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2022 Keeper Value Rankings - First Base

Many many years ago, I noticed the managers in my long-time keeper league were consistently making terrible keeper decisions year after year. Instead of taking their money every year, I thought I would help them out and find a good set of Keeper League Rankings to share with them. What I found was quite disturbing.

There appeared to be two types of Keeper Rankings available in the industry: Type A is just the site's normal rankings with younger players boosted. These types of rankings only benefit leagues where all Keepers carry the same cost or no cost, such as Rounds 1-4 for everyone's keepers. I also found a Type B that I have no explanation on how any human could ever perceive to be useful in any type of fantasy format. So instead of pulling a rankings list for them, I sat down on Excel for a good month and the Keeper Value Formula was born.

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values." In the marketing world, Value can be defined as "the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants." The Keeper Values are derived from my Keeper Valuation Formula which accounts for age, player cost (ADP), remaining player pool, past performance, future projections, missed playing time, and even position scarcity.

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JB's Keeper Value System

The final product is a quantitative depiction of a player's ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners' needs based on the cost they paid for the player in the previous season (2021 ADP) and will subsequently pay for in the current season's draft (2022). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player keeping him at their associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this value-based attitude will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a keeper league.

Whereas the main purpose of the Keeper Value Formula is for customization based on specific leagues and keeper costs, I create these yearly rankings with standard 12 team league data, 2021 ADP, and 23rd Round cost for UDFA just as a baseline to help managers get an idea of their options. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB to check out your specific league's values.

 TIER   SCORE   DESCRIPTION
1 >100 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT at all costs.
2 75-99 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 50-74 You are gaining good value with these players. The majority of good keeper options tend to fall into this category.
4 25-49 Minimal value. The value exists, but not as much as your opponents are likely receiving with their selections. Consider if your options are limited.
5 0-24 Break-even point. Keeping these players will likely hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding enough value. The idea is if you don't use a keeper selection here you can likely still draft that player in the vicinity of their 2021 cost.
6 <0 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

 

2022 First Base Keeper Value Rankings

Position Rank Keeper Tier Name Team 2021 ADP Keeper Score
1 1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 5 108.40
2 3 Matt Olson OAK 9 73.03
3 3 Paul Goldschmidt STL 9 61.92
4 3 Jared Walsh LAA 20 56.84
5 3 Ty France SEA 23 53.72
6 4 Jake Cronenworth SDP 18 48.86
7 4 Ryan Mountcastle BAL 14 45.79
8 4 C.J. Cron COL 17 40.56
9 4 Joey Votto CIN 23 38.79
10 4 Jonathan Schoop DET 23 27.46
11 5 Josh Bell WAS 13 21.22
12 5 Yuli Gurriel HOU 23 19.82
13 5 Rhys Hoskins PHI 14 18.93
14 5 Alex Kirilloff MIN 20 18.04
15 5 Freddie Freeman ATL 2 17.72
16 5 Pete Alonso NYM 5 17.72
17 5 Bobby Dalbec BOS 23 13.23
18 5 Spencer Torkelson DET 23 13.22
19 5 Frank Schwindel CHC 23 9.97
20 5 Nathaniel Lowe TEX 23 9.78068
21 5 Brandon Belt SFG 23 9.2277

 

Tier One

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sits alone at the top, and rightfully so. Many in the industry projected 2021 to be the year of the breakout, but the groundball rate skepticism still kept his ADP far too low. The 22-year-old prodigy went on to lead the league in HR and R and was sixth in RBI, all while rocking a .311 BA to boot.

There have been plenty of discussions this offseason on whether or not Vladdy Jr. actually belongs in the first round with the SB scarcity in today's game, but he's still a top-10 consensus pick anyways. Just to recap his season last year once again: his xBA, xSLG, HardHit%, and wOBA were all top 2% of the league. He's twenty-two years old. I'd be willing to bet that most Vlad Jr. fantasy managers in Keeper Leagues actually have an even better discount than the fifth-round ADP I used in the formula since you've probably had him on your roster since before the 2020 season based on name and prospect pedigree.

 

Tier Three

No Tier Two scores at the position, so we jump from Guerrero Jr. down to Tier Three, led by Matt Olson. Olson is coming off of a career season himself, after finishing top-10 in HR (39), RBI (111), and BB/K (0.78). The strikeout rate improved drastically from previous years, but most importantly so did his splits versus left-handed pitchers. In 2021, Olson hit .270 with 22 HR against LHP, compared to .271 with 17 HR against RHP. Combine the on-base ability, strikeout improvement, southpaw splits, and him reportedly being a major trade candidate for almost every single good offense in the league after the lockout with his age (still just 27-years-old) and you have an absolute stud at 1B for years to come.

Paul Goldschmidt turned back the clock and partied like it was 2017 last year, as he finished as one of only five hitters with over 30 HR, over 10 SB, and over .290 BA. The 201 R+RBI certainly didn't hurt either. I am a little hesitant in expecting a repeat performance at the age of 34 with a vanishing BB%, and the fact that 14 of his HR and six of his SB came after August 1. But at this position, even slightly less than the 12 swipes from 2021 hold major value.

Jared Walsh and Ty France round out the third tier, and both should have very late-round values in your keeper leagues since neither was fantasy relevant until reaching 27-years-old. Walsh benefits greatly from hitting in a lineup surrounded by Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon in a hitter-friendly ballpark; however, unlike Olson, he struggled mightily against LHP. Luckily, he smashes RHP enough (166 wRC+) for the final product to still be plenty valuable - especially when kept at a late round.

 

Tier Four

This tier consists of some nice position versatility. Jake Cronenworth is rocking 1B, 2B, and SS, Ryan Mountcastle adds OF, and Jonathan Schoop doubles with the keystone (2B). Additional position eligibility always benefits players in the keeper value formula since the comparison replacement pool increases. Schoop is what he is at this point, but Cronenworth and Mountcastle certainly have some intriguing untapped potential still to unlock.

Cronenworth is more of a volume-based player, with the ability to play the whole infield, and the BA boost is quite beneficial to pair with the modest pop and oodles of run-scoring. Mountcastle was one of my favorite targets in the mid-rounds of drafts last season, and the guy has yet to disappoint offensively at any level. The only problem for 2022 is of course the new LF wall dimensions at Camden Yards  - which is going to hurt every RHB to some extent. But don't let that scare you away from a 25-year-old former first-round draft pick that just smacked 33 dongs, with 17 of those going center or opposite field.

The other two names in Tier Four are some of my favorites for 2022 due to the "Old Man" discount we're seeing. Typically, we don't lean towards 32-38-year-olds for keeper selections, but the value is value and there is a stark distinction between keeper and dynasty league win-now strategies.

Joey Votto and C.J. Cron can definitely help you win now. Votto just hit 36 bombs...in 533 PA. The last time he reached 36 HR, he needed 707 PA. That's the power of old man strength. Now with the universal DH, he should have no issue staying in the lineup and taking advantage of Great American Ballpark. Speaking of taking advantage of one's home field, Cron hit .326 with 19 HR at Coors Field in 2021. Cleanup hitter at Coors that can hit .280 with a late keeper cost? Fine, twist my arm.

 

Tier Five

We don't want to be using too many keeper selections on Tier Five guys, but there are certainly some names in this tier that will make you think twice about it. Maybe you need that stud production from Freddie Freeman and don't think he'll make it back to you at your second-round draft position. Of course, we still don't know where he's playing in 2022 but if the worst-case scenario for his fantasy outlook is staying with the Braves.... you know you're safe. Another bite the bullet situation would be Pete Alonso, and with the power potential, he brings a fifth-round pick which might be worth losing if your other keepers are SB or BA heavy.

Let's remember the formula is not Dynasty-focused. Alex Kirilloff and Spencer Torkelson should absolutely be fantasy studs in the future, and will likely be many tiers higher this time next year. But for now, value is king and they aren't really saving you much when you can grab them at their current ADPs of 169 and 256, respectively. The same can be said to some degree in regards to Bobby Dalbec and Frank Schwindel. If the 2021 second-half version of either stick around for 2022, they could easily smash these scores.

 

2022 Keeper Value Rankings by Position



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