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.

Maybe they’ll stop hitting or running as they grow into bigger humans against better competition, but if the cost is time and a roster spot for an elite asset, I’ll do all I can to pay it.

You can scan the upper minors for undervalued steals, too. Tommy Edman was the first name that came to mind here, but Mercado’s buying window was open for a long while before he debuted, but he slammed it shut with early stolen bases, and I think that’s going to be the case for a long time. Once a player has proven he can steal big league bases and hang in at the dish, his price will skyrocket. (Monte Harrison, anyone?) I don’t see many reasons for this trend to change unless MLB moves all the fences back and forces teams to manufacture.

Or maybe when the robots happen, catchers will get worse at defense in general, but throwing is already on the back-burner when evaluating that spot, and backstops are in the habit of freeze-framing pitches whether someone’s on the move or not, so maybe success rates will drop if framing leaves the game. In this hypothetical, catchers unleash their inner Pudge, throwing behind runners every other pitch, building in a Pavlovian quickness. 

Another way this could change is if prospect writers start factoring stolen bases into their every thought, closing the gap between a guy like Mercado’s pre-debut and post-debut values. Base-thievery is currently treated as a secondary skill (from my vantage point, anyway)–a necessary evil if you want your lists to mirror the real-game lists because steals are not valued highly by most front offices.

Whew, more paragraph-type words than I meant to have here, but that’s it for now. 

