As fantasy owners, we all have a common goal in any dynasty or keeper leagues, and that is to be dominant for multiple years. Well, I am here today to bring you my top 20 dynasty players in order to help set the base of your team for that necessary core of talent. I set my rankings for standard 5x5 leagues.
I am not afraid to lay off pitching early on in dynasty because the risk that comes along with pitchers is very high. All it takes is one injury to drop their effectiveness off a cliff, even after a breakout season—e.g. Jimmy Nelson from 2017 going into 2018. This list isn’t built for just one strategy, but I do lean more towards the winning approach in the first year because not everyone wants to throw away a year or two with dynasty leagues not being guaranteed to last for a decade plus. The numbers in parentheses next to a player indicate the player’s current age.
- Ronald Acuña, OF, ATL (22) - As hard as it was to move Trout out of the No. 1 spot, Acuña is certainly deserving of being the first player overall due to the upside in both speed and power. At only 22, his biggest downside is his strikeout rate, sitting at 26%, but the young superstar is still growing. His walk rate did jump up 1.4% from 2018 to 2019 and he has the chance to raise his ceiling even more by adding in more walks.
- Mike Trout, OF, LAA (28) - Trout’s greatness hasn’t faded for real life, but for fantasy his speed certainly seems capped at this point of his career. He is 28, but with Anthony Rendon joining the Angels I expect Joe Maddon to try and limit the injury risk to his stars as they shoot for that elusive playoff spot. I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking Trout for his consistency and safety at first overall in a redraft league.
- Juan Soto, OF, WAS (21) - There was still a lot of concern for Soto going into 2019 due to his ground ball rate (53.7%), but he fixed that by dropping it to 41.6% while raising his fly balls up to 37.2% (previously 28.8%). His infield fly ball rate dropped as well, showing more consistent quality contact throughout the season. With an average launch angle of 12 degrees, Soto will be able to consistently put up multiple seasons of .290/.400/.520 while providing double digit steals for the next four to five years. In any dynasty league that is points based or OBP based, give me Soto first overall.
- Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, LAD (24) - Going into 2019, I would have had Bellinger a lot lower after he posted an OPS of .814, but 2019 showed us what the ceiling for Bellinger truly is. He evolved this past season by posting his highest walk rate (14.4%) while lowering his strikeout rate to a career low (16.4%). Bellinger also improved his contact and swing rates across the board in all the right ways. With 1B/OF eligibility and an excellent team around him, Bellinger is poised to be a top five asset for years to come.
- Christian Yelich, OF, MIL (28) - Yelich sitting at No. 5 might seem like I am doing him a disservice—especially after back-to-back MVP type seasons—but he is already 28 years old. Yelich did post his lowest ground ball percentage, which is great for consistency in the power department. However, I don’t expect Yelich to steal 30 bases again and the surrounding pieces of the Brewers offense have me concerned for fantasy.
- Trea Turner, SS, WAS (26) - Even though shortstop is a very deep position, I am a huge Trea Turner fan for dynasty. Before 2019, Turner never posted an exit velocity above 90 or a hard hit percentage above 40%. That all changed last season as he topped both of those marks and even increased his sprint speed to 2nd best in all of MLB. That 20/40 season out of Turner is still there as long as he can stay healthy.
- Mookie Betts, OF, BOS (27) - The dude is still a stud and he has led the league in runs the past two seasons. However, his steals and sprint speed trended down last season and the rumors of him being moved at some point during the season have me a bit concerned for what the future holds.
- Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE (26) - Mr. Smile isn’t just Lindor’s nickname, but it also describes the way a fantasy owner feels about owning a Lindor share. Even though he injured his hamstring before the 2019 season, he still put up a 32/22 season while improving his average from the 2018 season. His hard hit rate has been increasing each of the last few years, and a move to Toronto or to the Los Angeles Dodgers would do wonders for his value at only 26 years old (although I would prefer he go to the Blue Jays per the latest rumor due to the better ballpark).
- Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SDP (21) - This is a tough one for me as a White Sox fan and knowing the Sox gave him up for James Shields. Tatis is definitely a superstar talent, but I am slightly concerned with his strikeout rate that sat at 29.6% through his first 84 games as a pro. Tatis’ season also ended early due to a stress fracture in his back, and back injuries are not always easy to handle as we have seen with Carlos Correa.
