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Man vs. ADP: Drafting at the Turn in 12-Team Leagues

Drafting at the turn is a lot different than drafting in the middle of the draft. It takes a fair amount of practice and is a skill unto itself. When you are at the turn, you must anticipate the flow of the draft a bit more. In the middle of drafts, you can usually still catch the tail end of a positional run. You do not have that luxury at the turn. Because of this, owners drafting at the turn must be proactive rather than reactive. They often have to be the ones that start those positional or categorical runs. This requires an owner to be even more confident in his or her rankings than usual, and will usually lead to some wide discrepancies between ADP and where a player is selected.

For example, Rafael Devers’ ADP as of this writing is 23.92. A player drafting at the turn who was hellbent on drafting Devers will not be able to select him anywhere near his current ADP. That owner would either have to draft him at the 1-2 turn (picks 12 and 13 in a 12-team draft) or hope against hope that Devers would fall to the third round (picks 36 and 37). The odds of that happening are virtually non-existent. I looked up data of over 400 NFBC drafts going back to November. Devers was never drafted later than 34th overall in any of those drafts. Thus, the owner who has the 12th pick and covets Devers would have to select him nearly a full round ahead of his ADP. This is Reason #120837 why ADP should never replace a ranking system.

I recently took part in a 12-team mock where I had the 12th pick. Unlike my recent Man v. ADP piece, I am not blindly following ADP this time. For one thing, I would like to get a reliever at some point in this draft. I will also need to buck ADP trends when necessary and take the best fit for my team. As I alluded to earlier, this will mean I need to rely on my own opinions and value methodology.

Drafting at the Turn

1.12 –    One might think there is a natural disadvantage to picking so late in a draft. And yes, you miss out on the “Big Three”, and on the top two starting pitchers as well. But man, there is still a lot of meat on this bone. In my most recent projections, six hitters averaged at least a 20 percent increase over my pre-ordained targets in all four of the “front four” categories. Four of the six are still available with the 12th pick. One of those four is also projected to provide double-digit steals. His name is Juan Soto. Soto is already one of the best hitters in the game and has not even reached his peak yet. It is scary to think about what he can accomplish at the height of his powers.
2.1 –    I can easily take another top hitter and get off to a nice start offensively. In that case, the players I would consider the most are Nolan Arenado and Freddie Freeman. However, this is when an owner at the turn needs to think about how the next two rounds are most likely to play out. Taking another hitter here means I will forgo an elite starting pitcher. What I have to figure out is how much of a drop off there is between, say, Justin Verlander and a starter in that SP10-12 range, which is where I will likely be choosing from in the third and fourth rounds. At that point, my likely options will be Blake Snell, Chris Sale, and Luis Castillo. The available hitters at that range can run the gamut of a slugger like Yordan Alvarez or a speedster like Adalberto Mondesi.
To pilfer a page from Joe Pisapia’s literal book, this is where relative position value factors in. Simply knowing I can still get the fourth-best first baseman or fifth-best third baseman is not good enough. Your projections should be able to quantify each player’s value. I believe that taking Verlander is the way to go. The numbers he provides are impossible to make up elsewhere. Last season, nine starters registered above a 1.00 WHIP value according to Baseball Monster. Seven of the nine scored between a 1.00-1.70. Gerrit Cole scored a 2.53. Justin Verlander registered a 3.74. THREE POINT SEVEN FOUR! Opposing hitters were not stealing signs against Verlander last season, that’s for sure. I’ll lock down my SP1 slot with one of the game’s best and try to make up some offense later in the draft.
3.12 –    As it turns out, all of the options I mentioned above are still available. That’s what we in the biz call “good scouting”, and what people not in the biz call “not having a life and doing way too many mock drafts.” Tomato, to-mah-to. Either way, I can go in several different directions here. I find myself shying away from Mondesi lately for whatever reason. I just think there are too many ways it can go wrong, and shortstop is super deep. My current projections show 14 hitters whose combined weighted index in the front four categories is at least 25 percent. 12 of the 14 have already been taken in this draft. One of the two who hasn’t is Yordan Alvarez. Hopefully, I will be able to discuss the 14th shortly. In any event, Alvarez is my pick here.

4.1 –      Owners are grabbing a bunch of third basemen in the second round of many drafts. They are also selecting several second basemen in this range here. A half dozen players are manning the keystone who are going between the middle of the third and middle of the fifth rounds. If I do not grab one here, I can end up missing out on all of them. Again, though, it comes down to value.

