Dynasty rankings 2012 follow-up

Last week, Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett and myself debuted the 2012 dynasty league rankings of players 25 years or younger. The subsequent discussion led me to re-think some rankings, add and delete a few names, and move a certain Clayton Kershaw up a few spots. The list, both old and tidied-up:

Rk     Old List            New List
1      Stephen Strasburg   Stephen Strasburg
2      Justin Upton        Clayton Kershaw
3      Brett Lawrie        Brett Lawrie
4      Clayton Kershaw     Justin Upton
5      Desmond Jennings    Mike Stanton
6      Felix Hernandez     Desmond Jennings
7      Matt Moore          Matt Moore
8      Mike Stanton        Felix Hernandez
9      Starlin Castro      Starlin Castro
10     Carlos Santana      Carlos Santana
11     Jesus Montero       Jesus Montero
12     Andrew McCutchen    Andrew McCutchen
13     Eric Hosmer         Eric Hosmer
14     Bryce Harper        Bryce Harper
15     Mike Trout          Mike Trout
16     Madison Bumgarner   Madison Bumgarner
17     Pablo Sandoval      Pablo Sandoval
18     Jay Bruce           Paul Goldschmidt
19     Paul Goldschmidt    Jay Bruce
20     Jason Heyward       Jason Heyward
21     Michael Pineda      Matt Weiters
22     Buster Posey        Michael Pineda
23     Matt Weiters        Buster Posey
24     Elvis Andrus        Mat Latos
25     Dee Gordon          Dee Gordon

       Next Five:          Next Five:
26     Craig Kimbrel       Elvis Andrus
27     Yovani Gallardo     Julio Teheran
28     Dustin Ackley       Yu Darvish
29     Mat Latos           Jason Kipnis
30     Brandon Belt        Yovani Gallardo

       Five More:          Five More:
31     Cameron Maybin      Logan Morrison
32     Julio Teheran       Brandon Belt
33     Yu Darvish          Mike Moustakas
34     Daniel Hudson       Dustin Ackley
35     Jason Kipnis        Tommy Hanson

I do remain steadfast in my decision to place Stephen Strasburg ahead of the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. It’s not for the risk-averse — neither is a 1-2 ranking of starting pitchers, of course — but my rationale lies in the upside the former possesses.

Sure, there is something (a lot, actually) to be said about a pitcher on a steep uphill trend, who put together a ridiculous 2.28/2.47/2.84 stat line in his Cy Young campaign, along with a sub 1.00 WHIP, an incredible 9.57 K/9, and 21 wins. It doesn’t get much better than that, but the key word is much.

I wouldn’t wager that Strasburg will ever be much better than Kershaw, but his K upside is higher, his pedigree is greater, and he may very well be the best prospect the game has ever seen. Sample size aside, the returns at the MLB level have been excellent (an 11.35 K/9 and a 1.87 FIP in 17 starts), and RotoChamp projects a jump to Kershaw-esque stats right away, with a 10.70 K/9 and a 2.37 ERA. I’ll play the upside, though my deeper research into Kershaw led me to bump him up to number two.

I’ll address some other changes I made:

Justin Upton moved below Brett Lawrie
2011 was the year I became a Justin Upton believer, but he remains a player better in real life than in fantasy. Sure, his power-speed combo with a fleeting batting average is drool-worthy, but the fact is that his MVP candidacy stems from his five-tool performance, including his superb right field and smart base running.

Lawrie is also a five-tool player as well, but his spot on the diamond is enough to warrant a higher ranking. Lawrie, in — gulp — only 171 plate appearances, launched himself into fantasy stardom. He hit nine homers in those 43 games, stole seven bases, chipped in over 25 steals and runs, and hit nearly .300, effectively pacing himself for a 34 homer, 100 run, 96 RBI, 27 steal season – all at the hot corner. To think he did that in his first go-round at the major league level is scary.

Mat Latos jumps from #29 to #24
Several commenters thought Latos was placed too low, and I agreed in retrospect. I had Michael Pineda and Yovani Gallardo above him, mostly due to the PETCO-Great American Ballpark transition. Latos, after all, does have a 3.57 ERA away from home in his short career– fairly pedestrian to be ranked so high on these lists—and isn’t so elite as the other two in the strikeout department. That said, he historically has a higher home run rate at PETCO than away from it, and if he can return his K/9 to the 9+ range, he’ll be a fantasy ace for years to come—which surely leaves him in the top 25, no?

