MLB Dynasty Rankings for 2017: Top 25

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All ranking projects are beasts, and the deeper we go, the more beastly they become. Ranking players at one position against players at another is easy enough. Shuffling the positions together to form a top 500 list can be unwieldy. Adding in the "dynasty" tag is the ultimate complication.

Before we hit the top 25, let's talk about methodology. Not all dynasty leagues are created equal - the term is understood to mean that owners keep most/all of their roster year-to-year. To some, it also means the league is very deep (over 800 players rostered). However, I get plenty of questions on twitter about 10-team, 23-player roster dynasties.

For the purposes of this ranking, I'm going to use an industry league as the model. It's a 20-team, 45-player roster format. It's up to you to mentally adjust the rankings to fit your own league depth and settings.

By the way, if you are interested in more MLB rankings columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, and more - all in one easy place.

 

My Dynasty Rankings Approach

For scoring, we'll use standard 5x5 stats. Since we're concerned with 2017 and beyond (a lot of the beyond), I tend to prioritize raw talent over counting stats like runs and RBI. A good player will get his opportunities over time. A bad player will eventually lose a favorable lineup role.

I'm mostly interested in how a player will perform over the next five years. While players with even longer term value should be acknowledged as possessing such, a LOT of things can go wrong between now and 2022. I might pay a penny for a dollar of 2022 value. That reflects my own personal preferences. I also place a disproportionate value on 2017 expectations. For established major league players, over half of my ranking reflects what they'll do this year. There are many exceptions for the young, old, and infirm.

Fortunately, we're using the same information to form our expectations about 2017 and beyond. So while other dynasty rankers may tell you they're doing an even 20 percent valuation of the next five seasons, it works out about the same as my method. There will only be a few notable differences.

Perhaps you've heard TINSTAAPP - There's No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect. There's a dynasty corollary - there's no such thing as a reliable pitcher. Relative to position players, all pitchers have a massively elevated risk of injury, especially the career altering variety. As such, their dynasty value takes a big hit. Not even Clayton Kershaw is safe.

While, pitchers are riskier dynasty investments, you do need a full complement of hurlers to win a league. In general, I recommend building the foundation of your roster with hitters then diversifying to pitchers. It's also easier to find a free Robert Gsellman or Michael Montgomery than a comparably talented hitting prospect.

One last note...because this is such a large project, I have decided to take an iterative approach. Today, we talk about the top 25. Next week, I'll release the next 25 or 50 names. When I do so, I may have edits to make to the top 25. This will continue until we have a very long list of players. By then, the top of the list should polished smooth and shiny.

Shall we?

 

Top 25 Dynasty Assets for 2017

Rank Player Position Age
1 Mike Trout OF 25
2 Nolan Arenado 3B 25
3 Mookie Betts OF 24
4 Manny Machado SS/3B 24
5 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 25
6 Carlos Correa SS 22
7 Bryce Harper OF 24
8 Corey Seager SS 22
9 Trea Turner 2B/OF 23
10 Xander Bogaerts SS 24
11 Trevor Story SS 24
12 Jose Altuve 2B 26
13 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 29
14 Francisco Lindor SS 23
15 Christian Yelich OF 25
16 Nomar Mazara OF 21
17 Anthony Rizzo 1B 27
18 Clayton Kershaw SP 28
19 Josh Donaldson 3B 31
20 Miguel Cabrera 1B 33
21 Starling Marte OF 28
22 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS/3B 25
23 Robinson Cano 2B 34
24 Charlie Blackmon OF 30
25 Freddie Freeman 1B 27

 

I think you can see the general cadence of the list. First we have the very young, very awesome bats, all aged between 22 and 25. Then we move onto the very good veterans with a couple under-established youngsters shuffled in.

Trout's number one ranking requires no explanation. He's too consistently good to rank anywhere else, even if there are a couple players who might be better than him sometime around 2025. Just like in re-draft, the distance between Trout and the rest of the field is huge.

Coors Field offers an exception to the talent over counting stats rule. Arenado has posted consecutive 40 home run, 130 RBI seasons without even going wild. The lack of stolen bases is a shame, but he has upside to push 150 RBI in a perfect year. That's category shattering potential. There's still nothing wrong with preferring Betts, Machado, Bryant, or Correa. In fact, Correa's a good buy low opportunity after injuries slowed him in 2016.

To my eye, Harper's ranking is a tad high. For a brief moment, he burned brighter than any other player in baseball. The overall resume still reads as "good player with massive upside." There's volatility here. If I was merely considering the most likely outcome (the modal projection), Harper would be ranked between Goldy and Lindor. The super-high ceiling drags the average projection up to the #7. Your personal valuation of Harper should reflect your risk preferences.

Following Harper are four very good shortstops. Take your pick of profile. Seager and Bogaerts have the steady, high floor approach. Turner snags oodles of stolen bases and will have three eligibilities in 2017. Story may lead all shortstops in home runs over the next five seasons.

Here's where things get interesting. The next five players - Altuve, Goldy, Lindor, Yelich, and Mazara - offer the gamut of strategic choice for owners. Contend now with Goldschimdt, build for later with Mazara, or try to walk the line with the other trio.

Rizzo's ranking probably looks bearish at first glance. And honestly, it might be. I know I'd pick him after Goldschmidt but before Kershaw. Speaking of Kershaw, the appropriate place to take him is adjacent to older stars like Donaldson and Cabrera.

Rounding out the list are four reliable veterans and Villar. While the Brewers utility star is a regression risk, he should hit and run enough to provide big value over the next three years. As a late bloomer, he may fade faster than the typical 25-year-old. This is another instance where risk tolerance will decide your path.


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