|Assets 1-25||Assets 26-50||Assets 51-75||Assets 76-100|
Before we get into individual ranks, I want to point out that there are five assets on this list who haven’t played a single game at the major league level. If you combine those five with Wander Franco (No. 18) and Adley Rutcshman (No. 45), that makes seven in the top 75. For some reason, each time one of these names comes up, some version of the following argument comes up: “Are you seriously saying that somebody who hasn’t played a game is better than (insert player here)?”
No. That is not what I am saying. I am saying that he is more valuable in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues. How did I get to that decision? You can read more about my methodology in the intro of the top 1-25 section, but for those of you who are averse to extra clicks, the CliffsNotes version is I rank players by what level I think they can get to and how many years I think they can stay at that level. I do this by watching them play, evaluating their statistics, and finally by playing in a handful of dynasty leagues. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about the current value of players just by sending trades to 75 or so people throughout the season. It’s by no means scientific—and not a good way to make friends, believe me—but it answers a number of questions that you might ask.
For example, try trading Manny Machado for Matt Chapman straight up in a dynasty league. You won’t find any takers, unless you are lucky enough to be in a league where the guy who owns Chapman is a Padres fan. You make variations of that offer to four or five other people, and you can gauge what a market for all players involved in those offers starts to look like. Multiply that times infinity and take that to the depths of forever and you will still barely have a glimpse of what I am talking about.
OK. Let’s play a game: spot the babies.
51. Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK, Age: 26
Last Ranked: NR
There is too much to like about Chapman. His numbers are all headed in the right direction. He’s walking more (11%), striking out less (18.5%), and hitting dingers more frequently. He’s on pace to reach 30 homers for the first time in his career, and he’s also putting up a .900 OPS, which if he did that, he’d have as many such seasons as Machado while playing five fewer seasons.
52. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY, Age: 29
Last Ranked: 38
The only thing I have to say about Giancarlo Stanton is the same thing I’ve been saying for more than a year already: He’s only hit 40 home runs once in his career. Does the reason/excuse really matter?
53. Bryce Harper, OF, PHI, Age: 26
Last Ranked: 17
It’s time to change how we think about Bryce Harper. He turns 27 in October, and he’s no longer the young stud with his entire career ahead of him. Instead, he’s a once-elite talent who has been in the league eight seasons with 1.5 of them being elite, two being all-star worthy, and four being underwhelming. He’s in the midst of another underwhelming season for his talent. All of Harper’s numbers are trending in the wrong direction. His home run rate is falling, his strikeout rate is rising, his walk rate is more or less the same. His batting average seems to be leveling out at .250, and his OPS is in sharp decline. It’s possible he could strike out 200 times this year. Does any of this sound like what you would want in your top outfielder? No. He’s more of an OF2 now. Value accordingly.
54. Shane Bieber, SP, CLE, Age: 24
Last Ranked: NR
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know Shane Bieber had it in him. I knew he’d be pretty good, but I didn’t think he had the kind of velocity to rack up strikeouts as he has so far in 2019. His incredible control allows him to put his fastball/curveball/slider repertoire anywhere at any count. He’s got to be one of the more frustrating pitchers to hit against. Bieber works the count and doesn’t give you much to work with. Still, he’s got considerably more velocity than say, Kyle Hendricks, so he’s more likely to be consistent for the next few years.
55. Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU, Age: 21
Last Ranked: 37
Many of you were probably expecting Mackenzie Gore here instead of Forrest Whitley. If that is the case, you haven’t been reading my stuff at all this year. It’s not that I think Gore isn’t a fantastic prospect, it’s that I think Whitley is a generational talent. He’s struggling in Triple-A as a 21-year-old, which could be expected. I’ve heard there are some maturity issues that have crept up as well, but I’m undeterred. That is probably because the man has five plus pitches. I’ll let that ride any day.