Dee Gordon over Elvis Andrus?
Both young, soft-hitting speedsters at the shortstop position, Dee Gordon and Elvis Andrus, at this juncture, are practically a toss-up. Andrus seems to have capped out at just under 40 steals—he’s put up 33, 32, and 37 in the last three seasons—while Gordon has 70+ steal upside if he can manage to get on base a respectable amount. Sure, he doesn’t draw too many walks, but he can beat out his fair share of bunt and infield hits, and with Davey Lopes teaching him the ropes, he should be a wildly successful base stealer.

Jason Kipnis moves from #35 to #29
Kipnis essentially switched spots with Dustin Ackley, who fell from 28 to 34. Ackley is a more intriguing player in real life terms, but batting average isn’t his strong suit and he doesn’t put up superb counting stats. Kipnis has 20/20 upside as soon as next season, and could be a Chase Utley-like second baseman in terms of fantasy production, whereas Ackley might win fifteen Gold Gloves and lead the Mariners to a World Series victory. Okay, maybe I’m dreaming.

Craig Kimbrel disappears…
I’m a huge Kimbrel homer —– I’ve written about him here and here — but the fact of the matter is that closers are, indeed, incredibly volatile and untrustworthy. He’s certainly the first closer I take in dynasty formats, and his numbers do look better than Mariano Rivera’s ever have (I know, a seemingly hyperbolic statement), but the fact is that saves are easy to find in the final few rounds of any draft or on any waiver wire, and that alone makes Kimbrel worth ditching if you can snag another top 25 player in return. Sure, he might strikeout 100+ per year and might be a lock for 40 saves in five years, but if you find yourself mulling over a Craig Kimbrel for Buster Posey deal, for example, I’d pull the trigger. Frank Fransisco is always waiting in the last round…

Is Matt Moore really ranked higher than Felix Hernandez?
The short and sweet: Matt Moore will have more strikeouts, should have no problem besting Felix’s 1.22 WHIP year-in and year-out, and should challenge a sub 3.00 ERA without a problem. He also doesn’t have three straight years of 230+ innings to his name, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your propensity for risk-aversion and value of past performance. It’s a good thing in my mind, for what it’s worth.

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Which umpire has the largest strike zone?
Next: Cooperstown Confidential: Why Bob Howsam isn’t in the Hall of Fame »


  1. Jim Harris said...

    Nick: Please tell us that you’re aware your Latos comments are irrelevant now that he will play in Great American Bandbox?  Which, owing to your reasoning, shoves Latos back to his 29th spot, or deeper?

  2. Ben Pritchett said...

    I hate to bring more Jeremy Hellickson stuff back to the dynasty chat, but I found an interesting stat. ALL starting pitchers with a strand rate of 80 percent or higher have regression the next season.

    Typical ERA correction is +1.36 for a starter with a strand rate of 80 percent and jumps to +2.21 to a starter with strand rate >85 percent. Jeremy Hellickson had a strand rate of 82 percent.

    All this information is found in Ron Shandler’s 2012 Baseball Forecaster.

  3. Nick Fleder said...

    Ben, thanks for the stat. Strand rate was indeed one of the things that led to Hellickson’s exclusion, but perhaps more telling is the fact that it’s simply one of many peripherals that point to him being a fairly average to below average pitcher at this point.

    Jim, I admit Latos is a bit enigmatic, as his home run rate was higher at PETCO and his ERA was higher away from home still. I think with his Ks up, Latos may repeat a 2010 season with a slightly higher HR/FB, but if I have the stat correct off top, I think he still had a 3.2 xFIP or so in his 2010 campaign. Changes are he’s league average or below in his HR rate.

  4. MH said...

    I like the Stanton reranking, but otherwise I’m not sure I’m crazy about this list.  I really have to believe you’re investing too much in upside in the upper ranking levels.  Aside from statistical volatility, small sample sizes have another issue, at least in regard to the pitchers—they lack the manifestation of attrition.  I have little doubt most of these guys could put up those numbers over 30 or 60 games, but there’s a level of wear-and-tear you get in the majors that you simply don’t see to nearly the same magnitude in the minors.  One month of a 8.0 K/9 and 3.50 ERA for Strasburg could easily mean a full season ceiling that looks more like Kersrhaw’s current talent level than a simple extrapolation of the small-sample numbers to a full season workload, and the same could be said about Moore and Felix.