Rank Player Age Team
1 Ronald Acuña Jr. 22 ATL
2 Christian Yelich 28 MIL
3 Mike Trout 28 LAA
4 Cody Bellinger 24 LAD
5 Juan Soto 21 WAS
6 Mookie Betts 27 LAD
7 Yordan Alvarez 22 HOU
8 Austin Meadows 24 TB
9 Luis Robert 22 CHW
10 Bryce Harper 27 PHI
11 Victor Robles 22 WAS
12 Eloy Jimenez 23 CHW
13 Jorge Soler 28 KC
14 Aaron Judge 27 NYY
15 Jo Adell 21 LAA
16 Starling Marte 31 ARI
17 JD Martinez 32 BOS
18 Joey Gallo 26 TEX
19 George Springer 30 HOU
20 CJ Abrams 19 SD
21 Julio Rodriguez 19 SEA
22 Giancarlo Stanton 30 NYY
23 Dylan Carlson 21 STL
24 Ramon Laureano 25 OAK
25 Jasson Dominguez 17 NYY
26 Byron Buxton 26 MIN
27 Charlie Blackmon 33 COL
28 Kyle Schwarber 27 CHC
29 Michael Conforto 27 NYM
30 Jarred Kelenic 20 SEA
31 Oscar Mercado 25 CLE
32 Kyle Tucker 23 HOU
33 Franmil Reyes 24 CLE
34 Nick Castellanos 28 CIN
35 Oneil Cruz 21 PIT
36 Kristian Robinson 19 ARI
37 Bryan Reynolds 25 PIT
38 Andrew Benintendi 25 BOS
39 Lourdes Gurriel 26 TOR
40 Eddie Rosario 28 MIN
41 Willie Calhoun 25 TEX
42 Marcell Ozuna 29 ATL
43 David Dahl 26 COL
44 Corbin Carroll 19 ARI
45 Trent Grisham 23 SD
46 Trey Mancini 28 BAL
47 Brennen Davis 20 CHC
48 Tommy Pham 32 SD
49 Michael Brantley 32 HOU
50 Max Kepler 27 MIN
51 Nick Senzel 24 CIN
52 Alex Verdugo 23 BOS
53 Luis Matos 18 SF
54 Nick Solak 25 TEX
55 Trevor Larnach 23 MIN
56 Zac Veen 18 ??
57 Heriberto Hernandez 20 TEX
58 Teoscar Hernandez 27 TOR
59 Avisail Garcia 28 MIL
60 Mark Canha 31 OAK
61 Sam Hilliard 26 COL
62 Garrett Mitchell 21 ??
63 Aaron Hicks 30 NYY
64 Yasiel Puig 29 ??
65 Erick Pena 17 KC
66 Nomar Mazara 24 CHW
67 Austin Hays 24 BAL
68 Andrew McCutchen 33 PHI
69 Wil Myers 29 SD
70 Riley Greene 19 DET
71 Yoshi Tsutsugo 28 TB
72 Drew Waters 21 ATL
73 Cristian Pache 21 ATL
74 Mallex Smith 26 SEA
75 Alek Thomas 19 ARI
76 Hedbert Perez 17 MIL
77 Garrett Hampson 25 COL
78 Mitch Haniger 29 SEA
79 Gregory Polanco 28 PIT
80 Adam Eaton 31 WAS
81 Ian Happ 25 CHC
82 Randy Arozarena 25 TB
83 Heston Kjerstad 21 ??
84 David Peralta 32 ARI
85 Mike Yastrzemski 29 SF
86 Monte Harrison 24 MIA
87 Gilberto Jimenez 19 BOS
88 AJ Pollock 32 LAD
89 Aristides Aquino 26 CIN
90 Kyle Lewis 24 SEA
91 Jaylin Davis 25 SF
92 JD Davis 27 NYM
93 Yoelqui Céspedes 22 ??
94 Lorenzo Cain 34 MIL
95 Justin Upton 32 LAA
96 Shogo Akiyama 32 CIN
97 Franchy Cordero 25 SD
98 Seth Brown 27 OAK
99 Jon Berti 30 MIA
100 Josh Rojas 25 ARI
101 Roman Quinn 26 PHI
102 Danny Santana 29 TEX
103 JJ Bleday 22 MIA
104 Jesse Winker 26 CIN
105 Randall Grichuck 28 TOR
106 Taylor Trammell 22 SD
107 Jesus Sanchez 22 TB
108 Luis Rodriguez 17 LAD
109 Austin Hendrick 18 ??
110 George Valera 19 CLE
111 Myles Straw 25 HOU
112 Leody Taveras 21 TEX
113 Manuel Margot 25 TB
114 Hunter Bishop 21 SF
115 Corey Dickerson 30 MIA
116 Ender Inciarte 29 ATL
117 Kevin Pillar 31 BOS
118 Jared Oliva 24 PIT
119 Jose Martinez 31 TB
120 Josh Lowe 22 TB
121 Heliot Ramos 20 SF
122 Dominic Smith 24 NYM
123 Brandon Nimmo 27 NYM
124 Jordyn Adams 20 LAA
125 Domingo Santana 27 CLE
126 Seth Beer 23 ARI
127 Stephen Piscotty 29 OAK
128 Alexfri Planez 18 CLE
129 Mike Tauchman 29 NYY
130 Tyler O’Neill 24 STL
131 Yusniel Diaz 23 BAL
132 Alexander Canario 19 SF
133 Kameron Misner 22 MIA
134 Brandon Marsh 22 LAA
135 Raimel Tapia 26 COL
136 Anthony Santander 25 BAL
137 Kole Calhoun 32 ARI
138 Khalil Lee 21 KC
139 Shin-Soo Choo 37 TEX
140 Jake Fraley 24 SEA
141 Daulton Varsho 23 ARI
142 Hudson Head 19 SD
143 Misael Urbina 18 MIN
144 Robert Hassell 18 ??
145 Hunter Renfroe 28 SD
146 Benyamin Bailey 18 CHW
147 Jason Heyward 30 CHC
148 Brett Gardner 36 NYY
149 Harrison Bader 25 STL
150 Yoenis Cespedes 34 NYM
151 Oscar Colas 21 ??
152 Victor Reyes 25 DET
153 Josh Naylor 22 SD
154 Adam Haseley 24 PHI
155 Pedro Leon 21 HOU
156 Daniel Johnson 24 CLE
157 Jeferson Espinal 17 ARI
158 Pete Crow-Armstrong 18 ??
159 Wilderd Patino 18 ARI
160 Brian Goodwin 29 LAA
161 Jose Osuna 27 PIT
162 Daz Cameron 23 DET
163 Lewis Brinson 25 MIA
164 Pedro Pineda 16 ??
165 Kevin Kiermaier 30 TB
166 Jackie Bradley Jr. 30 BOS
167 Tim Lopes 25 SEA
168 Delino DeShields 27 CLE
169 Chris Taylor 29 LAD
170 Clint Frazier 25 NYY
171 Daniel Cabrera 21 ??
172 Leury Garcia 29 CHW
173 Alex Dickerson 29 SF
174 Garrett Cooper 29 MIA
175 Cameron Maybin 33 DET
176 Jarrod Dyson 35 PIT
177 Jay Bruce 33 PHI
178 Jake Bauers 24 CLE
179 Christin Stewart 26 DET
180 Phillip Ervin 27 CIN
180 Dwight Smith Jr. 27 BAL
181 Travis Demeritte 25 DET
182 Jasiah Dixon 18 PIT
183 Kike Hernandez 28 LAD
184 JaCoby Jones 27 DET
185 Anthony Alford 25 TOR
186 Jerar Encarnacion 22 MIA
187 Ryan McBroom 28 KC
188 Jordan Luplow 26 CLE
189 Lane Thomas 24 STL
190 Bayron Lora 17 TEX
191 Matt Beaty 27 LAD
192 Jay Bruce 33 PHI
193 Tim Locastro 27 ARI
194 Bubba Starling 27 KC
195 DJ Stewart 26 BAL
196 Marcus Smith 19 OAK
197 Andy Pages 19 LAD
198 Greg Allen 27 CLE
199 DJ Peters 24 LAD
200 Peyton Burdick 23 MIA