Let’s say you determine that Jose Altuve is worth $20 and 15 second basemen can contribute double-digit dollar value. That means that the worst starting second baseman in this league will be no more than $10 worse than Altuve. Now let’s say you also have George Springer valued at $20, but your 60th outfielder is worth just $6. It would appear to make more sense to take Springer and the 12th-best second baseman than select Altuve plus the 60th-best outfielder. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that, as you will see later. Which is why, having said all that, I am taking Altuve. I cannot ignore the upside, despite not knowing the precise impact that their cheating had on their offensive performance in recent years.

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5.12 –    Per Baseball Monster, 10 starters have posted top-20 value in each of the last two seasons. Nine of the 10 are off the board in this draft. The lone starter left who fits this criterion is Charlie Morton. Morton has a very safe floor and should provide solid numbers across the board. I feel very confident with Verlander and Morton as my 1-2 punch.

6.1 –      Remember that time when I mentioned that I have 14 hitters projected to produce at least 25 percent better production than my target numbers? You should. It was only like a minute or so ago, depending on how fast you read. Anyway, 13 of the 14 were selected in the first three rounds of this draft. The 14th was not selected in the fourth round, nor was he selected in the fifth. Could my projections be way off? It’s certainly possible. But what if I told you this hitter has posted six straight seasons as a top-50 hitter, including five of the six inside the top 25? Does that sound like a player who owners should be drafting way before the sixth round? Would you believe that his ADP is the eighth round? Friends let me introduce you to one Nelson Cruz.

Cruz can be had at a discount because he is only eligible at the Utility spot. Fantasy owners often shy away from players who cannot play the field. But his Statcast page has more red on it than his Twins jersey does, and his actual statistics have been outstanding for many years now. Is it possible that Cruz falls to me at pick 88? Sure, but why risk playing a game of chicken and lose out on one of the best hitters in baseball? It is important to note that Alvarez carries a UT-only distinction in many formats as well. However, here on Fantrax, Alvarez is OF eligible. You can combine him and Cruz and lock in elite power production. This is Reason #120837 why you should be playing on Fantrax.

7.12 –    Shortstop is looking like a very deep position in 2020. That has played out so far in this draft, as a dozen players who are eligible at short have already been selected. At this stage in the draft, I see two shortstops who are well above the rest. I would include Tim Anderson (ADP: 110.58) in that group as well, but somebody scooped him up in the fifth. So I am going to take Marcus Semien with this pick. Semien has a very solid floor and should score plenty of runs, so he plays off of Alvarez and Cruz nicely.

8.1 –      So far there have been three relievers selected – Josh Hader, Kirby Yates, and Aroldis Chapman. That seems to be the consensus top three. I don’t mind missing out on those players depending on the construct of my team. However, at the turn is when you can find yourself chasing a category like saves later on if you do not grab someone. Roberto Osuna and Liam Hendriks are my two clear-cut options if I go this route. If I wait, and they are drafted, I will probably wait even longer before picking up my first reliever. I think that is a chance that I am willing to take. There are a lot of quality bats that are going to come off the board in rounds eight and nine. I am going to take another bat here, so I will be drafting Eddie Rosario.

Eddie Rosario is the kind of player who would likely be overvalued 10 years ago but now ends up undervalued. If you only looked at his Statcast page, you would think he is a replacement player. But Rosario has been a top-40 hitter in each of the past two seasons and will have plenty of RBI opportunities in that Minnesota lineup. I will happily take the guaranteed production and see what is available in the next round.

9.12 –    Hendriks went 9.11, which is a bummer. I can take Brad Hand or Kenley Jansen, but I am not enamored with either one. I think I will just wait until my next set of picks and reevaluate the position. In the meantime, six starters have just gone off the board. If I do not grab another here, I believe several more will be gone by the 11th round. At that point, I do not want to be pigeonholed into taking two pitchers, so I believe my best bet is to take one now. I am taking Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco should bounce back nicely now that he is back at full health after a bout with leukemia in 2019. He finished as a top-15 starting pitcher in both 2017 and 2018. Even if he does not reach those heights, Cookie should be a nice value in 2020.