    This is also a bit of a nit-pick, especially because I was on the other side of the argument in the previous post, but I’m not sure you can put Dee Gordon AHEAD of Andrus.  I agree its pretty much a toss-up, and Gordon is likely to steal more bases, but his job isn’t quite as secure as Andrus and Andrus’ ability to draw walks and get on base makes him a near lock for 90+ R, which is a more difficult category to predict with most players and therefore carries some hidden value when you have a guy like Andrus who can give you that certainty.  I still think he’s way overvalued in redraft leagues, but at MDC they redid their rankings and now Dee looks overvalued to me too, and I’m pretty much resigned to reaching a bit on Erick Aybar in those formats if I miss on a top 3 guy and no one like Dee falls too far.  He’s basically the same type of player too—he’ll have Andrus’ 40ish steals but instead of a 90+ run guarantee he’ll give you some high single digits to low teens HRs.

  5. Behemoth said...

    Nick – for example, I think that Harper & Trout are likely to do better than Jennings. If you want OF who are already in the bigs, I’d take McCutchen ahead of Jennings too.

    Felix is clearly ahead of Moore for me – better home park, major league proven over a number of years.

    I’d have Lawrie similarly lower as well.

    On Gordon, I don’t think he has the power to maintain a BABIP that high – yes, he’s fast, but he’s a singles hitter. As a rough comparison, Elvis Andrus has a career BABIP of .312. If Gordon hits .270, with an OBP south of .300, you have to question how valuable he is. My recollection was that his defence wasn’t elite enough to make up for that – he isn’t Jose Iglesias with the glove.

  6. MH said...


    The thing about Dee Gordon’s playing time is what better options do the Dodger’s really have?  It reminds me a lot of the situation the Mets were in when Jose Reyes played his first full season—a big market team in a transitional phase with a potential exciting player who may not be ready to fully realize his potential.  Jose Reyes also stole 60 bases that year despite an OBP of .300 even, so really, to me its just a question of Gordon’s leash, and I’m thinking it’ll likely be long, and he’ll be in the leadoff spot and in the Dodger’s lineup most of the year.  If that’s the case, he’ll get 700ish PAs and steal 50+ bases pretty easily even with a poor OBP.

  7. Behemoth said...

    I think you are rating some prospects/newly arrived players significantly too highly based on very small samples at the big league level – thinking of Lawrie, Jennings and Moore especially. I think you have them all ranked as if they will inevitably reach their ceilings, and I would bet a lot of money that one or more of them will not.

    Also disagree with your Dee Gordon ranking. I still think there’s a distinct possibility he never hits enough to hold down a big league job.

  8. Nick Fleder said...

    On the Gordon point, can you elaborate? I know industry standard is to whine about his OBP, but the fact is, for fantasy purposes, someone who can get 14 infield hits and 7 bunt hits in a third-season’s worth of plate appearances can get on base enough to get his steals, and despite his somewhat weak fielding numbers at this point, Gordon is generally regarded as a good fielder; enough so that he’ll keep a job in the majors easily even if he annually hits .250 (unrealistic anyhow in my mind).

    As for the prospects/newly-arrived… are there specific people you could see switched/moved ahead? I’d like to argue against that if youd let me. They have a mix of pedigree, opportunity, status, and minor league returns; additionally, their small sample sizes may not give us concrete numbers to base our predictions, but they affirm their outworldly skill.

  9. Raygu said...

    Dee Gordon has always had his critics, and he has always proved them wrong. If you haven’t watched him play, please do. He is still learning the game, and is talented enough to be in the big leagues. I watch almost all of the Dodgers games, and he can turn many softly hit flyball to LF into doubles.
    Will he hit for power? Not now. Will he steal bases? Plenty. I predict 50+ this season, and that might be low. Mattingley was raving about him at the Winter Meetings.

  10. Behemoth said...

    I’d agree the Dodgers don’t have anyone else who you would give too much consideration to as a starting short stop right now (and it’s a pretty thin area on their farm too, from memory), and that Gordon has the speed to steal a bunch of bases. I think the talk of 70 or whatever is overblown, but I’d accept 40-50 with some upside for more.

    So, what you are likely to get is good steals, pretty good runs (although except for Kent the lineup is not great), awful power numbers, and an average that will, at best, be very much BABIP driven, and should be lower than last year. For that to stick on a contending club, I think you need plus defence if not more. Yeah, if some power develops, then it becomes a more appealling packagae, but until then I wouldn’t consider him as being a contender to build a team round, which is what you are looking for in this sort of list.

