Breaking Down Movement On The Top 600 Dynasty Fantasy Rankings

Image credit: Bryan Reynolds (Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

With spring training positional battles out of the way, injuries befalling a number of players and some interesting week one storylines already, it’s time to update the Top 600 Dynasty Rankings.

As I am sure you are aware, this early in the season it would behoove us to tread carefully and not overreact to (extremely) small sample sizes. That being said, in the dynasty format, a lot of value is often extracted by moving faster than we otherwise should. Most experienced dynasty players know that you can’t “wait” to see if a potential breakout is real before deciding to bid on or select a player—because by then, it’s often too late: one of your league-mates has already preemptively picked up the player.

On the other side of the coin, players having hot or cold starts are usually the most common subjects of early season trades: some league-mates take a flyer and gamble on a hot start being real, some try to sell high, etc. 

This update tries to separate signal from noise. You will notice that most of the minor leaguers or prospects have not moved much—the sample size is even smaller than for the major leaguers and also, because of (lack of) proximity, the “influence” of injuries on a prospect is less significant than for a major league contributor because the prospects are so far away from contributing.

This article highlights some of the biggest movers—in both directions. Unfortunately, the players who slipped in the ranking did so because of serious injury (or enough of an injury to cut into a significant amount of near-term production). Keep this in mind when you see Jose Altuve or Trevor Story. If you don’t need them for 2023, then for your purposes, they may not need to slide as far down. The rankings are meant to be as “neutral” as possible, for all formats, as if you are “starting up” today.

Biggest risers (compared to the preseason ranking):

Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals (up 13 to 58)—He’s showing swing-and-miss, he isn’t walking much and he has a high groundball rate, but the Cardinals (and anyone with Walker on their roster) must be extremely happy with his performance so far in 2023. He broke camp with his team, which is an automatic boost in his ranking, and he’s done nothing to show it was unjustified. This is just the beginning of his inevitable climb up the dynasty rankings.

Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates (up 13 to 63)—The most productive hitter in 2023 thus far, there is no justifiable reason to not have him move up.

Freddy Peralta, RHP, Brewers (up 31 to 102)—When Peralta pitches, he is excellent. The question with him is always health. So far, his fastball velocity has been at a three-year high. That’s a good sign.

Jeffrey Springs, LHP, Rays (up 163 to 92)—Springs is the darling of the 2023 season so far. If you try to trade, say, Nestor Cortes or Yu Darvish or Blake Snell for him, you will be laughed at.

Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Marlins (up 76 to 105)—So far so good for the young Marlin. The stuff has been elite. Of course, the biggest risk is injury so this might be a bit aggressive, but he’s showing ace stuff … finally.

Nico Hoerner, 2B/SS, Cubs (up 39 to 126)—The move to second base hasn’t impacted Hoerner and the new rules have played perfectly to his style of play. His basestealing ability and high contact rate should see Hoerner continue to be a multi-category difference maker despite the lack of power. 

Masataka Yoshida, OF, Red Sox (up 51 to 131)—We were waiting to see if he would carry his World Baseball Classic success over to the major leagues and silence his critics. It seems like he has, with a max exit velocity higher than Brandon Lowe in 2023 … and he’s stolen a couple bases, too.

Kodai Senga, RHP, Mets (up 21 to 138)—The ghost forkball has befuddled major leaguers. The walk rate is in the double digits so far, but it looks like he’s settling in. This was a case of originally wanting to have Senga ranked higher, but in the interest of prudence, we held back.

Pablo Lopez, RHP, Twins (up 27 to 165)—The stuff is up significantly and he’s missing bats. Hopefully that portends continued health for Lopez.

Logan O’Hoppe, C, Angels (up 71 to 187)—With Max Stassi felled by a hip injury, O’Hoppe has been given the keys and so far he’s answered the call with three home runs and a 145 wRC+. He has some swing-and-miss so far, which may catch up to him, but the hitting metrics map closely to Ryan Mountcastle.

Jhoan Duran, RHP, Twins (up 47 to 216)—The skills were always there but it wasn’t clear if Jorge Lopez would be the closer. Lopez was not anointed, and that means Duran should be in the Andres Munoz-lite category.

Reid Detmers, LHP, Angels (up 39 to 217)—The changes in stuff that Detmers brought back to the majors in the second half of 2022 (after a brief minor league stint), seem to have carried over to 2023. The command isn’t quite there yet, but he is a popular breakout target.

Brendan Donovan, UTL, Cardinals (up 56 to 245)—Much ballyhooed in the spring for overhauling his swing, the 2B/3B/OF hit two home runs in his first three games (after only tallying five for the entire season last year). He’s slowed down since then, but he hits at the top of the order against righthanded pitchers and I don’t see that changing.