Thanks for reading! 

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and reddit.

 
  1. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Great list. On J-Rod, seems like you expect him to play most if not all of 2021 in the majors (which I’d love!). Assuming that’s right, what do you expect from him for 2020 + do you see him contributing at all this year?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Duda!

      I am expecting he’ll but in the big leagues for most of 2021, but these Rona times have everything up the in air.

      I’d guess we don’t see him at all in 2020 at the moment.

      When he does play, I expect he’ll be a four-category plus right away. Most surprising could be batting average, where I think he’s a threat to hit .300 as a rookie.

  2. Mark says:
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    Two guys who stand out on the list for me are Seth Brown and Josh Rojas are both guys available in my deep dynasty. I also have a Franklin Barretto and Lewis Brinson…I think previously Grey called Barreto and Brinson garbage….lol

    I shouldn’t be swayed by spring stats, but both(Brinson and Barreto) limited their K’s this spring, and Brinson seemed to be barrelling ball on the screws. I also wanted to invest in Tyler O’Neil, but he kind of stunk this spring.

    So, will Rojas have a role this year beyond a backup? With Cron and Lamb needing at-bats…I just don’t see where Rojas can shine.

    Would you rather have Tyler Oneil over Brinson and Barreto if in a h2h keeper league?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Tend to agree with Grey on that one : )

      I’m probably not the best guy to ask either as I’d be inclined to drop all three in a lot of setups.

      That said they feel like the same type of gamble: power, speed and strikeouts. I’d probably just hold the two you have because they have a better angle on playing time.

      RE Brown and Rojas: I think they’re a bigger part of their orgs plans than the fantasy world is giving them credit for. The A’s will want to see what they have and tend to give long leashes to their own guys in part bc economics demand it.

      Rojas was just brought back for Greinke, and they have all of his team control at basement pricing. I’d be shocked if they set him aside for the last couple months of Rake Lamb, who becomes a free agent in 2021.

  3. bjz82 says:
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    One thing that doesn’t make sense to me is that you have CJ Abrams at #20, when he hasn’t even played high-A ball yet…but you expect him to be 20th best dynasty OF in baseball for 2021 & beyond? Or the Jasson Dominguez ranking is another.

    And for example you have Benintendi at #38 overall…having CJ Adams Ayer #20 is not an aggressive prediction, it’s unrealistic. Don’t you want to see him play against decent pitching first?