  11. James said...

    Why the Bruce/Goldschmidt swap?  Both same age, Bruce has done it in the majors, Goldschmidt plays a more packed position where 25/90 or even 30/100 is seen as “average”.  Do you see more power upside in Goldschmidt?

  12. Nick Fleder said...


    I think Goldschmidt’s power potential is higher than Bruce’s, and I actually like OF more than 1B. This may be personal strategy only, but I prefer to pack my outfield with power/speed guys and look for power primarily in the infield. Goldschmidt is projected by Oliver to go:

    34/100/82/5/.270/.346/.531 next year

    Bruce, on the other hand, is projected to top out at 28 in 2013 and never hit 30 (projects all the way to 2017).

    I don’t buy the batting average for Goldy nor the lack of power from Bruce (I think Bruce can hit 30 again), but judging from Goldschmidt’s minor league numbers, home park, and raw, eye-test power, I think he can hit 40 one day.

    For the record, those numbers would roughly put Goldschmidt as the 8th or 9th ranked 1st baseman, and that would be only his second season. Bruce, as a pure power guy, was the 19th ranked outfielder last year, and Oliver thinks he was playing a bit over his head.

  13. Nick Fleder said...


    I know what you mean—it’s much more appealing to have a five category stud to build around, because you could mix and match specialized players and strike wonderful roster balance. At the same time, it shouldn’t be dismissed if someone is elite in a certain category. Michael Bourn, for example, has made a name for himself as a fantasy mainstay based on speed, runs, and sometimes average, a formula Dee Gordon may well copy at a more premium position. Per Baseball Monster, Michael Bourn was the 10th ranked outfielder (obviously a deeper fantasy postion than short) in a standard mixed league, garnering $29 of value with the following line:

    2 HR/61 SB/.294 average/92 runs/50 rbi

    I think Gordon could find himself putting up similar seasons in a few years, and may well steal 60 bases next year. His SB and runs upside are immense. And sure, Bourn does know how to take a walk, which is certainly important, but he also proved that a high BABIP could get him on base a good amount in and of itself, and Gordon might find himself very similar (Bourn career BABIP = .341, as high as .369…. Gordon career (albeit in few PAs) BABIP = .345).

    So if Bourn can be the #27 guy in fantasy playing CF, I like, one day, Dee Gordon to have a similar ranking, if not higher, playing at the SS position. Is that not worth building a team around?

  14. Behemoth said...

    If Gordon hits .295 and steals 60 bases most years, then you have a point. I think he’s unlikely to do either of these in an average year. I’d say his upside is Elvis Andrus, and his downside is probably struggling to hold down a regular job because he doesn’t hit enough/get on base enough. The steals, while great for fantasy, are less important in the real world, and a guy who hits, say, .250, with an OBP under .300 would need absolutely stellar defence to keep a job, however many bases he steals.

  15. AtomicDumpling said...

    Thanks for the interesting list. I agree with most of your rankings. I think Felix Hernandez should be moved up near the top. Freddie Freeman should be added. Brett Lawrie, Desmond Jennings, Paul Goldschmidt and Dee Gordon are ranked way, way too high. I would move each of them down about 20 spots. Yes 20 spots. I feel maybe you are placing far too much value in their very brief stints in the majors last year. Those guys are not nearly as good as you have them ranked. Small sample sizes can make even bad players look good over short periods. Those guys are not bad but they have a long way to go to prove themselves as better players than the guys below them on this list.

    Brett Lawrie is a more valuable young player than Bryce Harper or Mike Trout or Matt Moore? No way. Dee Gordon should not be anywhere near this list. Your list is very solid from top to bottom with the glaring exception of Lawrie, Jennings, Goldschmidt and Gordon. Keep up the good work!

  16. Nick Fleder said...


    I don’t think Gordon needs to hit .295 and steal 60 to justify his spot on this list ahead of Andrus. It’s a dynasty league, lest you forget—I think if he outperforms Elvis in three out of the next five years, you’ll agree that he deserves a higher ranking. I understand that Dee may be playing on a thin rope for the beginning of his career, but a lack of internal options and a trusting front-office gives him a longer leash than you’d think. I’d agree with his downside, but contend with his upside being Andrus. I simply don’t understand how his ceiling is 37 stolen bases—sure, he may never reach 4.5 WAR, but his upside in pure fantasy/counting stats is immensely higher. Elvis Andrus has a 6.6 Spd rating, Dee Gordon has a 7.7 and had a 9.0 in Triple-A. Dee Gordon has Davey Lopes teaching him the intricacies, Andrus does not. Dee Gordon was on pace for roughly 60 last year; Andrus has never been on pace—or even close—to 60 stolen bases.

