|Assets 1-25||Assets 26-50 (July 16)||Assets 51-75 (July 17)||Assets 76-100 (July 18)||Asset Mailbag (July 19)|
NOTE: Send me your dynasty asset questions for the Asset Mailbag at the end of the week.
How quickly things change!
When I first entertained the thought of making this list, I figured it was going to be more about telling people to be patient with their players. I’m not sure that is the case anymore. Even in dynasty leagues, the market for certain players changes very quickly—just ask Chris Sale or Josh Bell.
Keep in mind this list is for evaluating the value of players through the frame of dynasty league assets in fantasy baseball. Therefore defense is rarely taken into account.
Before we get to the rankings, I’m going to explain my methodology. It’s simple: If I had nobody on my roster, this is the order in which I would pick players. It’s also the order in which I would trade players, meaning if you offered me No. 10 on this list for my No. 11, I’d take No. 10 every time. This is a ranking that is completely devoid of roster/team-building strategy and just a way of determining drama-free value. That said, I do bake in outside factors (contracts/injuries/etc.).
More on methodology:
When it comes to future years of performance, I have one perspective: how many years I believe a player will continue playing at an elite level. Not all players can/will play at that level. What level I believe they can get to is the single most-determining factor in their addition and placement on this list. That can change based on age, size, or skill set. If a player is older than 30 and can still play well enough to win an MVP for three years, those three years might be worth more than a 23-year-old player’s entire career. This is especially true for pitchers. Not many have more than one season where they pitch well enough to place in the top five for Cy Young voting. If a 35-year-old can still do that for two years, that is more than I’d expect to get out of most young arms, and I value it accordingly. Very few pitching prospects have the potential to become aces, which is why you aren’t likely to find many on this list.
It is for this reason, you also aren’t going to find a lot of above average hitters on this list. If I believe there is a prospect about to enter the league who will put up similar average-to-above-average numbers, that older player will likely be further down the list, if he’s on here at all.
1. Mike Trout, OF, ANA, Age: 27
Previously Ranked: 1
I don’t care how good anybody has been this year, Mike Trout has been better than anyone through their first 8.5 seasons. That means he stays on top until he isn’t. Part of being on this list is just being reliable, and Trout is as reliable as they come. He posts Hall of Fame numbers every season, which is why he’s already accumulated more WAR than literally dozens of Hall of Famers.
2. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS, Age: 26
Previously Ranked: 2
I get it, Mookie Betts isn’t as good this year as he was last year. Why is he above Christian Yelich? I mean, compared with his last season, Betts is on pace to score more runs, have the same amount of RBI, a better walk rate, a better strikeout rate, and more overall hits—but he’s probably not going to win the MVP. Betts has also been this good for longer, and even his “slump” makes him one of the top 20 players in baseball. If this happens again next season, I’ll flip them.
3. Christian Yelich, OF, MIL, Age: 27
Previously Ranked: 11
Is it possible for Christian Yelich to get any better? I doubt it. So far, he’s the best player of 2019. In fact, he’s on such a pace that I don’t see it possible that he can continue it all season. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it, but the power/speed/average combo that he’s putting up does take a toll on the body. Still, he’s entrenched in the top tier of dynasty assets now, which includes Betts and Francisco Lindor. There is no reason to think he will slow down for the next two seasons, so get him if you can. Oh yeah, which tier is Trout in? He’s playing a different game than the rest of the league, so he’s on his own tier.
4. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE, Age: 25
Previously Ranked: 4
In case you didn’t see his age, Lindor is still only 25. Even in the golden age of shortstops that we are witnessing, Lindor is the best option both now and going forward. Nobody else combines his power/speed/age combination. He might also be the best fielding shortstop on this list as well, which means he’ll stay at the position for another five years at least.
