Like much of the Reddit world, I’ve been thinking a lot about the show Yellowjackets this week. At its core, Yellowjackets is a wilderness survival show hinting at cannibalism while juggling multiple timelines. It’s a lot like dynasty baseball leagues that way, which is where we’re going today: into the wilds of dynasty baseball strategy to hunt and gather six tips to survive and thrive. 

 

1. Don’t collect pitching prospects

What constitutes a positive outcome for a pitching prospect as compared to a hitting prospect?

Hitters can contribute in four countable categories and one skill/ratio category. When I say “countable” I mean a category that can only go up. A run is a run is a run. Skill/ratio categories can go down with bad performance. 

Starting pitchers can contribute in two countable categories and two skill/ratio categories. They could theoretically accrue Saves or Holds, we’ll set that variable aside for our purposes today in part because starting pitching prospects have typically lost a chunk of value by the time they’re viable contributors to the saves pool. 

Pitching prospect outcomes are complicated by relievers in ways that don’t exist for hitting prospects. Relievers are simply better in the skill categories on the whole, which increases the difficulty for a young starting pitcher in the skills categories, WHIP and ERA. The bar for a pitching prospect is much higher than the bar for hitters, before we even consider the attrition rate of injury. 

In general, hitters stay healthy for most of their careers, and pitchers do not. Shocking news to those of you reading baseball content in January, I know. Still worth mentioning, I think, as the most undervalued asset in dynasty leagues I’ve played is roster space across time. 

Your own minor leagues should reflect this in the raw ratio of hitting prospects to pitching prospects, and you could even go all the way to the edge of the water like I do and roster only a few pitching prospects at a time. In my 15-team league, I have just two, Cody Morris and Joe Barlow, because my pitching staff is loaded with great veterans. 

 

2. Rebuilding is a myth

Just cut the “Re” part, is all I’m saying. I’ve seen a lot of teams do this thing where they decide they can’t win a league that season, so they decide they might as well trade away all their big-named players for prospects and picks. I suppose it comes from how pro teams operate, but the thing is, we don’t have to pay these dudes. Doesn’t matter if I’m “wasting the prime” of a high-priced talent because the price, to me, is nothing.

Now, if somebody comes to you with an incredible trade offer, that’s a different situation because suddenly there’s a price: the opportunity cost of having those younger players who are also named guys by now. But to go around looking for people to take your good players is to sell low on them. It’s July and your team is in tenth place of a 15 team league. So what? Doesn’t cost you any more to hold those players. 

The key question is: Are you closer to contending within the next two seasons if you make this trade or not? If you’re trading Gerrit Cole for picks 15, 30, and 45 in next year’s first-year-player draft, the answer is no, you’re much, much further away from contending after that trade. Sounds ludicrous, but I’m not inventing this from the air. It happened in the first season of a start-up auction dynasty league, helping catapult Cole’s new team to three-peat, having spent functionally nothing for the best pitcher over that stretch. If I sound bitter, I’m sorry. I was. 

 

3. Don’t get bitter

Cool stuff, right? A hypocrite, I definitely am, but don’t we all want to be a little better than we are?

The arc of time is long. Leagues come and go. Dynasty is a game built for friendships–not cut-throat rivalries. Although, if you can find a fun rivalry in a friendly league, that’s nice, too. 

If you see someone making a lot of bad trades, you have some choices. You can be a duck and let it roll off your back like water, knowing you’d rather not go looking to take advantage of a player in a slump or out of their league. Or you can try to trade with that player. Please refrain from complaining about the trades that player is making. Leagues seem to live or die on this hill. Get enough whiners in one group, there goes the neighborhood; there goes the league. This is meant to be fun. Our entry fees are invested in fun. They simply don’t stand up if viewed through a dollar per hour lens, so try not to do that. Trades sometimes pull that out of us because we’ve invested all this time, and then boom, a player we’ve been targeting for a long time suddenly gets dealt for peanuts. It happens. Try to laugh it off. Roll with the chaos. Enjoy your game. 

 

4. Trade slow. Trade fast. Trade fair. Trade with everybody. 

Everyone has a different play style. I was not good at making trades when I first started playing dynasty leagues because I applied a value matrix that was pretty much one-size-fits-all. X player is worth Y, kind of stuff, but there’s no objective reality here. Also I was impatient. Every fantasy team is a human, or sometimes two humans, and they have preferred play styles. Some trades take a long time to manifest. Some trades come together in an instant. Try to move with the wind here. Be a trade partner other teams enjoy working with because you adapt to their play style and seek an even middle, or rather, a place of comfort for both sides, given that an even middle doesn’t really exist so much as two sides who feel pretty fair about where they are can exist.

The other path is dark. Lonely. We’ve probably all seen teams just kind of spin off the earth in their own little silo because they don’t make any trades because they’re really hard to work with, or they’re not responsive. Their teams just die the slow death of neglect. 

It’s valuable to reject a trade quickly if you don’t think you’ll do it. Don’t let it linger for a week just in case your mood shifts. You might get a better offer the very next day if you just reject the first one in a timely fashion. I’m not saying you should always play fast. “Trade slow” refers to finding your own pace, too. Don’t hesitate to reach out to another team in the league if you get a trade offer, and you want to see if there’s another path. I wouldn’t make an every-time habit out of this for several reasons (time-value of response, could become irritating to others, I like to move fast in general), but there’s no reason you can’t shop around in the middle of a big trade moment. Just be transparent about it with the team who made the offer you’re hovering over. 

 

5. Watch whatever you can find

It really helps to have MiLB.tv, but if all you have time or money to view is Twitter videos from people finding and cutting that stuff up, find and watch those. Run a Google search, watch the videos you can find. Then maybe search Instagram or Duck Duck Go or Twitter or Facebook.

I don’t mean you should do this for every player in the database, but if you get a trade offer, take a minute to clap eyes on the kids involved. 

On draft day, when you’re planning out a pick a couple spots ahead of time, scour the web for video of the guys in question. 

You don’t have to be a scout to have eyes and opinions, and this compounds across time. The more you watch, the better you get at identifying what works. It also increases the immersion of the dynasty game itself, bringing these new names to life in the real. 

Everyone makes mistakes, and a lot of public-facing prospect places get things wrong: handedness, height, weight, velocity, hit tool, power, speed, twitch, etc. You name it, I’ve seen it proven wrong in just a couple moments watching the actual player playing an actual game. Oakland OF/1B Lawrence Butler was one of these in a big way this year. He’s 6’3” 210 lbs and looks like a double-plus athlete with easy plus speed, something you can’t pick up just reading his baseball card or most scouting reports, especially if you’re trying to stay ahead of the echo chamber spotlight for dynasty (or baseball card) purposes. 

 

6. Make transactions

I suspect we’ve all seen this slow death of neglect as well. If you’re not checking in to make add/drops, your team will not improve. In redraft, whatever, your team is out of it, let it die. I get that. Dynasty is not that game. You will be behind forever if you’re applying that redraft life to your dynasty leagues. And it’s a self-replicating thing across time, in either direction. The more you check out, the worse your team will always be, even four years from now, and the more you check in, the better your team will get, even if you’re kind of unlucky with your decisions. That’s the kind of skill, like watching more young players in games, that compounds across time. Some of the best dynasty players I’ve seen are active first, and whatever else second, and they’ve become incredibly astute prospect finders that way.

One thing to do on the regular, especially if you’re not big into the research side of minor league baseball, is click the plus-minus columns in your free agent pool. Who is getting picked up this week? Who are they? Look em up. Find some video. Bring them into the real, pick them up yourself and see where it goes. 

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. Six dynasty survival tips that was meant to stop at five, but I got the motor revved and just let it run a minute, so here we are. Hope you enjoyed the journey!

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

41 Comments
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SomeguySomewhere
SomeguySomewhere
6 months ago

Screwed up my post earlier, apologies

Which side of this would you rather be on:

Jose Berrios

Or

Luis Patino
Hunter Greene
Mackenzie Gore

D$$
D$$
6 months ago

Really solid article and perspective. How do you value aging vet SP? Also, do you decide who to keep based on your likelihood to be able to redraft them?

In a 12 team, 16 cat. dynasty lg w/ 7 MLB keepers and 6 minors. Keeping Trout Tucker Buehler T Rogers Sale and then torn on a 6th/7th MLB keeper. (Minors: JRod, Baz, GRod, Franco, Luc). Promoting Franco. Consistent late finals contender in the league.

For final 2 keepers, would you rather Verlander, a clear rental who could dominate a 2 start in the finals and max IP because HOU doesn’t care if his arm falls off OR T O’Neill who has all the upside in the world, but is just another great OF which seem to grow on trees, OR Arenado who is steady, boring but valuable in shallow 3B pool and balances KO’s of other boppers? Pick 2 of 3.

