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Dynasty baseball is a beautiful thing. In a redraft league, everybody is trying to win now. You all have the same goal. Dynasty formats allow for long-term planning. If your team is competitive, you'll value players differently than a rebuilding owner. This discrepancy makes it much easier to find mutually beneficial trades. Unfortunately, this same dynamic can lead to serious issues.

When dynasty leagues turn sour, it's because rebuilding owners get stuck in Minor League Land, becoming a farm system for the better owners. This is why it's essential to consider asset valuation. You want to be the guy preying upon the flailing rosters, not the other way around.

Let's talk methodology in order to gain an advantage in dynasty baseball leagues for the 2018 season.

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Talking Methodology

I'm a big proponent of "soft" rankings. You might also call them "good enough" rankings. Basically, baseball has made a fool of my rigorous and carefully cultivated rankings enough times that I no longer believe in expending the effort. With a few general guidelines, you can get 95 percent of the benefit with 10 percent of the effort and a whole lot of flexibility.

I explain this because what follows isn't a guide to Standing Gain Points or another popular valuation method. There are books for that. Instead, let's talk about some soft concepts to inform your own "good enough" valuations.

First, it's important to understand your team's goal. Have you built a legitimate contender? Do you have quality pieces but need to retool? Is a complete rebuild in order? Once you answer those questions, you can determine the type of players to target. Player values are always affected by the talent already on your roster. Think of this as the fantasy baseball version of the win curve.

In a vacuum, only a few factors inform dynasty value.

  • Is it a position player or a pitcher?
  • Age
  • Performance (majors or minors)
  • League level (i.e. High-A, Double-A, etc.)

 
Positions players are much safer long-term assets. While a true contender needs good pitchers, you can always try to build a rotation around James Paxton, Zack Godley, and Charlie Morton. By jumping on those players early, they were nearly free in my 20-team dynasty. They performed like top-20 pitchers on a rate basis. In most leagues, a quality pitcher costs much less than a quality hitter. And owners are always keen to convert their pitchers into safer hitting assets. In short, you'll have no trouble trading depth for pitchers when it's time to contend.

Age is the most obvious factor to consider. Ideally, you want a player who will thrive for the next decade or more. However, this isn't an automatic invitation to race to the youngest players. Joey Votto is 34 and damn incredible. A contending owner in need of a first baseman should be willing to at least consider trading Ronald Acuna or Victor Robles for him.

It's also dangerous to dive into the minor league end of the pool as if those players are fully actualized major leaguers. Especially if you don't have much exposure to minor league prospects, it can be safer to stick with young major league assets rather than their unproven, volatile cousins.

To that end, success in the majors should be valued over success in the minors. Byron Buxton destroys minor league pitching. Despite positive signs last season, he's still yet to truly establish himself as a major league hitter. Buxton, at one point, was a consensus top-20 dynasty asset. He still ranks very highly despite mixed results. Acuna, while extremely valuable, could very well be the next Buxton. When targeting minor leaguers, success in the upper minors tells us a lot more than success in the lower minors where the range of talent is truly massive.

You can think of this as an optimization puzzle. A dynasty asset is graded by what the player does now and what he'll do in the future. Personally, I like to weight the present much more than the future. Baseball players are rather fickle. Some of my colleagues prefer to take a longer view. It's up to your decide how far into the future you want to hunt for value.

For example, I usually look at the next four years, weighted such that future seasons are valued diminishingly. For example, I might value year 1 at 100%, year 2 at 90%, year 3 at 75%, and year 4 at 50%. This reflects the uncertainty of the future. Again, you may wish to be more aggressive or conservative based on your own preferences and the shape of your league.

For players likely to produce beyond that window, I'll simply label them as a plus. Older guys - think Adrian Beltre - get a minus. Basically, I want to know if my asset will have value in four years or if he'll be spent. When possible, convert soon-to-be spent assets into guys with a future.

 

More 2018 Dynasty Baseball Strategy