Picking at the #3 Spot: Down to Turner & Betts

In a few days, the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational will begin drafting. The invitational is the combination of 13 different 15-team leagues full of the industry’s best and brightest (and Howard Bender). We’ve been given our draft positions and I got the third pick. After Arizona installed the humidor and dinged Goldschmidt’s value, the pick has no easy options. Instead of focusing on the first-round pick, I’m going to dive into my second and third round options to hopefully make a better choice with the first one.

With any draft or auction in which my draft pick is known, I plan my first two to three picks. Beyond that point, the variables increase, plan is out the window, and owners need to target values and needs.

The following procedure outlines my first picks but can be applied to any draft.

Note: After looking over winning teams from industry drafts, one common denominator prevailed, production from their first few picks (thanks Rudy Gamble for first pointing this out). If they miss, the team almost always never wins. I’m not going to gamble on my first picks for upside. I need top dollar production and gamble on upside later.

In this league, I’m picking at #3, #28, and #35. To help find the players likely to available, I created a player availability spreadsheet (instructions and spreadsheet) to determine who might be available at any given pick using current NFBC ADP (average draft position).

Everyone but Mike Trout and Jose Altuve will be in play at the #3 pick.  If either one falls to this pick, I’ll gladly draft them. Here are the other players I’d consider with their HR, SB, and AVG Depth Chart projections.

The batting averages are close, so I’ll throw them out. After looking over the choices, the hitters range from power only (Staton) to mainly speed (Turner) with different level of balanced production in between. After looking over the options some more, I down to Stanton, Turner, Betts, and Sale. The next step is to see who has a chance of being available at my next two picks. Here are my options.

Player Possibly Available at the 2nd Turn
Name Position Rank ADP % Chance: Pick #28 % Chance: Pick #33
Joey Votto 1B 18 18.8 21% 11%
Jose Ramirez 2B/3B 19 19.0 8% 1%
Gary Sanchez C 20 20.1 19% 8%
Francisco Lindor SS 21 20.8 8% 1%
Freddie Freeman 1B 22 21.8 29% 15%
Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 23 24.3 32% 14%
J.D. Martinez OF 24 25.0 37% 19%
Anthony Rizzo 1B 25 25.2 32% 10%
Stephen Strasburg P 26 25.7 39% 18%
Madison Bumgarner P 27 26.0 41% 20%
Dee Gordon 2B 28 28.5 52% 27%
Josh Donaldson 3B 29 29.2 53% 41%
George Springer OF 30 30.7 69% 34%
Alex Bregman 3B 31 32.3 64% 48%
Luis Severino P 32 33.5 75% 52%
Noah Syndergaard P 33 34.2 74% 55%
Jacob deGrom P 34 34.5 81% 58%
Carlos Carrasco P 35 35.8 79% 62%
Kenley Jansen P 36 36.8 80% 64%
Brian Dozier 2B 37 37.6 88% 71%
Corey Seager SS 38 38.7 88% 73%
Justin Verlander P 39 40.8 75% 66%
Jose Abreu 1B 40 41.5 82% 72%
Andrew Benintendi OF 41 41.6 90% 79%
Craig Kimbrel P 42 44.7 97% 90%
Zack Greinke P 43 46.9 84% 77%
Robbie Ray P 44 47.7 97% 92%
Marcell Ozuna OF 45 47.7 98% 93%

Going just off ADP, I’m slotted in fo Dee Gordon and Noah Syndergaard. After how well Thor threw in his first start, I’d be fine with these picks. But I can hope for more.

I’d love for one of following hitters to fall, especially with some possible Syndergaard helium pushing them down.

Josh Donaldson would also be in this mix off my valuations. None are speed only plays with most being power only. There’s a 50% chance for Gordon dropping with Bregman and Springer being in-play.

As for pitching, there’s a nice bunch of staff anchors available at the 28th pick. I’m worried the other two teams at the turn will also go starting pitcher eating up the likely depth.

My most likely options at the turn are a balanced to power hitter and a Tier #2 starting pitcher.

With these likely later options, I’ll remove Sale and Stanton off my #3 overall pick list as I can find pitching in the next two rounds and possibly not speed to pair with Stanton. I’ll concentrate on either Turner or Betts with that #3 pick.

So, my ranked combinations are (another power-only or balanced option can be substituted for Donaldson and Springer):

  1. Betts-Springer
  2. Turner- Springer
  3. Turner-Donaldson
  4. Betts-Donaldson

I’d love to end up with the Betts-Springer balanced combo but I am the least fond of the Betts-Donaldson one. My Twitter followers can’t make up their minds either.

Finally, looking back at the hitters who may fall, most are power only hitters which makes me want to lean Turner. For now, I’m not sure and I have a few more days to decide as the slow draft starts on the March 1st. Until then, I will be mulling over these two choices.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Maybe it’s because I mostly play in points leagues so the steals are less meaningful, but I just can’t get on board with Turner at 3. The health is a major risk, and he’s slated to bat second in front of Harper rather than leadoff so those steals will go down. Not saying he isn’t an elite player, but he’s got much more downside IMO than he’s given credit for.


Why would he be a major health risk


Why is he a health risk? His DL stint last year was an HBP…hardly indicative of anything to do with Turner’s health.

Brad Johnson

Yea, he’s like any other gritty speed-first player. i.e. about the same health risk as everyone else. There’s certainly downside with the short track record, but that’s a different beast.