The journey through the 2024 Top Keepers continues this week with a look at the top shortstops. Compared to some of the other positions we’ve covered, shortstop is actually a pretty deep position. If you get stuck with a Tier 4 player, like a Jeremy Pena or Tommy Edman, you still have a decent shortstop on your hands.

Even in Tier 5 (players ranked 31-40), you still can get a decent utility player or fulltime shortstop with some solid upside. Meanwhile, the top shortstops are players who are not just the best at this position, but are some of the best players in the game. Overall, this is a strong group of players.

Now, on to the rankings!

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After going over keeper relievers, keeper starters and keeper catchers in October, we turned our attention to the top infield keepers last week with a look at the keeper first basemen.

This week we continue the trip around the infield by looking at the second basemen.

I’m pretty sure I said this last year, but I will say it again: second base is the scrapheap of major league baseball. It seems every manager believes anyone can play second base – and they may be right. You have players getting starts at the spot that you would think would never play there – like a Brandon Drury. Right fielders, center fielders, third basemen, first basemen – they are all getting time at second base.

With so many fantasy leagues requiring middle infielders, the list of keepers is long and the bar to be on the list consists of players who had to have at least 10 starts at second base.

Enough with the chit chat, on to the 2024 Top Keepers – Second Basemen

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After going over the pitchers and catchers the past month, it is time to turn our attention to the top infield keepers. the trip around the infield will start with the first basemen.

I really thought it was going to be easy to find 30 first basemen and another 10 who can play the position well. But what I thought and what I learned were two different things.

The top half of this group solid, especially the top 10 players with the next 10 being very safe keepers. If you have anyone in Tier 3 or better, be happy. But the bottom tier players are just that – bottom tier players. Some may surprise and have a good season in 2024, but others will likely do exactly what you and I expect from them.

With that said, it’s on to the 2024 Top Keepers – First Basemen

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Catchers – you can’t live with them, and in fantasy baseball, we can’t live without them.

This is a position that is not deep and not that talented after the top tier of backstops. You may get a catcher who has power but kills your average and on-base percentage. Or you may get a catcher who hits well and gets on base, but has no power at all.

There are very few perfect catchers in baseball, and the few that are close are going to be tough to get or trade for due to the scarcity of those players. But you almost feel compelled to try to go after them or hang onto them a year or two too long because for every Adley Rutschmans, there are two Martin Maldonados who just kill your team.

I came up with forty catchers to rank, but that is mostly to help fantasy owners who play in 20-team (or more) leagues or the leagues that require two catchers. If you are in a 12- to 16-team league, the Tier 4 and perhaps Tier 3 players will likely mean nothing to you.

Anyway, let’s get to the 2024 Top Keepers – Catchers.

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Wow, has it already been a week since the first installment of the 2024 Top Keepers was unveiled? Time flies when the baseball playoffs are in full swing.

Last week I looked at the top relievers to keep (2024 Top Keepers – Relievers). This week the focus is on starting pitchers.

Like relievers, starting pitchers can be a little inconsistent from year to year, making it tough to nail down the top keepers. I went pretty deep this year with a list of 85, allowing for a nice mix of veteran pitchers and young up-and-comers.

That said, I’m sure I missed some pitchers you probably like more and listed players higher than you think they deserve to be.

However, I like the list I have put together and I hope you find it useful as you build your fantasy staff.

Now let’s get on with the rankings!

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For a majority of major league baseball teams, the season is over and players are taking some time off before gearing up for the 2024 season.

But in fantasy baseball, there is no offseason – especially in dynasty/keeper leagues. Owners are busy trying to figure out who they should keep or ditch as they try to put together the best roster possible before 2024 comes roaring into view.

With that in mind, welcome to the first installment of the 2024 Top Keepers. This week the spotlight falls on the relievers.

When it comes to relief pitchers, I take a different view of them compared to other positions. That is due to the fact that most relievers are very inconsistent and have a shorter shelf life compared to other positions. Relievers could have had a great 2022 season, giving you lots of hope that you have a key member of your bullpen this year, only to fall apart this season. I’m looking at you Rafael Montero and dozens and dozens of other relievers.

Knowing relievers are up and down, I don’t care as much about age of a reliever like I do other players, especially position players. If a reliever is 33 but has been consistent year after year, I’m going to take him just as quickly as I would a 25-year-old flamethrower who hasn’t figured it out on the mound yet.

Now, let’s get to the 2024 Top Keepers – Relievers.

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Welcome to the last weekend of regular season baseball.

Many fantasy leagues have already ended their seasons, and if you won a title, congratulations! Some leagues are still going, so if you are playing in the title game, good luck.

Because a lot of leagues have closed up shop for the season, adding players off the waiver wire may not be possible. But since you are in a dynasty league, trades are always ready to be made. Thus, I have selected two targets that I think would be good players to try to add to your roster.

The first is Jordan Westburg of Baltimore. A reader asked me what I thought about him last week, so I figured I would go more in depth about the Orioles’ rookie this week. The other player is Elehuris Montero of Colorado.