Garrett Mitchell, OF, Brewers (up 41 to 252)—Mitchell seems to have retooled his swing. In just over 100 major league plate appearances, he has a 34% groundball rate (much lower than the 60% rate he put up in the minors). If that portends unlocking more raw power to go with his excellent speed, that makes Mitchell a high-level target.

Brice Turang, SS/2B, Brewers (up 69 to 284)—Another popular name who has a blend of power and speed, Turang should get plenty of run with Luis Urias being injured. He has met the challenge so far with a 134 wRC+ (and 0.4 fWAR in only 30 plate appearances). He hasn’t appeared overmatched and is part of an exciting group of Brewers kids who look like they’ll be making a 2023 splash.

Taj Bradley, RHP, Rays (up 41 to 288)—Bradley was called up when Zach Eflin went on the injured list for back tightness. We don’t know for how long, but this might be the opportunity we were looking for, albeit under sad circumstances (for Eflin).

Josh Lowe, OF, Rays (up 24 to 318)—Lowe is another Tampa player who has been taking advantage of his playing time opportunities. He has (so far) lowered his strikeout rate (and raised his accompanying contact rate). Young hitter + power + speed + opportunity = dynasty fantasy target.

Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox (up 43 to 327)—The slugger has been essentially given full-time at-bats and has a wRC+ over 100, a home run and even two stolen bases. He will put up power numbers (paired with a bit of downward pressure on the on-base numbers), but he’s a solid player in the Hunter Renfroe mold.

Joey Wiemer, OF, Brewers (up 85 to 340)—The third member of the Brewers young triumvirate, Wiemer boasts power, speed and electricity.

Kenta Maeda, RHP, Twins (up 31 to 357)—In his first appearance, it looked like the veteran Japanese hurler had recovered fully from his Tommy John surgery. His second start was a bit less impressive—but still, he’s in the rotation, looks to be healthy and should put up solid numbers for any fantasy staff.

Trent Grisham, OF, Padres (up 33 to 366)—Grisham has so far validated the popular “bounceback” target title he was given prior to the year. The Padres outfielder already has three home runs and hits at the top of the order against righthanders.

Drey Jameson, RHP, D-backs (up 42 to 372)—His PItching Ninja gif-worthy slider has now moved from the bullpen to the rotation. Already rostered in many redraft leagues, his dynasty value is even higher. This might be the last time we see him in the 300s.

Liam Hendriks, RHP, White Sox (up 36 to 375)—After announcing he is cancer-free, we are all happy for the Australian reliever. We are being cautious and not raising him too high too quickly. We expect that he will be back in the closer role this year, but we’re not sure how long it will take for him to get there.

Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets (up 46 to 415)—One of the few prospects who has risen since the preseason, Mauricio already opened eyes in spring training and so far in Triple-A he continues to mash with a 110 mph max exit velocity … but more importantly, he has a contact rate higher than 80%. It would be aggressive, but Mauricio could conceivably debut in the major leagues this year.

Mason Miller, RHP, A’s (up 68 to 443)—We’ve been talking about Miller being a potential breakout and nothing in spring training changed that. In fact, he’s probably accelerating down the track to Top 100 status. The Athletics have already promoted him to Triple-A. We are probably being conservative here—but there is not insignificant injury risk.

Graham Ashcraft, RHP, Reds (up 33 to 481)—A Stuff+ darling with his slider, Ashcraft moves up in this update. If he didn’t call Great American Ball Park home, it would have been a much larger rise.

Adam Duvall, OF, Red Sox (up 50 to 505)—Even with the wrist injury news, Duvall was clearly ranked too low. When healthy, he is a slugger who is capable of playing center field for a first division team and that means he minimally needs to be in the top 500, or around that number.

David Villar, 3B, Giants (up 40 to 511)—With one of the highest power projections of any Triple-A player from 2022, Villar has been given full-time plate appearances, has multi-positional eligibility and has hit in the middle of the Giants order. So far so good. The conservative ranking is based on the expectation the swing-and-miss catches up with him, at least a bit.

Jorge Mateo, SS, Orioles (up 42 to 532)—Before the season, there was no clarity on what Mateo’s role would be with the Orioles in 2023. So far, he’s been their primary shortstop and has thrived with two home runs and five stolen bases. We’re not sure how long he will be an active contributor for the major league team—especially with Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz waiting in the wings—but he is definitely an up-arrow player since the preseason.

Bryce Elder, RHP, Braves (debuting at 471), Jared Shuster, LHP (debuting at 487) and Dylan Dodd, LHP (debuting at 499)—With Ian Anderson undergoing Tommy John surgery, Kyle Wright starting the season on the injured list and Mike Soroka being eased back up to MLB ready, the trifecta of Braves pitchers have all pitched in the rotation this year. Shuster and Dodd first opened eyes in spring training in their battle for the fifth starter position, but it’s Elder who so far has had the most success (after being moderately successful in 2022). These rankings are tentative until one of them breaks away from the pack.

