Dynasty leagues are among the most enigmatic in the entire land of fantasy sports, and I’m of the mind that they represent the game in its true form most successfully.
You must build from the bottom up, target depth and roster balance, and sell high and buy low when necessary. Most importantly, you must think years ahead, and make rebuilding projects and keenly timed all-ins at your own risk. An injury or physical or mental setback that sinks your top prospect in Double-A will hurt you much in the same way it would the Pittsburgh Pirates. No one knows how your minor league talent will shake up, and what steals you might find in your supplemental minor league draft. Welcome to the world of dynasty league baseball. It’s a ruthless, enticing, and incredibly time-consuming—and did I mention awesome?— form of the simplistic game we’ve all come to know and love.
Thus, Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett and I have put together our lists of the top 25 of players under the age of 25 at the present date (all players born on Jan. 6, 1986 or later are eligible). The parameters for last year’s rankings are the same in 2012. A refresher, from Josh Shepardson’s 2011 presentation of these rankings:
The league scoring we used as a guideline was a 5×5 roto league that includes two catchers, one corner infielder, one middle infielder one utility player, five outfielders, nine pitchers of any type (with a 1,250 innings pitched cap) and the other standard positions.
Because of the age limitations in these rankings, don’t be surprised when you don’t see Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, David Price or Adam Jones, to name a few (the first three graduated from this list in 2011). I think I speak for many of my fellow rankers when I say that the aforementioned four are all excellent dynasty league players, and Longoria in particular is among the top of the crop, even at age 26.
With that said, please do scrutinize, argue, react, agree/disagree, and question our rankings in the comments below (or at our respective e-mail addresses). We encourage all reactions, as always.
The e-mail addresses of the authors of these rankings:
Rk Ben Pritchett Josh Shepardson Nick Fleder 1 Stephen Strasburg Justin Upton Stephen Strasburg 2 Clayton Kershaw Stephen Strasburg Brett Lawrie 3 Carlos Santana Clayton Kershaw Justin Upton 4 Justin Upton Felix Hernandez Clayton Kershaw 5 Felix Hernandez Mike Stanton Desmond Jennings 6 Brett Lawrie Bryce Harper Starlin Castro 7 Andrew McCutchen Mike Trout Mike Stanton 8 Mike Stanton Brett Lawrie Matt Moore 9 Mike Trout Carlos Santana Felix Hernandez 10 Jason Heyward Eric Hosmer Carlos Santana 11 Yu Darvish Andrew McCutchen Jesus Montero 12 Eric Hosmer Desmond Jennings Andrew McCutchen 13 Bryce Harper Jay Bruce Eric Hosmer 14 Matt Moore Matt Moore Bryce Harper 15 Jay Bruce Madison Bumgarner Mike Trout 16 Tommy Hanson Buster Posey Madison Bumgarner 17 Pablo Sandoval Starlin Castro Pablo Sandoval 18 Dustin Ackley Matt Wieters Jay Bruce 19 Mat Latos Pablo Sandoval Paul Goldschmidt 20 Buster Posey Jesus Montero Jason Heyward 21 Starlin Castro Elvis Andrus Michael Pineda 22 Jesus Montero Jason Heyward Buster Posey 23 Mike Moustakas Dustin Ackley Matt Weiters 24 Michael Pineda Michael Pineda Elvis Andrus 25 Desmond Jennings Yovani Gallardo Dee Gordon Next Five: Next Five: Next Five: 26 Alex Avila Mat Latos Craig Kimbrel 27 Madison Bumgarner Brandon Beachy Yovani Gallardo 28 Neftali Feliz Jason Kipnis Dustin Ackley 29 Cameron Maybin Freddie Freeman Mat Latos 30 Elvis Andrus Dee Gordon Brandon Belt Five More: Five More: Five More: 31 Paul Goldschmidt Alex Avila Cameron Maybin 32 Brandon Belt Tommy Hanson Julio Teheran 33 Travis Snider Yu Darvish Yu Darvish 34 Dayan Viciedo Cameron Maybin Daniel Hudson 35 Devin Mesoraco Mike Moustakas Jason Kipnis