Going through quick (forced) rebuild/restock and have a top 6 pick TBD. Likely in this league that whoever I don’t keep is plucked by time it gets to me, especially Verlander. But I’d rather keep the best 7 players than worry about who will be available.

Suicide Squeeze
Suicide Squeeze
6 months ago

Thanks for a great article. I am in a keeper league, not dynasty, but much of the advice is relevant. Good to have an outsider keep me focused on the important things.

I have to say I am on board with the pitching prospect issue. I’ve traded away my talent for pitching prospects and never once seen a return on my investment. The pitchers just take too long to come into the money. I’m trying to find the trick to picking up a former “next hot thing” who everyone ahs given up on just before he actually comes into his own. What is the magic MLB level of experience where a marginal pitcher suddenly learns to pitch, I wonder.

On the advice side, I Have Skoobie at $14 OY 23 (which I am unreasonably partial too, being he and I share Alumni status), Crochet $1 OY 23, and Dunning $3 OY 23, and possibly(?), Pearson $10 OY 23. I think Crochet and Dunning are holders at those prices. Are Pearson and Skoobie worth the price this year and should I expect to take up their options for a year or two in 23?
(12 team AL only)

Thanks in advance.

Brett
Brett
6 months ago

I’m late to the party but there’s heaps of wisdom in here. Thanks Itch. Makes me feel like I’m getting things half-right with my rebuild.

Lower The Jolly Roger
Lower The Jolly Roger
6 months ago

Itch I love this stuff ! I’m in a 12 team dynasty keep 10 & 10 farm .. I have 4 pitchers on my farm because my pitching was ROTTEN last year … only had Urias and Sandoval worth a crap …

Baz, Manoah, Cabrera, Detmers are the arms

Brujan, Pratto, Miranda, Vargas, Gunnar, Greg Jones bats

Should I look to make any moves w those pitchers in the offseason ? Or keep stashed and hope 2~3 pan out ??

Thank you always!

Grey
Admin
6 months ago

Was worried about reading before finishing the season finale of Yellowjackets. Now that I have and went back to see Reddit theories, this feels like Lost all over again. People speculating on things that aren’t remotely true to what happens. Jackie is a time traveler? Oh okay sure

Grey
Admin
Reply to  The Itch
6 months ago

Haha

goodfold2
goodfold2
Reply to  Grey
6 months ago

i’ve read a bunch of not good sounding comparisons to lost too, i had friends that were huge into lost but i never saw it. i know the people that watched it that i knew didn’t have any sort of useful answer when i asked about “there’s a dude named j.locke, any reference to the famous john locke”

goodfold2
goodfold2
Reply to  Grey
6 months ago

yeah a whole lot of the reddit “theories” are just garbage (and a lot of those have a ton of agreement too for sounding believable, which most of them are really bad). oh yeah avi (travis’ brother) could be reasonably said to be shauna’s present day boyfriend (just ignore how people that spend a whole lot of stressful months together would just randomly forget what that person looked/sounded like 25 years later, and that he’d have to have been a bit older than he looked at 39 by 2021). jackie’s a time traveler (not that her friend that sure in many other aspects seemed to get off on wanting to live her life just easily could’ve wrote movie titles into her diary in the later 90’s/early 2000’s and that the time traveler stuff is somehow more likely)

Grey
Admin
Reply to  goodfold2
6 months ago

None of these things seem plausible

goodfold2
goodfold2
Reply to  Grey
6 months ago

of course not, but they sure do take up a bunch of reddit space as if they were as valid as anything else.

Grey
Admin
Reply to  goodfold2
6 months ago

Yup

goodfold2
goodfold2
Reply to  Grey
6 months ago

what was a very popular one, that shauna’s high school aged daughter (who seems in every way a normal girl of that age) was the one extorting them, not the far more likely husband or boyfriend or really anybody else. cause that’s what writers tend to do, make not at all believable things happen.

NUX
NUX
6 months ago

Just about done with that startup draft I mentioned a few weeks back, trying the photo post here in a sec, hopefully that works. Let me know which picks you like/hate, etc. Obvi you can see your influence in some (many) areas here with this roster. Excited for 2023!

NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
6 months ago

1 of 2

E1A2834D-A440-4E58-8C3C-36D698CDF57E.jpeg
NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
6 months ago

2 of 2

27271F76-400B-4C5B-8E04-10D1F34BFDEF.jpeg
NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
6 months ago

Better roster view:

77462DD5-70A1-4459-B07F-FE1C450EE213.jpeg
NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
6 months ago

More:

571343E4-FB76-4D4F-A047-41E8A97D8514.jpeg
junior56
junior56
6 months ago

Hi Itch

Thanks for the sage advice. I have never tried a total rebuild … takes too long. I might rebuild on the fly dealing vet at the deadline for a young close spec or a recent MLBer getting his reps.