Kris Bubic, LHP, Royals (debuting at 538)—Bubic may be the breakout pitcher of 2023. His velocity and stuff are up and he is missing bats at an elite rate so far. It’s way too early to crown him yet, but he has gathered together all the ingredients so far.

Biggest drops (compared to the preseason ranking):

Joe Musgrove, RHP, Padres (down 25 to 117)

Edwin Diaz, RHP, Mets (down 23 to 121)

Triston McKenzie, RHP, Guardians (down 42 to 133)

Robbie Ray, LHP, Mariners (down 43 to 160)

Tim Anderson, 2B/SS, White Sox (down 40 to 166)

All of the above names were lowered because of injuries. In the more ‘minor’ case of injury, there is a risk that an immediate return to form may not occur.

Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves (down 29 to 167)—One of the breakout names from 2022, Wright hasn’t debuted yet in the majors—and there was already lukewarm excitement about his 2023 campaign. This is just a minor readjustment to his value.

Nick Castellanos, OF, Phillies (down 31 to 179)—Coming off arguably the worst year of Castellanos’ career, the Phillies outfielder hasn’t done much in 2023 to silence the critics who had written him off. We expect a bounceback, but his perceived value has definitely taken a large hit.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies (down 57 to 188)

Luis Severino, RHP, Yankees (down 96 to 204)

Hoskins and Severino were lowered due to injury.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, White Sox (down 33 to 220)—Giolito is in the Castellanos category where a poor performance in 2022 was being bet on as a minor anomaly. Again, Giolito hasn’t done much to prove that 2022 was the outlier. From what we’ve seen in dynasty league trade discussions, this ranking might still be too high.

Gavin Lux, 2B, Dodgers (down 57 to 228)

Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers (down 44 to 247)—Out until May, Gonsolin was one of the names earmarked for downward regression after his incredible 2022 season. Unfortunately, getting out of the gate slowly is not doing his dynasty value any favors.

Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers (down 38 to 257)—This is just a conservative, due diligence adjustment based on reports of minor shoulder barking.

Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Rockies (down 46 to 277)

Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (down 26 to 302)—The questions surrounding Flaherty coming into this year are still floating around as his velocity and command are not consistently back to where they were prior to 2022. 

Aaron Ashby, LHP, Brewers (down 115 to 310) 

Jose Berrios, RHP, Blue Jays (down 68 to 330)—Another example of a poor 2022 with the expectation that 2023 would be more in-line with career norms. Unfortunately, so far the performance is suggesting this is his new true talent level. The expectation is that he will be a solid back-of-the-rotation to middle-of-the-rotation starter once again, but purely based on perceived value (where he is being dropped in redraft leagues despite being a stalwart of a playoff team’s rotation), he has been dropped outside the top 300 to reflect the market. 

Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Astros (down 34 to 354)

Frankie Montas, RHP, Yankees (down 75 to 390)

Injuries to oft-injured pitchers, when 2023 was supposed to be a full season of healthy performance, often leads to downward overcorrection. We’ve not lowered McCullers and Montas as much as the market would suggest we should.

Chris Taylor, 2B, Dodgers (down 38 to 397)—Taylor had a miserable spring training and has not done much in 2023 to course correct. He is on the other side of 30 and James Outman is proving to be a tough obstacle for Taylor in his quest to get back to a full-time role.

Miles Mikolas, RHP, Cardinals (down 78 to 404)

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Tigers (down 79 to 412)

Veteran pitchers who struggle in the early going are persona non grata in dynasty leagues. That being said, Mikolas and Rodriguez are good targets for teams that are competing and looking for depth.

Chase DeLauter, OF, Guardians (down 40 to 413) 

Daniel Bard, RHP, Rockies (down 55 to 442)

Luke Voit, 1B, Brewers (down 34 to 515)—The thunder in the bat was enough to keep him in the top 500, but it’s clear that Voit will not be given a full-time role in the majors.

Jose Quintana, LHP, Mets (down 54 to 518)—A cracked rib has sidelined the 34-year-old veteran southpaw. Having just been put on the 60-day injured list, Quintana won’t be pitching for the Mets until June.

Cody Morris, RHP, Guardians (down 95 to 537)—Morris has not been able to get his major league career on track due to a litany of injuries.

Daniel Hudson, RHP, Dodgers (down 74 to 541)

Brandon Hughes, LHP, Cubs (down 72 to 579)

Garrett Crochet, LHP, White Sox (down 65 to 599)

Hudson, Hughes and Crochet are three relief pitchers who potentially had a chance to be their team’s closer before the season started.

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