Welcome back to the Top Dynasty Keepers. This week we will look at my Tier 4 group – players 100 to 76. While the 30 Major League Baseball owners are trying to be sticks in the mud as they have taken the ball and gone home, we are not locking anyone out. We are knee deep in depth charts and player lists as we prepare for our drafts.

However, before we get to the fun stuff, let’s quickly review what I believe is the best way to build a team.

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When it comes to putting together your dynasty team, you have to try to stick to your formula as much as possible. Yes, there is always room to be a little flexible, but figure out what your approach is going to be heading into a draft and then stick with it. Last week I spelled out my three rules when building a dynasty team. If you don’t remember this great advice, these are my rules:

  1. Young over old.
  2. Draft the hitter over the pitcher.
  3. Draft the starting pitcher ahead of the closer

Practice what you preach

So you may be wondering just how well do I follow my own rules. In my Tier 5 rankings last week, 23 of the 26 players I listed were under the age of 30. Of those 23  players, 12 of them were 25 or younger. If you are building a dynasty league team, then you have to think young.

I also listed 14 hitters compared to 12 pitchers thanks to me ranking Michael Kopech and Casey Mize tied at 125th. So I didn’t have a huge gap between pitchers and hitters, but in a standard 12-team league, those players are being drafted in rounds 10 and later. A lot of the good hitters are gone by then, leaving more pitchers on the table.

And when it comes to the number of starters compared to relivers, every pitcher I ranked in Tier 5 were starters. If you are not going to reach for a closer early, there is no reason to do so in the mid-rounds of the draft either. Closers come and go all the time except for the Mariano Riveras of the world. Last year’s hot closer can quickly become this year’s sixth inning reliever.

Let’s take a look at one of my dynasty leagues in which we have 40-man rosters. There are currently 31 players on my team. Of those, 19 (61% of my roster) are under the age of 30 and five (16%) are 25-years-old or younger. Of the 12 players who are 30 or older, seven of them are pitchers and five of those seven are relievers.

Trust your gut

So, to make a long story short, go with your gut instinct when it comes to the top dynasty keepers. For years, my gut has told me to draft young over old, hitter over pitcher and then, as the season progress, make trades to fill in any holes. You know what other owners in dynasty leagues love? Young players! You can always flip a young player and/or prospects (if you have a league with prospect rosters) for a key veteran.

You want to win right away? Then go heavy with veteran players. But while you are doing that, the rest of the owners will fill their rosters with younger players who can be core players for years to come. Three years from now your old players are declining and you’re headed for a rebuild.

I hate rebuilding, so the 25 players you see below reflect my approach as 17 of them are 29-years-old or younger and there are 16 hitters compared to nine pitchers.

Anyway, lets get on with the list!

Tier 4: Keepers 100-76

Where are the young guys?

Rank Player Pos Team Age
100 Christian Yelich OF MIL 30
99 Tyler Glasnow SP TBR 28
98 Kevin Gausman SP TOR 31
97 Giancarlo Stanton OF NYY 32
96 Max Muncy 1B,2B LAD 31

As I said above, you have to be a little flexible in your plan. This is the “old man” grouping in Tier 4, with the youngest player being Tyler Glasnow at the age of 28. And there are a lot of question marks concerning players in this group.

Yelich is an intriguing player at this point in his career. After winning the NL MVP in 2018 and finishing second in 2019, he fell off the cliff in 2020 by slashing .205/.356/.430 with an OPS+ of 110. Lots of hitters struggled in 2020, so if you overlooked that performance expecting a bounce-back season in 2021, you were very disappointed. Yelich slashed .248/.362/.373 last year with an OPS+ of 99. That slugging percentage and OPS+ were career lows. I’m still not giving up on Yelich, which is why he is ranked at No. 100. But if want to avoid him, I wouldn’t argue with that decision.

As for Glasnow, you may ask “why is he ranked here?” He is likely out for all of this season recovering from Tommy John Surgery. However, recovery from the procedure is pretty successful these days and since these rankings are for dynasty leagues, you may be able to buy low and stash Glasnow on the IL this season and have him ready to go in 2023.

The question concerning Max Muncy is how much time will he miss recovering from the UCL injury he suffered at the end of the season in ’21. It is to his non-throwing arm, and with the universal DH coming, Muncy can see a lot of action at DH assuming he can swing the bat. If you believe he returns early and can swing the bat, it is hard to pass up a player who slugged 36 homers and drove in 94 runs at this point of the draft.

Some fan mail for Franmil!

Rank Player Pos Team Age
95 Jose Abreu 1B CHW 35
94 Sixto Sanchez SP MIA 23
93 Salvador Perez C KCR 31
92 Franmil Reyes OF CLE 26
91 Andrew Vaughn 1B,OF CHW 23

In all honesty, I may have Franmil Reyes ranked too low. All the man does is hit the ball hard. His average exit velocity last season was 92 mph and for his career it is 92.8, compared to the MLB average of 88.5. His career home run percentage of 6.0 nearly doubles the MLB average of 3.3%. So what’s my point? Draft him. He will hit homers and drive in runs, and that is what we all want on our fantasy team.

Andrew Vaughn had an up-and-down season as a rookie last year. In 55 plate appearances in March/April, he had zero home runs and slugged .362. But in May he slugged .430 followed by a .423 mark in June before having his best month in July, slashing .308/.347/.517. He matched his July home run and RBI totals of four and 12 in August, but slashed only .225/.340/.375 and then fell on his face the last month of the season. But Vaughn showed he could handle major league pitching and if he is still hanging around at this point of a draft, I’d grab him and be smiling while doing it.

Who doesn’t like a versatile catcher?

Rank Player Pos Team Age
90 Daulton Varsho C, OF ARI 25
89 Pablo Lopez SP MIA 26
88 Trent Grisham OF SDP 25
87 Austin Meadows OF TBR 26
86 Willy Adames SS MIL 26

If you are asking yourself why is Daulton Varsho listed here, ask yourself this – how many young catchers are available and how many of them can also play left field, center field and right field? Varsho didn’t put up splashing numbers last year in 95 games with the Diamondbacks, but he did hit 11 homers and stole six bases in only 284 at-bats and started 37 games at catcher, 21 in center field, nine in right field and six in left field. If he continues to get enough time at catcher, he’s worth having him on your team.

With Wander Franco banging on the door and Willy Adames slashing .197/.254/.371, the Tampa Bay Rays decided to ship Adames to the Brewers last year and Milwaukee was thrilled with the trade. As a Brewer, Adames slashed .385/.366/.521 with 20 homers and 58 RBI in 99 games. He is only 26 and his career 162 game average is .262/.337/.444 with 24 homers and 68 RBI and a 110 OPS+. When the big-name shortstops go flying off the shelf, grab Adames and be happy.

Look, a reliever!

Rank Player Pos Team Age
85 Josh Hader RP MIL 27
84 Ryan Mountcastle 1B,OF BAL 25
83 Shane McClanahan SP TBR 24
82 Adalberto Mondesi 3B,SS KCR 26
81 Kris Bryant 1B,3B,OF (N/A) 30

In this grouping is the one and only reliever I have listed in my top 125 Keepers. So, what makes Hader so special? First, he is only 27, so he should be effective for several more years. Second, his stuff is that good. He is coming a season in which he had a 1.23 ERA and 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings. His WHIP was a measly 0.835. For leagues that use strikeouts/9, he is a dream pitcher to have, and his career WHIP is 0.854 – so he isn’t going to kill you there either.

If you are just compiling a list of the top first basemen, regardless of age, Ryan Mountcastle is not in the top 10. But we are building a dynasty team, so already we are probably not looking for 35-year-old first baseman and maybe even not 30-year-0ld first baseman. If you want a young first baseman who can hit for power and has not hit his ceiling, then you want Mountcastle. All he did in his first full season with the Orioles is hit 33 homers and drive in 89. Those 33 dingers ranked sixth among all first basemen.

Shane McClanahan is the other pitcher in this group and is a player I love, and again may not be ranking high enough due to my overall aversion to reaching for young players. If the Rays take the regulator off McClanahan, he can be an ace in your fantasy rotation. He struck out 10.3 batters per 9 last year. He did walk 2.7 batters per 9, but that is more than manageable since he allows fewer hits than innings pitched. While the league batted .252 against him (the MLB average was .244) hitters slugged only .389 against McClanahan with a .697 OPS, but way below the MLB average.

The buzz with Baz and Jazz

Rank Player Pos Team Age
80 Shane Baz SP TBR 22
79 Robbie Ray SP SEA 30
78 Jazz Chisholm Jr. 2B,SS MIA 24
77 Dylan Cease SP CHW 26
76 Alex Kirilloff 1B,OF MIN 24

Shane Baz is the third Tampa Bay starter I have ranked in Tier 4, and if Glasnow was healthy and McClanahan and Shaz Baz a little more seasoned, they would all likely be in Tier 3 or higher. Baz has been throwing hard since he was a baby as his fastball sits in the mid-90s and pairs that with a nasty slider. If he refines his curveball or improves his changeup, he will have three above-average pitches. Even with two average third/fourth pitches, he struck out 113 batters in 78.2 innings in Double A and Triple A and then another 18 batters (with only three walks) in 13.1 innings of work with the Rays last year.

In one of my leagues, I took Jazz Chisholm Jr. as a prospect and eventually traded him away for something. That’s how good that trade was! Eligible at both middle infield spots, Chisholm provides some pop while, more importantly, give you steals as his 23 swiped bags ranked fourth among second-base eligible players last year. If he can improve his walk rate and thus his OBP, he is good for 30 or steals and 20 homers for years to come.

Well, that’s it for this week’s keeper rankings.

Thanks for reading and come back next week for the Tier 3 Rankings: Players 75-51.