10.1 –    This is an interesting spot for me. I have zero corner infielders selected through nine rounds. Nick Castellanos is my highest rated player, but I already have three outfielders. Do I go for need or take the best player available? Again, it comes down to marginal value for me. I am more confident in the likelihood of getting good outfielders later than good corner infielders. While I need to eventually fill three spots with corner infielders, I only need to start two more outfielders. My current values show 28 outfielders who are worth at least $5, but only 24 corner infielders. As much as I love the prospect of Castellanos in Cincinnati, I think it makes more sense to grab a corner infielder in this spot.

The question, of course, becomes which one. The ones that stand out the most to me are Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Yuli Gurriel, and Justin Turner. They are all within a dollar or two of each other but have different skill sets. This is when having your categorical values can come into play. I can look at my team and see where I am weak and where I am strong. More importantly, I can see if I need to address my deficiencies now, or if I can afford to wait. As things stand now, I feel I can wait to address speed. But I am a smidge weaker in runs than I would like. The player remaining with my highest overall projected run total is Santana. He makes a lot of sense here as a player who can fit both a positional and categorical need.

11.12 –  This particular round of chicken did not go well. Five closers came off the board here. Ken Giles is the only closer available who I still have in my top 10. If I do not grab him now, I worry that I will be behind the 8-ball there. And even though I like Giles, his save upside is likely capped. I probably have to consider taking Giles and another reliever in the next few rounds to address this position.

12.1 –    As always, there are several directions I can go in. There are players at every position and players who offer a wide array of skills. There are a few hitters who can address my needs who I think (key word – think) will be available in the next round. If there were one or two hitters I was set on, I would take the plunge. Since I have several that I like, I am going to take a pitcher here. Frankie Montas looks like my guy. If he had simply gotten injured instead of suspended last season, I believe he would be going in the 20-25 range at SP. Instead, he is going 33rd according to our ADP. He falls to me at #37 here, which is well worth the price I am willing to pay.

13.12 –  I was hoping I would have the option of Justin Turner or Yuli Gurriel here. Gurriel is now gone, but Turner is a solid choice here. He provides a very safe floor, with a lot of batting average upside. That is important because some of the players who can give me a boost in speed down the road are also likely to adversely affect my batting average.

14.1 –    This worked out pretty well from the standpoint that there are several players here who can provide steals and who may not cause my batting average to crash. Of course, that begs the question of whether I played the last few rounds right. In retrospect, I could have taken Gurriel over Montas and taken two speedsters at the 13/14 turn. But I don’t think I would have liked some of the pitching options available at that point. Besides, no turning back now, right?

Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus, Amed Rosario, and Lorenzo Cain are some of the options available. This is another quartet I have offering pretty similar overall value. My projections have Segura scoring the most runs and providing the best batting average of the group. Segura offers top-10 production in average and runs total of all remaining hitters. He is my lowest-projected base stealer among the four players I mentioned, and I think I have a 50-50 chance of getting him in the next round. I do not feel as confident in the other three. I am going to take a shot by grabbing Cain here and hope I can get Segura in the next round.

15.12 –  And Segura made it back! I love it when a plan comes together. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.

16.1 –    Several other closers are off the board here, and I cannot afford to miss out on the next tier. Sean Doolittle and Jose LeClerc are my top two at this stage. If I knew Doolittle would be the undisputed closer and that his knees would hold up, he would be the pick. But I think I am going to take LeClerc in this spot. I am not in love with this pick by any means. It seemed like every time LeClerc took a step forward in 2019, he took two back. I am hoping this offseason allowed him to clear his head and rack up some saves behind what is looking like a pretty decent starting staff in the Lone Star State.

Hopefully, a full season being paired with Daniel Ponce De Leon can help Yadi find the fountain of youth.

17.12 –  Khris Davis is still on the board as we cross the 200 pick threshold. That seems crazy to me. I have nowhere to deploy him, but I’m almost tempted to stash him and his 30-plus bombs and .247 batting average in case Cruz were to go down. But I think I have bigger holes. One is at catcher, where I have yet to make a pick. Four teams took a catcher in the 16th round. I probably should have bitten the bullet on a catcher earlier. The worst part is that there are still several teams without one, so I am hesitant to wait for another go around. I am going to take Yadier Molina and hope he has another productive season in him. Hopefully, a full season being paired with Daniel Ponce De Leon can help Yadi find the fountain of youth.

