From injuries and underperforming stars to breakout candidates and call-ups, the long-term aspect of a Fantasy Baseball league adds an extra layer of strategy to your managerial duties. With that, dynasty and keeper player values swirl around during the season at every turn. A competitive owner is always keeping a pulse on fluctuating prices in the market and reacting accordingly. It is an exciting time with so much young talent making its way to the majors. Who are the Top 5 players for keeper and dynasty formats?
- Mike Trout (OF, Angels) – We are almost to the point where Fantasy owners are bored with Trout’s greatness. Don’t be one of them. Perhaps it is not really becoming tired of Trout, but the fact that other players are gaining ground on the crown. While the stolen bases have dropped off sharply, Trout has shown improved power and sustained strong RBI and run totals. He is simply not the type of talent you trade away in a dynasty or keeper format unless it is ridiculously over the top with elite talent and quantity to keep you competitive for years to come. Do not get distracted by the appeal of a shiny new toy like Kris Bryant or Miguel Sano. They might be great players one day and maybe, just maybe have a season that surpasses Trout, but that is not happening just yet. He offers a consistent level of excellence that no other player can match. And to think, he has not even hit his prime yet.
- Bryce Harper (OF, Nationals) – There is only one other player at the moment with a legitimate shot at the top spot. Harper has recently become a more trendy pick as the No. 1 overall player in fantasy for now and the future, but he’s not quite there yet for me. Of course, as a Harper dynasty owner, I would be hard pressed to trade him for Trout straight up as it is basically splitting hairs. They are that close both in terms of current production and future projection. I think Harper has only scratched the surface of his potential and that ultimately leads to a slightly higher ceiling than Trout. He may already be the most feared hitter in all of baseball and should only continue to get the Barry Bonds treatment. He has already walked 48 times in 46 games this year after 124 free passes in his breakout 2015 campaign. Harper is worth whatever you’d need to shell out in order to get him in a dynasty league because he theoretically has another decade or so of dominance in him. Plus, we don’t even know how good he really can be which is both exciting and scary.
- Carlos Correa (SS, Astros) – What a debut for the young shortstop, who took the entire MLB by storm as a 20-year-old. Correa was regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball and wasted no time showing everyone why. He mashed 22 home runs, added 14 stolen bases, 68 RBIs and 52 runs in just 99 games. He was supposed to be that good one day, just not quite that soon. He is still developing as a hitter, and there could be a few bumps along the way, but there should be no doubt about his inclusion in this list. While his power potential is not quite the same (at least without enhancement), Correa could be the closest thing we’ve seen at short to a young Alex Rodriguez. With his upside and the play of Jose Altuve and George Springer (both strong Top 10 considerations), the Astros have the makings of a scary good offense for years to come. The days of getting Correa outside of the first round is likely gone. His long-term profile is actually very similar to the player right behind him on this list.
- Manny Machado (SS/3B, Orioles) – It is easy to forget just how young Machado still is. He won’t turn 24 until July, and he has been holding his own in the majors since he was 20. After flashing glimpses and battling injuries for a few seasons, Machado broke out in a big way last season with 35 homers, 20 steals and a .286 average. He has kept up the scorching pace this season and added back in SS eligibility. In addition to a ceiling that few players could match, Machado gives the flexibility of slotting in as your SS or 3B in any given day. That gives him an edge over someone like Nolan Arenado, another player worthy of Top 5 consideration. While he may not be in Harper or Trout’s tier, he is a lot closer than you might have thought before taking a closer look at the numbers. Machado is a cornerstone talent, and it will be exciting to watch him progress even further as a hitter.
- Clayton Kershaw (SP, Dodgers) – Kershaw is the oldest player on this list by about four years, and the only pitcher even in consideration for the Top 10, let alone five. When talking about long-term leagues, I recognize the importance of young pitching, but I also get nervous about injuries and career derailment that seems to shatter so many dreams. I prefer to build around hitting 99 times out of a hundred. That speaks to Kershaw’s flat-out dominance over the past eight years. He has been so reliable, which is not something you can say about most pitchers, especially for an extended stretch. Sure, there is going to come a point where he starts to slow down and maybe his arm even falls off, but that could be five years from now. If you are looking out any further than three or four years in a dynasty league (the window should be half that in a keeper format), than that’s on you. Sit back and enjoy the best pitcher in the game and maybe one of the best we’ll ever see.