Keeper League Mailbag: Question No. 3

I’m writing with a broken fridge and so I’m drinking a pint the way my adopted country intended—warmish. With that in mind, Byron writes:

“Straight up dynasty, so no keeper costs, just 12 guys kept every season.
12-team, mixed, 5×5, 29-man roster

If the season were to end today, I’d probably be keeping eight hitters and four pitchers.

Which two hitters should I keep between Ian Stewart, Brett Wallace, Matt LaPorta, Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, Kila Ka’aihue, Dexter Fowler, Howie Kendrick, Julio Borbon?

Also, which four pitchers should I keep between Mat Latos, Brett Anderson, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Ricky Nolasco, Gavin Floyd, Johnny Cueto?

I’d rather not keep too many pitchers, so I figure four max, unless you can convince me otherwise.”

Ah, dynasty leagues and dynasty keepers—an eternity to regret. There are two components to consider:time and ability. Ability is obvious, more or less: Who do we expect to produce more and when do we expect them to produce it? Timing is more personal: What are your needs now versus in the future?

Without knowing the six other players you are planning on keeping, it is a bit hard for me to fully know how competitive you can be for next season or whether you have specific position needs. But fortunately, I think the answer is anyway fairly clear cut.

In the jargon of statistics, pitcher keepers have high hazard rates. They are more likely than batters to not be kept in years two or three or so on after having been kept for next year. So, everything else equal, you’re right to keep fewer pitchers. It also means that you should value next year over distant potential more with pitchers than with hitters.

With that in mind, Santana and Oswalt are clear choices even though their useful horizons may be shorter. Brett Anderson is even easier; he’ll help you next year and far into the future. The fourth is a closer call, although not that hard either. Floyd seems to outperform expectations while Nolasco seems to underwhelm us. Cueto is entirely too erratic.

Latos doesn’t have a long enough history to even have a chance to be enigmatic. But I’m not going to penalize his short record too much. Latos has talent and opportunity. Unlike Floyd and Cueto, he plays in a dream pitcher’s park. He is younger than Nolasco with equal (at the very least) talent. So Latos is your fourth.

Your batters, on the other hand, are a soup. The easy answer for next year is probably Kendrick and Stewart. Their skills are more or less proven. Fowler and LaPorta have not shown that their promise translates to the big leagues commensurate with their expectations. If you’re looking for a sexy flyer with upside, I’d go with Fowler or maybe Morrison unless one of the others shows us something in the last month of the season. If you’re building for next year in mind, I’d think more strongly about Kendrick.

Finally, as you may have noticed, I’m as lukewarm as my beer about your batters. There may be second basemen available to draft next year who are comparable to Kendrick or as sexy as Morrison (maybe Eric Young Jr.?). Of course, there may be pitchers comparable to Floyd in the draft pool as well, but I would consider keeping Floyd or, if you prefer to gamble, Nolasco, instead of the second batter.

Best of luck and let us know how you do in 10 years time!

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