- Vladmir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR (20) - 2019 was not the year we all thought we would get from Vladito, but I am not worried about him as his pedigree is a real thing. Not every rookie takes off like a rocket during their first season. Vlad his slimmed down this off-season after setting a real off-season routine and he is ready to dominate for the next decade. I am not worried about the high ground ball rate, as pitchers were going away from him early and often throughout 2019. A small tweak in his swing will give him the launch angle we are all dreaming of.
- Trevor Story, SS, COL (27) - I was skeptical about Story going into 2019, but he proved me wrong as he improved his walk rate from 2018 even if the strikeout rate did increase slightly. The power and speed remained as did the .290ish average. He will remain one of the elite power/speed threats for the next three years at least, as 2020 will be his age-27 season. The new two-year contract doesn’t hurt at all either.
- Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS (23) - It was a long wait for any owner that had shares in Devers. However, this is why you must be patient with prospects because it finally paid off in 2019 with 32 bombs and 244 R+RBI. He even chipped in eight steals! Devers average took a large jump in part to him dropping his strikeout rate from 24.7% down to 17% while adding nearly 2 mph on his average exit velocity according to Statcast. The craziest part? He is only 23 years old for all of 2020.
- Wander Franco, SS, TBR (18) - We all knew Franco was going to be high in the rankings, but I have him at 13 because he has everything you could ever want in a prospect. Franco currently provides plus production in every category right now, and if he continues to progress as we all expect he will be a plus plus producer across the board while being one of the most patient hitters in the game. Quick fact: Franco has yet to have a higher strikeout rate than walk rate at any professional level.
- Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, HOU (25) - I had a hard time ranking Bregman due to the recent cheating scandal in Houston and whether or not the trash cans truly boosted him and his teammates. One of the first things I will be watching in 2020 is just how patient Bregman truly is at the plate as he has doubled his walk rate from 2017 to 2019 (from 8.8% to 17.2%). Even in that time, his exit velocity during this time has never been above 90 mph according to Statcast, which is odd for someone with so much power.
- Bryce Harper, OF, PHI (27) - It feels like most Harper owners weren’t happy with the output they received from the Phillies new $330 million man since he finished outside the top 10 outfielders. Harper is still a premiere talent, but the strikeouts have increased each of the last few years. The Phillies have surrounded Harper with an excellent supporting cast and he still provides speed and power to his owners even if the average won’t ever be above .300 again.
- Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL (28) - Now, I wouldn’t say I am worried about Nolan Arenado, but it is a proven fact that he is a much different hitter on the road versus at Coors. Over the last three seasons combined, Arenado has put up a slash line of .270/.342/.499 in 235 games on the road. At home, his slash line is unreal at .345/.409/.656 in 235 games. Arenado will remain my No. 16 as long as he remains with the Rockies, but if he gets traded I would have to reconsider depending on where he lands.
- Aaron Judge, OF, NYY (27) - Fantasy owners were doubting Judge after the rough start to 2019 where he struggled and missed time due to injury. He only had a 48% hard hit rate, but he repaid any owner that trusted him with 16 home runs in the last two months along with a 56% hard hit rate. I am all in on “All Rise” regardless of whether the ball is juiced or not.
- Jose Ramirez, 3B, CLE (27) - 2019 was a tale of two halves for the Tribe’s third baseman, as he couldn’t find an offensive groove during the first half as shown by his triple slash of .218/.308/.355. He provided speed and not much else during that time, but turned it around with 16 bombs in the second half along with a .327 average. Neither half is the true Jose Ramirez, but I think he can still provide a few more 20/20 seasons.
- Bo Bichette, SS, TOR (21) - Bichette had a wonderful welcome to the league as he hit 11 jacks and swiped four bases while putting up a .311 batting average in 40 games. The peripherals say that Bichette is likely to regress in batting average and slugging. I would argue against that because he generates great bat speed, so I think he can be a .285 hitter with a great combination of power and speed.
- Gerrit Cole, SP, NYY (29) - Cole is clearly the SP1 far and away right now and I will be interested to see how the change in division and ballpark affects him. He has thrown over 600 innings over the past three years and his hard hit percentage did go up 3% this past year. I’ve never been a huge fan of building a dynasty team on pitching because pitchers can quickly decline thanks to one bad injury. But if you want a pitcher, Cole is your guy to take early on.
That is all for today, but I will be putting out my top 500 within the next few weeks just in time for keeper decisions and startup drafts for new leagues. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on my top 20 and any other work. You can follow me on Twitter @DadSox.