|Assets 1-25||Assets 26-50||Assets 51-75||Assets 76-100|
I started this list a year ago because I was tired of dynasty lists not including amateurs/prospects/international players. If there is an asset out there valuable enough to be ranked in the top 100 it shouldn’t matter that he isn’t signed to an MLB contract yet, or that his contract has not yet been purchased by an MLB team. I do not understand why writers exclude a section of players if some are valuable enough to be ranked. It leaves readers in the dark and wondering if they way undervalue or overvalue a subset of players. That said, this list has no limitations. If Shohei Ohtani were still in Japan, he’d be on this list — probably not as high as he is now, but he’d be on it.
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, if there were no roster considerations, 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, LAA, Age: 28
I know, I know — everybody really wants to place Ronald Acuna, Jr. at the top of every fantasy baseball list. Not here. Not yet. We are witnessing consistency as we’ve never seen. The crazy thing is Mike Trout is still getting better. He makes incremental improvements in plate discipline and power each year. Meanwhile, all he’s done is put up three straight 1.000+ OPS seasons where he gets on base in almost half of his plate appearances and drops a near 40/20 average season during that time. What’s Acuna done?
2. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, ATL, Age: 22
I’m not trying to (blank) on Acuna. He’s a great fantasy player. Nobody goes for 41 HR and 37 SB without having elite talent. What is further encouraging about Acuna is his bump in BB rate (9.24 in 2018, 10.68 in 2019). The K rate went up a little, but he was also hitting for more power so that tradeoff is completely worth it. I am interested to see what he follows his 2019 up with. Generally speaking, power hitters stop stealing bases at the rate Acuna did. It’s not for lack of effort. Once a guy proves he can hit 40 home runs, they tend to put him in the 3- or 4- hole and there just aren’t as many opportunities to steal. Maybe since there were so many guys who hit 30+ last year that Acuna will be an exception. Let’s hope so because the dropoff is dramatic: like from 37 to 22. Don’t get me wrong, 22 stolen bases is a lot — it’s just not nearly as helpful. Either way, he’s the best young asset in dynasty leagues.
3. Christian Yelich, OF, MIL, Age: 28
No. Yelich is full-on Trout. The only thing separating Yelich and Trout is that Yelich has come late to the party — and that makes me wonder if he’s going to stick around all night. All fantasy baseball is about finding consistency and being able to plan on it. Trout has been Trout for nine years. Yelich has been Trout for two years. Even if he would have finished the whole season in 2019 and ended up with 50 homers and 35 SBs, he’d still be here. Now, if he does the same thing again, he and Trout start to become interchangeable, and his ranking will reflect as much.
4. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE, Age: 26
This is where things start to get tricky. The next five or six players are almost interchangeable value-wise. Depending on roster construction I could see any one of these next few being worth more than the others. Lindor gets the nod for me in general because he simply affects the most stats more dramatically and he’s easily the most valuable shortstop. All other shortstops either hit 30 home runs or steal 20+ bases. Lindor does both. He might also be the most likely of the top 10 shortstops to remain at the position in the next five years. Also, unlike other players on this list, a risk of being traded does not affect his value.
5. Mookie Betts, OF, LAD, Age: 27
Now we get to the Mookie Monster. Having been a Mookie supporter since 2013, it is hard for me to separate my admiration for his athleticism from his dynasty value. I never thought Betts would be as good as he’s been the last three years. But entering his age 27 season, he still seems to be getting better. No, he’ll probably never repeat the historically efficient 2018 campaign that earned him an MVP, but he is good for .300/.390/.900 for the next few years with 30ish home runs and a bunch of runs/RBIs. The steals, however, could be on the downturn. After all, his 16 swipes are the lowest in his last four years. He’s so athletic and fast, I don’t think he’ll ever get below 10 stolen bases, but 16 could be the new normal.
6. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, LAD, Age: 24
Cody Bellinger was a completely different hitter in 2019. With dramatic improvements in both his hit and his walk rate, he went from an occasional all-star to an MVP in just one season. What can we attribute to such a change? Selectivity. In 2019, Bellinger swung at the fewest pitches outside of the zone in his career (26.8% 0-Swing) and swung at the most pitches in the zone (70.4% Z-Swing) all while swinging at almost the same number total pitches (44.4%). What’s the result? A six-point rise in contact rate (78.1%) and a near 10-point rise in hard contact (49.2%). If Bellinger had a future at 1B, he might have moved up two spots on this list because of position scarcity.
7. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA, Age: 25
If I was ranking the most talented players, Shohei Ohtani would be higher than Trout. Ohtani has the highest ceiling of any baseball player. Unfortunately, his body might not be able to support his tremendous talent. It does bother me that he didn’t seem to improve from 2018 to 2019 at the plate, but there is still time for that. Even if he doesn’t improve, he’s still useful offensively. I just hope his velocity maintains in 2020. I’m not speaking just about his surgically repaired elbow. I am speaking about his bat as well. Ohtani was top 10 in average exit velocity (92.8). If he can keep his fastball sitting 95, it’s going to be fun to watch him in 2020 and beyond.
8. Juan Soto, OF, WAS, Age: 21
I think we’re going to see a big jump from Juan Soto in BB/K ratio in 2020. IF that were to happen, he could jump up a spot or two. Right now Soto had 108 walks and 132 Ks. Those numbers may switch sides very soon. I know, probably not 132 walks, but the guy is just 21 … it could happen! Also, are we going to see him hit .300? I think that also happens in 2020. A lack of speed though hinders his ability to get much higher on this list. I mean, if he hit 40 bombs or something, then he could crack the top 5 but I don’t know if he ever gets there. It’s possible though. All of his Statcast info suggests he is capable of more homers. He’s in the top 20 in hart hit balls (95+ mph) in 2019, the top 50 in average exit velocity, and the top 60 in Brls/PA%. Those all indicate it is possible but not likely.
9. Alex Bregman, SS/3B, HOU, Age: 24
Alex Bregman dropped three spots in the last month based on all of the drama surrounding the Astros. I’m convinced that scandal will affect the value of the Astros involved, as much as players like Bregman will contest. It has to be easier to lay off a pitch when you know what pitch is coming, even if you’re not sure if it will be a ball or strike. That is why I am very skeptical of Bregman’s 119 walks in 2019. To put it in perspective, only eight players reached the 119 walk plateau in the last five years: Trout, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, and Joey Votto are the others. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good hitter with power, but it’s his eye that separates him from most. And I’m unsure how much of his eye can be attributed to sign stealing. We’ll know soon enough.
10. Gerrit Cole, SP, NYY, Age: 29
After an insane 2019 where he struck out batters at a rate of 13.82 per nine innings, Gerrit Cole is officially the top dynasty pitcher. Right in the middle of his prime, Cole has made a jump (or two) since being traded to the Astros in 2017. Can he maintain his success in the Bronx? Probably. I know the Astros are seen as brilliant pitching whisperers, but it isn’t as if the Yankees don’t have success in the same field. They know how to utilize fireballers. Cole will be the primary contender for the AL Cy Young for the next three years.
11. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR, Age: 21
Even most Vladito naysayers wouldn’t have expected the Hall of Famer’s son to post an OPS below .800 in 2019. Anybody who tells you they did say that probably also said they told you that Ketel Marte was going to be the best second baseman in the NL last year and that Pete Alonso was going to hit exactly 53 home runs — in exactly 597 at-bats — and 693 plate appearances. I think we’re more likely to see the Vlad II we saw in July and August, where he slashed .310/.391/.515 in 2020, and it even better through the years. He’s a future MVP candidate. Not many players have that ability.
12. Walker Buehler, SP, LAD, Age: 25
It’s difficult to imagine a pitcher with a brighter future than Walker Buehler. As far as longevity goes, he checks all the boxes: low WHIP, high K-rate, good velocity, elite control, and decent size. I’m actually at a loss for how he can get better in the coming years. Even if he doesn’t, he’s still one of the best pitchers in the league who might win at least one Cy Young.
13. Wander Franco, SS, TB, Age: 19
Our first prospect! Even as I’m writing this, I find it crazy that Wander Franco is this high. How could a teenager who hasn’t even played a game in the majors be ranked in the top 15 players? Well first, this is a fantasy league. And not just any fantasy league: a dynasty league. Before you criticize, try offering Trea Turner or Aaron Judge or even Fernando Tatis, Jr. for Franco and see how far you get. This ranking is as much about what the market is for Franco in dynasty leagues as it is his exemplary ability/performance.
Franco is getting raves from everywhere. Many scouts are calling him the perfect prospect. He’s receiving 80 hit grades, 80 overall grades. There are no negatives. So far, despite being three years younger than his competition, he has played like a man among boys in the lower levels of the minors, slashing .336/.523/.928 with 20 HR and 22 SBs in 172 games between Rookie-A and High-A. He also has a BB:K ratio of 83:54, which is unheard of for a teenager. His eye seems to be getting better as he faces tougher competition as well.
