Building a Dynasty
A longtime baseball fanatic dives headfirst into a dynasty league
Eventually, every child must shed his water wings and jump into the deep end
Redraft leagues… ahh you sweet summer fling
It’s time for DYNASTY
First, the dull part about my fantasy experience:
I’ve played redraft leagues for over a decade, and I joined a limited keeper league in 2016 (we keep 7). I hadn’t given dynasty leagues much thought until after our first keeper season concluded and I wished I could keep all my players, rather than choose only some of them.
Choosing the league:
I perused Rotoworld’s League Finder looking for a deep dynasty league. After a bit of searching, I found a league which the commissioner had clearly spent a lot of time planning out. In the entire league handbook, I couldn’t find a single setting I would change. It was a 5×5 rotisserie style dynasty with 30 Major League slots and 30 Minor League slots. Oh, and 20 teams! It was $100 each year with payouts to the top four teams, and $900 to the champion.
Now, let’s consider the math: 20 teams, with 60 players per team. That means our draft – a slow draft with eight hours per pick – will consist of 1200 players, half of which are Minor Leaguers. I wasn’t just jumping into the deep end. I was parachuting into the Mariana’s Trench.
The commissioner (Graham) requested that we all download the chat app GroupMe, which I am familiar with from my time playing online MLB The Show franchises. After getting to know each other a bit, Graham posted a poll for us to vote on a draft date. Even though it was 3+ months until Opening Day, nearly everyone voted to start the draft as soon as possible. I voted for the furthest away date, because I wanted as much time as possible to scout the 600+ prospects that would theoretically be drafted. But the vote is the vote. Let’s do this!
I know MLB players like the back of my hand, so I immediately went to work scouting prospects. Baseball America lists are helpful, but they account for defense and makeup and all that jazz. This is strictly fantasy, so defense only matters in the sense that it will keep players in the lineup and give them specific eligibilities. I found three separate dynasty rankings on the websites Razzball, DynastyGuru, and ImaginaryBrickWall. Before this dynasty started, I knew maybe 20 or so prospects: Acuna, Vladdy Jr. (seen above), Brent Honeywell, and a few others. Basically, the upper echelon guys who play in the Futures Game. I’d scouted them a little bit on film, but nothing too in-depth. Now, a few months later, I can go about 250 deep.
I’m… I’m swimming, Dad!
I wasn’t sure which draft position to hope for. Mike Trout is awesome, but on the other hand, whoever has the #1 pick is effectively waiting 40ish picks before their second pick. That’s a loooooot of top talent, slowly and methodically getting plucked off the board while you helplessly watch. But boo-hoo, you have Mike Trout.
If you pick on the back end, you have a good chance at landing an awesome duo like Springer+Syndergaard (remember, this is a 20-team league). But then… you’re waiting and waiting for that next pick.
I really didn’t know what to hope for, but my rankings had a clearcut top-7, and figured it would make things simpler to land a cornerstone talent near the top.
As luck would have it, I got the 7th overall pick. With a pre-ranked top-7, this made my job easy: whoever was still available at pick seven would be the face of my franchise.
That is until something unexpected happened: my league-mate, showing a clear preference for youth, snagged Mookie Betts at #6, whom I had not ranked in my top-7. The beginning of the draft went like this:
- Trout 2. Altuve 3. Turner 4. Harper 5. Correa 6. Betts
This left the following four studs available at #7: Goldschmidt, Arenado, Bryant, and Machado. Both Goldschmidt and Arenado were in my top-7, but on-the-fly I quickly eliminated Goldschmidt due to age. And suddenly… the allure of Kris Bryant seemed to take hold of me like Odysseus toward the island of the lotus eaters. I quickly discovered that when push comes to shove, pre-determined rankings aren’t necessarily the prevailing factor when drafting. We like to think it’s all logic and stats, but there was something beyond the box score telling me “Bryant is the guy here.” Nolan Arenado is my favorite player, but he is my first-round keeper in the aforementioned keep-7 league, and frankly, I think Kris Bryant is just a lick better. And besides, this league uses OBP. So, despite having Goldschmidt and Arenado ranked ahead of him in my rankings, I followed a strong intuition: Kris Bryant. Third basemen for the Chicago Cubs. All of 25 years old. Your #7 overall pick.
My round 2 selection was equally as interesting. After the turn of the first round, three surprising players went off the board: Byron Buxton, Shohei Ohtani, and Domingo Santana. I get that Buxton has shown flashes, but I need to see more. I trust him as an athlete, but not as a baseball player. Ohtani – at the time – was an unknown quantity. We’d seen his dominance showcased on Youtube, but not against Major League hitters. For every Yu Darvish, there are 30 Daisuke Matsuzaka’s. For every Ichiro, there are 30 Kaz Matsui’s. It was certainly a fun pick, I’ll give him that. Domingo Santana… I dunno fam… that’s a bit rich for my blood. But then again, some are convinced he profiles similarly to George Springer.
Three guys appealed to me with my 2nd pick, #34 overall. Noah Syndergaard, Rhys Hoskins, and Yoan Moncada. Thor, because he has the highest upside of any young pitcher I’ve ever seen (who throws a 93mph slider? He really might be superhuman). Hoskins because he has absolutely raked at every level, and tore up the majors in his first stint last year. And Moncada because… well… he’s Yoan Moncada. Basically the Lebron James of baseball prospects. Gary Sanchez was in the pool too, and while I liken him to the “Gronkowski” of fantasy baseball, I wasn’t ready to plunge on a catcher that early.
If we could simply turn injuries “off” like in MLB The Show, I would have taken Syndergaard. I think he’s a surefire ace, as long as he stays healthy. But with his tenacious delivery and bullet-like velocity, that injury risk was too much to stomach with my 2nd overall pick. Besides, I prefer to focus on position players early in any (non-points) fantasy draft.
I’m a big believer in Hoskins, but his overall upside is limited by two things: being a corner infielder and lacking speed. Maybe he turns into another Anthony Rizzo. That’s a borderline first-rounder every season. But the other guy – the riskier guy – if he reaches his ceiling… we are talking about the single best fantasy player. Period.
As I went to click “draft”, the voice of Fangraphs writer Eric Longenhagen reverberated in my ear,
“This is the best prospect in baseball, a player I think will be a perennial all-star and a potential MVP type of talent, with tools so deafeningly loud that it may be a while before we hear the echoes of his historical significance.”
Talk about a sales pitch.
Part 2 coming soon!