I feel like I say this every year around this time — but I LOVE keeper leagues. Especially all the crazy rules and context to them. “If you drafted him in the 13th round, he becomes a 10th round keeper next year, then a 4th round keeper the year after that, then a 1st the year after that. And if you keep him in the 1st you can’t keep anyone else with a 1st.” or “If you bought him for $5 his inflation becomes $18 in 2022. Then in 2023 he’ll be $31.43” or “You can’t keep anyone in the first 5 rounds, because one year Smitty somehow kept Miggy, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay and broke the league.” And let me tell you — I love ALL of it. Your league’s crazy rules are what make it unique and interesting. Navigating this craziness is part of the fun. So these are just my rankings for your standard, vanilla 5×5 roto league. But my favorite part of this article — is always in the comments helping you guys breaking down your crazy keeper rules and making the best choices. So get down there and tell me your league’s crazy keeper system and how I can help you make your best decision! 

 

How I like to view keepers in this vanilla format is by how many categories they’re contributing to in your standard 5×5 league. Due to this, you’ll see I suppress pitcher’s values a little bit because even Jacob deGrom can only help in 4 categories. For closers, it takes someone truly elite to crack my top-100 and this year there are only two of them. High-K, great ratio, elite save potential is what it takes to make the top-100. I also try to group similar players together for ease of use. Don’t take these as keeper gospel — more as guidelines. Leave me a comment if you have a direct question. 

 

Group 1: MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
1 Ronald Acuna Jr. ATL OF 23
2 Fernando Tatis Jr. SD SS 22
3 Juan Soto WSH OF 22
4 Mookie Betts LAD OF 28
5 Trevor Story COL SS 28
6 Jose Ramirez CLE 3B 28

 

5 cats — get it?! 5 LOUD categories — get it?! I’m embarrassed, yet not deterred. 

The realistic floor for each of these hitters is 100 runs, 30 HRs, 100 RBI, 20 SB, .285 AVG. Insanity.

The pair of Jr.’s at the top should probably be in a tier to themselves because with health and in their lineups, they could reach 120/35/100/30/.290. Ridiculous numbers — but not really when you think about how good they are. 

For Soto we’re getting word out of Nationals camp that he wants to steal more bases. If this comes true this year Soto is your NL MVP and clear 1.01 for 2022. His elite plate discipline, power, and hypothetically SBs aren’t fair. 

The two things holding back Story and Ramirez are their lineups and their step-below batting averages. Story’s teammates still playing in Coors should help the loss of Arenado and the diminishing skills of Charlie Blackmon. For Ramirez’s sake he could be out of Cleveland if the Cleveland baseball team continues their fire sale — and why wouldn’t they? He’ll probably go to a competitor and thrive there too.

 

Group 2: MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! ME–

Rank Player Team Position Age
7 Mike Trout LAA OF 29
8 Cody Bellinger LAD 1B/OF 25
9 Christian Yelich MIL OF 29
10 Bryce Harper PHI OF 28
11 Trea Turner WSH SS 27
12 Francisco Lindor NYM SS 27
13 Bo Bichette TOR SS 23
14 Ozzie Albies ATL 2B 24

 

4.5 strong cats! “How long will he keep this cat motif going?” Too long already. 

Trout will battle Nelson Cruz for the AL HR crown, but his issue is obviously the SBs. He has the skill to get back to the 20 stolen base benchmark and be atop Group 1 — but his SBs have been on the decline for years now. Which is crazy considering his spring speed is still in the 94th percentile. He’s still the best all-around baseball player on the planet though y’all. 

Bellinger and Yelich are on the comeback trail. Of the two I could see Yelich re-emerging as a member of Group 1, but I think Bellinger is right where he belongs. 50 HR potential, but the speed should decline a bit as he goes on. Think of him as a stronger Goldschmidt. As a young man Goldy was stealing 20-30 bases, but he hit a STEEP cliff as he aged. 

I know you’re all mad at me for ranking Albies this high, but I really see 25+/20+ potential in Albies with a .280 average and great team stats depending on where he hits in the Braves lineup.  

 

Group 3: Strong 4 category hitters.

Rank Player Team Position Age
15 Freddie Freeman ATL 1B 31
16 Rafael Devers BOS 3B 24
17 Eloy Jimenez CWS OF 24
18 Anthony Rendon LAA 3B 30
19 Alex Bregman HOU 3B 26
20 Yordan Alvarez HOU UTIL 23
21 Nolan Arenado STL 3B 29

 

A 100/30/100/.280 line is on the table for each of these guys. Stolen bases really aren’t part of the equation though which is why they’re just a step below. 

However, I think there could be some stolen base upside with Devers (he stole 18 in the minors in 2016.) If he can even just reach 10 could consider bumping him up to group 2. Although the counting stats might take a hit — I like Bogaerts, I like Verdugo — but that’s really it. 

Jimenez is a dark horse for AL MVP. In my opinion, the White Sox have the best offense in all of baseball. Don’t expect more than the accidental 2 SBs though.

Look, I get it. Arenado is leaving the best hitter’s park of all time — but let’s not act like he didn’t have some of the best bat to ball skills in the league. Last year he had the 8th best contact rate on balls in the zone and 21st-best contact rate on pitches out of the zone. He also upped his fly ball rate to the highest mark of his career (47% – 7th best in the league) Unfortunately, his hard contact rate was the lowest since 2014. If he keeps the fly ball gains, and starts making better contact — the HR dip might not be that dramatic. 

 

Group 4: The Big 3 Ace Starting Pitchers

Rank Player Team Position Age
22 Jacob deGrom NYM SP 32
23 Shane Bieber CLE SP 25
24 Gerrit Cole NYY SP 30

 

This is just a matter of preference as these three are your clear cut top arms. If you are still using wins as a category in your league — Bieber may drop a little bit. He might actually get a bit of the deGrom treatment: elite ratios and K’s — but not that many wins. deGrom is actually due for a wins increase with the off season additions the Mets made. I’m never as high on pitchers due to the higher risk of injury and the fact that you might only get 1 game per week out of them. 

 

Group 5: Solid 5 category hitters.

Rank Player Team Position Age
25 Manny Machado SD 3B 28
26 Xander Bogaerts BOS SS 28
27 Luis Robert CWS OF 23
28 Kyle Tucker HOU OF 24

 

Some would argue that these guys belong in group 2 — and some of you might be right. For Machado and Bogaerts it’s the stolen base ceiling. It’s more likely they fall to 5 or less stolen bases than increasing to 10+. 

For Robert and Tucker it’s the batting average. They both have 25/20 potential and are in great lineups, but they’ll both be taking their sophomorish lumps this year. The potential is there for upward mobility to group 2 — maybe even group 1 if their growth comes earlier than 2022. 

 

Group 6: Former #1 Prospect Club

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
29 Corey Seager LAD SS 26
30 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 1B/3B 22
31 Yoan Moncada CWS 3B 25

 

I expect all three of these guys to take big steps forward this year. 

Seager after an injury-ruined 2018 took 2019 as his recovery year. But came out crushing in 2020 hitting 15 HRs in only 52 games. 

Unmatched contact has always been Vlad’s calling card and now it seems like he’s gotten himself in great shape and should start to deliver on that #1 prospect promise. 

Moncada had a nifty 25/10/.315 season in 2019 and seemed on his way to a breakout, but COVID unfortunately had other plans. I’ll say it again — I think the White Sox have the best offense in baseball and if Moncada is fully healed up he should bounce back to pre-COVID numbers. 

 

Group 7: Second Tier Aces.

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
32 Aaron Nola PHI SP 27
33 Lucas Giolito CWS SP 26
34 Walker Buehler LAD SP 26
35 Jack Flaherty STL SP 25
36 Luis Castillo CIN SP 28

 

The second batch of starting pitchers are not bad consolation prizes if you miss out on the big 3. Of these five the one I could see taking a leap into the deGrom/Bieber/Cole stratosphere is Lucas Giolito. He’s already got the sexy K/9 (12.1) of an upper-echelon ace, and this season he should reach 16+ wins with the White Sox. Buehler could also get there, but for 2021 his innings will be what hold him back. Watch for a Castillo trade as well — his value could take a huge boost if he ends up on say — the Yankees. For Clint Frazier and Deivi Garcia maybe? 

 

Group 8: New York hitters

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
37 Pete Alonso NYM 1B 26
38 Aaron Judge NYY OF 28
39 DJ LeMahieu NYY 2B 32
40 Gleyber Torres NYY SS 24

 

I didn’t plan for these 4 to be right next to each other, but when I saw they were close I decided to run with the New York theme. Each has different upsides that could move them up into different groups, but downsides that are holding them down. 

Alonso: 50 HRs! .220 AVG…

Judge: 50 HRs! 50 ABs…

LeMahieu: .330 AVG! 15 HRs…

Torres: 40 HRs! .240 AVG…

 

Group 9: Veteran Pitchers

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
41 Trevor Bauer LAD SP 30
42 Yu Darvish SD SP 34
43 Blake Snell SD SP 28
44 Max Scherzer WSH SP 36

 

I had to be convinced to put Scherzer here. In reality I think he should be down in group 12. A 36 year old pitcher  with 2,300+ innings pitched in the past 12 seasons having the worst season of his career. “But — it’s Max Scherzer!” Mother Nature is undefeated y’all. 

I know I’m not breaking any new ground when I say that Bauer is just as likely to have an ERA over 4.00 as he is to have an ERA under 2.00. 

 

Group 10: Solid 5ish category hitters

 

Rank Player Team Position
45 Javier Baez CHC SS
46 Tim Anderson CWS SS
47 Keston Hiura MIL 2B
48 Austin Meadows TB OF
49 Cavan Biggio TOR 2B/3B/OF
50 Starling Marte MIA OF

 

There are 5 categories to be had from each of these guys — but each has his warts. 

Baez: did his plate discipline finally catch up with him? Highest K% of his career, lowest BB% — and there are rumors that his infield is about to become a lot less friendly. 

I’m not too worried about Hiura’s average — his minor league history was that of a .300 hitter. 

Marte is on the wrong side of 30 — how long do we see 25+ SBs? 

A fully healthy Austin Meadows is a sleeper MVP candidate in Tampa Bay in my opinion. He could rise up to group 2 territory with a bounceback season. 

 

Group 11: 4ish category veterans

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
51 Marcell Ozuna ATL OF 30
52 George Springer TOR OF 31
53 Jose Abreu CWS 1B 34
54 J.T. Realmuto PHI C 30

 

There’s a bit of volatility with these guys based on their age. 

Ozuna isn’t so far removed from that .241 season in 2019. 

Spring finds himself on a new team — it’s not the pressure-cooker of NY, but you never know how players will respond to new environs. 

Abreu is 34. Who knows if he starts to lose a little zip on his bat speed at this age. 

Realmuto is already down with a broken thumb. Yea, he should be fine for Opening Day, but who knows how that impacts him in the early going. 

 

Group 12: Young pitchers (and Clayton Kershaw)

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
55 Zac Gallen ARI SP 25
56 Max Fried ATL SP 27
57 Jesus Luzardo OAK SP 23
58 Brandon Woodruff MIL SP 28
59 Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 33
60 Tyler Glasnow TB SP 27
61 Stephen Strasburg WSH SP 32
62 Sixto Sanchez MIA SP 22
63 Chris Paddack SD SP 25

 

You want me to say that Tyler Glasnow should be the biggest riser in this group — but for my money it’s Zac Gallen. In his first 152 career big league innings he’s got a 2.78 ERA and a 10.5 K/9. I’m hoping the Diamondbacks pitching coaches are taking a look at the effectiveness of Gallen’s pitches. His highest thrown breaking pitch is his cutter and it is honestly his worst pitch. While his changeup has a .218 XBA in 2020 and his curveball has a .144 XBA — that cutter has a .311 XBA. This seems obvious to me. 

The only thing holding Sixto back is his sub-elite K/rate. He’s never had a K/9 over 9 at any point in his career. However, he’s never had a HR/9 over 0.8 or a walkrate over 2.5 so he doesn’t need huge strikeout numbers to be an effective real life pitcher. Fantasy though? You’d like to see more strikeouts. 

 

Group 13: Sluggers without average

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
64 Matt Olson OAK 1B 26
65 Eugenio Suarez CIN 3B 29
66 Giancarlo Stanton NYY OF 31
67 Nick Castellanos CIN OF 29
68 Luke Voit NYY 1B 30
69 Teoscar Hernandez TOR OF 28
70 Paul Goldschmidt STL 1B 33
71 J.D. Martinez BOS OF 33
72 Joey Gallo TEX OF 27
73 Carlos Correa HOU SS 26
74 Matt Chapman OAK 3B 27

 

In this latest dead ball era, you’re going to want one or two of these guys on your team regardless of the batting average hit. 

There’s 40 HRs in Olson’s bat, but as we saw last year — there’s also a sub-.200 batting average lurking in there too. 

Of this group the biggest mover I’m watching is Hernandez. In last year’s wonky season he was near the top of the leaderboard in exit velocity, hard hit rate, xBA, barrel % — and even spring speed?! How high could he fly if the power numbers are sustainable and he even chucks in a few extra SBs. 35/15? But with how low of an average — he was among the worst in whiff% and K%. 

I’m keeping Correa on this list for nostalgia’s sake, but this is his last chance to make an impact. He’s played over 111 games once in his career and has never touched 25 HRs or 15 SBs. I’m talking myself out of being on this list even now!

 

Group 14: Poor Man’s 5 Category Performers

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
75 Randy Arozarena TB OF 25
76 Trent Grisham SD OF 24
77 Dylan Carlson STL OF 22
78 Adalberto Mondesi KC SS 25
79 Whit Merrifield KC 2B/OF 32
80 Shohei Ohtani LAA SP/UTIL 26
81 Marcus Semien TOR SS 30

 

The player in this group I’m most optimistic about is Trent Grisham. Yea, he strikes out a lot, but you should be in an OBP league where he had a spicy 12.3% walk rate. One thing that worries me about Grisham though is the presence of Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, and Jurickson Profar. There are a lot of bats in that dugout and 27 outs. He could find himself sitting more than I’d like and one prolonged slump could turn into a season killer if his replacement gets hot. 

 

Group 15: Closers?!

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
82 Josh Hader MIL RP 26
83 Liam Hendriks CWS RP 32

 

I would never really recommend you keep closers, but if you can only pick two — these are the two I’d choose. Hendricks should flirt with 40-50 saves and Hader should again get a full Bruce Chen’s season worth of strikeouts while also getting near 40 saves. 

 

Group 16: Hitters I’d Rather Draft Than Keep

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
84 Michael Conforto NYM OF 28
85 Alec Bohm PHI 3B 24
86 Ketel Marte ARI 2B/OF 27
87 Brandon Lowe TB 2B/OF 26
88 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. TOR OF 27
89 Kyle Lewis SEA OF 25
90 Jarred Kelenic SEA OF 21

 

There’s nothing wrong with any of these guys — I’d just rather draft them than keep them. They’re all capable of 6-10 SBs, 25-30 HRs, a .275 AVG. Okay team stats. Kelenic obviously has upside TO THE MOON, but who knows if he’ll be up in late April like they said or if they manipulate his service time even more now just to prove a point. 

 

Group 17: Pitchers I’d Rather Draft Than Keep

 

Rank Player Team Position Age
91 Ian Anderson ATL SP 22
92 Jose Berrios MIN SP 26
93 Zach Plesac CLE SP 26
94 Corbin Burnes MIL SP 26
95 Nate Pearson TOR SP 24
96 Sonny Gray CIN SP 31
97 Dinelson Lamet SD SP 28
98 Kenta Maeda MIN SP 32
99 Lance Lynn CWS SP 33
100 Patrick Corbin WSH SP 31

 

Same story as group 16 — nothing inherently wrong with any of these pitchers. They should all get a high-3, low-4 ERA, 11-13 wins, a WHIP in the 1.25 range, and 170+ strikeouts, but they just don’t wow me for keeper eligibility. 

 
  1. kcc26 says:
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    Awesome! I’m wondering–where would you put Kelenic if it were announced today that he’d be starting the season in the Mariners’ lineup?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Floor for year 1: group 14
      Reality for year 1: group 10
      His peak: 1 to 3

      • Kcc26 says:
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        Thanks! I’m trying to decide what to do in my keeper. We can keep forever but only 6 players. It’s a snake draft so the cost is a specific round (avg of previous years draft round and current year ADP). Considering:

        Darvish (2)
        Story (3)
        Woodruff (4)
        Acuña (5)
        Albies (7)
        Alonso (10)
        Arozarena (15)
        Kelenic (21)

        Part of me wants to attack the relative scarcity of aces (pitching goes really fast in this league!), but I’m really tempted to hold kelenic with indications that he could be up after just a few weeks.

        Thoughts on which 6?

        Thanks!

        • Kerry Klug

          Kerry Klug says:
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          It’s
          Story
          Acuna
          Albies
          Arozarena
          Kelenic
          Woodruff for me.

          Hope you can grab an ace in rounds 1 or 2.

  2. Diego Garcia says:
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    Surprised you’d have Joe Ramirez ranked in the top five keepers. The guy turns 29 this year and the Cleveland Baseball Team is in obvious sell off mode.

    Cody Bells would have made much more sense than Ramirez – – three years younger, multi position eligibility and a WAY better line up around him.

    And in a dynasty league I’d take Bichette 100% of the time ahead of Ramirez. Same with Albues.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      If they sell him off and he goes to a playoff competitor with a potential need at the hot corner like: the Braves, Brewers, Mets, Nationals his value goes up. I’ve always liked his 5 category production.
      I feel you on Bellinger — lets see how high he bounces back. Is his realistic batting average the .305 he showed in 2019 — or the .263 he had the two years prior.
      Bichette/Albies definitely in dynasty — this is just keeper.

      • Diego Garcia says:
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        Are “keeper” and “dynasty” not one and the same?

        • Kerry Klug

          Kerry Klug says:
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          They are not.
          Keeper is keeping a certain amount of players for a certain amount of time/price.
          Dynasty is keeping your entire team.

  3. Diego Garcia says:
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    And you can’t be serious with a 32yr old closer who’s had one and a half good years and been a gas can for the rest of his career.

    Liam Hendricks??? WTF!?!

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Easy Diego – don’t keep him then.
      He’s been elite in his last 110 innings and is on a team that’s going to get a lot of wins.

  4. Jeff says:
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    Awesome! My team is looking good right now. It’s a points league but I have Soto in 1, Tatis in 24 and Snell in 23. Crazy rules let us keep 4 guys, whoever we want in the round they were selected, for their entire careers. Safe to say I’m set for a while now with those 3.

    Question is on my 4th. It’s a pretty hitter friendly league so I am leaning on keeping Lemahieu in the 4th but Dingers give bonus points so I could go Voit in 6 or Carrasco in 10 if I want the value and 2nd pitcher. Do I have it right with DJ over the others?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Crushing it with those 3 Jeff! That’s awesome.
      I think you’re on the right track with DJLM. I really do like Voit, but health is always an issue.

  5. Chris says:
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    Thank you for article

    No crazy keeper league here, just keep forever, 16 teams, 6 keepers each.

    I’m split on Trent Grisham’s value, 30/25 upside but may lose PT or not leadoff. You have Gallo ranked higher.

    Pick 2 of Realmuto, Grisham, Woodruff, Gallen, Gallo,

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      BORING! lol jk —
      Without knowing exact league format etc — I’d go Gallen, Grisham. You’ll be betting on him keeping the job. I think Gallo’s value should get a boost with the dead ball though.

  6. Phil says:
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    Here’s our crazy rules: players divided into 3 tiers, everybody keeps 6 players, 2 from each tier (or replace a 1st/2nd tier keeper with somebody from a lower tier if you’d like). Anybody kept as 2nd- or 3rd-tier this year moves up a tier next year, and the 18 draft rounds are divided evenly into tiers for next year (Rd 1-6=1st Tier, 7-12=2nd, 13-18=3rd, undrafted FAs = 3rd).

    The players at each tier I think could be worth keeping (asterisks indicate my current choices):

    1st tier: *J-Ram, *Bellinger, Giolito, Bauer, Nola, Torres
    2nd tier: *Gallen, *Lamet
    3rd tier: *Grisham, *Bohm, P Lopez, Moore, McKenzie

    I think it’s pretty clear with my options here (though you seem alone in putting Moore and Lopez above Bohm for 2021), but I do wonder whether to stick with this clean 2/2/2 breakdown, or if I should consider any of the other 3rd-tier options above Lamet, knowing next spring he’d be out of consideration as a 1st-tier keeper and they’d all have more potential keeper value as 2nd-tier options.

    • Phil says:
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      Also a 10-team ESPN mixed league, so rosters will end up fairly well loaded, as you can see from the number of top-100 players on my roster last year.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Now we’re talking with these crazy rules!
      J-Ram, Bellinger, Gallen, Grisham, Bohm are definitely it.
      I’d go Moore over Lamet. I’m battling with keeping Lamet or Solak myself right now and I’m just not confident Lamet lasts the whole season. I’ll be watching every spring slider very closely.

      • Phil says:
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        BuT hE’s HeAlThY tHiS sPrInG!

        “San Diego Padres’ right-hander Dinelson Lamet back to full strength after arm ailment ended last season”

        “Lamet: ‘Feel like I’m 100 percent myself'”

        “Dinelson Lamet: ‘I feel like I’m 100%.'”

        “Padres: Dinelson Lamet is healthy, but isn’t throwing live sliders”

        One of these things is not like the others…….

        • Kerry Klug

          Kerry Klug says:
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          Exactly… I don’t feel good about it. I could keep Lamet or Solak in the 15th.

  7. NATRONEMEANSBUSINESS says:
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    I’m surprised Andrew Vaughn didn’t make the board. Is he far off? My league is very shallow, a 10 team H2H with no MI or CI, and only 2 bench spots. There are 2 IL and 1 NA spot. Filling those spots in the draft have been key to my success fwiw. Goes back to know the rules, right? Our keeper league is( stupid) weird in part because two of the 8×8 cats is hits and avg.

    Also, could you share your thoughts on Trey Mancini? His most recent numbers are impressive. As someone who struggles with metastatic cancer myself, he’s someone I’d like to have on my team if he statistically keeps it up. I am not skilled in looking under the hood at the stat cast and what have you, so I don’t know how lucky he was, but I have the roster space. Thank you for your time.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      He is not far off at all. And there are some whispers that Vaughn might be in the mix at DH this season. It’s not like Zack Collins/Adam Engel are anything special. I think they could manipulate his service time and call him up by May 1. He is still pretty young at 22/23 though.
      Man, I completely forgot about Mancini — I like the hard contact rate– but in 2019 he had the 16th worst average launch angle. His average is a little luck driven since his .293 average in 2017 was fueled by a .352 BABIP, and the .291 AVG was from a .326 BABIP. He hits the ball hard enough to sustain the BABIP/AVG — but we’ve seen the downside in 2018: .285 BABIP/.242 AVG

  8. 5for40 says:
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    12 team – 7×7 OBP,SLG, QS,H
    Keep 6 and they fill the first 6 rounds of our draft

    So far I have Soto, Ramirez, Arenado, JD, & Bauer as my keepers. Having trouble with the last keeper. My options are underwhelming, Josh Bell, Kyle Lewis, or Bundy. I can move Arenado for Voit and Castillo or maybe Mondesi and Strasburg. Help a vato out.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      If you can get Voit and Castillo for Arenado — I think that’s the play. I have Castillo as a Cy Young favorite this year.

  9. Buster Moon says:
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    Another team needs help with keepers. How do you feel about this offer:

    Hader
    Lamet
    Gallo
    Will Smith (c)

    For Yelich

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Eh — I prefer Yelich. He’s the best guy in the trade.

  10. Rabbit says:
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    You had me with your opening comment that you love all the crazy keeper rules that different leagues have, because I’m a big fan of the (somewhat) complicated rules we have in my league where I’m the commissioner (and made up most of those rules), but some owners denigrate them as too byzantine and some even refuse to learn them, to their detriment I’d say. Anyway, we are a 5×5 auction roto league with OBP and K/9 instead of AVG and total Ks. You can keep up to five players for up to two more years after the year you bought them (either at the auction or via the FAAB process) at the salary you bought them at. E.g., you bought Player X in 2015 at $Y, then you can keep him in 2016 for $Y, and then again in 2017 for $Y, but then you have to throw him back into the auction pool for 2018. However, before the player’s third year on your team (i.e., before 2017 in the example above), you can purchase an option to keep the player for a fourth year, by adding $5 to his salary for the third and fourth years. E.g., with Player X above, before the 2017 season you can purchase the right to keep Player X for 2018 by adding $5 to his salary at that point, so you would keep Player X for $Y+5 in 2017, and have the right to keep him again in 2018 for $Y+5, but then you have to throw him back into the general auction pool for the 2019 season. I like this option rule–it’s similar to certain decisions a real GM has to make about paying a rookie contract player more than he has to now in order to lock him up for some of his free agent years at below-market value. What do you think?

    The other issue I wanted to get your take on (and others here on this forum) is how you treated 2020 in your keeper leagues. 2020 was a bust in so many ways, but one way is how it screwed up fantasy leagues. For our keeper league, we just decided to pretend that 2020 never happened, so that owners’ rosters, for 2021 keepers’ purposes, are the rosters they had at the end of 2019. We really had to do this because we basically decided to put the league itself on hold for 2020 because of the weirdness of the year (we ran _a_ fantasy league, but several owners chose not to participate in 2020, we made it a free year instead of a for-money year, no one could keep any players, and it was weird drafting not knowing which players would be playing, and when and for how long). Are most other keeper leagues doing the pretend-2020-never-happened thing, or did you try to run your league as usual in 2020? How did that work out? It’s an unusual experiment for keeper leagues everywhere, I think.

    • Zach says:
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      did same with 2020, so we are selecting from 2019 ending rosters. My league is very similar to yours, but $5 increase each year kept, with max keep of 3 years after acquisition year. Skipping 2020 and making keepers this year based on 2019 price really helped out teams who had young guys in 2019, basically a free year of development of them. Guys like Tatis, Kyle lewis, etc

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I like it — as long as your league members do too.

      As for our league we were back and forth about either redrafting entirely as we got closer to the 2nd start of the season — but keeping our 2019 keeper values.
      I really fought for us to play with our March draft because I LOVED my team and draft/keeper value (I ended up winning the league with that team!)

  11. Garrett says:
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    Do you put wander in similar peak and floor tiers as kelenic

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Definitely — they’re 1A, 1B in their prospect quality.

  12. Primetime says:
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    Would you trade Nola for Jimenez in keeper league?

    5*5 obp 5*5 qs

    Smith
    Freeman
    Biggio
    Arrenado
    Story
    Bellinger
    Lewis K
    Rosiario
    Modesi

    Bieber
    Nola
    Glasgow
    Meada
    Civale tailon or urias

    • Mike L says:
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      I’d make that deal for sure with your pitchers.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      If you can get Eloy for Nola I would.

      • Primetime says:
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        I’m trying to get Luis roberts Jesus luzardo framber for Nola moose civale and Robles..

    • Shawn B says:
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      When you have your six keeper, Giolito, Devers, Tucker, Jimenez, Ozuna, Moncada when do you select your next SP 13 team keeper league

  13. Chucky says:
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    Twelve team H2H, 6×6 OBP/ Holds. Keep 10 no contracts. JTR, Kyle Lewis, Bohm, Rizzo, Muncy and Burnes. Need three….impressive article. Like to see other articles of this ilk.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Thank you!
      Bohm, Lewis, Burnes.

  14. Mike L says:
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    We keep as many as we want with no moves except 3 times per year at live drafts. That to me is a true dynasty league. When we draft, you can make up to 10 moves at a time, but usually everyone is done after round 6. I could argue for more prospects on your list but I think this is pretty accurate. For the record, every mock I’ve done Hendricks was gone by pick 80. Age is irrelevant for a dominant closer on a good team(if saves matter).

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I know — its so hard for prospects. Don’t know when they’ll be up and how well they’ll do in year 1. And this ranking is for keepers for this year only.

  15. craig says:
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    Hi,

    Our keeper league is points with wins value 7 pts, loses -5. Total bases, + 1 for bb, -1 for striking out. We keep minimum of 3 free each year max of 8($20 for each over 5th keeper)
    I have Cole, Beuhler, Fried, Galen, Lamet as pitcher possibles. Def keeping Cole Beuhler trying to decide a third
    Hitters. Betts, Tatis jr, Vlad jr, Judge, Alonzo, Jordan Alvarez, Biggio, Bryant, Stanton. Thinking of keeping 3 or 4 here
    Btw, this is from 2 years ago, we skipped ly.
    Any advice or suggestions?

    Thanks

    • Mike L says:
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      You keep Gallen for your other pitcher and I’d go Betts, Tatis, Alsonso(assuming Pete) and Vlad.

      • craig says:
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        Thanks I appreciate it

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      Mike L has it right — Gallen is great.
      Betts, Tatis, Vlad, Alonso from the bats.