5. Alex Bregman, SS/3B, HOU, Age: 25
Previously Ranked: 3
Alex Bregman stays in the top five for me because other than Trout, he might have the best approach in the game. I’m going to ignore power output for this season for most of this list, but I will say that even though Bregman is getting unlucky with a .245 BABIP, his walk rate is skyrocketing. It’s now up to 17%. Sure, I wish he could steal a few more bases, but at the rate he gets on base and the lineup he’s in, I can’t pick nits.
6. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR, Age: 20
Previously Ranked: 7
It’s only a matter of time before Vladito’s numbers look just like Bregman’s. He’s going to hit around .300 with more walks than strikeouts in his career. Will it be when he’s 22? It’s hard to say. A 10% walk rate as a 20-year-old is encouraging. And I bet a monster second half is in store for this young man.
7. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, ATL, Age: 21
Previously Ranked: 8
I’ve seen some articles asking if Ronald Acuna Jr. is already the best player in fantasy baseball, and it makes me laugh. He’s nowhere near as efficient as the top five names on this list. I get it. Baby Acuna is way outperforming Baby Vlad. Still, I can’t help wonder what his line will look like when his BABIP drops from its lofty .346 perch. I think right now he’s more of a .275 hitter, which is very good for a guy who just reached drinking age. I like that his strikeout rate is improving, but it’s still not at the same level as Vlad. Neither is the walk rate.
8. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, ANA, Age: 25
Previously Ranked: 8
The player with the highest ceiling in all of baseball, Shohei Ohtani is proving that his 2018 hitting isn’t a fluke. Slashing .303/.353/.924, his numbers are almost identical to last season. His strikeout rate has dropped from 28% to 24% which is good, but so has his walk rate (10% to 7%). He’s been so good that I think we’ve all forgotten just how good he is at pitching. Let me remind you: plus-plus fastball, plus slider, plus splitter. Who is ready for 2020?
9. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, LAD, Age: 24
Previously Ranked: 14
Before this season, I wasn’t certain Cody Bellinger would hit his 100th home run in 2019. Now it appears he’ll do it before August. Hitting the century mark before the end of your third full season is impressive, even in today’s game. Just turning 24 this month, Bellinger is showing how high his ceiling is. I’m not sold on him being a .300 hitter, but he’s shown he can certainly get hot enough to do it for an extended period. Bellinger is also good enough defensively to switch positions throughout his career, which is a plus. My guess is he keeps playing enough first base to maintain eligibility, but even if he doesn’t, he’s a fantastic source of power and counting stats for years to come.
10. Juan Soto, OF, WAS, Age: 20
Previously Ranked: 10
Juan Soto is the same age Baby Vlad—think about that. While one teenager was on the cover of baseball magazines in 2018, the other was busy slugging .517. Soto doesn’t have the power potential of any of the names above him, but his approach is well beyond his years. I believe that before the season I predicted that he will have more walks than strikeouts in 2020. That is still a possibility, although I’m not as confident about it. Still, it’s going to happen, and when it does, he will be a 100-run, 100-RBI machine.
11. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY, Age: 27
Previously Ranked: 6
Did Aaron Judge fall out of the top 10 because he was injured? Yes, but this had less to do with him missing time this year and more about him being a huge human in the middle of his prime who has already missed significant time in the past two seasons because of injury. That is not a description that helps your dynasty value. What does help it, however, is a career .560 slugging percentage and .398 OBP. Hitting in that Yankees lineup and stadium are positives too—so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
12. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC, Age: 27
Previously Ranked: 16
Kris Bryant and Judge belong together in this list. What Bryant lacks in overall power potential to Judge, he makes up in multiple position eligibility. I’d much rather have Judge than Bryant as a personal preference to wanting elite OBP, but I believe they are so close that they should be back to back wherever they are. Bryant has the same injury concerns as Judge, in fact maybe more so. He also has the same ceiling: MVP.
