Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rankings (If 2018 rookies were still prospects)
Most fantasy baseball drafts take place in March so we are still a month away from the big wave of fantasy baseball content. For those of you who play in (much better) dynasty leagues, however, you are likely in the full swing of fantasy baseball action. Every year, I get bombarded with the same type of question from eager dynasty owners, “How high would this sophomore be ranked if he was still a prospect”. Today, I’m going to answer that question. One hundred times. The table at the bottom of the article will show you where I would rank last year’s rookies if they were still eligible prospects, because let’s be real, they essentially are still prospects. Now that we have more hindsight from a year in the majors, their futures are a bit easier to forecast. In some cases, however, 2018’s surface level performances might not tell the full story, so first, I’ll tell you about five players I believe in much more than you would expect.
Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
I never rank a pitching prospect in my top three. Why in the world would you when 50% of even the best get injured or end up in the bullpen? Forrest Whitley is my highest ranked in the game at #5, but if Buehler were a prospect, I’d put him #2 behind only Vlad Guerrero Jr. By the way, even Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto would be behind Vlad despite their incredible rookie campaigns. Vlad is the best prospect we’ve seen since Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Back to Buehler, though. His rookie season was extremely impressive, but to be frank, it was so much better than the general public seems to understand. In the second half, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 2.03 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and just 2.7 BB/9. Not only that, but he was absolutely unhittable, allowing a league-low .164 batting average against. Here is the list of pitchers in the last 50 years who have accomplished that in any second half in their career: Roger Clemens, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Walker Buehler. That’s it. They all did it in their prime. Buehler did it as a rookie. Don’t be surprised if he wins multiple Cy Youngs including potentially in 2019.
Freddy Peralta (SP – MIL)
Now, before I convince you to bet your mortgage on Peralta, it needs to be mentioned that there is a chance he doesn’t make the Brewers rotation in 2019. Why? Because they must be incredibly stupid. We are looking at one of the most dominant rookies of all time. When I say dominant, I don’t mean all-around monster. What I mean is downright unhittable. When looking at youngsters, I like to use a stat I call the dominator index. It is simply K/9 minus H/9. Striking hitters out and preventing hard contact are the two most unteachable skills. You can teach Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan control, but you can’t teach Trevor Williams to strike out 11 batters per nine innings like Peralta did as a rookie (top 10 in baseball). In that time, he surrendered just 5.6 H/9 (2nd in baseball). His 5.4 dominator index was the second best for a rookie all-time behind only Kerry Wood. He might have the best fastball in the game and if he is anything like the other rookies within the top 10 of the dominator index leaderboard, he will be a perennial all-star before long.
Ryan McMahon (2B – COL)
The Rockies hate you. Every single season, they do everything in their power to ruin fantasy baseball’s hopes and dreams. Last year, it was keeping David Dahl from a full season and this year, it may be McMahon. They went out and signed Daniel Murphy, who granted, may slide over to first base, but if he sticks at second, it will prevent us from owning this year’s breakout middle infielder. McMahon may have struggled in a limited sample last year, but there are countless fantasy baseball studs with that on their resume as rookies. The fact of the matter is that the dude can hit. In 125 Triple-A games, he has tallied 68 extra-base hits with a .337 batting average. Over a full season, that would have been close to 90! Not only that, but he should steal double-digit bases as well while qualifying for potentially every position except shortstop and catcher.
Trevor Richards (SP – MIA)
Yes, I like a pitcher for the Marlins who carried a 4.42 ERA with 4 wins last year and formerly played independent baseball after going undrafted. It helps that he has the best changeup in baseball. Wait a second, let me fix that. It helps that he has the best pitch in all of baseball. Richards’ changeup is Trevor Hoffman-esque. It carried a 41.2% whiff rate with a .214 xWOBA. It certainly helped his performance when he adjusted by throwing it 38% of the time instead of 23% of the time at the start of the season. In those closing months, hitters were so focused on his filthy change-up that his slider suddenly became even more deadly than the changeup. With two of the most useful pitches in baseball, Richards could breakout this year in Miami much like Jake Peavy did in in 2004 after a rough start to his career.
David Paulino (SP – TOR)
I had to end things with a player many of you have never heard of, and those who have, probably forgot about him by now. The former top 50 prospect is 6’7″ with dynamite stuff, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his 5.48 ERA in 42 career MLB innings. He is the classic post-hype breakout sleeper. After striking out 39 in 33 innings last season in his comeback from injury, Paulino might find a way to sneak into the Blue Jays rotation. If he does, I’m betting on him being this year’s Joey Lucchesi that seemingly comes out of nowhere to help fantasy teams.
|Prospect Rank||Player||2019 ECR||Team||Pos|
|142||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||184||TOR||2B|
Thanks for reading and good luck this season. If you haven’t already, check out my podcast with guests featuring the top experts in the industry.