  16. Sano Chance in Hell says:
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    Hi Mike –

    Not in a full dynasty format, but interested in your thoughts on best keepers below. I have to leave off 2 of the guys below, thoughts on which 2 you’d pass on? Thanks!

    14th – Paddack
    20th – Carlson
    24th – Lux
    25th – Bohm
    26th – Franco
    27th – Sixto
    28th – Grisham
    29th – Teoscar

    • Mike L says:
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      I described above the kind of dynasty league I am in so this is a little more complicated for me. I’ve been in numerous mocks this year and I will tell you these players usually go in this order. Hernandez, Grisham, Bohm, Sanchez, Paddack, Carlson, Franco, and Lux. So by looking at this list, I would most likely leave off Paddack and Lux for the value. I don’t know how you can let go of Wander Franco but he has been falling below the 260 mark in any redraft mock I’ve done with Lux. Maybe wait to see some spring training games before you commit to your decision because if Lux turns things around he may be better value than Carlson.

  17. G says:
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    12 team H2H category 7×7 AVG/OBP league. Can keep 5. Players lose a round each year until they become a 2nd rounder and return to player pool.

    Definitely keeping Arenado (5th round), Lindor (4th), Trea (6th), Grisham (10th or 11th round depending on who I make my 5th keeper). So question is about my 5th keeper. My options include:

    Teoscar (10th)
    Paddack (9th)
    Julio Rodriguez (10th or 11th)

    I have been set on Julio Rodriguez since we have 2 N/A spots where I can stash him. But now considering Teoscar and Paddack. I was also initially planning on keeping Paddack but completely forgot I had Gresham so hes locked in there. I know its most likely Julio has no impact on my team this year but to lock him up as a 9th rounder next year and own him for a few years is attractive. There are are other guys like CJ Abrams, Luciano, Jasson Dominguez, Kristian Robinson who will be draftable for next season also, so that then leans me away from Julio.

    Another consideration is I have the 4th overall pick and one or both of Bieber or Cole will be available to me. Yellich or Bellinger would be hitters available.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • Mike L says:
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      If those other guys are available I say keep Teoscar. Sometimes there’s too much value put into prospects in leagues and it sounds like this is one of them. Otherwise Abrams, Luciano, and Dominguez would probably be gone (although these guys are further away). You probably get 0-20 games out of Julio this year and a full season of Hernandez.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I think you have a great chance to win now — go with Teoscar and win this thing!

  18. gauchosean says:
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    EVERY player is a keeper if you have them at below market price. My crazy league with contract extensions and minor leagues had Mike Trout tied up for 6 years before he was ever available for auction. Leads to bid chaos as scarcity drives prices through the roof, first year we could bid on Trout he was $68! But the league is won with $1 pitchers and $3 middle infielders that allow you to overspend on guys you really need. Regular 1 year drafts and auctions are really not very much fun anymore.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I feel the same way. I really devote so much time to the crazy rules and strategy for my home league that a redraft and dynasty start-up doesn’t catch my interest anymore. I’ll never be the GM of the Yankees — but I will always be the GM of the Roswell Aliens.

  19. Zach says:
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    5×5 (OBP, QS, SV+H), Yahoo roster (3 OF, 2 UT, no MI/CI). Keep 5, with $5 increase each year, for max of 3 years. So far keeping Abreu $12, Muncy $11, Santander $6, Kyle Lewis $7. Last keeper could be Bregman $33, or I could acquire Albies $26 or Ozuna $20. Any of those 3 stand out? Was leaning Albies because of the power/speed combo, but Ozuna is the most “value” compared to his projected auction price. Top guys (Acuna, Soto, Tatis, Yelich, Story, Bellinger) are all kept and the remaining top guys (Betts, Trout, Turner, etc) always go for way more than I have them valued at, so I always live in the $15-30 range in the draft.

    P.S. not really relevant but wanted to share the cool quirk in my league: you can trade auction dollars for the following year’s draft in season (with a +/- $20 cap)

    • Zach says:
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      Should note it is a 16 team league, so with 23 man rosters, 368 players are owned

      • Mike L says:
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        You already answered your own question. But if you already have a decent 2B then maybe you hold Ozuna.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
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      I’d go Albies easily.

      • Mike L says:
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        Kerry I wasn’t trying to take your glory but sometimes these articles get lost so figured I’d give my input. All about the keeper/dynasty talk.

      • Zach says:
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        Thanks guys always appreciate input from neutral parties. Was in that best player or best value conundrum on this one, thinking that both probably will go $25-28 in the draft, but Ozuna’s power is probably more replaceable, especially given my first four keepers are so power heavy

  20. Nuke LaLoosh says:
    (link)

    14 Team – 6×6 Categories league (R-HR-TB-RBI-S-OBP / IP-HLDs-SVs-K-ERA-WHIP)

    Keeper Rules: Each team gets a max of 15 “service years” + 2 Franchise tag players (service years don’t count towards the 15). EX: Tatis Jr. has been on your team the past two seasons, this year he costs 2 “years” towards the 15, next year he’ll cost 3, and so on unless he is given the franchise rage.

