Welcome back, everyone. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. 

This week we are going to dive into the 2023 Top Keepers – Second Basemen. When it comes to second baseman, it is a position that now seems to be home of platoon players.

Today’s managers and general managers believe that if you can play a position in the field, then you can play second base. In 2022, only 12 players started more than 100 games at second base, and only 15 appeared in more than 100 games at the position. In all, 160 different players started at least one game at second base in the majors this season.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SECOND BASEMEN?

There are 30 teams, and there were only 16 pure second baseman who reached enough plate appearances (3.1/team games played) to qualify for the batting title. Ouch. Injuries did factor into that as Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Ozzie Albies missed a chunk of time. But it is still amazing at how few true second baseman reached enough plate appearances to qualify for a possible batting title.

And the quality of those 16 second basemen isn’t great. Of those players, only two of them (Jeff McNeil and Jose Altuve) hit .300 or better with one (Andres Gimenez) just missing at .297. Then it drops down to .266.

Overall, the position is just not deep. There are tons of players getting in time at second base who are now eligible to play there in fantasy leagues. So, in order to narrow down the candidates to consider for these rankings, I made the cutoff to rank a player at 25 starts at second.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m not sure what has gotten into general managers, but they are making trades like it is the midseason deadline and free agents are already coming off the board.

This action has me so excited, I can’t wait to get into this week’s 2023 Top Keepers – First Basemen edition.

What Kind of First Baseman Do You Want?

Today’s first basemen are all over the board. Some fall into the category of the traditional first baseman – the dudes who hit with power but didn’t do too much more at the plate. You also have your high average, high OBP first basemen who didn’t hit for a lot of power. And there are the few that do it all – or at least get close to doing it all.

Then you have your utility first basemen. Today’s game features plenty of first basemen who also play two to three other positions. We have second baseman who are playing first, or first basemen playing in the outfield or third base.

Because of this versatility, the position is no longer the home of just sluggers. You have to pick a first baseman to keep who best fills your specific needs because the complete first baseman – a run producing power hitter who hits for average and gets on base, are a rare breed.

So let’s dive in and get to the rankings.

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Well, the World Series is over, the citizens of Houston got to have their parade and now here we are – the offseason.

But don’t fret. If you are a regular Razzball reader, then you know we have been looking at the top keepers for 2023. Over the last two weeks we’ve released the 2023 Top Keepers 2023 – Relievers and 2023 Top Keepers – Starting Pitchers. This week – catchers!

Catchers are almost becoming like the place kickers of fantasy football – everyone needs one, but except for a few top players who can actually sway an outcome, they are all the same.

So here are a few simple rules when it comes to catchers:
Catchers, in general, will only play in about 110 to 120 games except for a few outliers. So don’t expect catchers, as a group, to perform like other position players.
If you think two catchers are equal except for age, go with the younger catcher. Few catchers age well.
Be happy if you have a catcher who is a standout in one scoring category. Rare is the catcher who hits for average and homers, even more rare if they add steals.
There are some catchers who make Rule #1, #2 and #3 completely false. If you have one of them, hold onto them for as long as you can.

In backing up rule No. 3, the career leader in home runs by a catcher (as in hitting a homer while playing catcher in that game) is Mike Piazza with 396. There are only three more players who hit more than 300 – Carlton Fisk (351), Johnny Bench (326) and Yogi Berra (305). That is it. This season, the highest batting average by a catcher with more than 200 at-bats was .285 by Alejandro Kirk of the Blue Jays – .285!

So for the below rankings, if you see a player like Martin Maldonado, you are going to wonder why he is even ranked. Dude slashed only .186/.248/.352. But he did hit 15 homers and drove in 45 runs.

You know how many other catchers hit more than 15 homers? Twelve. Do you know how many other catchers drove in more than 45 runs? Fourteen. When looking at a catcher like Maldanado for just his power and run production, he is actually close to being a starter in deep fantasy leagues.

Moral of the story – catchers are their own breed and should be viewed differently.

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A new week, a new group of players to rank!

