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.097 WHIP and 136 ERA+. If you remove his rookie season, when he had a 4.55 ERA and 1.334 WHIP, Bieber’s ERA is 2.91 with a 1.05 WHIP and 148 ERA+.
Since 2019, opposing hitters have a slash line of .222/.269/.358 against Bieber, with a 30.3 strikeout percentage and only a 5.5 walk percentage. What all these numbers add up to a pitcher who is one of the best in baseball.
New Home in SoCal
Xander Bogaerts had a down season (for him) in 2022 as his home run production dropped to 15, down from 23 in 2021 and 33 in 2019 and his slugging percentage was the lowest since 2017. But one year does not make a trend.
His average OPS+ over the last five seasons is 132, including a 131 OPS+ in 2022, a better mark than 2020 and 2021. Hitting in a very deep lineup, look for Bogaerts to return to the numbers he posted from 2018 through 2021.
The Little Engine that Does
If there is one thing Jose Altuve has proven over the years, it is that size does not matter in baseball. The 5-6 second baseman has produced his entire career, and despite being 31 last year, posted one of the best seasons of his career. After being limited to nine games and 36 at-bats in April, Altuve put up great numbers the rest of the season as he finished the year with a .300/387/.533 slash line with 28 homers and 18 steals. That slugging percentage of .533 led all second basemen with more than 250 at-bats.
And Altuve was at his best during the final two months of the season. From August through the end of the regular season, he slashed .343/.429/.577 with nine dingers, 20 RBI and nine steals. If you look at the Percentile Rankings, he is just as good now as he was since his second season in the majors and is not going to slow down anytime soon.
Colorado, St. Louis – Doesn’t Matter Where He Hits
Nolan Arenado just keeps producing, whether it is in Colorado or St. Louis. In his two years with the Cardinals, he has averaged 32 home runs and 104 RBI. The 100+ RBI season is nothing new as Arenado has driven in more than 100 runs in the last seven full seasons.
Additionally, he has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times during his career, including finishing third this past season. The only knock against Arenado is he will be 32 for most of next season. But thanks to the universal DH, if he has to move off third base one day, he will still be a top-notch hitter.
Rookie Proving Himself
Adley Rutschman has one season under his belt, but it would be foolish to think the 25-year-old won’t be the best catcher in baseball soon. He is one of those young players with a limited track record who can’t be passed over.
The first half of Rutschman’s rookie season wasn’t great as he slashed .222/.302/.420 with five homers and 16 RBI in 46 games, but the switch-hitter showed why he was the top pick in the 2019 draft in the second half. In 67 games, he slashed .275/.399/.462 with eight homers and 26 RBI while increasing his walk rate from 9.3% to 16.7% and increasing his OPS from .722 to .861.
As you can see from his hitting chart, nearly all of his homers were to his pull side. However, many of his doubles were hit to the opposite field. As he gains a little more strength and experience, Rutschman’s power numbers will only increase.
Can He Repeat?
The biggest question surrounding Spencer Strider is can he repeat what he did in 2022. Those numbers below are pretty hard to duplicate every year.
Obviously, by ranking Strider at 40th overall, I am going against my stance on super young pitchers. But the eye test along with the statistical data lets me know that last year was not an aberration. All he did was post a 13.8 K/9 rate, striking out 202 batters in 131.2 innings. He yielded only 86 hits and 45 walks for a 0.99 WHIP and finished with a 2.67 ERA.
Also, the Braves didn’t baby Strider last year. After becoming a full-time starter at the end of May, he made 10 starts each in June, July, August, and nine in September/October. In those months, he threw 25, 26.2, 26.1 and 25 innings while posting ERAs of 3.24, 2.70, 2.73 and 1.80. So not only did he maintain his workload throughout the season, but he maintained and even lowered his ERA as the season progressed.
Back to Full Health
Fully healthy last season, Bregman put up big numbers once again with 23 home runs and 93 RBI while slashing .259/.366/.454. Bregman was at his best over the final 67 games of the season, slashing .287/.379/.515 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI.
One of the keys to that strong finish was the fact Bregman was hitting between young superstars Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. He will likely slot between the two All-Stars this season as well, allowing Bregman to see plenty of good pitches to hit and thus produce at the same level or better than he did last year.
Worth the Wait
I know Bryce Harper is going to be out until the All-Star break recovering from right elbow surgery. But this is dynasty baseball, and passing on Harper because he will miss the first half of this season would be a foolish move. When Harper is on the field, the two-time MVP is a difference maker. In 2021, when he won his second MVP award, he slugged .615 and had a 1.044 OPS.
Despite playing much of last season injured, he still slugged .514 and had a .877 OPS and ranked in the 92nd percentile or better in Average EV, Max EV, xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG while ranking in the 88th percentile in Hard Hit% and Barrel%.
Love the Power/Speed Combo
Since bursting onto the scene late in the 2020 regular season and then the postseason, Randy Arozarena has been putting up great numbers for the Rays. While Arozarena is mostly a left fielder, he appeared in 25 games in right, giving him that extra versatility for your league if you use RF, CF and LF and not just OF.
He was the AL ROY in 2021 after slashing .274/.356/.459 with 20 homers, 69 RBI and 20 steals. All he did this past year was hit 20 homers again with 89 RBI and 32 steals with a .263/.327/.445 slash line. Anyone who is a 20-20 player is a top dynasty player.
The Other Ace
With Corbin Burnes on the staff, Brandon Woodruff seems to get overlooked as an ace. But that is not the way he should be viewed. Since becoming a full-time starter for the Brewers in 2019, Woodruff has started 65 games and posted a 10.7 K/9 rate with a 3.00 ERA and 1.028 WHIP to go along with an ERA+ of 144.
This past year he ranked in the 89th percentile for strikeout percentage and his Whiff% ranked in the 85th percentile. For his career, Woodruff has limited opposing hitters to a .218/.277/.348 slash line and an 86.3 average EV compared to the league average of 88.2.
|33||Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||2B||25|
What Learning Curve?
Alek Manoah is making the adjustment from the minors to the majors look easy. As a rookie in 2021, Manoah made 20 starts for the Blue Jays and went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.048 WHIP. He finished with an ERA+ of 139 and a 10.2 K/9 rate as well to finish 8th in the ROY voting.
So what did he do for an encore in 2022? All he did was dominate opposing hitters as he finished third in the Cy Young voting thanks to a 16-7 record with a 2.24 ERA, 0.992 WHIP and ERA+ of 174 in 196.2 innings of work, which ranked fourth in the American League. All this before his 25th birthday. At this point, Manoah has proven himself to be a young pitcher you should want on your team.
The Cole Train Keeps Running
Gerrit Cole is no longer a spring chicken as he is now 32. But all he does is produce on the mound and he has remained healthy throughout his career. Cole can still bring the heat as he led the American League in strikeouts with 257, Additionally, he was durable as he was second in innings pitched with 200.2.
About the only blemish he had was the 33 homers he allowed. But if that is your reason not to keep him, then you’re crazy.
A Dynamic Player
Injuries really derailed the 2022 season for Jazz Chisholm Jr. When healthy, however, Chisholm, who is moving from second base to center field this season, is one of the most exciting players on the field.
In only 241 plate appearances, Chisholm hit 14 homers, drove in 45 runs and stole 12 bases while slashing .254/.325/.535, one year after slashing .248/.303/.425 with 18 homers, 53 RBI and 23 steals in 124 games. Chisholm does strike out too much (27.4%), but his power and speed are too good to let his strikeouts affect his ranking.
Still Slugging the Ball
If you view Corey Seager by his slash line in 2022, his campaign didn’t compare to previous seasons. He slashed .245/.317/.455 while his career average is .287/.357/.494. However, Seager made up for that by breaking out the boom stick as he hit a career-high 33 homers while his 83 RBI were his second-best career total.
Hurting his slash line was a BABIP of .242, way down from his career average of .317. Otherwise, he had the second-best home run rate (5%) of his career and his 15.5% strikeout out was the second lowest of his career. What does this all mean? He will have a better slash line in 2023 and still hit a lot of homers and drive in a lot of runs.
The Face of the Rays
Wander Franco arrived with huge fanfare when he joined the Rays in 2021, and in 70 games he slashed .288/.347/.463 to finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Injuries, however, limited Franco to 83 games in 2022 and affected his play on the diamond as he slashed .277/.328/.417 with six homers and 33 RBI.
So, in 153 career games, he has 13 homers, 72 RBI and 10 steals while slashing .282/.337/439. Are those eye-popping numbers? Nope. But at only 21, it is not hard to see how much talent Franco. If you are willing to live with the ups and downs, you will be rewarded in a year or two.
Ready to Rebound
Limited to 64 games, Ozzie Albies had a down year in 2022 with a .247/.294/.409 slash line. But when healthy, he has a great blend of power and speed.
His career slash line is .271/.322/.470 and from 2018-2021 he was one of the best-hitting second baseman in the game. His average season was 21 homers, 71 RBI and 13 stolen bases while his 162-game average was 27 homers, 91 RBI and 17 steals with an OPS of .801. Don’t let last season fool you. Albies is a second baseman you want to build your team around.
No Cease-and-Desist Order Here
Dylan Cease finally put everything together in his fourth season with the White Sox. In the last four years, his ERA has dropped from 5.79 to 4.01 to 3.91 to 2.20 while his WHIP has followed the same path, going from 1.55 to 1.44 to 1.25 to 1.11 this year.
He still allows too many walks (a league-leading 78 this year for a 10.4% walk rate) but his other numbers are off the chart as he allowed only 126 hits in 184 innings of work and had an 11.1 K/9 rate.
Slugging First Baseman
When you look at the image above, it is quick to see what Matt Olson does well – he consistently hits the ball hard. His 92.9 mph average exit velocity lead all first basemen last season. The ability to hit the ball hard and in the air provides a lot of home runs and RBI, like 34 and 107 last year and a career 162-game average of 39 homers and 105 RBI.
The knock against him is he isn’t going to help with your average (if your league uses that stat) or on-base percentage. I say who cares. Give me a player that is going to deliver 30+ homers and 100+ RBI.
Nice Rebound In 2022
After struggling in his first season in New York, Francisco Lindor was back to being the player he was when he played for Cleveland. The Mets’ shortstop had an outstanding bounce-back season in 2022 by hitting 26 homers and driving in 107.
He didn’t have his best season when it comes to his slash line of .270/.339/.449, but that slash line was close to his career line of .277/.342/.474 and blows away what shortstops slashed (.250/.306/.387) as a group in 2022. Solid average, above average power and above average speed – what is there not to like about Lindor.
He’s Just Really Good
Julio Urias teased everyone as to what he could do on the mound when joined the Dodgers in 2016 as a 19-year-old. In 18 games and 15 starts he went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA and had a strike rate of 9.8 K/9. But from 2017-2019 he appeared in only 45 games and made 13 starts thanks to anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder in 2017. Not a good injury to have when you are left-handed.
But since 2020, Urias has been healthy and simply dominant on the mound. He had a 3.27 ERA and 1.145 WHIP in 2020 and then finished seventh in the Cy Young voting in 2021 by going 20-3 wth a 2.96 ERA, a 143 ERA+ and a 1.018 WHIP. As good as that season was, he was even better last year as he had a 2.16 ERA, an incredible 194 ERA+ and a 0.96 ERA to finish third in the National League Cy Young voting. All this and he is only 26 years old this season.
The End…Until Next Week
Thanks for reading. Next week we reach the final 25 players in the 2023 Dynasty Rankings as I will break down my Tier 1 players. Until then, have a great week.
In case you missed the earlier rankings:
2023 Dynasty Rankings: 200-176
2023 Dynasty Rankings: 175-151
2023 Dynasty Rankings: 150-126
2023 Dynasty Rankings: 125-101
Love the series – thank you! Somewhat of a dynasty philosophy question that mirrors what we have seen lately in MLB. Should I milk low prospect contracts while I have them? Or lock in players early at higher rates, so that I can keep them from becoming expensive free agents?
I have a couple players I have not seen yet in your rankings, Witt and Harris, on contracts that cost $2, $3, $4, $5 over the next 4 seasons, at which point they become free agents. I can lock them in to $10 contracts now (for two seasons), that then become marginally larger over time. So $10, $10, $13, $14 over those same four seasons BUT I can re-sign them still in the teens vice a potential $40+ FA contract in 2027.
So lose salary cap space, but have less ability to sign players now? Or more roster flexibility now and lose the chance to lock up potential superstars for 2027 and beyond.
Hey Bryan, thanks for reading and that’s a great question. Obviously it boils down to the player for this strategy to be effective. With Witt, I’d pay more now to pay less later. In the end you’re saving tons of money.
I love Harris, but he somewhat came out of nowhere – or at least he didn’t have the hype of Witt, Henderson, Rutschman, etc. But I think your gut is telling you what my gut is saying – lock him in.
Harris will probably have peaks and valleys during a season due to his aggressive approach at the plate, but in the end he’s going to have great numbers.
The more money you spend now, assuming you can afford to spend it now, not only gives you peace of mind over the next several seasons, but beyond the end of the contract as you can re-sign theme at a much cheaper rate.