13. Walker Buehler, SP, LAD, Age: 24
Previously Ranked: 20
Walker Buehler is the most valuable full-time pitcher in dynasty leagues. Nobody else combines age/performance/potential quite like him. Buehler already pitches like he could win the Cy Young, with an elite WHIP (1.01 career), ERA (3.16 career) and strikeout rate (9.91). Something that is also not mentioned enough is that Buehler is already putting up Cliff Lee-like control, with a crazy 1.21 BB/9 rate, which means he’s basically walking just one guy a start.
14. Javier Baez, SS/3B, CHC, Age: 26
Previously Ranked: 25
I didn’t believe in Javier Baez—I’ll admit it. You could probably guess that too by reading some of the entries before him. I like guys who can get walks. Baez is not one of those guys. I cringe when I see a walk rate of 5 or lower. How does he do it? By swinging a lot. And when he makes contact, he hits the ball very hard. Baez is near the top in many exit velocity leader boards. You combine that with plus speed and you get a guy who makes the most out of his contact.
15. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, PHI, Age: 26
Previously Ranked: 21
The outfield experiment with Rhys Hoskins is over. He will not retain that eligibility in 2020, and he likely won’t get it back. That leaves him at first base, which is good because Hoskins is the only first baseman who can approach Bellinger in dynasty value. There are a couple of young guns who can in another year or so by continuing their top performances, but Hoskins has proven to be a traditional, old-fashioned lineup leader. He gets on base at a 40% clip and slugs .525. He’s a threat to post a 1.000 OPS sometime in his career.
16. Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, NYY, Age: 22
Previously Ranked: 42
There are few players on this list I am more interested in seeing what they turn out to be more than Gleyer Torres. Is he a .290 hitter with 35 bombs, 100 runs, and 100 RBI? Maybe. If he is, that’s a top-10 asset as a 22-year-old who is eligible for both shortstop and second base. His second half will really affect his ranking. If he can continue the pace he’s on, in that Yankee lineup, he could jump quite a few spots by the end of the season.
17. Josh Bell, 1B, PIT, Age: 26
Previously Ranked: NR
Finally. It looked like Bell might just be one of those guys who never lived up to the hype. He had a pseudo-breakout year in 2017, only to regress the following season. Nevertheless, Bell has always shown an exceptional ability to work the zone and hit for average. Power was the only question mark. Looking at his 6’4″, 200 lbs. physique, many thought that it seemed only like a matter of time before he figured out how to hit homers. It turns out they were right—although it probably took longer than any of them thought. If Bell finishes out this season close to as good as how he started it, he jumps Hoskins. If not, he may lose a couple of spots.
18. Wander Franco, SS, TB, Age: 18
Previously Ranked: 31
We need to talk about Wander Franco. Ranked 31st in the preseason edition of this list, all he has done is shown why some think he is the best prospect to come around since Bryce Harper. Franco is doing things in the minor leagues that you just don’t see, such as getting called up to High-A at 18 years old and not striking out in his first 40 at-bats. He’s dominating the 21- and 22-year-olds who are supposed to be the Florida State League’s best, to the tune of .362/.431/.572. He has as many strikeouts (twp) as home runs in his 13 games and is a run-producing machine, with 10 RBI and 14 runs scored. He does it all. No-doubt prospects don’t come along very often. Make sure you grab this one.
Why is he higher than Fernando Tatis Jr.? So far, Franco is outperforming every young star (Guerrero/Soto/Acuna) at every level in the minors while being the same age—that includes Tatis. I know these are fighting words to Padres fans, but Franco’s ceiling is higher. He’s got the ability to compete for batting titles as well as hit for power and steal bases. I’m not willing to overlook that because Tatis had two good months in the majors. If he has two more, maybe they’ll be neck and neck.
19. Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS, Age: 29
Previously Ranked: 43
I’m torn on Anthony Rendon. Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s a fantastic hitter. It’s just that now that he’s finally shed his injury-prone status, he turned 29 and now carries a threat of regression. Still, despite inching close to 30, he’s one of the few hitters who can put up a .300/.400/.550 split during the next two or three years.
20. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL, Age: 28
Previously Ranked: 18
There are a lot of Nolan Arenado fans who are certain to believe that I will perennially have him underrated. This ranking isn’t against Arenado in particular but a result of the nature of Colorado players in general. I do not believe that a player who predictably plays at replacement level (for fantasy purposes) in 81 games deserves to be higher than 20. That is what Arenado is when he is away from Coors:
|Nolan Arenado||G||AVG||OBP||SLG||R||RBI||BB Rate||K Rate|
Even though he is an MVP in the other 81 games, you still only own an MVP player for half the season, essentially owning no advantage for the other of half the season, which you cannot say about anyone above him on this list. This is compounded when the rest of the team does the same thing, strangling the number of opportunities for counting stats such as runs and RBI while on the road. He’s a fantastic player who is worth even more in real life because of his exceptional defense, but I don’t value players as highly when half the season I’m essentially starting a backup. That shouldn’t be who your best hitter is.
21. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU, Age: 24
Previously Ranked: 13
Carlos Correa is still only 24, but why do I have a feeling like “what could have been?” about his career? This season has proven two things about him: 1) he’s still an elite shortstop when healthy and 2) he’s rarely healthy. I’d love to have him only any dynasty roster; I’d just want a backup. If he was healthy all of 2019, he’d be in the top 20. Instead, he’s in the mid-20s.
22. Corey Seager, SS, LAD, Age: 25
Previously Ranked: 24
Even though Corey Seager has been healthier than Correa, I don’t see his ceiling as being quite as high. That is the only reason he is ranked just behind Correa. It’s a personal preference, but I’d rather have Correa in a straight-up trade. Really, they are almost the same player. This could easily flip if Seager proves to continue to be the healthier option.
23. Trea Turner, SS, WAS, Age: 26
Previously Ranked: 12
Speaking of shortstops with injury concerns, welcome Trea Turner to the stage! Turner is the lesser of the trio because he’s the oldest and his value is most tied to speed, which does not age well. He’ll still be an elite source of steals for the next few years, but I’d rather have the power. He fell a number of spots because of another injury, an increased strikeout rate, and finally just a glut of young shortstops available right now.
24. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD, Age: 20
Previously Ranked: 58
I’ll admit it, so far I’ve been wrong about Tatis:
“I think the early promotion is going to do exactly the opposite of what the Padres hope. By that I mean I don’t think it will accelerate his progression and could even hinder it. This isn’t because I don’t like Tatis—I just don’t like the mix of factors surrounding him. If it were just contact issues alone, I wouldn’t be as concerned considering the exceptional power he has demonstrated at such a young age. If it were just that he’s playing in notoriously pitcher-friendly Petco Park, I wouldn’t be as concerned, again because of the power. If it were just the skipping of Triple-A alone, I wouldn’t be as concerned because he is much better than your average offensive 20-year-old. But all three of these things merging together looks like a perfect storm to me. I still very much like his upside; I’m just not sure he reaches it as quickly.”
That is what I wrote three months ago. So far, I have been wrong, but I still do believe there is a major regression coming to him before the season ends. There are just too many factors suggesting that: a .424 BABIP, a 29% strikeout rate, a home/away split that is nearly even (which no other Padre has). Everything has gone right for this very talented kid in 2019. My only hope is that when the regression happens, his strikeout rate doesn’t balloon to 35%.
25. Gerrit Cole, SP, HOU, Age: 28
Previously Ranked: 26
Gerrit Cole is showing that 2018 was not a fluke. The Astros version of him is better than the Pirates version. It’s possible that he’s even taking another step forward. This season, his strikeout rate 13.43, which is more than one point better than his 2018 mark, which led the league. He’s on pace for 300 strikeouts and lowering his walk rate to 2.35, a combination that results in a 1.03 WHIP. If only he could stop allowing so many home runs. He’s on pace to allow more than 30 again. If he could cut that down by five or 10 dingers, he’d be the undisputed best pitcher in baseball. Yes, even better than Max Scherzer.
(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)