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 Trea Turner's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 7 overall by Jeff Kahntroff, and No. 25 overall by Kyle Bishop.
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.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Trea Turner
Kyle Bishop's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 25
We all know what Turner did last season. Not only did he contribute an elite batting average and run wild on the bases, he showed unexpected pop with 13 homers in just 324 plate appearances. That performance was enough for somebody to justify taking him first overall according to NFBC, which is certifiably insane. You've got him seventh overall, which is still too rich for my blood.
I get the hype, here. Even factoring in the likely regression, Turner's a good bet to hit .300 and steal 40+ bases, with double-digit pop and plenty of runs. That's excellent, especially for a guy who will be eligible at both middle infield positions and the outfield. But! One half-season, no matter how transcendent, isn't enough for me to rubber stamp a guy as a first-round pick as you have.
The prosecution calls Carlos Correa to the stand! Correa had similar hype coming into last season, and went in the first round of many drafts. Ask those owners how they feel about that now, after Correa turned in a good but unspectacular follow-up. There's real risk in investing heavily in the player based on such a limited sample, especially when you can grab guys like Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, and A.J. Pollock who have all already accomplished Turner's current projection at a lower cost. True, those guys aren't middle infield-eligible, but that doesn't move the needle like it used to given the depth at those positions.
Obviously, I bear no ill will toward Turner as I have him right around the top 25. But in the first round, I want as close to a sure thing as possible.
Jeff Kahntroff's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 7
Ranking a player so highly who has played in so few games goes against my standard rule. So why do I have Turner ranked so highly?
There are few players who can contribute in all categories while producing elite steals, especially as steals are declining annually in MLB. Kyle’s example of a safe pick, Starling Marte, has played four full seasons: he’s hit over 13 homers once; he has knocked in over 56 runs once; and he has scored over 73 runs twice. His average season is .292/13/78/54/37. That’s safe? Turner nearly matched those numbers in 73 games last year: .342/13/53/40/33! Moreover, while second base and shortstop are deeper than they used to be, qualifying at three positions is certainly valuable. If Turner simply matched his stats from 73 games he would have Marte’s expected value.
Kyle presents Carlos Correa as a cautionary tale. After playing in 99 games as a rookie in 2015, he shot up draft boards. Yet, he did not meet expectations. Correa had nearly identical average (.279 vs .274), homers (22 vs. 20), and steals (14 vs. 13) in 2015 and 2016, with approximately fifty percent more runs (52 vs. 76) and runs batted in (68 vs. 96). Turner should have an easier time making such a “progression” given that he’d only have to match stats from 73 games, but even if he just matched his average, homers, and steals, and had a fifty percent uptick in runs and runs batted in, he would have a .340/13/80/60/30 line. That is way above Marte’s average, and certainly a good outcome based on a cautionary tale.
I think a more reasonable floor would be something like .280/10/90/65/25, but a realistic ceiling could be .330/20/115/75/65 (well below his 162-game average from last year: .342/29/115/89/73). This floor is still essentially what Marte’s average season has been. A realistic line may be .310/20/105/70/40. With the floor of a top-25 player, the upside of the top overall player, and a projection of a top ten player, combined with multipositional eligibility, Turner belongs in the top ten.