Baseball never sleeps.
Sure, the 2015 regular season is scheduled to reach its official conclusion Sunday -- or Monday (or even Tuesday) if tiebreakers are needed to decide playoff spots -- and the postseason will conclude in October or November, but once the games are in the books, fantasy baseball owners begin analyzing next season.
Well, the championship-caliber owners do, at least. You can be sure that some of your competition will do so, and those owners will have an advantage once spring training begins in February.
Here's a good place to start: Listed below are my triannual Keeper Top 250 rankings. They serve as a "price guide" of sorts for dynasty or keeper leagues, whether they already exist or will start from scratch in 2016.
The rankings formula
You know the drill: Here's where I remind you that it is impossible to craft a set of keeper rankings that will be of equal use to every owner, because few keeper leagues are identical in structure. Consider the variables:
• Player pricing: Do you draft or auction players? And do you keep players in the round they are picked, at the auction price you paid, or are prices irrelevant?
• Number of keepers: Can you keep one, five, 10 or perhaps your entire roster, and must teams retain the same number of players?
• Contract length: Is there a limitation on the number of seasons you can keep a player, and is there annual price inflation?
• Farm teams: Does your league include minor leaguers, and do these players automatically carry over, or are they also priced?
• Your contender status: Are you in the hunt, in a rebuilding state, or somewhere in between? At midseason, the answer to this question is far more critical than it is during the offseason.
It's up to you to do the homework and assess each of these valuation factors, recalculating, if necessary, these keeper rankings for your needs.
This is the player valuation formula I used:
• 2016 performance: 20 percent. • 2017 performance: 20 percent. • 2018 performance: 20 percent. • 2019 performance: 20 percent. • 2020 performance and beyond: 20 percent.
The rationale for weighting 2016 equally to 2020 and beyond is simple: I regularly provide going-forward rankings for the current season, and next week I'll provide my preliminary rankings for 2016 alone. In other words, I will publish plenty of 2016 rankings, projections and profiles to help you in the coming months (as will ESPN's fantasy team as a whole). But right now fantasy owners in keeper/dynasty leagues might be required to make critical roster decisions before the offseason arrives. While 2016 might warrant a greater weight in a keeper league drafting fresh this upcoming winter, this page is designed to help those fantasy owners who need to make their keeper decisions now, who need to project forward for the long haul.
As mentioned above, consider this list the equivalent of a "price guide" for determining appropriate trade or keeper value for your up-and-coming prospects and youngsters.
Tristan's Keeper Top 250
Note: Position eligibility is projected for 2016 based upon 2015 data through Sept. 29, and is determined based on a minimum of 20 games or the position the player appeared at most often in 2015. Players' projected future positions -- 2017 and beyond --- are considered as part of their rankings.