Before taking a single at bat, Jasson Dominguez is dominating the baseball card world.

2020 Bowman Baseball is nowhere to be found in the retail universe. Year over year, Bowman baseball cards are one of the only products in late-stage capitalism that corporations cannot keep in stock.

Stephen Strasburg is to blame for some of this. Back in 2010, I was stopping at Wal-Marts off the highway, tiny town Targets and roadside Casey’s in search of 2010 Bowman blaster boxes. They cost 19.99 in stores and sold for about $40 online. Inside a blaster box were eight packs, two chrome prospect cards per pack. (Today, Topps has shrunk the pack count to six but kept the pricing.) Some of the craze was that a Strasburg base 1st Chrome rookie went for about $50 on eBay. Some of the craze was due to the high-end market. An attorney bought the Strasburg 1/1 Superfractor–not autographed–from 2010 bowman for $10,000 and sold it a short while later for $26,000.

Ten years later, Bowman is the biggest thing in baseball, and Jasson Dominguez is growing the game yet again.

Here’s a table I put together built from the elite group of my Top 200 for easy viewing and comparing.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve been looking forward to this post for a while.

The shut down threw the content-creation world one hell of a curveball. Many outlets have been using the dead time to catch up on unfinished 2020 organizational prospect rankings, but I completed Razzball’s back in January, so I moved on to another large project I didn’t have the winter minutes to complete but spun it forward to next season, ranking just about everyone across each position from a long-term perspective. 

Got some push back early. “So we’re just skipping to next season? smdh”

But I kept riding through the Wild West of dynasty baseball’s future, mapping middle-aged aces alongside yet-to-be-drafted youngsters. This led to wonderful conversations with Razzball’s brilliant readers, who helped me build a set of rankings I hope we can all use to find fantasy fun and glory in the seasons to come. 

I’m proud of this project, thrilled to be working with so many smart fantasy players, and eager to distill the past few months of work into this one post. Can’t wait to keep chatting and building with you all! Happy scrolling!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In Sunday’s introduction to the top 50 relief pitchers for 2021 dynasty baseball, I explored how Rolaids may have played a role in early analytics by assigning point values to relief pitching events in their quest to annually reward each league’s best pitcher in the 1970’s. 

During these years, Rolaids commercials claimed that their company name spelled relief. Now I know it was just a bit for a commercial, and I appreciate Rolaids bringing shine to an oft-shadowed position (especially to that point in baseball history), but I don’t appreciate—as an English instructor and father of an almost two-year-old human—that a company can build its core marketing strategy around obfuscating the spelling of words. Morphemes matter, y’all. Mastering the English language is heartburn-inducing enough without Rolaids playing fast and loose with phonics.

This reminds me of major league managers playing fast and loose with bullpens while the rest of us scramble to figure out how that team is going to spell relief for the next few weeks. 

But scramble we must, and relish the hustle I do, so let’s get to the list.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I take a lot of antacids.

Rolaids created an award (not for me)–a gold-plated firefighter’s helmet–to honor baseball’s best relief pitcher every year from 1976 to 2012. The history behind this fascinates me. Feels like some seeds of analytics were born in the bowels of Rolaids’ 1970’s corporate office.

Relief pitching events were each given a point value. Three points per save. Two points per win. Two points per loss. The biggest end-of-season number won, period. 

Blown saves (-2) were introduced in 1987.

Tough saves (+4) came along in 2000. Surprises me that I’ve never seen this as an option by fantasy providers, especially in points leagues or daily games. An antacid company was using it 20 years ago ffs. Refers to any time a reliever enters the game with a tying run on base and secures a save. 

Relievers might be my favorite thing about fantasy baseball, for reasons I can’t explain except to say I love games that resist attempts to shrink/minimize/categorize/rubricate them. The more multi-layered the better. And saves bring that to fantasy baseball. (As do stolen bases.) I also love Holds leagues because they throw the math off a nudge further and open another market of elite players who just happen to pitch the not-ninth. 

Ranking RP’s is kind of a paradox. It might be the least accurate yet most useful of any positional ranking, especially for dynasty leagues.

So that’s the caveat. 

These rankings are for standard 5×5 leagues, btw. Would look totally different in a holds league.

Relief pitching is a strength for me in fantasy, year over year. I tend to trade from it and trade for it on a regular basis, sometimes within the same week. Still, I’m a little leery to put fingers to keys on this one. The yearly upheaval at this position is like no other, so I’m not surprised there’s very little on the market right now covering relief pitching in dynasty leagues. 

The very thought of the task has my hand reaching for the (insert highest-bidding antacid company here).

Kidding. I love this stuff. My full geek breathes fire when researching the K-BB % leaders across all leagues, digging into their game logs, skipping to their innings, even watching/reading an interview here and there.  

Let’s get to the list.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On Sunday, I imagined a hypothetical post-rona bar scene being akin to the deep pitching pool in dynasty baseball.

Today I’ll let you know whose drinks I’m buying if I’ve got the budget (and the roster space). 

I’m going to focus first and most on the 150-200 range because that’s the origin of this article–a comment and question by Harley Earl regarding which arms among the group I’m buying. To which my brain responded: Farts! I should’ve been doing that for every position!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You see a girl across the bar.