    No rounds associated with keepers. You keep 6 guys, those are your 1-6 round picks. First draft pick will be round-7

    Twist from last year due to short season: League agreed to freeze keeper years for everyone and revert to 2020 pre-draft cost AND anyone taken in the 2020 draft can be kept at no cost this year.

    I have the following as locks for rounds 1-9:
    Tildaddy – Jo-Ram – Story – Rendon- Voit – McNeil, Woodruff – Gallen – Burns

    Given the odd circumstances this year, I could also keep six of the following eight players in rounds 10-15:
    Myers – Happ – Cronenworth – Paxton – Bundy – Pearson – McKenzie – D. Williams

    (1) Are there 6 in the group valuable enough to keep in those rounds?
    (2) Which would you take?

    *Prospect savvy league with teams hunting for the next Trout, Kershaw, etc, so young prospects always go well above industry ADP.

    • Nuke LaLoosh says:
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      It’s H2H & 24 man rosters.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      I’d go
      Bundy
      Williams
      Pearson
      Happ
      Myers
      Mckenzie
      Cronenworth
      Paxton in that order.

  21. Fox says:
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    Pick a total of 6- Can keep forever last six picks of each draft.

    Bellinger
    Baez
    Teoscar
    JD Martinez
    Lourdes Gurriel
    Kris Bryant
    Muncy
    Yaz

    Bauer
    Urias
    Corbin
    Karinchak

    • Nuke LaLoosh says:
      (link)

      Since it looks like we were too late to the party to get responses, I’ll take a shot at your question.

      Obviously league dependent, but of that group I’d go – Bellinger, Bauer, Gurriel, Bryant…Urias & Teoscar??? Those last two would be league dependent. If you play in a Holds + Saves league, Karinchak could have nice value for the next few years.

      • Fox says:
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        Bryant over Baez eh? Interesting debate, never thought id have to be choosing between the two this year.

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      For me it’s Bellinger, Bauer, Baez, teoscar, gurriel, Urias.

      • Fox says:
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        Thanks for the responses! Its a 6×6 h2h league, your typical 5×5 + OPS & K/9. I hate giving up on JD and Bryant but I think its time unless ST changes ny mind.

  22. Fister Furbush says:
    (link)

    Great write up. Exactly what I’ve been looking for.
    I have a 5 keeper team and you’ve convinced me to keep Jack and DJ over Max and Bauer.

    Granted, my three other keepers are already locked in: Acuna/Bellinger/Story.

    Seems legit, right?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      Yea sounds good to me! Take a look at some of Bauer’s other seasons – hard to predict what you’re going to get.

  23. Matt says:
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    I’m in a bit of a pickle here. I can keep 2 out of Gallen, Lynn, Tucker, and Lewis.

    I’m leaning towards keeping the two pitchers, but fantasypros has Tucker as the consensus number 8 overall OF and that’s tempting the fudge outta me. Then I take a gander over at Grey’s rankings and he has Lewis above Tucker at 11 and 16.

    I tend to struggle offensively in this particular league (obp, Ks, slug).

    Appreciate you guys!

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      For me it’s definitely Gallen & Tucker. Both young, up and coming studs.

      • Matt says:
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        Thanks!!

  24. Joe says:
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    12 Team/26 player roster – 6×6 Categories league (R-HR-RBI-SB-OPS-AVG / QS-SVs-K-W-ERA-WHIP)

    Keeper Rules: Each team gets a max of 7

    Who should I keep out of?

    A Nola
    J Altuve
    A Bohm
    M Semien
    J McNeil
    M Clevinger
    P Goldschmidt
    K Hayes
    K Maeda
    C Bellinger
    N Castellanos
    M Scherzer
    G Springer
    J Kelenic
    C Sale
    S Strasburg
    J Verlander

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      Nola
      Bohm
      Bellinger
      Semien
      Castellanos
      Springer
      Scherzer

  25. Stumanji! says:
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    10 tm auction. Keep 5 at 120% of last year’s auction price.
    I just traded Trea $7/Alonso $3 for Bellinger $6/Yordan Alvarez $6/Albies $25

    My keeper options now are:
    Bieber $16
    Bellinger $6
    Alvarez $6
    Albies $25
    Grisham $2
    Voit $2
    Ryu $5
    Kelenic $10
    Freeman $47
    Arenado $49
    Yelich $59
    Trout $60

    Given the crappitude at 2B I think I have to keep Albies. Freeman, Arenado, Yelich, and Trout have exceeded their value, so I’ll have to try to redraft any of them. So basically I think it’s between Grisham, Voit, & Ryu. Leaning towards one of the bats. Thoughts?

    • Stumanji! says:
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      Update: Traded Grisham and Voit for Machado $20.

  26. Mike says:
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    HI,
    when would you draft Wander Franco for a keeper league? (7 players only).
    should i pick him 7th round or earlier?

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