I don’t know about you, but with no spring training going on and the Owner’s lockout not appearing to be coming to an end any time soon, thank goodness for college baseball and fantasy baseball drafts!

The college season is off to a great start as my 12-0 Texas Longhorns (Class of ’93!) are the No. 1 team and have allowed only 13 runs in the team’s first 12 games. Meanwhile, in the first of my many dynasty drafts, I was able to snag Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and George Springer. I know, I know – if you have been reading my earlier posts you know I value hitters over pitchers and young players over the older stars.

But when it comes to dynasty leagues, they are like a box of chocolates…no, that is the wrong thought. What they all are is once you get past the inaugural draft, each one takes on its own personality, and learning to adjust when needed is a key tool to have in the toolbox. In the case of this league, we are in year eight. Not only do we have 40-man rosters, but we have 20-man minor league rosters. So with the top prospects gone and players like Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis not close to being available, I went for the best player on the board strategy.

Even if you are starting a new dynasty league, you have to be able to zig at times. You need to enter the draft with a game plan and stick to it as much as you can. But if an older stud player is staring you in the eyes and you know he will make your team one of the best in the league, then you take him. And if it happens again and then again, then you zig and zag and then get back to your plan.

Snagging as many young players is still a top goal, but sometimes the oldies but goodies are too good to pass up.

With that said, let’s get to the rankings.

Tier 3: Players 75-51

India and Rogers Shine

Rank Player Pos Team Age
75 Carlos Rodon SP (N/A) 29
74 Will Smith C LAD 27
73 Paul Goldschmidt 1B STL 34
72 Jonathan India 2B CIN 25
71 Trevor Rogers SP MIA 24

OK, I will be the first to admit that Jonathan India may be ranked too low. Not only was he a highly touted prospect as he moved through the Cincinnati system, he then proved why by winning Rookie of the Year last season. India slashed .269/.376/.459 with 21 homers, 69 RBI and 12 steals last year. And unlike many rookies, he didn’t fade in the second half as he slashed .263/.356/.507 with 15 homers and 34 RBI.

So, why is he ranked 72nd here? Because is he really as good as he showed last year or will he pull a Cody Bellinger and suck the life out of you while you wait for him to discover his past success? With one year under his belt, I can’t move him ahead of other players. If you are in a league that has limited keepers and India is somehow still available, then I would jump on him. The fact he didn’t fall off the cliff in the second half of the season gives me enough belief that what he did last season is only the floor for him.

Trevor Rogers was horrible during his brief time with the Marlins in 2020 with a 6.11 ERA, a 1.607 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 75. But Rogers showed what he could do last season. In 133 innings of work, he allowed only 107 hits and had a 1.150 WHIP to go along with a 2.64 ERA and ERA+ of 158. The question is which version of Rogers will show up in 2022. I don’t think he matches last season’s numbers, but as a third starter on your fantasy team, he would be a great grab.

A Wink and a Nod

Rank Player Pos Team Age
70 Joe Musgrove SP SD 29
69 Javier Baez 2B, SS DET 29
68 Jesse Winker OF CIN 28
67 Jose Altuve 2B HOU 31
66 Cody Bellinger OF LAD 26

It seems Jesse Winker doesn’t get a lot of love, at least not outside of Cincinnati. So let’s give him some love. He had a breakout season in ’21, slashing .305/.394/.556 with 24 homers and 71 RBI. Now entering his prime, those numbers should go up. Why? Well, let me tell you. For his career, his ISO of .216 is 45 points higher than the MLB average. The average major leaguer has a home run percentage of 3.3, a 22.6% strikeout rate, and a walk rate of 8.6%. Winker for his career is at 4.3%-16.5%-12.0%. His average exit velocity is 90.5 mph, 2.2 mph better than the MLB average. Long story short, Winker can hit, and that is what you want in fantasy baseball.

As for Cody Bellinger, I had to think long and hard about where to rank him. His resume is outstanding: Rookie of the Year in 2017 and NL MVP in 2019. But the last two years have been a disaster for him and fantasy owners who have had him on their rosters. Last season he bottomed out by slashing .165/.240/.302 with 10 homers in 315 at-bats. Yes, injuries limited him to 95 games and assuredly affected him at the plate. But he also struggled in 2020 by slashing .239/.333/.455. Basically, he has not been good the last two years. But he is only 26 and he is the former ROY and MVP. You can’t overlook that and neither did I, thus the nod to his past ability and ranking him 66th.

The Old Man Group

Rank Player Pos Team Age
65 Max Scherzer SP NYM 37
64 Whit Merrifield 2B, OF KC 33
63 George Springer OF TOR 32
62 Brandon Lowe 2B, OF TB 27
61 Luis Castillo SP CIN 25

The first two player groups each had four players 29 or younger. This group breaks that trend because Max Scherzer, Whit Merrifield, and George Springer are still top players in the game. The only reason they are ranked this far down is because in dynasty leagues, you don’t build teams around players who are age 37, 33, and 32.

Scherzer is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. We don’t have to look at his past stats to know that. But in case you need a refresher, Scherzer, at the age of 36, struck out 236 hitters in 179.1 innings pitched, went 15-4, and had a 2.46 ERA and 0.864 WHIP with an ERA+ of 166. He is showing no signs of slowing down. Again, the only reason I have him ranked this low is because he is now 37 and maybe, just maybe, he will only be above average and not dominant the next few seasons.

Whitfield continues to shine for a Royals team that is lacking in star players. Whitfield is not going to help your slugging numbers. The reason you have him on your team is for the stolen bases. He swiped 40 last year (and was caught only four times) and he will be on the field every day the Royals play. He has played in every game the last three seasons and missed only four games in 2018. My only real concern is when does Whitfield start to feel his age? When his speed goes, so does his value.

The only thing that really slows Springer is himself as injuries limited him to 78 games with Toronto last year and 122 games with the Astros in 2019. But when he is on the field, he will give you MVP type numbers. His career 162-game average is 36 homers, 94 RBI, and 10 steals. In 342 at-bats last year, he smashed 22 homers and drove in 50 RBI. Those power numbers shouldn’t change this year thanks to a loaded Blue Jays lineup.

Don’t Overlook Reynolds

Rank Player Pos Team Age
60 Bryan Reynolds OF PIT 27
59 Zack Wheeler SP PHI 31
58 Nolan Arenado 3B STL 30
57 Ketel Marte 2B, OF ARI 28
56 Max Fried SP ATL 28

After the 2019 season, I was presented a trade in which I would get Bryan Reynolds. He was coming off a nice rookie season in which he slashed .314/.377/.503. However, he had only 16 homers and 68 RBI in 491 at-bats, and, looking at my outfield, I decided to pass on him. I felt good about that after watching Reynolds slash .189/.275/.357 in 2020 – a season in which a lot of hitters looked futile at the plate. But the Pirates center fielder rebounded last year with a slash line of .302/.390/.522 to go along with 24 homers and 90 RBI.

Reynolds took the launch angle craze and put it into practice last year, posting a career-high flyball percentage of 28.8, 3.8% higher than 2020, and 7.9% higher than 2019. He also lowered his strikeout percentage to a career-low 18.4 while having a career-high walk percentage of 11.6. I passed on Reynolds before, but if given the chance to add him to one of my teams again, I won’t do it again.

Is Webb for real and what’s the story with Story?

Rank Player Pos Team Age
55 Logan Webb SP SF 25
54 Jose Berrios SP TOR 27
53 Trevor Story SS (N/A) 29
52 Starling Marte OF NYM 33
51 Teoscar Hernandez OF TOR 29

If you saw Logan Webb’s 2021 season coming last spring, then I hope you also played the lottery. Otherwise, Webb’s season was a complete surprise to most fantasy players last year. In 94 career innings, Webb had a 5.36 ERA and a 1.521 WHIP. But Webb found his groove last season to the tune of a 3.03 ERA and 1.106 WHIP in 148.1 innings of work. Not only did he lower his walk rate to 2.2 per game, but he increased his strikeouts to 9.6 per 9 innings, a career high. Like many young pitchers, it takes them a while to find their groove on the major league level. That is how I view his two stints with the Giants in 2019 and 2020. In year three, he figured out what it takes to pitch at this level and I think Webb is for real.

Then there is Trevor Story. What are we to do with Trevor Story. His 162 game average numbers are great – .272/.340/.523 with a 112 OPS+ to go along with 34 homers, 98 RBI, and 22 steals. But his numbers have been in decline since finishing eighth in the MVP voting in 2018 when he hit 37 homers, drove in 108, and stole 27 bases while slashing .291/.348/.567. His OPS+ was 127 that season then dropped to 120 in 2019 and 2020 then down to 103 last year.

And we all know how playing in Denver has inflated those numbers. In 1,421 at-bats at Coors field, he slashes .303/.369/.603 with 95 homers and 279 RBI. Away from Coors Field, he has a slash line of .241/.310/.442 with 63 homers and 171 RBI. That is a drastic difference. However, traveling from altitude to lower elevations can take a toll on the body. Right now, I am betting that Story will improve those numbers away from Coors Field. But that statement is more in pencil than pen.

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6 months ago

When do we get the top 50? Keeper draft tuesday! Thanks!

Reply to  Jakkers
6 months ago

This is Monday March 21st and I’m not seeing the top 50, thanks guys, you’re awesome!

Big Joey
Big Joey
Reply to  Jakkers
6 months ago

This is Saturday March 26, and I don’t see the top 50 as well

6 months ago

Hey, figured I’d pop in to say thanks for this series. I’m enjoying it.
Do you think I’m crazy to sell Webb right now? He’s got all this buzz around him and I think this just might be the high point.

Also, I’m buying Will Smith at that price all day.

Also, love the bullish call on Reynolds. If he gets traded out of Pittsburgh to better situation his value’s gonna catch fire.