Dynasty leagues present a different set of factors to consider when assessing player values for trades and whatnot. Get it wrong, and you're not just taking a mulligan for this year. You actually have to live with the consequences.
So assigning new value requires more deliberation. It requires taking into account factors like longevity, sustainability and growth potential. It's its own thing, honestly.
One month in, I'm ready to do it for these 15 players, five of them being prospects.
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MIL Milwaukee • #39 • Age: 28
There may have been some skepticism surrounding Corbin Burnes' breakout last year given that it happened over 12 appearances during the weirdest of all seasons. Who would have guessed he had a second breakout on top of it? The low-90s cutter that fueled the first breakout is now a mid-90s cutter, and he's made it his primary pitch. Not only has it made him near unhittable, but it's also taken care of his control problems. He may run into an innings limit at some point, but of course in Dynasty leagues, you're not just thinking about this year.
Joe Musgrove SP
SD San Diego • #44 • Age: 30
Joe Musgrove showed signs of becoming an elite bat-misser when his velocity corrected late last season. The velocity has held, but it's hardly mattered because he's changed his pitch mix to become even more of a bat-misser, leading with his cutter and slider in a way that's reminiscent of Yu Darvish. We've seen him throw a no-hitter. We've seen him rack up 26 whiffs in a game. We already knew him to be an elite strike-thrower who tended to work deep into games. All the ingredients are there for him to become an ace -- perhaps even a lesser Shane Bieber type -- and he's still just 28.
Byron Buxton DH
MIN Minnesota • #25 • Age: 29
It was a different world back when Byron Buxton was regarded as the top prospect in baseball, and given the years of disappointment that followed, you can be forgiven for thinking it wasn't ever going to work out for him. You can be forgiven for thinking it as far back as two years. But his outburst this year has his Statcast page lit up like a Christmas tree and is getting enough buy-in from enough smart people that it's like 2015 all over again. Of course, another round of injuries might entirely burst that bubble, so it may be time to cash in if he fetches an appropriate haul.
MIA Miami • #28 • Age: 25
What a laugh it is now that I barely fit this guy into my top 100 prospects over the winter, slotting him 99th. Some publications excluded him entirely. Yeah, he showed some swing-and-miss potential with a quality fastball/changeup pairing down the stretch last season, but he seemed vulnerable to the long ball and wasn't hyped coming up through the Marlins system. Since then, though, he's beefed up his slider so it's now just as good as the fastball and changeup, and he's also beefed up in general, adding 1.5 mph to his fastball. He's behind only Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes and Shane Bieber in swinging-strike rate and looks like an emerging ace.
Ty France 1B
SEA Seattle • #23 • Age: 28
How quickly he's gone from being just an intriguing depth guy to an integral part of all Fantasy lineups. The consistency speaks for itself, though. In addition to hitting over .300 presently, Ty France hit .327 this spring and .305 as a part-timer last year. And of course, the reason we all came to learn the name is because he hit .399 with 27 homers and a 1.247 OPS for Triple-A El Paso two years ago. Sure, it was a crazy environment, but by now, we should know it wasn't total smoke and mirrors. And the Mariners are committed to playing him, which was the biggest question of all.
Prospects who have gained the most value
Jazz Chisholm, 2B/SS, Marlins
2019 minors: .220 BA (395 AB), 21 HR, 16 SB, .761 OPS, 52 BB, 147 K
2021 majors: .290 BA (69 AB), 4 HR, 7 SB, .926 OPS, 9 BB, 25 K
He went on the IL six at-bats short of losing rookie eligibility, so I'll still count Chisholm as a prospect given that we're not privy to anything actual minor-leaguers are doing right now. And clearly, his Dynasty value has gone up over the past month. As prospects go, he was like a ball of cookie dough: appetizing potential, but too raw to consume. Looks like he's come out of the oven golden brown, though, because even though the strikeout rate is high, the quality of contact has been enough to overcome it. And the steals -- my gosh, the steals. Not saying he's worry-free, but the upside seems much more attainable now.
Bobby Witt, SS, Royals
2019 minors: .262 BA (164 AB), 1 HR, 9 SB, .670 OPS, 13 BB, 35 K
2021 spring: .289 BA (38 AB), 3 HR, .851 OPS, 2 BB, 10 K
So yeah, the choices for this section of the stockwatch rely heavily on spring happenings since, again, there is no minor-league data as of yet, only dribs and drabs of eyewitness accounts from the alternate training sites. And of course, Witt was considered an elite prospect even before taking the Cactus League by storm. But seeing the way the 20-year-old with no experience above Rookie ball pushed for a major-league job took things beyond just the theoretical. The buy-in is bigger when there's less fear of him stumbling at the upper levels.