    Does Kevin Maitan ring a bell? Another “cant miss” prospect who is the next superstar prospect?

    I love these articles & appreciate them very much. But given that most prospects bust or don’t come close to their MILB numbers, these names just really stood out to me.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, bjz82!

      Makes sense those names stood out in part because I’ve been low on Bennintendi for a couple years now, and I’ve been very high on Abrams, comparatively speaking.

      Might look overeager a year from now if there’s no minor leagues and Benni hits better in 2020, but two or three years from now, CJ could be untouchable, while Bennintendi was a replacement level player with 13 HR and 10 SB across 615 PA in the 2019 juicy ball times. He could certainly bounce back, but that’s not a great third season.

  4. Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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    it’s even harder to get speed in OPS/total bases/slugging category leagues like i’m mostly in too (OBP too). ending up with a lot of 9-12 steal guys seems like a good balanced way though (that’s assuming a season length we ain’t getting). i’d rather be a mid pack steals team than roster dyson chicken legs or mallex in those leagues. you damage too many other categories in more scoring than 5×5 with the non overall good steals guys. i end up with a lot of wong/pham/grisham builds.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I think we agree in general. Maylox can Dyson up some SB heartburn but hurts the rest of the 5×5 body in the process.

      Pham has been key, and Wong was a great find last year, but these are bandaids in dynasty that seem more likely to fall off (in SB) than heal that opening in the long haul.

      In redraft it’s easier to patch together a mid pack SB team but even then I think the reward for nabbing a Robles or Robert is well worth the cost. Can always stock up on power countables throughout the draft.

  5. Mark says:
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    What is considered a good steals guy? I used to think 25 plus which is a steal every 5 games or so.

    I guess this list is really for rotisserie leagues. H2H is really impacted by top tier steals guys and I don’t this 5-10 steal guys are that valuable. It’s hard to find consistency on the bases.

    The list is heavy on potential as I see Bruxton on the list. As the old adage goes, you can’t steal first. Broxton could easily play himself into a 4 or 5th outfielder before the year is over.

    • For An Armenianless Vacation Come to Akron says:
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      he’s said specifically that these lists are for RCL type leagues, which are roto 12 teamers.

      • Mark says:
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        Ok.???.i asked a h2h question…for curiosity reasons based on his list.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I agree the 5-10 steal guys can be underrated. I think its partly a result of natural mental tiering and using SB to break the tie. Could also be a result of the steep aging curve in the category. People remember players as SB positives even they’re only good for 5. Goldy got this treatment for a while.

      Feel like I need 20-plus to start accepting trade-offs in other categories, but even ten can be a good SB contributor if the guy’s raking. Austin Meadows only got 12 last year, but that was a nice bonus. He got caught 7 times and might not run much again, but I’ll bet he gets a little draft day boost for those 12 steals for several seasons whether he returns them again or not.

      Buxton would be my pick for best defensive outfielder in baseball. He shrinks the field. That buys him a lot of rope, and I think he was figuring this hitting thing out in 2019.

  6. Jim says:
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    Wander Franco will bust?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I disagree?

  7. Philip says:
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    Itch, so I am in the early stages of a dynasty rebuild. My starting lineup has four outfield slots. My outfield consists of: Dahl, Robles, Verdugo, Carlson, JRod, Robinson, and Pena.
    1. Would you trade David Dahl or hold him?
    2. Would you target an outfielder like Zack Veen with your first pick, or reach for a college pitcher that is an area of need, like Detmers. I will pick in the 6-9 range.
    3. Would you hold Eric Peña over a player like jazz Chisholm, Luis Urias, Jose Garcia, or Grayson Rodriguez, knowing the wait will be a long time.

    Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Phillip!

      1. Cop out but depends what I can get. My general instinct is to hold him in 2020 and reassess.

      2. Veen all the way.

      3. I prefer Jazz bc he’s so close and has plenty loud tools in his own right, but I’d love to find a less painful drop. Maybe you can shop Pena around the room a bit?