Of these which 3 do I keep?

Molina
Meyers
Moustakas
Josh Naylor
R. Urias
Ortega
Brujan

Also do you think Brujan has a chance to break camp with the Rays?

Joe Buckyourself
Joe Buckyourself
6 months ago

Itch

Thanks for all the early reports and the thoughtful answers during the 2021 season.

I agree with a lot of what you said here. One of my problems with trades, I think I get attached to the players I draft and maybe value them too much.

10 team dynasty Roto
Keep 25 alone with 10 minors
6×6 with OBP and DT
6×6 QS and holds are a seperate cat

Minor Slots (10): F Alvarez, A Rutschman J Miranda, Kahil Watson, S Frelick, E Florial, H Hernandez, P Crow-Armstrong, N Lodolo, 

Here are the 9 minors Im holding right now. A few questions heading into the season…..

  1. Rutschman will most likely be my C going into the future. Would you hold Alvarez or trade? If trade, what type MLB players would you want back for his value.
  2. Lodolo….. Keep or trade. If trade what does he bring back?
  3. Thoughts on the remaining 6….

Thanks!!

Cliff
Cliff
6 months ago

Hey Itch,

I asked Grey these questions today and wanted your feedback on them. I am in a 12 team keep forever dynasty that is standard points. My infield is gorg, my outfield is bleh, and my pitching sucks.

1. I have been receiving offers for my catching prospects for pitchers like Mize and Pearson. Would you make those trades in general and which catching prospects would you prefer to give up out of Francisco Alvarez, Soderstrom, and Tyler Stephenson? 

2. We have our FYPD Sunday and I have the first pick. Would you take Leiter over the top SS and Seiya Suzuki? Team is below

C: D ‘Arnaurd, Mejia, Grandal, Caratini, Stephenson, Alvarez, Soderstrom.

1B: Vlad, Abreu, Votto, Miggy, Blaze Jordan

2B: Cronenworth, Frazier, McMahon, Chavis, Arraez.

SS: Wander, Story, 

3B: Devers

OF:Yordan, Yelich, Nimmo, Duran, Aquino, Andujar, Hicks, Cave.

SP: Quantrill, Corbin, Bundy, Carrasco, Gray, Heaney, Peterson, Javier, Odorizzi,

RP: Presley, Gallegos, Taylor Rogers

Manormachine
Manormachine
6 months ago

Love the article. I did actually sell out in my dynasty league this year and traded Cole, Darvish and Machado. I instantly made his team the best in the league but it was the last year of their contracts and I got Wander Franco for the next 5 years and Skubal for the next 3 years.

I used to hoard highly ranked pitching prospects, figuring that when they got the call up they would be better than the worst guy in my rotation but I feel like teams are very conscious of workloads these days and rookie pitchers are going to be innings limited or even put in the bullpen. When a top hitting prospect is up he usually gets the at bats to sink or swim.

goodfold2
goodfold2
6 months ago

draft’s over, i ended up with these:
1.5: watson
1.35 e. de la cruz
47th overall: c.morris

75th overall: b.chandler (from his tools grades i was surprised he was still here almost, he wouldn’t have been if he didn’t hold out for the money he got from PIT in the 3rd, it’s possible his two way playing scared off some, i don’t know. he does make it likely my league mates aren’t following PL though, where he was a top 30 overall listed guy on their top 600 1st year player draft rankings (which are quite old by now though (june 28th))

83rd overall: k.howell (from where you had him ranked at MIL, and the guys higher than him in sept’s top 100, he could make your new top 100, was likely quite close to making the sept one)

113th overall: b.bello (from all of PL, you, and MLB.com seems he’s a solid chance of mid rotation starter)

144th overall: l.butler (good thing your OAK post had been out for almost a week when this pick came up)

175th overall: r.castro (looky looky a top 100 guy nearly at end of draft, somewhat from ETA of course)

*DO NOT read below this line if you haven’t watched season 1 entirely (i’m guessing you did from above comments).