Daulton Jefferies, SP, Athletics
2019 minors: 2-2, 3.42 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 79 IP, 9 BB, 93 K
2020 majors: 2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
2021 spring: 3-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 18 IP, 6 BB, 24 K
Though he did make his debut last year, Jefferies was an also-ran among pitching prospects coming into 2021, failing to crack any major top-100 list. But he clearly made an impression this spring, and in a pure meritocracy, he'd be filling a rotation spot for the Athletics already. Looking at his minor-league numbers, the strikeout-to-walk in particular stands out, and at 25, his time is coming. A pitcher who commands the zone that well and yet still has the stuff to miss bats has a path to stardom.
Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox
2019 minors: .303 BA (519 AB), 5 HR, 46 SB, .775 OPS, 46 BB, 128 K
2021 spring: .340 BA (47 AB), 3 HR, 2 SB, 1.069 OPS, 2 BB, 19 K
Prior to this spring, Duran's reputation was as a slap-hitting speedster, which would have made him an oddball fit in today's game. But he put on enough of a power display during the exhibition season -- hitting three homers, six doubles and one triple -- to suggest he's developing into something more. The strength and loft were both improved, and the scouting reports were glowing. And seeing as he's already 24, he has proximity working in his favor, too.
Alek Manoah, SP, Blue Jays
2019 minors: 0-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 17 IP, 5 BB, 27 K
2020 spring: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K
It would have had to be a pretty deep Dynasty league for Manoah to be in high demand prior to this spring, when he made a name for himself by being darn near untouchable. He did hit three batters, so it wasn't just the one baserunner allowed, by my gosh ... one hit and no walks? It's hard to fake that, especially given that he was working mostly against major-leaguers. He's unlikely to make a significant impact this season seeing as he has only 17 minor-league innings under his belt, but he looks like a keeper.
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MIN Minnesota • #20 • Age: 27
While it's true the spin rate on his fastball improved enough in his last start to offer some hope of a turnaround, the damage has already been done to Chris Paddack's Dynasty value. Two years ago, you were probably chasing away offers with a broom, but now, he very much has the look of damaged goods. His changeup is the key to his success, and it's only as effective as his fastball, which hasn't had the same life since that 2019 season. It's probably better to hold than sell right now, seeing as everyone's mostly out already, but if there aren't signs of a turnaround soon, you'll be out too.
Keston Hiura 1B
MIL Milwaukee • #18 • Age: 26
He seemed so polished at the plate a couple years ago, looking like a can't-miss up-and-comer at a position that's so often difficult to fill. But we've seen enough already this year to know that last year's collapse wasn't just another case of 2020 weirdness. Keston Hiura simply can't put the bat on the ball, whiffing more than 40 percent of the time even when swinging at pitches in the zone, and is basically unusable right now. Maybe a stint in the minors would straighten him out, but he's gone from being a sure thing to a lottery ticket in Dynasty.
Zach Plesac SP
CLE Cleveland • #34 • Age: 28
Listen, I'll be the first to admit I hoped things would play out differently for Zach Plesac, and if we're being honest, three of his first five starts have been good. There's still a chance he turns this thing around. But sentiment has turned on him, and whatever benefit of the doubt he was given for his abbreviated breakout last year appears to be no more. There have been too many home runs and not enough strikeouts, with questions about his pitch selection and location along the way. You could have marketed him as an ascendant ace at the start of the year, but now he's looking like a vulnerable innings-eater.
COL Colorado • #32 • Age: 30
Sure, we don't know exactly how things will play out with his elbow, but who in their right mind would pay face value for Dinelson Lamet in a Dynasty league? His first attempt to return after an already deliberate buildup following last year's elbow scare saw him leave with forearm soreness after just 29 pitches. The Padres are downplaying it, but ... come on. Even if he manages to remain intact for a turn or two or three, you'll never feel like he's in the clear. And when the other shoe drops, it's probably all of this season and next that he's missing. Unlikely you'll be waiting it out.
WAS Washington • #16 • Age: 26
Spring training may have been the last gasp for Victor Robles as a genuine Dynasty asset. He was being buzzed about all over again back then, piling up extra-base hits, running wild on the base paths and looking like a bona fide leadoff hitter. But since the bell rang, it's been more weak contact, little incentive to use his speed and a move down to the bottom of the lineup. I suppose Byron Buxton is living proof that it's never too late for talent to come through, but most Dynasty leagues aren't set up for you to wait Robles out forever.