Not only has he got all of this going for him, but a week ago the Rays signaled that they might bring him up in 2020. That was not expected and does increase his value a little. Is it possible that Franco disappoints in 2020 and he’s not even on this list in a year? No.
14. Jose Ramirez, 3B, CLE, Age: 27
Yeah…it’s complicated with Jose Ramirez. Are there red flags? Sure, but the talent is undeniable. Nobody else can go 30/30 this year after Ramirez…well, maybe Luis Robert, but there are bigger question marks with him. It’s his red flags that keep him out of the top 10. Had he not had those two unfortunate half seasons, he would be right up there with Lindor and Betts. It is truly unfortunate that Ramirez has moved off second base completely. That led to a lower rating this year and will likely continue to keep his place in this list worse than it could be. To be clear: until what Ramirez is this year, I do not recommend picking him in the first round of a dynasty draft. Your top hitter should not have this many red flags.
15. Trea Turner, SS, WAS, Age: 26
Let’s talk speed. Turner is still the ultimate source for stolen bases, and likely will be for the next two or three years. That is extremely valuable. With Turner on your squad, you are the favorite to win SBs or most hitting categories (if not both) against any other team. Either they don’t have any speed at all or they prioritize speed over other hitting attributes, which is something you don’t have to do if you have Turner. That said, now that Turner has shown he could reach 25 dingers too makes him ridiculously important to any squad. Now the negative: speed tends to decline before any other attribute, which would make Turner trend on the more precarious side of overall value. Also, injuries. Despite having a pretty solid record of health before 2017, Turner has had difficulty staying off the IL due to several injuries. The good news is those injuries are not mostly in his lower body, which means he’s less likely to see a premature decline in speed. The positives and negatives add up to an early-to-middle-second-round value to me.
16. Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, NYY, Age: 23
Remember the days when moving from second base to shortstop increased your dynasty value? Those days are gone. There are too many good hitting shortstops. I say this to emphasize that Gleyber Torres could fall next year by producing the same numbers as he did in 2019 just because he loses 2B eligibility. A lot has been said about Torres’ numbers being inflated by playing the Orioles:
|2019 vs. Orioles||18||.394||1.045||1.512||13||22||20|
|2019 vs. the Rest||126||.261||.420||.746||25||74||70|
A few things:
- Torres not going anywhere.
- Torres will keep playing the Orioles for the foreseeable future.
- The Orioles are still the Orioles until proven otherwise.
There is also talk about Torres’ exit velocity being underwhelming. We have to remember this kid will be 23 for the entirety of the 2020 season. He’s the same age as Rafael Devers, playing a more difficult position, with a less complicated performance history, and by no means a finished product. He could underperform: he could only hit 30 homers this year. Read the last sentence again. He’s 23.
17. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD, Age: 21
Speaking of youth, here comes Baby Tatis. For the specific question of why Tatis over Franco, please see Franco’s entry. Let’s talk about Tatis here. I know everyone is completely sold on just how great he is, but I’m not. It’s not that I don’t think he will be great, I’m not convinced he’s the hitting savant that he was being called last July. First of all, Tatis was extremely lucky last year. A BABIP of .410? I don’t see that ever happening again. That is 56 points higher than his career minor league number. How else was Tatis lucky? While he hits the ball hard, his launch angle (6.9) makes no sense for a guy who was on pace for 40 home runs. There is one more number that doesn’t make sense to me. I find it difficult to believe that Tatis is the only starting Padre last season who was completely immune to Petco Park. His home/away splits are roughly the same:
Every other starting Padre had significantly different splits:
For some, the difference between home and away was so bad that you wonder who was overly unlucky (see Manny Machad0). Meanwhile, the 20-year-old kid is unaffected. If you’re telling me that Tatis has figured out Petco Park? In his first year? We’re done here.
18. Yordan Alvarez, OF/DH, HOU, Age: 22
I didn’t want to put Yordan Alvarez this high on the list, but I can’t find a reason not to. Simply put, he’s just too good at hitting and too young not to be in the top 20. I know we are talking about just 87 games of MLB experience, but Alvarez has been dominant at every level in the minors. There is simply no evidence to suggest he isn’t a perennial 900+ OPS guy. What will be interesting to see is if the sign-stealing scandal helped his walk rate of 14%. There isn’t any evidence that he can’t do that again, considering his minor league career walk rate was 12%. I doubt much will change. This guy can hit. If he’s around for you by pick 20, you need to own him.
19. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS, Age: 23
It finally happened … again! Devers lived up to his potential … for one season. I’m not completely ready to sign off on his metamorphosis. That said, all his exit velocity numbers are trending in the right direction. Devers’ Hard Hit% (47.5), Sweet Spot% (33.1), and Exit Velocity (92.1). A lot of his improvement can be attributed to being more aggressive, swinging more at pitches both inside and outside the strike zone. Oddly enough, Devers increased his contract rate while swinging at more overall pitches. What concerns me is he had a 12% increase in his contact rate outside the zone. It seems like a fluke to me, but we’ll find out.
20. Pete Alonso, 1B, NYM, Age: 25
How much should we value age? Well, I have Pete Alonso above Freddie Freeman simply because he’s five years younger. There is a huge risk that Alonso’s contact regresses and he becomes a more powerful version of Daniel Vogelbach. It also concerns me when a guy hits 50 home runs and doesn’t get very close to a 1.000 OPS. There have been 14 different 50 home run hitters since the year 2000, and only one other didn’t reach 1.000 OPS — Andruw Jones. I bet you probably forgot he even hit 50. That’s my point.
21. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY, Age: 27
Aaron Judge is one of those 50 home run hitters who had an OPS of 1.000+. When he’s healthy, he’s the best source of power in the league. The problem is he has missed 50+ games in each of the past two seasons. This wouldn’t be as concerning if Judge wasn’t turning 28 this season and he wasn’t a huge human being. We all know that the bigger you are, the faster you age. So far Judge has been able to cover all of his enormous strike zone, but as age starts to set in, that could change pretty quickly. We all saw what happened to Ryan Howard. Now, Judge is better than Howard was, but the concept is the same.
22. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL, Age: 30
I have trouble putting a 30-year-0ld in the top 25. However, if any 30-year-0ld should make it, it’s Freddie Freeman. I could really only see a starting pitcher, first baseman or left fielder making the cut being this old because of the limited demands on the hitters and because some pitchers have learned to partially or completely reinvent themselves as they age. Back to Freeman. The Braves’ first baseman seems to still be getting better. His walk and K numbers keep improving while his exit velocity numbers are holding steady. No evidence suggests Freeman is feeling the effects of aging yet, and he’s played 158+ games in three out of the last four seasons.
23. Anthony Rendon, 3B, LAA, Age: 29
Given what I just said about Freeman, I do anticipate Anthony Rendon to be in the 26-50 section of this list in 2021. I could be wrong. We could be seeing a more powerful version of Rendon for the next couple of years before he declines. A continuation of the kind of power he showed in 2019 would keep him where he’s at on the list. If he were to do that, he’d essentially be in the same spot JD Martinez was two years ago.
24. Trevor Story, SS, COL, Age: 27
Why is Trevor Story ahead of Nolan Arenado? He’s one year younger and extremely more likely to stay in Colorado. I know it’s odd to say that, considering Story will be a free agent in 2022 and Arenado is in just his second year of an eight-year deal but rarely has there been a feud this public between a player and management that doesn’t end in someone leaving. And since Arenado can’t trade Rockies GM Jeff Bridich, it’s probably going to be Arenado. But I digress. This is a blurb about Story. A shortstop who has posted three .900+ OPS seasons in the last four years and is a near-lock to steal 20 bags the next few years is a top 25 asset. If he were doing this on any other team, he’d be in the top 15.
25. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL, Age: 28
I’m sure this ranking of Arenado will have many people all riled up and I’m totally fine with that. This takes into account many factors. First, Colorado hitters should always be ranked worse than their production suggests in a dynasty league. After all, you never know when the Rockies GM will alienate his star player by publically announcing their availability — and then not trading them. But let’s be serious here: Arenado’s career home/away splits are not subtle.
Fifty point drop in BA? One hundred and fifty point drop in OPS? If Arenado gets traded, he will be worse. It’s hard to tell how much worse, but my guess is he’s going to be closer to the away split, which is about average for a starting third baseman in a 16-team dynasty league. If you add in the fact that he will be knocking on 30 this time next year and he could lose 40 spots in 2020. That said, while he’s in Colorado, Arenado the 2nd best third baseman to own from a reliable production standpoint. What is holding him back is a lack of a track record outside of Colorado…and the likelihood that gets traded.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Rick Orengo (@OneFiddyOne on Twitter)