18.1 –    I find myself hard-pressed to ignore Lance McCullers in this spot. McCullers is not going to throw more than 150 innings, and he will be frustrating to own at times because he will get skipped on occasion and likely have some short outings. But the upside is elite. I will even take 100 innings of his potential production at this price point.

19.12 –  There was a huge run on pitching in Rounds 18 and 19, so I am glad I grabbed McCullers when I did. I am kind of tempted to just grab Ryan Braun and Avisail Garcia and treat them as one entity. They are scheduled to platoon in right field for the Brew Crew. Braun should also see the occasional start at first base. Both players offer similar production in all areas. My last few offensive players picked have sapped my team power a bit, which has me a little nervous. I will be taking Braun here and hoping that he can find a way (legally, preferably) to post one final year of solid output.

20.1 –    At this stage in the draft, there are a mere handful of closers left who project to approach double-digit saves. I have to be honest – I don’t like any of them. Mark Melancon, Mychal Givens, and Wade Davis are seemingly the best of this bunch. I do need to take some more pitchers, but I wonder if this is not the best route. Instead, I think I am going to take a different tact here. I am going to select a middle reliever with high upside. Seth Lugo is a nice fit who comes to mind in this spot. Lugo has over 100 strikeouts with a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons. He may not be in line for saves, but he should help stabilize my ratios, which can always use some work.

21.12 –  Garcia is still here two rounds after I considered drafting him. That makes me wonder if I should have drafted Braun. Perhaps I should have taken a corner infielder like Eric Hosmer or C.J. Cron. I could have also selected a high-upside pitcher like Dylan Bundy or Adrian Houser. Daniel Murphy and Brian Anderson are my best CI bets. They both have dual eligibility which is nice. I do not think I will need both, though. My numbers tell me right now that homers and steals are my weakest categories. Meanwhile, my batting average should be near the top of the league. So I am going to select Rougned Odor.

Odor is not the kind of player I usually target AT ALL. He hit .205 last year, and it wasn’t even a career-low. Odor is the ultimate batting average drain. He makes Joey Gallo look like Joey Votto. But he makes for a good fit here. He is essentially my first backup, so I do not need to use him full-time. I can try to spot him in decent matchups. He did sport a 10.5 percent walk rate over the second half last year, so maybe he is seeing the ball a bit better.  There are certainly worse gambles at this point in the draft. Drafting Odor could be a wild swing and a miss, which would be apropos considering the player in question. Then again, Odor is also known for swinging and connecting as well. Not always with a bat to a ball, but still.

22.1 –    As usual, the decision comes down to how I think the next couple of rounds will play out. I have a trio of corner infielders I am interested in. Specifically, Murphy, Anderson, and Votto. I see a pretty sizable drop off after those three, so it may be worth it to secure one to fill that void. There are also several pitchers for the taking, However, there are also a few pitchers I am confident will be there during the next round. This is the perpetual game you are playing when you draft at the turn. As for this pick, I think I am slightly more in need of runs than RBI at this stage. This has me leaning towards Votto. He should still reach base nearly 40 percent of the time and has Eugenio Suarez, Mike Moustakas, and Nick Castellanos to drive him in.

23.12 –  Well, that escalated quickly. Nine pitchers have gone in this round after five catchers went the round before. Murphy is still available, which I was not expecting. Garcia and Anderson were the only two hitters selected in Round 23. I am going to continue that trend and grab a starter here. I only have five legitimate starters to this point, and a couple of them have question marks. Yonny Chirinos is going to be my pick here. He should provide solid all-around production for Tampa this year. Chirinos will probably be in the rotation, but he can also slot in after an opener. That role would likely result in more wins, so either way, it is worth taking him. Ryan Yarbrough has a similar profile and role. He was selected in the 22nd round, so I will take a slight discount on Chirinos.

24.1 –    There are a fair amount of players who intrigue me here, but it seems silly to not take Murphy. We are at pick 277 and a full-time player who plays half his games in Coors Field is available. I was in a league last year where Murphy went in the fourth round. Now we are in the 24th. For as bad as he was last year, He was the 41st-best corner infielder and the 35th best middle infielder. He is a backup for me at both spots. Ideally, I can spot him for home games and bench him on the road.

