Dynasty League Review: How Many Teams?!
Here at Pitcher List, we thought it would be fun to give the readers a look into the dynasty leagues of Pitcher List staff members. Austin Gretencord looked over his 10 team dynasty last week. This week I will be going over my home league, which is a MASSIVE, weekly, 30-team CBS H2H points league. Filled with plenty of clever minds from all across the country (even one guy in the UK!), the Reddit dynasty league is the best one out there. Having won the ‘Ship once in 2016, I can say I’m one of the better owners in there.
I just wanted to start off by saying how great of a group of guys are in this league (P.S. If your league doesn’t have a Slack, GET ONE!). I went down to Arizona to meet up with them and watch some spring training baseball and I do not regret one moment of it. Without these guys, I wouldn’t have the position here at Pitcher List, as they pushed me to get better and helped me through some tough times. People always get weirded out when I say I’m talking to my “fantasy friends,” but these guys have become my real friends and I love ’em to death. Special thanks to John for being my late-night discussion pal, Kevin (the gentle giant), and David for always being there for me, Eric for being my favourite Canadian brother, Corey and Ben for being my arch-rivals, Jason for being my adopted Dad, and Chuck for being a crazy trading machine (and my favourite Boston-ite, even if you have a hard-on for Tom Brady). To all of the other cool kids in Reddit Dynasty: Thanks for being a stellar fantasy crew. Alright, enough mushy stuff.
This league has been around since 2012 and has been run by the same commissioner (how do you put up with all our crap Bobby?) since. Just for hilarity, I went back and looked at the initial draft and hoooo boy is it a blast.
Tim Lincecum! Jered Weaver! Even Cliff Lee! So, so much going on there. Anyways, this 30-team points league has a wee bit of a difference than standard CBS scoring, such as -1 point for grounding into a double play, +1 for a cycle, and +1 for sac flies and hits. While pitching is still fairly dominant, in terms of other points leagues it’s not so drastic (Max Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom were top, but then Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor were the next three top point scorers). You start your standard positions, with one CF and two OF being the main difference. Each team can keep 10 major leaguers, with each team getting one “team keeper” (I’m the Toronto Blue Jays, so my team keeper was Marcus Stroman). If you keep 11, drafting doesn’t start till the 12th round, which is the first round of the MLB draft where you can move draft picks. You can keep fewer than 10 and draft starting the round after how many you keep (for example, the Oakland Athletics kept zero MLB keepers and used his first pick to take Yusei Kikuchi). This strategy of keeping zero is used often, as the Minnesota Twins in this league did it the year Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu came to the MLB and were able to take both.
My absolute favourite quirk of this league is the way our minor league system is set up. This year we’ve expanded up to 12 minor leaguers (360 total) and we hold the minor league draft before the MLB draft. If a player exhausts his minor league eligibility (130 ABs, 50 IP or 15 appearances for relievers) he will enter his “free keeper” eligibility stage. An example of this from last year was when Harrison Bader broke his rookie eligibility, so he became a free keeper for up to two years (he was kept during the MLB draft by me, so that now leaves him with one more free keeper year). This allows recently graduated players to become very valuable, since in a league this deep you need as much depth as possible and free keepers allows you to keep more (hell, I kept Cleveland Indians‘ Jordan Luplow as a free keeper just in case he was a starting OF for the Indians).
Finally, a common dynasty feature and something that I love is the allowance of trading draft picks. We have two drafts so MiLB and MLB picks can both be moved. With us drafting and keeping up to 360 minors, you would think it becomes slim pickings, but there’s always guys taken towards the end of the draft who I love (Luken Baker was a last-round draft pick this year). Finally, after the first round, if each team has a minor league slot open, they can make a “Post Round One Team Pick” that allows everyone to draft one prospect from their MLB team that is available (for example, I took SP Eric Pardinho). I normally like to take high upside picks with this pick rather than safe players, as one year (and granted this is semi-awful rational) I decided to take the prospect who was closer in Connor Greene over the recent 16-year-old international signing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Greene is now stuck as a reliever in the St. Louis Cardinals system walking 17.8% of batters in AAA last year, while Guerrero Jr. is hitting bombs and making me cry myself to sleep every night.
