On Tuesday, we had a mini-debate in the comments regarding the early season availability of Justin Turner. The Dodgers third baseman underwent microfracture surgery this winter, a procedure that often includes a winding path back to full time reps.
Early reports had Turner missing part of the regular season. More recently, it’s been said he’ll be “100 percent” by Opening Day. I have my doubts, but it got me thinking about how to value him in a fantasy draft. My thoughts on the subject don’t merit a full post. To make up for it, I’ll offer some opinions about Miguel Sano and Aroldis Chapman too.
In the case of Turner, we know he had a surgery that often limits players to a part time role for an extended period of time. The report of 100 percent implies Turner will be ready for regular reps. The Dodgers have a ton of infield depth so he was probably never slated for more than about 135 starts.
I don’t know very much about microfracture surgery. When it was new, players had a hell of a time coming back from it. Perhaps the procedure itself and rehab protocols have improved in recent years. If so, that explains why Turner could be ready much more quickly than I perceive as possible.
If by “100 percent,” the club simply means he’ll be on the active roster, then we might be safer in assuming three or four starts per week. Especially in the early going. Turner doesn’t have talent to spare like Carlos Beltran. If he’s not firing on all cylinders, he probably shouldn’t be starting for a team with the Dodgers aspirations. His game is built entirely around his bat. He has no value if he’s not replicating his recent success at the plate.
Verdict: I’ll happily take another flier on Turner, but I’m skeptical about paying for his services.
Last year, despite any sort of track record, Kris Bryant and Mookie Betts cost a fortune in fantasy drafts. If you wanted to roster either player, you had to pay for their ceiling. Or at least pretty close to the ceiling. Both Bryant and Betts delivered fantastic campaigns. Their owners were not disappointed.
If you want to own Sano, you’re going to have to follow the Bryant-Betts road map. Either you pay for the ceiling, or you sit out for safer investments. Sano draws easy comps to Giancarlo Stanton because he hits the ball stupid hard, strikes out way too much, and also draws plenty of walks. He could succeed in the same ways Stanton does – and that’s a first round player. However, it’s also possible those strikeouts or another flaw will be exploited this year.
An actuary would tell you to pass on Sano. You shouldn’t ignore a player’s floor. However, to win a fantasy league, you’ll need to spike a few gambles. While I prefer my dice throws to be of the low-cost variety, that’s a good way to finish in fifth place.
Verdict: You’ll need nerve to pay full price for Sano, but it’s not an insane gamble.
As outsiders, it’s really hard to comment on the suspension. The reported “facts” are contradictory and confusing. I’ll leave any judgments to those who have a better idea of what actually happened. For what it’s worth, I support punitively harsh penalties for domestic violence, although it is fair to weigh the merits of each case individually.
Chapman will miss 30 games or a little under one-fifth of the season. This does very little to my projections for him as I already expected a 20 game siesta for some sort of injury. The question becomes, should I still anticipate a minor injury or just replace that with the suspension? For now, I think I’ll go the “replace” route.
He’s so good that four-fifths of a season still places him among the top relievers. He’s fifth on my board now behind Craig Kimbrel, Wade Davis, Kenley Jansen, and Zach Britton. Yes, I like Britton more than you.
Verdict: The 30 game suspension only negatively affects Chapman’s value a small amount. You should have already had injury days built into your projection.
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