Differences Between Fantasy Top 100 Prospects and BA Top 100 Prospects
There are often significant differences between a real life prospect list and a prospect list intended for fantasy. As a result, the BA Top 100 Prospects and the Fantasy Top 100 Dynasty List show some interesting divergences from each other. This article will highlight some of the prospects with large discrepancies in ranking between the two lists.
Not all prospects are discussed, but the philosophies described would likely still apply to the players not mentioned below.
Not listed on BA Top 100 but listed in Fantasy Top 100
Esteury Ruiz (50th)
Matt Mervis (56th)
Junior Caminero (60th)
Coby Mayo (69th)
Dalton Rushing (70th)
Alexander Canario (74th)
Jace Jung (75th)
Brady House (79th)
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (81st)
Chase DeLauter (82nd)
Andy Pages (86th)
Samuel Zavala (87th)
Brice Turang (88th)
Addison Barger (89th)
Edouard Julien (93rd)
Mason Auer (95th)
Major league organizations have typically not aggressively prioritized prospects lower on the defensive spectrum, yet these players, especially if expected to provide near-term production, offer positive value in fantasy leagues. Matt Mervis, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Edouard Julien fall into this category
Speed plays up in fantasy and therefore players who may rack up stolen bases, or better yet power and speed combinations such as Alexander Canario or Esteury Ruiz will be pushed up based on their value across multiple categories. Having the raw tools while in an organization with success in actualizing those tools are often good investments, too. Mason Auer, Dalton Rushing and Carson Williams fall into that latter category.
Young hitters who have shown a plus to double-plus skill (such as game power) tend to transcend potential defensive concerns that a major league organization may have. Samuel Zavala, Junior Caminero and Brady House have all shown excellent power (for their age) with a reasonably likely outcome of 30-plus home runs per season.
Not listed on Fantasy Top 100 but listed in BA Top 100
Taj Bradley (44th on BA Top 100)
Ryan Pepiot (55th)
Owen White (59th)
Dylan Lesko (69th)
Luis Ortiz (74th)
D.L. Hall (75th)
Matthew Liberatore (79th)
Drew Romo (80th)
Jackson Jobe (83rd)
Logan Allen (85th)
Max Meyer (90th)
Alex Ramirez (92nd)
Joey Ortiz (95th)
Jonathan Aranda (98th)
Cole Young (99th)
Bryce Miller (100th)
This list is littered primarily with pitchers. Any experienced dynasty player is familiar with the adage that investing in pitching prospects does not provide a high return on investment. Not only do pitchers have a higher risk of (longer term) injury than hitters, but they tend to take longer to start producing positive fantasy value for your team after debuting in the major leagues. Because of the typical roster setup of most dynasty leagues, the small quantity of bench spots (which should be allocated to players helpful for weekly lineup fill-ins or for streaming) are not well served being taken up by a pitching prospect who may not provide positive fantasy value for a year or more.
Additionally, the real life value of a league-average pitcher is not correlated too highly with fantasy value. For example, Jameson Taillon’s 2022 MLB performance (having a league-average ERA and FIP over 177 innings) generated 2.3 fWAR but only $0.2 fantasy value under standard 15-team, roto settings. This performance was ranked as the 154th most valuable pitcher; whereas Bobby Witt Jr.’s same 2.3 fWAR that he earned was worth a stellar $24 (29th best hitter).
Most of the pitchers who did not make the Fantasy Top 100 (but were in the BA Top 100) generally fall into one of four categories: they have ceilings that are not extremely high (Logan Allen, Matthew Liberatore), they are far away from debuting (Jackson Jobe, Dylan Lesko), they are recovering from injury (Max Meyer), or they have relief risk (which may not be worth spending prospect capital on in case it ends with a poor outcome).
The hitting prospects who did not make the fantasy list are either very young hitters who pose too much uncertainty over being able to reach MLB (Alex Ramirez) or hitters who, despite being close to having roles in MLB in 2023, are unlikely to have exceptional fantasy production (Joey Ortiz, Jonathan Aranda).
Higher on Fantasy Top 100 compared to BA Top 100
Anthony Volpe (4th but 13th on BA Top 100)
Miguel Vargas (12th but 30th on BA Top100)
Kyle Manzardo (19th, 60th)
Masataka Yoshida (34th, 87th)
Connor Norby (40th, 93rd)
This list consists of hitters who are expected to (1) have consistently high batting average/OBP (with average or better power), (2) are likely to get over 300 plate appearances in 2023 (and have full-time value beyond 2023), and (3) are expected to hit near the top of the batting order for the prime years of their career. Those are valuable players in fantasy.
Higher on BA Top 100 compared to Fantasy Top 100
Gabriel Moreno (63rd but 12th on the BA Top 100)
Diego Cartaya (42nd, 18th)
Gavin Williams (44th, 20th)
Bobby Miller (49th, 21st)
Endy Rodriguez (58th, 23rd)
Brandon Pfaadt (48th, 27th)
Mick Abel (66th, 40th)
Carson Williams (96th, 52nd)
Again, this list primarily consists of pitchers (who get a downward adjustment for the reasons explained above) and catchers (who have much more real-life value to an MLB organization than the fantasy production they provide). An interesting consequence of the recent “catcher renaissance” to fantasy baseball is that the “replacement level” catcher in fantasy will likely be better than it historically has been—narrowing the gap between the “best” and “worst” performing catcher in the viable player pool—resulting in a lower “positional” adjustment for player valuation.