A Little Background

Westburg was a star infielder at Mississippi State, helping the squad make the College World Series in both 2018 and 2019. Baltimore loved his combination of power and speed and selected him with the 30th overall pick in 2020. Westburg’s compact swing and bat speed produces power from gap to gap, a nice feature considering the deep left field of Camden Yards.

Meanwhile, Montero was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Cardinals in 2014 and spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the States in 2017. He then established himself as a top prospect after a fantastic 2018 season before eventually being traded to the Rockies ahead of the 2021 season as part of the Nolen Arenado trade.

Both players are now trying to establish themselves as major leaguers, but I believe both should be on your radar as players to target.

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Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due. The Seattle Mariners scouting department should stand up and take a bow for seeing something in Bryan Woo that many other teams did not.

Woo has been a huge boost to a Seattle pitching staff that has suffered through a series of injuries this season. But very few people outside of Seattle fans probably knew who Woo was before the start of the year.

Woo was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 draft out of Cal Poly. Being drafted in the sixth round isn’t bad, but the Mariners took him despite undergoing Tommy John surgery that year and with Woo posting a career 6.36 ERA and 1.731 WHIP in 69.1 innings at Cal Poly, appearing in 31 games and making six starts.

While he had a horrid ERA and WHIP, Woo had a great K/9 rate of 11.6. However, he also had a BB/9 rate of 4.0 and allowed 89 hits in those 69.1 innings of work.

But those numbers and the fact Woo was coming off TJ surgery did not scare away Seattle.

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We are in the stretch run of the 2023 season, and time is running out to find a few more top dynasty keepers.

This week I want to focus on Colorado Rockies outfielder/first baseman Nolan Jones and briefly discuss Toronto second baseman Davis Schneider.

Jones, drafted by Cleveland in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, is a former Top 100 prospect, ranked as high as 45th by Baseball America, 36th by MLB Pipeline and 52nd by Baseball Prospectus in 2021 before dropping out of the rankings ahead of the 2022 season.

The Guardians (Indians at the time) thought so highly of Jones that he was the team’s representative in the 2019 Futures Game.

Jones, who is now 25, made his Major League debut for Cleveland in 2022 and appeared in 28 games and getting 86 at-bats. But by the end of the season, the Guardians had decided it was time to move on from Jones and traded him to Colorado in November for minor league infielder Juan Brito.

Right now the trade is a win for the Rockies. But let’s dig in and see why I consider Jones a top dynasty keeper.

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If you have been reading this article every week this season, then you know that I am all about finding those diamonds in the rough, especially at this point of the season.

So don’t be disappointed that I am not featuring players such as Jordan Lawlar or Jasson Dominguez. There is a reason for not featuring them – everyone should know they are top dynasty keepers. They have been top prospects for years and if you play dynasty baseball, then they are not sneaking up on you.

Thus, my search for the players who are not only offering value this season but will offer value the next several seasons. The player who falls into that category this week is Cole Ragans, a left-handed pitcher with the Royals.

Tough Road to The Show

For many, Ragans has come out of nowhere this season. But he is not a player who was drafted in the mid-rounds or lower and worked his up. In fact, Ragans is a former first-round selection of the Texas Rangers, who selected him with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of North Florida Christian High School.

Along the way to the majors, Ragans has had to overcome back-to-back Tommy John surgeries (the first operation failed) in 2018 and 2019 and then had his 2020 disappear thanks to Covid. Overall, Ragans appeared in only 17 games between 2016 and 2020.

But Ragans persevered. By 2022 he as pitching for the Rangers at the end of the season and this year he has burst onto the scene with the Royals after they acquired him at the end of June in the Aroldis Chapman trade.

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When it comes to talking about the top dynasty keepers this season, I’ve usually focused on young rookie players. This week I will still be focusing on a rookie. However, I don’t think he can be described as young since he is 28 years old.

J.P. France of the Houston Astros was not a highly sought after baseball prospect coming out of high school, leading him to attend Tulane University in his hometown of New Orleans. He earned a degree there with an emphasis in homeland security, giving him an interesting backup plan in case his baseball career didn’t work out.

After graduating from Tulane, France then transferred to Mississippi as a graduate student and played one season with the Rebels.

Climbing the Ladder

The Astros selected France in the 14th round of the 2018 draft, and after signing with the team, he began his pro career at Low Class A Tri City where he appeared in six games out of the pen before a promotion to Class A Quad Cities. There he finished the season with four appearances in relief.

Overall, France had a successful professional debut season, going 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 0.889 WHIP with a 14.0 K/9 rate.

France spent the entire 2019 season at High-A Fayetteville where he was used mostly as a starter, making 20 starts in 25 total appearances. After seeing his 2020 season cancelled due to Covid, he pitched in Double-A and Triple-A in 2021 before spending the entire 2022 season at Triple-A Sugar Land.

With the Space Cowboys he went 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.255 WHIP in 34 games, 15 of which were starts. He racked up 136 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .233 batting average. However, while he has posted some nice numbers during his minor league career, France is probably more known for his moustache than his pitching ability.

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