56. Yordan Alvarez, 1B, HOU, Age: 22
Last Ranked: NR
It really is amazing how deep the Astros farm system really is. If Yordan Alvarez didn’t explode this season, it’s very likely he would be supplanted by the next big bat in Houston’s system: Seth Beer. Good thing for Alvarez that they finally decided they wanted to see if his 1.100 OPS would translate in the majors. So far, it has. If I thought this was a more permanent thing, obviously he’d be up there between Josh Bell and Pete Alonso. Regression is coming, but it’s not going to be ugly.
57. Mackenzie Gore, SP, SD, Age: 20
Last Ranked: 70
There is a legitimate case to be made that Gore is the top pitching prospect in the game. I’m not going to make it, though he is fantastic. Now that he’s rid of the blister problems that hindered him in 2018, he’s dominating. I won’t go as far as to say he’s at the top of the pitching prospects. I do not believe he has the overall ceiling to be the best pitcher in the game, and Whitley does. Still, Gore has the potential to win a Cy Young, if everything goes right, and that is high enough to put him here.
58. Jose Berrios, SP, MIN, Age: 25
Last Ranked: 84
It appears that Jose Berrios has taken a step forward, even if his numbers look similar to 2018. What’s important is his BAA has leveled out, and now he’s just walking fewer people. It’s a more stable way of pitching that seems to have yielded positive results for the Twins’ ace. I’m much more comfortable with him now.
59. Jo Adell, OF, ANA, Age: 20
Last Ranked: 72
Jo Adell is quickly showing that he is more than just a power-hitting prospect. Since coming back from his injury to start the season, Adell is becoming more selective, which is translating into more hits in general … including the extra-base variety. As of now, he is raking in Double-A, which I did not think would happen this season. Frankly, I didn’t expect him to nearly cut his strikeout rate in half from Single-A to Double-A, but he has done just that while still hitting dingers. If he can maintain a less than 20% rate, this opens up a new level for him. He could be playing with Mike Trout by the second half of 2020.
60. Casey Mize, SP, DET, Age: 22
Last Ranked: 53
I was one of those managers holding out hope that Casey Mize would be in a Tiger uniform by the end of this season. If he hadn’t gotten injured, there was a real possibility. After all, the kid has three plus pitches and the command to match. He’s been absolutely fantastic in the minors, including a no-hitter in his Double-A debut. If he can return in July, he’ll likely be in Triple-A by the end of the season and be in the running for a starting job next spring. He’s the closest to the majors of any pitching prospects yet mentioned. His new ranking has nothing to do with a loss of faith but unexpected jumps by other players (Bieber/Berrios/Chapman/Paddack/Albies/etc.).
61. Brendan McKay, SP/DH, TB, Age: 23
Last Ranked: 83
I’m not sold on Brendan McKay being a hitter, but he will be a pretty damn good pitcher. Like Mize, McKay has not yet been challenged—and he’s been in the majors. I love pitchers who feature dominant curveballs. To me, they are the most fun to watch and can be an ace. That is McKay’s ceiling. I don’t care if he spends some time developing his swing. We’ll know within a year or so whether it’s actually worth it. That’s not an inconvenience.
62. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS, Age: 22
Last Ranked: 55
You can’t be much higher on Andrew Vaughn than I am. In fact, Andrew Vaughn might not be as high on Andrew Vaughn as I am. But there is a reason for that. The 2018 Golden Spikes winner was almost good enough in 2019 to become the first two-time winner of amateur baseball’s highest award. Vaughn put together one of the best college careers ever when drafted in the top three this June. He’s the rare kind of hitter who could walk into the minors and have the best plate discipline at any level. He has great power potential and the ability to hit .300-plus at the highest level. Like Mize, his lower ranking has nothing to do with a loss of faith, just unexpected jumps from other players.
63. Jacob deGrom, SP, NYM, Age: 31
Last Ranked: 28
After his historic season in 2018 Jacob deGrom went back to being Jacob deGrom. Having just turned 31, deGrom shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he’s held on to a number of the skills that earned him a Cy Young, including a lower WHIP and higher strikeout rate. Like every pitcher this season, deGrom is allowing home runs at a more frequent rate than almost ever before. I’m not going to count that against him though. The only thing that keeps him from being the Mets’ ace for the next two years is if they trade him. I wouldn’t rule that out.