    Andrus, I concede, will always have a higher walk rate. But Gordon, I’ll wager, will always have a higher stolen base total, and as long as he can keep his job, only the latter counts in my leagues.

    @Atomic Dumpling
    1) Where’s Freeman’s upside? He plays 1B, a thoroughly stacked position, and may never do much better than .280 and 20 HR (good in it’s own right… but not worthy of inclusion over anyone I can pin down)

    2) Sure, I am ranking partly due to SSS, but also because of pedigree, upside, position scarcity, ballpark, coaching situation, hype, inclusion on top prospect lists, and Oliver projections (available in THT Forecasts—you should get them). I think you’ve seen enough of my arguing on behalf of Dee Gordon—if you don’t believe it now, you never will (until Spring Training 2013, at least)… But I’d like to address Lawrie and Jennings for you.

    Lawrie was on pace for 30/25+ last year, but before we get ahead of ourselves in terms of SSS, let’s just drool at this instant-upside. With a fair amount of RBI/R, and a batting average constant around .280, Lawrie would’ve contended with top 3 3B upside. I’d immediately put him ahead of all but a handful of guys—Longoria, Bautista, Young, Beltre, Sandoval—and the potential for dominance at a very thin position is something to consider. Secondly, he backs up his major league numbers with raves from scouts and excellent Triple-A numbers. All of the above condenses to form projections that we all use at one point or another. Oliver projections him fairly low—Bill James already has him at 22/92/75/30/.286, and RotoChamp has him at 26/80/85/25/.281. The only reason I could see him “ranked too high,” is personal preference of risk-aversion and trusting proven players over upside. The point of a dynasty rankings list, I’ll reiterate, is to balance upside with past performance and formulate an admittedly arbitrary rankings to try to figure who might be the most valuable fantasy commodities over the next five years or so. I think Lawrie will be more valuable than Upton—maybe you’ll disagree on the basis of past performance. That’s your right, but i don’t think someone should be ignored or dropped hugely on the list because he’s an unproven Major Leaguer. That would be silly, as it would be ignoring his upside completely—I simply *don’t* think Lawrie will be the 24th most valuable commodity over the next 5 years.

    Jennings has Crawford-esque upside (minus the batting average), is highly seasoned in the minors, put together an enormous rookie campaign in very few at-bats. I could see him being 5-10 spots lower, but I think he has the potential to be a bona-fide stud, and is closer to doing so than Trout/Harper, for example.

    I think that’s silly. Shoulders have the ability to ruin a career, lest you forget, and the worry exists that Tommy’s the next Josh Johnson. What’s his upside, though? With pitching so deep, should a guy with 3.00/1.10/190 K upside (you tell me if I’m selling him too short) really be much higher when he might only be the 15th best pitcher in his peak season? Bundled with major injury concerns? I’m eager to hear your argument.

    Teheran may indeed be too high at second look, but I’ll stand tough on Paul Goldschmidt. I think I explained it as well as I can above. See it if you have time.

  17. jeffrey gross said...

    If I had the time to complain about this list, I would! Hanson is WAY too low, even with injury concern. Teheran, Goldschmidt, too high. I’d say the same of Lawrie too

  18. AtomicDumpling said...


    I understand your reasoning for ranking Lawrie and Jennings so highly. I just vehemently disagree. Those guys’ prospect status ranks far below the likes of some of the guys you have ranked behind them. I play in 3 dynasty leagues and I know for certain that Brett Lawrie and Desmond Jennings have far less trade value than Bryce Harper and Mike Trout and Matt Moore and Felix Hernandez and Justin Upton and Mike Stanton. I like your list in general. Most of the ranks are spot on. Lawrie, Jennings, Goldschmidt and Gordon are way too optimistic however. I guess if you and I were in the same league we could make some trades.

  19. Brice said...

    How do you not have Clayton Kershaw as your number one overall? Dude won a Cy Young. Stras is highly unpredictable given his injury.

  20. Behemoth said...

    Not to continue the Gordon thing endlessly, but, although Gordon may steal more than Andrus, I suspect Andrus is ahead on the other 4 standard categories – better average hitter, better lineup to drive him in, doesn’t lead off for a NL club, so will have more RBIs, and is physically capable of hitting a ball out of a big league ballpark (not often, but occasionally).

    I do agree with you on Hanson and, largely, on Goldschmidt, although I would have him a little lower.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>