Welcome to this week’s edition of 2023 Top Keepers. The focus this time around is on starting pitchers.

As a group, I like starting pitchers more than relievers. At least with starters you don’t get the wild inconsistency that you get from relievers. Yes, a starter can have a bad year or one can come out of nowhere to have a great season. But as a whole, there is a little more projectability with this group.

Sticking with Youth

Unlike my top reliever’s list, where talent is the top factor in determining who the top keepers are, age plays more of a factor in these rankings. When it comes to keepers, I am giving a little more weight to dynasty leagues, and age plays a huge factor in that. If 27-year-old Zac Gallen is comparable to 31-year-old Kevin Gausman, then give me the 27-year-old Gallen.

Injuries also knocked pitchers down a little more than they do in my position rankings. I’m always a little weary of pitchers coming back from injuries. I probably shouldn’t since they always seem to bounce back these days. But nevertheless, I am not one to easily change my ways. So sorry, Jack Flaherty, for being in Tier 5. But perhaps you should stop getting hurt or at least post great numbers when you return from an injury.

A quick note: ages are as of now and obviously the team is who they played for this past season. Teams may change for 2023, ages certainly will.

Anyway, enough of the banter. Let’s get rolling with the Top 2023 Keepers – Starting Pitchers edition.

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The World Series begins Friday, meaning the MLB offseason is just around the corner. But there never really is an offseason as the action just changes from the field to the front office.

And just like the majors, there is no offseason when it comes to fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball GMs are already thinking about next year, and that is especially true for those who are in keeper leagues.

Since the last pitch of the regular season, those who play in keeper leagues have been looking at trade targets to shore up weaknesses exposed during this past season and wondering who the top keepers are going to be in 2023 fantasy baseball.

Well, I’m here to try to help you with that last part of the sentence – who are the top keepers for next season. Each week I am going to reveal my list of top keepers for 2023, starting with relievers. Next week I will focus on starting pitchers before going around the infield and then ending with the top outfielders.

A CRAZY GROUP

Before we move ahead, a disclaimer about relievers. The three things we know about relievers are this:

They are wildly inconsistent from year to year
They are wildly inconsistent from year to year
And they are wildly inconsistent from year to year

The inconsistent play even takes place during the season, with Josh Hader being a prime example of that. If there is one position that could use a dartboard to help with the rankings, it is relievers. Thus, these rankings are based a little on past performance, a little on the eye test and a lot of what my gut is telling me.

Unlike other positions, where age weighs in heavily for my top keepers, the age of a reliver doesn’t factor in as much. It may move them down the list if I think other relievers on the staff can become the closer in 2023 (I’m looking at you, Jose Alvarado), but if they are proven closers and also 33, I’m fine with that.

Also, I am assuming that most keeper leagues don’t just use saves but also have holds or saves+holds. A deep league doesn’t just showcase closers. A real pitching staff has starters, middle relievers and closers, so this list features top closers and setup men.

With that in mind, let’s get on with the Top 40 keepers for 2023 – reliever edition.

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With the season winding down, this is the time of the year when clubs take a look at some of their top prospects.

For the Colorado Rockies, they have been giving their young players extended looks for much of the season. In fact, Rockies fans have been given a preview of what 75% of their infield may look like in 2023.

ROOKIES IN THE ROCKIES

Elehuris Montero was once a top 100 prospect, ranked 81st by Baseball America in its 2019 preseason rankings. But after a rough 2019 campaign, he fell out of the rankings and finished the 2021 season as the club’s fourth overall best prospect.

A third baseman, Montero can also play first base and has seen time at designated hitter as well with the Rockies. Third base or designated hitter will likely be his home in the future thanks to Michael Toglia.

The Rockies have been high on Togila for years. The switch-hitter was drafted by Colorado in the 35th round of the 2016 draft and then again by the Rockies in 2019, this time as the 23rd overall pick.

While Montero and Toglia have more than 100 at-bats in the majors, a third rookie is getting a chance to show his skill on the Major League level. That rookie is shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. He is not the power hitter the other two area. Instead his top tool is his defense and the ability to hit and steal some bases.

So let’s dive right in and take a deeper look at these three players.

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Welcome back to another week of Top Dynasty Keepers.

The regular season will soon be coming to and end, which means the major league debuts of two of the games top prospects will also be coming to an end.

VERY DIFFERENT PLAYERS

This week we are going to take a look at Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers and Tristan Casas of the Boston Red Sox.

Both players entered the season as two of the top prospects in the game. Riley was a consensus Top 10 prospect, entering the season ranked fourth by Baseball America, fifth by MLB.com and sixth by Baseball Prospectus.

Greene was one of the top hitting prospects in the 2019 draft and has remained so since become a professional.

Meanwhile, Casas entered the 2022 season as the 19th best prospect by Baseball America, 16th my MLB.com and 44th by Baseball Prospectus. Unlike Greene, Casas was not drafted because of his hit tool. He was drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft because he can hit the ball a long way.

GETTNG THEIR FEET WET

While Greene and Casas are very different players, both have one thing in common – they have both reached the majors this season.

So far, their debuts have been a mix of good and bad. Both have struggled at the plate at times. Greene is currently hitting under .250 while Casas is barely hitting about .100 during his brief time with the Red Sox.

But both players have shown off the tools  – Greene’s overall hitting skill and Casas’ massive power – that got them promoted from the minors.

So let’s take a look at the two rookies.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back to another week of Top Dynasty Keepers.

If you have been a regular reader of this column throughout the season, then you know I have focused on a wide variety of players – from the hot-shot prospects to the players who have flown under the radar as prospects and perhaps throughout this season.

This week I want to highlight a player who falls into the “under the radar” category. That player is Jake McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

OPENING EYES

McCarthy is not one of those players who was drafted toward the end of the draft and slowly made his way through the minor league system before getting his shot in the majors. However, he is not a player who everyone was waiting for him to get his chance so they can try to pounce and add them to their roster.

A left-hander who can play all three positions in the outfield, he was never close to being a top 100 prospect. In fact, McCarthy wasn’t even a top 10 prospect with the Diamondbacks entering the season. But that is why prospect lists are only one tool to use when evaluating players. Raw tools are great, but so too is desire and basic talent.

McCarthy doesn’t hit for a lot of power, but he is strong enough to not hurt you in the power department. He also doesn’t have elite speed, but he is above average and, coupled with his ability to get great jumps, he is a great base stealer.

Despite his lack of eye-popping tools, McCarthy has turned himself into a regular for the Diamondbacks. So let’s take a deeper look into the Arizona outfielder.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back to another week of Top Dynasty Keepers.

Our attention is turned toward two of the games top prospects who were recently called up to the majors – Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles and Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fantasy owners have been waiting for these two players to reach the majors and so far they have to like what they see.

Henderson began the year as a consensus Top 100 prospect, ranked 57th by Baseball America, 64th by MLB and 88th by Baseball Prospectus. By midseason, Henderson was playing in the Futures Game and was ranked as the second best prospect by MLB before earning his promotion to Baltimore.

Like Henderson, Carroll was regarded as one of the top prospects in the game entering the season. Baseball America had him ranked 20th while MLB ranked him at 19 and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 34th. Like Henderson, Carroll competed in the Futures Game and moved up to No. 3 in the MLB rankings before joining the Diamondbacks.

So far, Henderson and Carroll have been living up to the hype. So let’s dive in and take a look at these two players.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back to another week of Top Dynasty Keepers.

With the calendar flipping over to September, it can only mean one thing in the baseball world – roster expansion! For teams that have been out of contention for weeks or months, this is a chance to reward two prospects having great seasons on top of the many top prospects who have already been called up to the minors.

But for a team like the Houston Astros, this is a chance to not only reward two prospects who have had outstanding seasons, but to see if they can possibly offer some help down the stretch or even in the postseason.

CHANCE TO PROVE THEMSELVES

With the rosters expanding to 28 players starting Sept. 1, Houston added right-handed pitcher Hunter Brown and catcher Yainer Diaz to the major league roster. Brown is the club’s top prospect and is currently ranked 71st in the Top 100 Prospects list by MLB.com while Diaz is the team’s No. 3 prospect.

Both players dominated the competition in the minors, Brown all season at AAA Sugar Land and Diaz at AA Corpus Christi before moving up to Sugar Land.

The Astros entered Saturday with an 11-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the AL West standings. Thanks to that large lead, it gives the club a chance to see what Brown and Diaz can do on the major league level – a chance they may not have received if the lead was one or two games.

Let’s dive in and see why the Astros promoted Brown and Diaz.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back to another edition of Top Dynasty Keepers.

The final month of the regular season is just around the corner, meaning one of two things – you are gearing up for a playoff run or you are trying to figure out who should and shouldn’t be on your fantasy team next season.

Hopefully, you are in the category of owners gearing up for a playoff run. But if you are in the other category, here’s the simplest way to become a contender next season – hoard as many Atlanta Braves players as possible.

YOUNG TALENT EVERYWHERE

Major League Baseball is bursting with young, talented players. But it seems the Atlanta Braves are leading the pack when it comes having that talent currently playing on the major league level.

Already this season I have featured Michael Harris III and Vaughn Grissom, both of whom are only 21. But the Braves also have Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson, who are both only 28, to go along with 25-year-olds Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley or 24-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr.

That is just the offense. The starting rotation is loaded with young talent as well. Mike Soroka is on the 60-day IL, but he is only 24 and was the staff ace last year during the team’s World Series run. Max Fried is 28, Kyle Wright 26 and Ian Anderson is only 24.

And now comes along Spencer Strider. He has seemingly come out of nowhere to become another young stud on a team filled to the brim with them. Strider was pitching in college only two years ago. Today he is arguably the best starter for the Braves.

Let’s dive into Strider and his rise to prominence this season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome back to another edition of Top Dynasty Keepers.

This week we are going to take a look at two youngsters recently promoted to the majors – Vaughn Grissom of the Atlanta Braves and Brett Baty of the New York Mets.

Grissom and Baty both earned their promotions to the majors thanks largely to the fact that the Braves and Mets were shorthanded at second base and third base due to injuries. The Braves have been without Ozzie Albies at second base while the Mets will be without Luis Guillorme into September and Eduardo Escobar has been banged up and not playing well.

Both players were having outstanding seasons in the minors, and both players were drafted in 2019, but that is about it when it comes to comparing Grissom to Vaughn.

DIFFERENT PATHS

Atlanta didn’t draft Grissom in 2019 until the 11th round as the 337th player selected. Unless you play in leagues with deep minor league rosters, you or most of the other players in your league likely didn’t have Grissom on your radar entering the season.

He certainly wasn’t on the radar of the people who put together rankings lists. Grissom wasn’t ranked as a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America, MLB or Baseball Prospectus entering the season before finally reaching 79th in the MLB midseason rankings.

As mentioned earlier, Baty was also drafted in 2019. However, he was taken off the board 325 picks ahead of Grissom as the Mets tabbed him with the 12th overall pick. Because of his draft slot, Baty has likely been on the radar of most fantasy players. He entered the season as the 39th best prospect by Baseball America, 27th by MLB and 13th by Baseball Prospectus. Before being recalled by the Mets, Baty worked himself up the MLB rankings to 19th.

FANTASY OWNERS FAVOR GRISSOM SO FAR

It could be a matter of timing as Grissom reached the majors first, but right now fantasy owners are favoring him more than Baty. Grissom is rostered in 38.5% of leagues while Baty is rostered in only 17.5% of leagues. In Yahoo, both players are getting a lot more attention. Grissom is getting a lot of love as he is rostered in 66% of leagues while Baty is rostered in 38% of leagues,

With Albies appearing to be closer to a return to the Braves and with Baty clearly in position to get a lot more playing time, perhaps more fantasy owners will turn their attention to Baty.

Right now, let’s shine the spotlight on both.

Please, blog, may I have some more?