She’s gorgeous.

An angel.

Maybe.

It’s dark.

Tough to see real well.

But one thing you can say for sure is there’s a human sitting across the bar in this post-rona scenario. 

You’re eager to move a little closer, maybe buy a couple drinks. And who knows? Might be the start of something long term. 

You can feel the competition looming. Lotta hungry eyes in the house. Can’t sit around much longer. Have to move in before you’re certain.  

What I’ve just described is the free agent pitching pool in most dynasty leagues. It’s also the general pitching landscape between spots 150 and 200–this week’s focus point. The situation can seem dire most nights, but people get picked up all the time, and some turn out to be great finds. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My first foray into dynasty baseball gifted me that infinite wild west feeling that really gets my geek out of bed in the morning. 

“Wait, we get to keep everybody!?”

That’s me thinking 50 keepers = party time. 

While the hitting side of this new infinity was coming into the focus, the pitching side was ducking away from the camera. If you’ve seen DEVS (or read a ton of quantum theory like the rest of us), there’s reference potential in here about how observing a particle makes is singular, while they remain multiple in their unobserved state.

Any revelation about how to forever handle fantasy pitching seems to fit this description.

It’s too simplistic to fade all the old guys in general but especially on the mound. Similarly fraught to dismiss all pitching prospects. These blanket strategies can work to some extent, but they can also lead to inflation for youngish middle tier arms like Jose Berrios and Noah Syndergaard. Arms like these seem to have long runs of usefulness ahead of them, so they’re certainly nice to have, but they’re unlikely to put you over the top in a given year, while older arms can do just that.

This winter I saw Wander Franco traded for Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.

Typical 15-team, 50-keeper league. Both players know their stuff. 

Which side you’d want might depend on your spot in a competitive cycle or just a general feeling about how you’d like to play dynasty baseball. 

You could squint and see a world in which you replicate via streaming the impact of a Syndergaard or Berrios, but it feels impossible to replicate a Scherzer or Kershaw off the free agent wire. You might pick up a Montas or a Max Fried, but the hyper-elite WHIP guys are the rarest of birds, which is why it feels wrong to see Ryan Yarbrough down here in the hundreds. Part of that is pitching being weird and deep. Part of it is me fearing what’s coming to pitch in Tampa and Yarbrough’s fate should they trade him. Part is me maybe needing to move Yarbrough up a little. 

Let’s get to the list. Drop me a line if you’re seeing an angle I’m not. This project remains under construction. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“Crisco, Bardol, Vagisil: any one of em will give you another two to three inches drop off your curveball.”

This immortal moment comes courtesy of Eddie Harris in the transcendent classic, Major League

In this exchange with young fireballer Rick Vaughn, Harris articulates the typical path for a pitcher. 

“Haven’t got an arm like yours. Gotta put anything on it I can find.” 

Wily oldsters pick up tricks like Robert Kraft to help themselves keep up in a young man’s game, and they seem to be keeping (and/or setting) the pace better than ever. Blending the fire of youth with the wisdom of experience is no small task, but we’ll try to do just that here today, synthesizing short and long term value to build rankings prescient enough to help any dynasty leaguer build his own double three-peat.

So throw me a line if you’re seeing an angle I’m not. This project is on-going and stretches all the way back to early March when I met some oldster moving plutonium out of the trunk of his DeLorian.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Old guys can throw balls, man. 

You probably haven’t been to the gym in a minute, but just imagine/remember the locker room. 

Young guys’ balls tend to have a little less movement. More velocity, fewer wrinkles, less wiggle. Ah, youth. 

Command is where the locker analogy falters. Old guy pitchers have movement and command. They are stars of their own Viagra commercials, popping their car’s hood on the side of the road because they’ve learned a thing or two about engines by now and just plain know how to get stuff done. 

Youth reigns in dynasty baseball, but it’s nice to have some oldsters in the locker room when readying a crew for extensive ball-work. 

This old-balls bit is gaining momentum in my mind, and I’m not loving that, so let’s just cut to the first fifty.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Today we put the finishing touches on one of dynasty baseball’s toughest positions. 

People just don’t trade speedy outfielders who can hit. 

Or at least they shouldn’t. 

Sure a Jarrod Dyson might get vacuumed up at basement pricing every now and then, but if you’ve got Starling Marte, Victor Robles or Oscar Mercado, you’re probably not that interested in the offers you’ve gotten for them. Speed players who contribute across the board are the dodo birds of our game. Outfield and middle infield are typically the only places to find them, apart from the occasional Jose Ramirez or prime-age Paul Goldschmidt. You flat out need some speed covering the green if you’re hoping to compete in the category, and I’m just not the type to advocate punting a category in 5×5. Trying to win leagues over here–not tell tales about fading saves and steals but hanging in with the top group anyway. 

Anyway, best to get ‘em young while they’re cheap. I wouldn’t be paying up for all the guys like Pache who show aptitude in the lower minors, but if I can take a fistful of freemium fliers on guys like Jasiah Dixon and Jeferson Espinal, I’m doing that all day.

Please, blog, may I have some more?