  8. TJ says:
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    Alex Bregman?

  9. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Yo Itch,

    Not an OF question, but who would you prefer in a dynasty; Josiah Gray or Edward Cabrera? Both are still in play for my next slow draft pick and I can’t quite decide. I am leaning slightly towards Cabrera at the moment. I’d love to get your input though!

    Thanks

      • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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        Thanks man! Lots of outlets I trust have them grouped very closely. I could take them both, but I’m a Pirates fan and will kick myself if I don’t save a spot for Tahnaj Thomas. He’s got me all heart-eye emoji feeling.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Makes sense to me. I’m really curious to see how this new Pirates approach goes. Might be a real value hotbed if the previous pitching regime was half as bad as it seemed from the outside at times.

          • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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            Yeah, it sounds like they were that bad. Lol. As someone who was already in on the Thomas hype train, it really left the station for me when Fangraphs ranked Tahnaj right behind Hunter Greene in their 2020 preseason Top 100. They also compared them favorably in athleticism and big time heater.

            I was already all in, now I’m wearing the conductors hat, sitting in the engine room of the hype train.

  10. Phillip says:
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    Terrible list – no Arenado or Bregman that I saw and that was just first glance.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      hahahahaahahahaha

      I see what you did here, and I like it!

  11. ryan says:
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    In a 14 team h2h dynasty league i offered ketel marte and max kepler for meadows and voit. Should I take this deal or stand pat?

    c sean murphy

    1b max muncy

    2b ozzie albies

    3b rafael devers

    ss bo bichette

    lf juan soto

    cf ronald acuna

    rf austin meadows

    util yuli gurriel

    bn cj cron

    bn omar narvaez

    na andrew vaughn

    na robert puason

    na luis matos

    na jeter downs

    na julio rodriguez

    na erick pena

    sp brandon woodruff

    sp julio urias

    sp max scherzer

    rp scott oberg

    rp ryan pressly

    rp brandon kintzler

    p patrick corbin

    p alex wood

    bn kevin gausman

    bn carlos rodon

    bn deivi garcia

    bn sixto sanchez

    bn edward cabrera

    bn nathan eovaldi

    bn matt shoemaker

    na luis patino

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Tough spot. I feel like you can contend this year, and Meadows to Kepler is a drop, but if Acuña is RF eligible, your base set improves.

      He got 16 games in 2019 so it’s just down to the line.

      If he’s not RF, I’m in between but would keep talking. Maybe you can get a pick thrown in.

  12. toolshed says:
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    Do you see clase as a future closer? Would you be buying him in dynasty formats now that he will be suspended for ped’s? Just looking for value on the cheap. Thanks

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good question, but now that he’s out for basically all of 2020, I think you can wait on buying him.

      He should get a chance at some point, but Karinchak clouds the picture.

      Probably Karin who ratted him out in the first place. V Karen of him.

  13. LG Baseball says:
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    Itch,

    Great write-up. I have a couple questions:

    1) I really like your Victor Robles ranking. I just acquired him in a keeper. His statcast metrics are terrible but I also think he’s only 22 and almost put up a 20/30 season as a rookie. His BABIP should be somewhat higher than average given his speed too. Can you share what you think he can be and why I shouldn’t be worried about his exit velocity?

    2) Ketel is OF eligible in Yahoo so curious where he would slot on this list. I really like him and think his 2019 gains are real with potentially more growth and profit to be had.

    Thanks!
    LG

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks LG!!

      2) I think the Starling trade locks Ketel into 2B for a while, in part bc ARI connected CF to his injury, but for 2020 alone, I’d put him just above Meadows at 8.

      1) it’s remarkable to me how people are reacting to Robles’s rookie year, which stacks up incredibly well/elite against historical age/level measures.

      Exit velo is fine, but it’s descriptive. I get why people think it’s predictive because it can be sticky for prime-age players, but as you said, Robles is not that.

  14. Phillies fan says:
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    Just curious where Seiya Suzuki would fall if he were posted this offseason?

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