I joined this league in 2014, after I was messaged on Reddit as a result of winning (and dominating) the r/SultansOfStats league I was in. I took over the last place Texas Rangers that had their fair share of holes, but had some pretty great pieces (Clayton Kershaw, pre-awful Chris Davis, and an Ian Kinsler who was still decent). My general strategy for fantasy was to always go for it; I had never been in a league this large, but I figured with a few key additions I could make a playoff run. This league was no different and right from the get-go I had made moves to acquire back-end keepers that I desperately needed. My first big move was trading top prospect Joey Gallo for Kendrys Morales, Andrelton Simmons, and Brian McCann. Looking back on it, I don’t think I properly valued the top prospects and might have been burned in terms of initial return, but the return ended up helping me make the playoffs my first year in the league while Gallo never lived up to his initial prospect hype.
Flash-forward four years, a team name-change, and one championship later, and I still believe 100% in always going in. My team has consistently been towards the top of the league and I’d like to think it’s from using prospects as trade chips rather than waiting on them. Also just absolutely dominating most trades (Francisco Lindor was a cheapish free keeper buy for me and boy do I love the man who traded him to me). Every year I can rebuild my farm, but sure-fire MLB pieces are worth more to me than prospects. I also tend to veer towards older players, such as Daniel Murphy, Nelson Cruz, and Edwin Encarnacion as I think they get undervalued in dynasty.
From year to year, I also go through a constant cycle: I buy MLB pieces to help me compete, make the playoffs, and once the off-season rolls around I trade said MLB pieces for minor leaguers, picks, and free keepers. Every year guys say “we can’t let Jamie trade for a top-five farm again” and yet it always happens. I guess this is why they’ve created a hashtag called #DTWJ (Don’t Trade With Jamie). This has its pluses and minuses of-course; I’ve traded away my fair share of productive prospects (Kyle Wright, Bo Bichette and Jo Adell last year alone) however I acquired Luis Severino and George Springer in those deals. This is a trap I find too many dynasty players fall into: trying to strictly build around prospects when rebuilding. Prospects are fantastic and it’s so so sweet when you draft a guy and have him develop into a bonafide stud, but nine times out of ten a prospect is going to fail. Maybe he scuffles and eventually figures it out (Justin Smoak and Trevor Bauer come to mind); however, a prospect’s value is at its highest when he holds the top 10, 15, 25, etc. prospect ranking. Selling prospects for MLB pieces always makes more sense to me and you can always find prospect gems, whether it be late in the minor draft or through trade.
Going into 2018-2019 Off-Season
I had made a strong push at the trade deadline to go for it all, acquiring Yasmani Grandal, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon Belt, and Kenta Maeda. Little did I know Grandal would slump, Kershaw would be relatively mortal compared to his ace-like self, and Belt would be broken. Maeda, who was decent in a relief role, I acquired the day before he was moved to the bullpen (while I was expecting him to be a relatively good SP). Because of all the players I had traded for, I had 19 keepable players and could only keep 10 of them max (as I didn’t have a Blue Jays keeper at this point). My farm, while not the worst, was in the bottom half, even with Danny Jansen. I sold off a lot of my older yet still valuable pieces (Joey Votto, Kershaw, etc.) to get back some good young free keepers (JESSE WINKER MY BABY) and minor league picks. I love to deal, so get ready for a lot of trade analysis.
- My Jimmy Nelson, Joey Votto and MiLB pick 3.27 for FK2 Jesse Winker, MiLB Yordan Alvarez and MiLB pick 1.7 — This trade hurt a lot, as Votto is one of my favourite players ever. Nelson was also hard to move, as I had traded Josh Hader one month before Nelson destroyed his shoulder and really wanted Nelson to come back. Alas, I needed to make space and the return netted me one of my favourite breakouts in Winker, a top fantasy prospect bat in Alvarez, and a pick I would end up moving to move up a couple of spots.
- My Brandon Belt for Tommy Pham — This one was a bit easier to do. The San Fransisco Giants owner needed a team guy and didn’t fully trust Tommy Pham’s ground-ball ways, so he felt inclined to move him. I acquire my #1 outfielder for a guy who’s battled concussions. Easy win for me.
- My Andrew Heaney for Franklin Perez — This one was a bit of a head-scratcher to me after I made it. I certainly liked Perez and drafted him two years before. But Perez was coming off an injury-plagued campaign, and Heaney had finished the year fairly strong. I felt I rushed this deal and wanted to just clear space. This will not be the only move this occurs.
- My Clayton Kershaw for MiLB Brendan Rodgers, MiLB Isaac Parades, MiLB pick 1.12. It wouldn’t be until later in the off-season that I realized that this was a good move to make as I had gotten pretty stellar value for an ailing pitcher. My farm system was looking pretty retooled at this point and the picks would only help make it better.
- THE FIRST THREE-TEAM TRADE IN REDDIT DYNASTY HISTORY! My AJ Pollock, Brendan Rodgers, Isaac Parades and MiLB pick 1.29 for Touki Toussaint, Adrian Morejon, AJ Puk, MiLB 1.6 — To save the confusion, I just put the players I was sending out and acquiring. This deal was another instance of wondering if I sold too low, however, I absolutely loved Puk and Touki as I viewed them as elite relievers as their floors, and top of the rotation starters for their ceilings. Also acquiring another early first round minor-league draft pick was something I wanted to do, and potentially use it as a trade chip for a better MLB piece.
- My Eric Thames, FK2 Domingo German, MiLB Franklin Perez for Marcus Stroman and MiLB Sean Reid-Foley — I finally got my team keeper in Stroman, who has been relatively hurt and underwhelming but is someone I still consider to have a bit of potential (3.45 FIP in June, July and August before going down to injury). Sean Reid-Foley I love as a high strikeout number-five type of pitcher, who will alternate between good and bad starts, but the upside is worth the pain I believe. I really didn’t think much of Thames as I didn’t think anyone would want him, while German I didn’t see having any path to starting in the MLB. Might be wrong on both of those guys.
- My Daniel Murphy, Yasmani Grandal and Ryan O’Hearn for Travis Shaw and MiLB Andrew Knizner — Oof. This was before both Murphy and Grandal had signed granted, but still is a lot to give up. My rationale was I had Jose Altuve manning 2B, Danny Jansen waiting in the wings, and O’Hearn wouldn’t be a keeper, while Shaw having 1B/2B/3B eligibility was HUGE for me. And hey, I really liked Knizner’s potential to hit as well. I semi-regret this one, but I think Shaw has a huge year and I believe in the underlying numbers he put up in 2018.
- My Kenta Maeda, MiLB 5.16 and MLB 14.27 for MiLB pick 2.26 and MLB 13.28 — Another dump for picks, as I liked Maeda but figured the Dodgers wouldn’t make him a full-time SP. I ended up keeping the MiLB pick and taking Tristan Pompey with my last minors pick, as I love the swing change results Pompey has made.
- My Mike Minor and Delin Betances for Robinson Chirinos — This was strictly a value deal. I didn’t love Chirinos, but I almost certainly would not be keeping Minor and Betances and felt Chirinos was good as a backup to Jansen or to use as trade bait (which in the end was the outcome).
- My MiLB pick 1.07, 1.11 and MLB pick 15.27 for MiLB 1.04, 1.21 and MLB pick 13.04 — The Athletics owner needed 1.11 to swing another deal (an owner wanted two mid-round 1sts for 1.01) and offered me a slight MiLB pick upgrade and an MLB pick upgrade of two rounds. Done deal.
- My Charlie Morton and MLB picks 13.27, 15.08 and 17.27 for MLB picks 12.08, 12.09 and 12.13 — This deal was weird. It’s really hard to gauge MLB picks, as the 12th round is the first “real” round, so I wanted to acquire some picks for this round to help fill out the rest of my team through the draft.
- My Trevor Cahill and MLB 12.13 for his MLB 12.03 — This was the easiest move I made. Cahill wasn’t being kept, even after news of the Los Angeles Angels signing him, and a 10 pick upgrade helped a lot as some decent names went between 12.03 and 12.13.
