Image credit: Casey Mize (Photo by Tom DiPace)
If you already play in a dynasty league, then this post will preach to the converted. You can nod along knowingly as you read.
But if you play in a keeper or redraft fantasy league—and you are a Baseball America reader—then you owe it to yourself to try the dynasty format.
For the uninitiated, a dynasty league is one in which owners maintain a minor league roster—or farm system—in addition to a major league roster. Only the major league players’ statistics count in the standings, but the minor leaguers impact your club in myriad ways, not least of all the bond it strengthens with your league-mates.
Typically, a dynasty league draft occurs each year during spring training and focuses on players who turned pro the preceding year. For example, a typical 2019 dynasty draft was front-loaded with the likes of Casey Mize and Joey Bart, the top two picks in the 2018 MLB draft, and Victor Victor Mesa and Marco Luciano, the top international prospects who signed in 2018.
Now let’s outline eight reasons why dynasty should be your preferred fantasy format.
The dynasty format more closely mimics real-life baseball dynamics when it comes to trading. Just as major league teams separate into buyers and sellers around the July 31 trade deadline, dynasty teams likewise divide along those lines.
Competitive teams trade prospects from their farm systems for established major leaguers in an effort to win now, while rebuilding teams cash in veterans for future assets.
Engagement is more than a buzz word in a dynasty league. With teams building on different timelines and aiming for different competitive windows, all owners are strongly incentivized to pay attention to player trends and developments.
Even the smallest trade or pickup could pay big dividends down the road. In baseball, you truly never know how the future will unfold.
Integrity Of Standings
In a redraft league, losing teams tend to tune out and stop attending to their roster and lineup as the season reaches the late stages. This creates an imbalance where the best teams can pull away from the pack because some percentage of the league has dropped out and stopped updating their lineup and making efforts to improve their team.
In a dynasty league, all teams are looking out for the long term, even those miles out of the playoff hunt. This enhances the integrity of the league standings and thus league championships because there are no teams with absentee owners to feast upon.
Long-Term Vision Is Required
In a redraft league, the season is largely an exercise in determining which team had the best draft. In a dynasty league, only the initial startup draft has that effect. Player fortunes vary too much year to year, and subsequent minor league drafts have little short-term effect on the standings.
All player acquisition methods are important in dynasty. The best owners meld all acquisition streams—draft, trade, waiver wire, prospect speculation—to build a consistent winner.
Curiosity Is Rewarded
The dynasty format requires owners to show curiosity in prospects and possess at least passing familiarity with the most prominent amateur players for the next draft cycle. This engenders a more knowledgeable and well-rounded league membership.
Some dynasty formats allow unlimited minor league rosters or permit the rostering of players not signed to affiliated contracts. In those deepest of leagues, more than a superficial knowledge of future major league talent is required.
Sense Of Community
A healthy dynasty league encourages a sense of community because all its owners are in it for the long haul, committed to the league through thick and thin. At the heart of that community is a strong commissioner, because the larger player pool of a dynasty league magnifies his responsibilities.
Varied Roster Management Styles
Access to a minor league roster opens doors for owners to manage their major league rosters in varied ways.
Some owners will stockpile high-ceiling prospects they follow, taking their time to pick and choose favorites. Others will use their farm system like a taxi squad to shuttle useful but unestablished players from the minors to the majors as needed. This aspect of dynasty play mirrors the way major league teams manage their 40-man rosters when calling up and optioning prospects to the minors.
Learn About Player Development
Taking a broader view of baseball in the dynasty format allows owners to appreciate the triumphs and challenges of player development. Managing a dynasty farm system forces owners to decide which players are truly priority prospects.
Is the 18-year-old pitcher in Rookie ball worth speculating on, given that he probably won’t return major league value until his sixth pro season? Will the hitter mashing at Triple-A be able to replicate that performance against major league pitchers? Will the struggling major league rookie be able to right the ship this season?
Dynasty leagues grant owners with perspective on the vast universe of affiliated baseball players, which should have obvious appeal to Baseball America readers.