and as far as yellowjackets, it makes literally no sense that the people with the gun (nat, travis) wouldn’t just immediately kill lottie and be very close on all the others that just almost killed travis. being on schrooms doesn’t make like 7 people all black out that they just almost (and would’ve if not for nat) killed travis since lottie told them to (as shauna claimed, and the others tacitly agreed with to dodge having to answer for it). you gotta snuff out those selling crazy shit trying to set up religious ogliarchies. even stupider was that they didn’t ALL try to just walk south about say 4-5 days after not being saved. if not that early as soon as the food (deer) started running out, which was weeks ago. ty of course had that idea, but it should’ve been everybody together (having spent much time already making say spears to fight off wolves etc before leaving). i’m only marginally younger than these characters (was in 9th grade in 96 so i’d have been the exact age of the girl who’s leg ty seriously f’d up in ep1, later shows up again in present time ep10 as a ghoulish bitch who set up the reunion) so lots of stuff to relate to for them when young (also the music is at least almost entirely middle to late 90’s stuff).

  • the main thing, lottie and obv possibly more so misty (admitted she was trying to seriously dose coach) are very dangerous, and not all of the people who almost killed travis are nuts and would defend what they just did. travis, nat, coach, travis’ brother (he’s probably just hiding in the attic, directed by shauna), probably at this point most of even the group who almost killed travis would be fine if misty/lottie weren’t around. it is a good showing for just how easily people turn from sane to insane from fear/starving and leader(s) who promise hope.
goodfold2
goodfold2
Reply to  goodfold2
6 months ago

and i’d be careful reading reddit’s yellowjackets stuff (or at least you gotta ignore tons of it), these were some nearly univerally agreed upon in there “theories”

  • shauna’s present day boyfriend she killed was travis’ brother (that she somehow didn’t recognize and who appears too young to be 39 like he would be in present time)
  • – jackie is alive in the present (her diaries listed favorite movies, some of which were made after them being in the woods, so at least the writers could’ve led to think this one though, but it was always possible into likely that shauna wrote those in there)
  • – shauna’s daughter was the person doing the extortion not her husband (this wasn’t as universally loved, but the fact it was present so often speaks to the level of “thought” going on when far more likely options were present (the husband or boyfriend or anybody else really))
Sport
Sport
6 months ago

Sweet write up Itch! Really enjoyed it, along with the team top 10’s. Will you be having a FYP ranking anytime? I have two FYP drafts left to do and they are in not so deep 10 team leagues. I generally try to draft guys I feel could be top 100 this year, and possibly top 50 next year. So right now I have about twelve guys.

Mayer, Suzuki, House, Kahlil, Lawlar, Davis, Leiter, Cowser, Mayo, B.Montgomery, Ford, and Jobe.

This anywhere close to what you will have?

Sport
Sport
Reply to  The Itch
6 months ago

Sweet. I have the 4th pick in one draft so I should get a good shot at one of those guys, and I’m figuring when then the 2nd round comes along (10 teams) I might take a flier on Ford if he’s still there.

The other team pics 8th since I finished 3rd. So who knows who drops to me there.

The draft isn’t until March so I’ll be keeping an eye out!

thorby
thorby
6 months ago

Good stuff as always!

Regarding pitching prospects, my strat has always been to collect ones close to callups and then either deal them when the hype is big or give em a shot to try and not hold an arm for years that then needs TJ before they reach the bigs (ie. my dynasty minor league keepers include Ashby and Detmers, with Grayson and Hancock as my lottery tickets). Do you think that’s a viable approach?

Also – off-topic Q: How are you approaching COVID this season? I’m at the top of my auction fantasy hockey league because I avoided the big-ticket studs and went hard after the second- and third-tier stars so I could spread the talent around.

Do you think that approach would work with dynasty baseball? I was debating moving Betts for Adell/Varsho/CJ Abrams/5th overall in FYPD, which feels like a tragic sell-low but also gives me a lot of upside/depth.

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
6 months ago

This is a great article, and I’ve really enjoyed all the top 10s. In my league with limited minor league spots and only 8 keepers for players with more than 3 years of “service time” I’ve been tempted to “rebuild” a few times so that’s a good one to keep in mind. That same league though I’ve been struggling to trade JT Realmuto since I have two rookie catchers who I can keep without using a keeper spot. Don’t want to seek out the best offer and sell low but going into the season with 3 catchers seems like a waste of roster space. Might try to see if I could get Max Muncy or Kelenic out of it at least. Would you take either of those two for Realmuto?

On a completely different note are you planning on covering any of the recent international signings?

All the best!

SomeguySomewhere
SomeguySomewhere
Reply to  Prawn Lord
6 months ago

Which side of this would you rather be on:

Jose Berrios

Or

Luis Patino
Hunter Greene
Mackenzie Gore