25.12 –  Unfortunately, Ross Stripling, Dellin Betances, and Josh James went with consecutive picks in the 25th round. I was hoping to grab one of them here. The good news is that Ryan Pressly is still on the board. Like Lugo several rounds earlier, this is a move to bolster ratios. Pressly has lowered his ERA, WHIP, and strikeout to walk ratio in three consecutive seasons. He has also struck out at least 12.00 hitters per nine innings in each of the last two seasons. Even without picking up saves, Pressly will be a welcome addition to my roster.

26.1 –    As I fill out my bench, I am looking for players who can make certain contributions in specific areas. One such player is Randal Grichuk in Toronto. Grichuk should see close to full-time at-bats in a lineup that should be much improved with young talent all over the field. I have him hitting my projected targets in both home runs and RBI, while not being too far off in runs. That is not bad for a player who is occupying my bench as a sixth outfielder. The bad closers remain, but I will forgo that position this time around and see who comes back to me in the next round.

27.12 –  Four more rounds to go, so essentially two turns making picks. I only have two closers, and neither one of them is elite. I also have two middle relievers, so I can use a boost in the pitching counting categories. There are only two or three closers left. Considering that 12 of the last 13 picks have been pitchers, I think now is the time to address these shortcomings. First, I will grab a starter. My best options appear to be a trio of NL East hurlers – Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez, and Pablo Lopez. Porcello has made at least 32 starts in six of the last seven seasons. So if nothing else, he can be a useful compiler. And I believe that the Mets’ bullpen is pretty good. It will not surprise me if Porcello posts an ERA below 4.00 with 12 or so wins.

28.1 –    The three most likely closers left on the board are Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, and Wade Davis. You could not pay me to draft Wade Davis, so he’s out. I do not necessarily trust the other two, but Watson is on the better team. He also has more experience closing than Kintzler does, so he will be my choice at this juncture.

29.12 – Lots of pitchers have been taken over the last few rounds as owners look to solidify their benches. I can use some more help in that area myself, but the pickings are slim. I want to try to make one more push to bump my wins and strikeouts a bit. Back in Los Angeles, Alex Wood is a late-round flier who could stick for a while. He is likely to slide in as the fourth starter for a team projected to be among the best in baseball. Wood may not be a candidate for 30-plus starts, but he should be able to produce at a pretty high level when on the mound. Last season was the only one in his career where Wood had an ERA over 4.00.

30.1 –    With my last pick, I am drafting a player who has pretty substantial upside for a 30th round pick. That would be Gregory Polanco. Polanco missed most of last season with an injury, but he is playing in Spring Training and seems to be without any restrictions. He has already begun playing the field and should be ready to go by Opening Day. Polanco had 23 homers and 12 steals just two seasons ago. He figures to hit in the heart of Pittsburgh’s lineup and is still just 28 years of age. Polanco is an excellent lottery ticket late in drafts.

Projected Results and Analysis

Well, that is more like it. In my last draft where my lone purpose was to “beat” ADP, I graded out in second place, but with a rather low point total of 87 points. My team’s point total was closer to the 10th place team than it was to the league leader. This time around, however, the results were much better. By using my values and anticipating the action in the room, I was able to make much better decisions on the whole. FantasyPros gave me a grade of 98 (A+) and they have me winning the league with a total 102 points. I am quite happy with the balance, as I am projected for 52 hitting points and 50 pitching points. I do see a couple of problem areas, but they seem like issues that can be resolved throughout the year.

To highlight what I always preach about balance, my team is only projected to win one category. However, I am no lower than ninth in any one category. Interestingly enough (at least to me), they projected me to finish just ninth in home runs. My projections had me in the middle of the pack in that area. This is yet another example of why mock drafts are a useful exercise. My values could be off, or perhaps I simply believe in a couple of guys more than others do. The fact that I am six points higher in batting average than the next best team is a good sign for my batting average estimator. I was worried about the effect Rougned Odor would have on my team and avoided drafting players of that ilk. Perhaps I can afford to take on a bit more risk in that category.

When drafting at the turn, you need to be mindful of the scenarios that can take place in between your selections. A lot can happen in the span of 22 picks, or 28 in a 15-team league for that matter. You may have to reach for several players based on ADP. But the truth of the matter is that it is not a reach if your values are sound. Drafting at the turn offers a unique perspective into how other teams go about drafting. Many owners prefer drafting at the turn because it allows them to dictate the flow of the draft. Owners drafting at the turn can start positional runs or snipe players ahead of their ADP. It is not something I would recommend without some practice, but drafting at the turn can be a distinct advantage if done properly.

For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!

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  1. