Here comes the least controversial of a four-part series this week which outlines my picks of the top 100 dynasty assets. A few of these picks are no-brainers (see picks 1, 2, 4, and 5), a few will turn some heads, and a few will get a few others to start flinging insults before the comment section can even load.
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 #10 on this list for my #11, I’d take #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 skillset. If a player is 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.
With that said, let the list (and the insults) begin!
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels, Age: 27
Let’s not overthink this. He’s the best player ever through age 27. A lot could happen before his new 12-year deal expires. Either way, he’s already a hall of famer and the weird thing about it is, he is still getting better every year. Injuries are the only thing that can slow him down in the next five years. From there, it’s a slow decline — one in which he could still be capable of winning an MVP.
2. Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox, Age: 26
Betts will always be number two to Trout, which isn’t a knock on him. Even if the two repeated their 2018 performances this year, Betts’ career doesn’t seem like it has the staying power of Trout’s fantasy-wise. It relies more on speed, while Trout also has elite power. I love Betts, but he probably stays at number two for the next two or three years before the slight decline sets in.
3. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros, Age: 24
We’re already going off script! Why Bregman? Like Trout, he keeps getting better every year and in many other years his 2018 stats could have earned him an MVP. Unlike many of the immediate following selections, Bregman doesn’t give you much speed — and that is precisely why he should be third. Speed tends to dry up earlier than most other offensive skills. So when valuing them long term, it should mean less. Meanwhile, to me, Bregman’s profile suggests he’s becoming a more powerful Joey Votto. Who wouldn’t be interested in eight-to-ten years of that?
4. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians, Age: 25
Lindor is hands down the best shortstop in the game. He’s the only shortstop currently in the majors with the ability to go 30/30 in any given year for the next three years. Also, he’s the most likely player on this list (except maybe Wander Franco) to still be a shortstop in the year 2025 because he is such a great fielder.
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians, Age: 26
This guy can do it all. Like Lindor, Betts, and Trout, Jose Ramirez is a true five-tool player who can still hang onto all those tools for at least two more years. If he’s lucky, it will be three or four more years. Some are worried about his slow start, but it seems like he’s a slow starter. Now the Indians could ask him to come to spring early or play more games in spring, but we aren’t here for rational solutions. He can also play multiple positions, which is something that the Indians might make happen in the future as well. Ramirez isn’t just capable of going 30/30, he just did it.
6. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees, Age: 26
Judge represents the most power on this list. Sure, there are other players who come close (including the very next player) but Judge’s imposing ability to cover the entire plate and park home runs is unparalleled. He’s also patient — at times too patient. The only thing to watch out for is if his athleticism goes earlier than most players simply because of his massive, 6’7″ frame. Few players his size are even able to hit in their primes because of how hard it is to repeat a swing and catch up to an inside fastball when you have that big of a strike zone. The fact he is able to do it at any age is remarkable.
7. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays, Age: 20
Like I said about Bregman, it is Vladito’s lack of speed that puts him above Acuna in my eyes. He’s going to be a better hitter, for longer. When Acuna is only stealing 10-15 bases down the road, Vlad will still be putting up MVP numbers without stealing bases. If given the chance to take the guy who is the elite hitter or the guy who is a good hitter and a good runner, I’ll take the hitter every time — even in this period of dwindling SBs.
8. Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves, Age: 21
The phenom outfielder lived up to the incredibly high expectations in 2018. What worries me, well not really worries me, but what makes me question how high others rank him is that he was a better hitter in the majors last year than he pretty much was at any time during the minors. I don’t want to give the impression that I do not like Acuna, because I do. I’m just not sold on his bat being as mature as it played in 2018. I think it’s possible there are growing pains coming before multiple eventual top-five MVP seasons.
9. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels, Age: 24
If Ohtani would not have injured his elbow, he’d likely be sixth on this list. Simply put: other than Trout, Ohtani is the most talented player in Major League Baseball. I do believe there are three or four seasons in him where he qualifies as both an all-star hitter and pitcher. Due to legitimate injury concerns, I may be alone in this, but I do think there is at least one season where Ohtani is a top-10 pitcher and the best DH in fantasy baseball. I won’t say he’ll be a top-10 hitter because he’ll never get enough plate appearances for that, unless he gives up pitching.
10. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals, Age: 20
What surprises me about Juan Soto is, despite a track record through the minors and now in the majors of being a hitting prodigy, there are still naysayers questioning his power. He may be a fastball hitter, but at just 20 years old, Soto already has one of the best understandings of the strike zone in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised (in fact, I almost expect) to see him have more walks than strikeouts in 2019. He is that good. And when players are able to do that, they create their own power opportunities.
11. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers, Age: 27
Playing in Milwaukee agrees with Yelich. It has been fewer than a handful of games in 2019 and it already looks like his 36-homer power form 2018 is legit. What I will be looking for this season is a bounce back from his BB:K ratio, which was heading in the right direction before he broke out last season. It is possible Yelich approaches the 100-walk mark and lowers that K rate below 120. If that happens, he’s almost certain to be a top-10 spot on the list this time next year.
12. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals, Age: 25
Even if Turner swiped 80 bases this year (which, now that he’s injured, he won’t), I would not be willing to move him much higher on this list. We all know he’s fast. We all know he’s probably the best base stealer in the league. The only thing that could elevate him further is if his power continues to develop. If he can blast 25 bombs (which again, he won’t this year), he’s a top-10 player. I’m not sure if that is possible, but I’m excited to see what he does this year either way.
13. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros, Age: 24
This is one of the few occasions where I take the base stealer over the hitter. When it comes to Correa vs. Turner, there is less variation in what I’d expect to get from Washington’s SS than Correa — despite having similar injury concerns, he has been more affected by those semi-regular injuries. Still, Correa has the potential to be an MVP, hitting 35 HR with a .300 average. You can’t say that about many shortstops.
14. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, Age: 23
First base is in a state of emergency in baseball. The only really good first baseman are either approaching the end of their careers (Votto, Paul Goldschmidt) or they are being pushed off to other positions. Bellinger is one such first baseman. He’s so athletic that he can play centerfield, but he’s also a gold glove at the three spot. I don’t think the Dodgers ever completely move him off first and as long as that is the case, he has the potential to be the best at the position — something he showed in his rookie season.
15. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox, Age: 24
Benintendi went from being a solid hitting prospect to a dynamic base stealer who has no weaknesses. He’ll contribute in steals and in homers for the next five or more years. Benintendi could also contend for a batting title one or two years, judging by his advanced plate approach, his speed, and his willingness to use the entire field. The Red Sox offense is also likely to be one of the best in the league for the foreseeable future, and Benintendi will lead it off or bat second.
16. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs, Age: 27
You get hurt one year and everybody forgets you won an MVP. Kris Bryant is one of the few players on this list with the power to hit 40 home runs. Combine that with a better-than-average approach and you have one of the best offensive weapons in the league. Now that he’s fully healthy again, we could see further improvement to his BB:K ratio, because at 27 there is still time for that. I wouldn’t rule out one season of 1.000+ OPS during his prime. There aren’t many players after Bryant you can say that about.
17. Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies, Age: 26
Harper is one of those guys who could put up a 1.000+ OPS before he hits 30. The problem is nobody knows what motivates this guy. Is it money? You better hope not. Is it awards? Not likely. Is it World Series rings? Doesn’t seem like it. Nobody knows how he put together an insane 1.100 OPS season in 2015 to win the MVP, while holding a .900 career OPS. That is a big discrepancy. And if it weren’t for that MVP year propping up that career OPS mark, it would be much closer to average. What you’re hoping for out of Harper is two-to-three good seasons in the next six years — because you’re probably going to get two or three mediocre ones sprinkled in.
18. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Age: 27
My thoughts on Arenado and Colorado hitters, in general, are documented for head-to-head leagues. Arenado is a great talent, helped by hitting in a great hitters home ballpark. If he didn’t sign that big extension two weeks ago, he’d be another 10 spots down on this list because I’m not convinced he’s a perennial all-star in another uniform — especially with there being so much depth at third base nowadays.
19. Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies, Age: 25
You were expecting maybe Max Scherzer or Chris Sale first? Not on this list. Nola has the stuff and the potential to win a Cy Young award — something he came close to doing in 2018. I can’t think of another pitcher who has performed this well already and could continue to do so for the next five or six years.
20. Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, Age: 24
Buehler doesn’t quite have the track record as Nola, but he’s also a year younger. That is pretty much what separates the two. Well, that and the aura of fragility that Buehler seems to possess. Nola has been a regular Iron Man compared to Buehler: making 27 starts in 2017 and 33 in 2018. Meanwhile, the Dodgers phenom has seen multiple IL trips in the past two years and has more restraints. If he can shake that reputation, however, he has a chance to pass Nola.
21. Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies, Age: 26
Even though this is in no way a hot take, I feel like I have to say it: Rhys Hoskins is good. Like really good. He’s the kind of player who could be the top first baseman in the game in two years. He’s going to stay at 1B too because it’s the only position he can field. Unlike Bellinger, Hoskins’ athleticism does not extend from the batter’s box to almost anywhere the diamond. Nevertheless, he has all of the makings to become an on-base machine who can routinely post 30-35 homers. And hitting in the middle of that Phillies lineup will put him near the top in most counting stats for years to come.
22. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves, Age: 29
When I look at Freddie Freeman, I see what Hoskins can become. With slightly less power but a better overall approach, I’ll admit that it can be confusing that I ranked Freeman lower than Hoskins. This comes down to age alone. Hoskins has a good five years left and Freeman I’d guess a little more than half of that before seeing a significant decline. I’ll go with the younger player who hits in a better hitter’s park, despite not having more skill right now.
23. Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays, Age: 26
Did Blake Snell really figure out how to pitch? Or was he just insanely lucky? Probably a little of both. Nevertheless, Snell’s arsenal and Cy Young award are rarely seen by a pitcher of his age. A pitcher 25 or younger winning a Cy Young has happened just four other times in the last 20 years (Johan Santana, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Barry Zito). With the exception of Zito — and you’d better hope Snell isn’t Zito — each one of those pitchers went on to continue dominating for a number of years afterward.
24. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers, Age: 24
Seager was a hard player to place. On the one hand, he is a high-average bat with good power who will stay at shortstop for the foreseeable future. On the other hand — wait a minute, there really isn’t another hand. Despite needing injuries to repair tears in both his throwing elbow and his hip, Seager had a pair of 145+ game seasons to start his career. There is no reason to think he is an injury risk above any other shortstop.
25. Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs, Age: 26
Speaking of risk, in steps Javier Baez. Obviously, I like him. What worries me is his inability to leverage his power into free passes. Now, that might be because of his ability to turn a walk into a double, but still, an MVP candidate should never have fewer walks than home runs. And that is just what Baez did in his 2018 breakout, with 34 homers and 29 walks. That is mind-boggling to think about and quite a red flag. Still, the talent is undeniable.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
“Correa has the potential to be an MVP, hitting 35 HR with a .300 average. You can’t say that about many shortstops.”
I mean… I can think of one…
(I assume he’ll make Part 2)
Well, you can say it about every one of them… the problem is the likelihood of it happening. There are actually quite a few you could say that about if you want to shoot that high with the ceiling – Baez, Story, Seager, Lindor, Machado, Bregman, Bogaerts have non-zero chances at that.
Let’s hope so.
Trevor Story did it last year yet he couldn’t make the Top 25. This guy is a clown.
Wow Machado not even in the top 25!
Yep. Machado is not in my 25. Stay tuned for why!
Yeah.. these lists are tough, but I can’t see any reason that would make me get on board with Manny being outside the top 25. Having Bregman at #3 and Manny outside the top #25 makes no sense to me. I think you can hardly pick between the two, and personally I would still rather have Manny. He was Acuna and Soto before Acuna and Soto. Guy is still only 26 years old, elite BA, Power, Runs, RBI, and even runs here and there (more than most 3Bs anyway). He is back to 3B where he will age just fine, as in real life he has one of the best gloves in the game. He is what Correa owners dream he could MAYBE be one day.
Totally Agree. Manny outside the top 25 and Carlos Correa at #13 is ridiculous and I don’t give a rat’s butt what his lame excuse is.
Because he’s had a slow 2 weeks…lol
These lists are damn near impossible but it was a fun read. You could likely shake up 3 through 25 randomly and call that just as reasonable a list at year’s end. I think it is tempting to get overly excited about future production but that is pretty much never how it works out. Outside of the top handful, the players who are most relevant in 5 years are the ones who develop and you just don’t know who they are. In fact, the 21 y/o are often worse in their latter 20s. Its almost a trap because the best 20 y/o is way behind the best 30 y/o usually, yet that “historic” 20 y/o season is probably close to a peak. Think Josh Donaldson v Jason Heyward here. Juiced balls magnify the amplitude of fluke seasons to further complicate things.
Personally, I think Bregman is the most overrated on the list. I don’t think 30 HR is a given. He had one huge binge last year, but outside of that I think he is more like 20. Put another way I think he and Benintendi are not that far apart. Personally, I would rather have the Story and Baez types higher. I place a premium on top 5 potential as opposed to floor.
Re – Ohtani: I wouldn’t put him in the top 25 just because of the uncertainty. I don’t think you know what you are going to get from him and you can’t build around that. There is a non-zero chance that he never pitches significantly again. I think he has made it crystal clear since before he came over that he wanted to hit above all else. So far there is no evidence that a player can contribute as a SP and hitter. Obviously he has the talent, but MLB isn’t a skills competition. I don’t think it is a coincidence that he is injured right now. There is zero chance that he can do what every other SP does to stay healthy while also being an offensive player. Personally, I would make him a corner outfielder. I think that is how you get the most WAR out of him. By all accounts he should be unreal out there – hes fast and has a cannon. He’s interesting and I can’t wait for him to get back but at some point the conversation probably needs to shift to responsible usage… which is going to be one or the other. Its amazing to me that it turned out exactly like every skeptic would have predicted and we are still on the same course.
Re – Hoskins: I don’t think he has any similarities to Freeman. That is all haha.
Thanks again for the list.
You realize that Ronald made it to the majors so quickly because of how well he hit at certain points in the minors right?
Thanks for reading, but, wow. I guess somehow what I wrote was not considered nice enough for Acuna? Saying there could be growing pains before becoming a perennial MVP candidate is out of the question? He was a good minor league hitter. But you know who was a great minor league hitter? Vlad jr. He hit better than Acuna at every level at the same age. Soto did too too, but that’s another story.
How about a midseason Update? :-)
It’s happening. They will come out starting July 15.