64. Trevor Bauer, SP, CLE, Age: 28
Last Ranked: 41
I still don’t like Trevor Bauer. Here’s what I wrote about him before the season started:
“Here’s a list of things I don’t like about Bauer, in no strict order: 1) He talks an awful lot … 2) … for only being good one year. 3) He’s never thrown 200 innings. 4) In his only good year, 2018, he posted career bests that were so dramatic from his norm (such as a hits per nine innings rate cut from 8.5 to 6.8 and an home runs per nine innings rate cut from 1.1 to 0.46) that I find it hard to believe that they are sustainable. Yet I can’t stop thinking he’s one of the 50 best assets out there. And Bauer really needs to repeat these to be successful because his career WHIP is 1.30. I don’t care how many strikeouts you rack up, you’re not going to be able to hold off offenses when allowing that many base runners on average.”
I no longer think he’s a top 50 asset. He’s somewhat close, but he’s not that good. In case you were wondering, his HR/9 rate jumped back up, his H/9 rate also regressed, and his WHIP jumped 10 points.
65. Yoan Moncada, 2B, CWS, Age: 24
Last Ranked: 99
Speaking of comfort, let’s bring in one payer with whom I am extremely uncomfortable: Yoan Moncada. Even though it’s almost like he forgot how to take a walk, his power surge and strikeout rate reduction are positive signs for the uber-talented second baseman. I’m not sure he ever reaches that star level, but as long as he continues in this trend, he’ll be top five to seven at his position for a number of years. As I said, I don’t like that he’s almost cut his walk rate in half, but if that is the adjustment he needed to make to be a better hitter, that’s OK. It’s unorthodox, but it’s OK.
66. Julio Urias, SP, LAD, Age: 22
Last Ranked: 54
I won’t quit on Julio Urias. He’s been good as a starter and a reliever in 2019. I’d like to see a higher strikeout rate, but I’ve already been very patient over the past three years, I can wait another six months. The guy has four plus pitches and the control to put them where he wants … some of the time. The only thing that can stop him is Dodgeritis—and maybe pitching in Colorado. He’ll be on an innings limit for the next two years, but he’ll still be valuable so long as he’s healthy.
67. Ketel Marte, SS/CF, ARI, Age: 25
Last Ranked: NR
He might be one of the most beneficial recipients of the power boom this season; Ketel Marte has transformed himself from a mediocre shortstop to an All-Star second baseman by straight up doubling his homer output. There is reason to think this change will stick, as his exit velocity (90.3), barrel rate (9.9), and launch angle (11.9) have all been trending in the right direction leading him to this point.
68. Whit Merrifield, 1B/2B/OF, KC, Age: 31
Last Ranked: NR
Some of the players on this list are just my personal favorites who also happen to be very good. Seeing Whit Merrifield go 20/20 would make my day. I don’t think it will ever happen again, so I hope it happens this season. Still, he’s a good bet to hit .300 for another couple years. His speed is declining, but I’d say he still has 20-stolen base speed in 2021 and will definitely have the positional eligibility that will make your friends jealous.
69. Manny Machado, 3B, SD, Age: 26
Last Ranked: 44
I caught a lot of flack in April when I put Manny Machado at No. 44—nearly 30 slots lower than almost any other list. It turns out he wasn’t low enough. Citing his home/away splits before being traded to Los Angeles, I said he would not be productive enough at third base to be in the top five of the position:
|Career Home (Camden)||.294||.352||.532||.816||107||211||547|
Better men would not say “I told you so.” I’m not a better man. Machado is slashing a paltry .236/.295/.456 at Petco Park. There are at least seven third basemen who could be consistently better than Machado at third. If he continues this direction, he might even drop another couple spots. Just so we’re clear, Machado’s drop in ranking is a loss of faith.
70. Chris Sale, SP, BOS, Age: 30
Last Ranked: 39
Chris Sale has been as up and down as possible in 2019. I’m going to be plain: I don’t trust Dave Dumbrowski to figure out how to unlock the hidden potential of a bread clip. If I think he can’t figure out how to open one of those plastic squares to make a sandwich, it only makes sense that whatever plan he’s the head of to get more out of Sale would be a disaster. Why not stick with what works? Sure, Sale isn’t very good after Aug. 1, but he’s one of the best pitchers in the world before then. What’s the point in messing with that? Don’t you have to make it to the playoffs before worrying about winning the World Series?
I know this is weird, but Sale can’t rise too much further anymore. Even if he is good now, he will always have that tinge on him of unpredictability. He’s simply too old to lose it. He’ll never be back in the top 50, and if he’s just as bad in the second half, he’ll be closer to 100.
71. Franmil Reyes, OF, SD, Age: 23
Last Ranked: 82
Alright, we know that Franmil Reyes can play in this league. That is about all we can glean from 2019 so far. Well, that and he seems to be getting more selective. A slight drop in strikeout rate while maintaining the frequency with which he destroys baseballs is encouraging enough to bump the slugger up a couple of spots from last year. Basically, he’s done everything I hoped he do to stay on this list. It’s possible he reaches 40 home runs. The OBP needs to improve next year for him to maintain this ranking. I’d need to see it jump to .330.
72. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC, Age: 31
Last Ranked: 76
Speaking of OBP, in walks Anthony Rizzo. Maybe it’s just because of the offensive boost from which the entire league is benefitting, but Rizzo does not appear to be slowing down at all. There is no indication that he can’t do what he is doing for at least the next two years, which is 30 home runs and a near .400 OBP. If you can put up those numbers, you’re always in the discussion for the MVP, even if it’s in the No. 8 to 10 range.
73. Yasiel Puig, OF, CIN, Age: 28
Last Ranked: 78
If I did this list a month ago, Yasiel Puig probably wouldn’t be on it. His slow start was about as deflating as it comes. Coming over to Great American Ballpark, we all hoped it would pump up his numbers. With 12 homers in his past 33 games, it appears that is now happening. It seems like Puig has also figured out how to capitalize on his speed, as he’s on pace to go 35/20. Now if only he’d stay in Cincinnati.
74. Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM, Age: 26
Last Ranked: 29
Speaking of frustrating, Thor has been the bane of my existence for the past two years. He is the most infuriating pitcher to watch. Now when I know he’s going to be on the hill, I can’t even turn on MLB.tv because even if he is pitching well, there are just too many missed opportunities. A guy with his stuff should be competing for Cy Youngs and strikeout titles. Instead, it appears he’s slowly gotten worse because he hasn’t changed anything about his repertoire since 2016. It’s starting to look like he’s the Bryce Harper of pitchers. There is still time to change, but with every 100 mph fastball blindly flying in the general direction of the plate, I become more unconvinced.
75. Luis Castillo, SP, CIN, Age: 25
Last Ranked: 85
I want to start out by saying I like Luis Castillo. Now that I’ve said something nice, it’s time to get real. There is no way what he is doing is sustainable. I say this based on one number: 4.50. That is his walk rate this season. To say Castillo has been getting lucky is an understatement. I don’t care how good your stuff is, nobody can have a sub-3 ERA through 30 starts by walking almost five hitters per start. He could walk 100 batters this year—a feat that hasn’t happened since 2012 when both Ricky Romero and Edinson Volquez did it, and nobody said they were aces. To further drive the point home, here is a list of the handful or so pitchers to walk 100 guys in a season: Doug Davis, Ubaldo Jiminez, Barry Zito, Oliver Perez, Daniel Cabrera, Carlos Zambrano, Chad Gaudin, and Scott Kazmir. None of them did it in what you would call their more successful seasons. Control this poor always ends badly. Once Castillo’s 5.54 hit rate regresses, which it will, that ERA is going to start to balloon.
(Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire)