It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Mark Trumbo's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 51 overall by Jeff Kahntroff, and No. 136 by Brad Johnson.
Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks.
Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Jose Ramirez, Trea Turner, J.D Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Bryce Harper, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Jonathan Villar, Kenta Maeda, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Marcus Stroman, Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts. and Kendrys Morales.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Mark Trumbo
Jeff Kahntroff's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 51
Mark Trumbo is one of the big proponents of the new swing technology allowing hitters to work on perfecting their launch angle and exit velocity. He has spoken about how the more aggressive version of him is a better player, and thus much of what may seem like a lucky 2017 is actually the result of a lot of hard work and conscious decisions. Moreover, many who have seen homer spikes after changing their launch angles have seen that power spike stick (e.g. Matt Carpenter). Trumbo’s likely will too.
Thus, I believe this “breakout” was a real result rather than chance. I also believe that he did not have a major second half “dropoff” as many are suggesting. Yes, he did hit .288/28/55/68/1 vs .214/19/39/40/1, but let’s compare the underlying numbers:
|BB%||K%||BABIP||FB%||Hard-hit %||Pull %|
Trumbo was much unluckier in the second half. But even his second-half 162-game pace was .214/43/88/90/0. Considering the low BABIP and the fact that the entire Orioles’ offense struggled in the second half (5.08 runs per game before the break, and 4.03 after), a .250/40/90/100/2 line seems reasonable to me as the average and run production will likely rebound. Taking out any personal bias by using his 2016 numbers and 2017 Steamer projections only, let’s compare Trumbo to a few players Brad has ranked way ahead of him:
|Player (Brad’s Rank)||2016||Steamer 2017 162-game pace|
|Mark Trumbo (136)||.256/47/94/108/2||.259/38/89/107/2|
|Carlos Santana (79)||.259/34/89/87/5||.254/24/104/89/7|
|Adrian Gonzalez (102)||.285/18/69/90/0||.263/24/80/91/1|
|Kole Calhoun (109)||.271/18/91/75/2||.262/23/90/83/5|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. (101)||.267/26/94/87/9||.261/19/79/78/8|
Do you really want to draft guys 38 spots higher who put up significantly worse lines in 2016 and who Steamer projects to put up significantly worse stats again in 2017? Obviously not. This is a case of Trumbo being ranked far below worse players. Many may discount what Trumbo did because of his right field defense and baserunning. But those shouldn’t affect your fantasy valuation.
Brad Johnson's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 136
Let's play a little Player A and Player B. One of these guys only played about half a season so I've normalized everything to 650 plate appearances.
|HR/650 PA||BB%||K%||FB%||Pull%||Hard Hit%|
Player A is Trumbo. Player B was ranked 285 by Jeff and 217 by me. It's Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph. Trumbo and Joseph were the same player last season. I've highlighted fly ball percentage, pull rate, and hard hit rate because they correlate very strongly with home run ability. And they tend to be fairly consistent year-to-year. If nothing changes, both are low OBP, 35 to 45 home run threats.
Trumbo is entering his age 31 campaign with just one season of high quality production. He's not without risk of collapse or serious regression. I buy his power as legitimate - I predicted him to lead the league in home runs in 2015 (drat, missed by a year). However, there are a lot of ways for a bad bodied, no defense slugger to turn pumpkin. For example, any kind of injury, age related decline in bat speed, or even more mundane causes.
By comparison, Joseph, 25, missed a ton of development time and has a lot more room to improve. With that comes downside risk. Because he doesn't have the established track record of hitting for power, we can't assume he'll maintain his 18.9 percent HR/FB ratio. I expect him to, but there's less certainty than with Trumbo. In short, Joseph is the more volatile asset. He should be going after Trumbo in drafts.
However, it's hard to justify Jeff's spread - he's taking Joseph 234 picks after Trumbo. Jeff highlighted some players I'd take ahead of Trumbo, and I stand by those picks. While those guys may not have 40 home run potential, they're much more reliable. I'd rather take a higher floor athlete in the mid-rounds and draft Trumbo's clone at the end.
With all that said, after closer examination, I was probably a little harsh in my ranking of Trumbo. I'll be moving him (and Joseph) up my draft board a couple dozen spots.