- My MiLB pick 1.21 and MLB pick 18.27 for Domingo Santana, MiLB pick 5.01 and MLB pick 12.01 — I adore Santana, even before this hot start of his. As soon as he was traded to the Seattle Mariners I decided I was going to buy everywhere. At this point, the 1.21 was expendable for me and I decided to take on a final keeper and the first MLB pick of the 12th.
- My A.J. Puk, Robinson Chirinos, MLB pick 13.04 and MiLB 4.27 for FK2 Harrison Bader, Andrew Heaney, MLB pick 12.4 and MiLB pick 2.08 — My final trade before the drafts was a doozy. Puk was so hard to move, but I loved the idea of getting Heaney back as a SP 3-4, loved Bader as a free keeper and the pick upgrades helped a lot to sway my mind. Chirinos didn’t hurt to move, but I worry about having Jansen as my only catcher.
TL;DR Picks wise: In the end I acquired MiLB picks 1.4, 1.7, 2.8, and 2.27 and MLB picks 12.1, 12.3, 12.4, 12.8, and 12.9. My drafts were loaded, my farm was looking great, and I was prepped to dominate the drafts.
My Keepers included:
Travis Shaw, Jose Altuve, Francisco Lindor, Josh Donaldson, Tommy Pham, Domingo Santana, Luis Severino, David Price, JA Happ, Andrew Heaney, and Stroman as a Team Keeper. Winker and Bader were free keepers. Not too shabby for a 30 teamer I’d say!
The minors draft was fairly straightforward. My dream scenario was one of India or Mize to drop to fourth, have Larnach at sixth, and take closer MLB talent for the rest of my picks (unless a talented bat dropped somehow). Unfortunately, Mize and India were both taken in the spots ahead of four, so I went with Larnach at four and decided that Brujan would be my target at six, who I got (and heard the guy the pick after me wanted). Pitching wasn’t something I wanted to snag early, as I trust bats a lot more.
My plan here was to mostly target high-end relievers, as it was the only position I really needed (before the injury bug devastated my rotation of course). Alvarado, Robertson, and Jeffress all offered safeness (a day before Jeffress’s injury mind you) with Alvarado offering insane strikeout potential. Flores was a nice 1B/2B/3B insurance policy in case any of those guys get hurt and Williamson was a bad upside play as before his concussion last year he was mashing (thanks to retooling his swing with Justin Turner’s hitting coach). Lyles I thought was a decent upside play, as he was in line for a rotation spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates and after he moved to the bullpen last year he relied more on his curve-ball to get more swings and misses. Pena was good as Andrew Heaney insurance, as during the slow draft news came out that Heaney would miss some time thanks to elbow soreness and Pena offers a helluva pitch in his slider. Scott was someone I viewed that could make a Hader-esque leap as a multi-inning relief ace, but unfortunately he was pretty sub-par in spring training so we will have to wait and see. His slider is an elite weapon, inducing a 26% swinging-strike rate last year, so hopefully he can harness it this year.
|C||Danny Jansen (MiLB Elig)||SP||Luis Severino|
|1B||Travis Shaw||SP||David Price|
|2B||Jose Altuve||SP||JA Happ|
|SS||Francisco Lindor||SP||Andrew Heaney|
|3B||Josh Donaldson||SP||Marcus Stroman|
|CF||Tommy Pham||SP||Felix Pena|
|OF||Jesse Winker||RP||Jose Alvarado|
|OF||Domingo Santana||RP||David Robertson|
|UTIL||Harrison Bader||RP||Jordan Lyles|
|UTIL||Wilmer Flores||Bench||Tanner Scott|
|Bench||Mac Williamson||MiLB||Touki Toussaint|
|Bench||Jordan Luplow||MiLB||Sean Reid-Foley|
|MiLB||Trevor Larnach||MiLB||Adrian Morejon|
|MiLB||Vidal Brujan||MiLB||Eric Pardinho|
|MiLB||Andrew Knizner||MiLB||Dennis Santana|
My team is looking fairly strong, even with all of the injuries. On the next League Review I’ll go over what I had to do with all of these injuries, a deal I made before the season started, and some of my favourite waiver wire additions I (and others) have made.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)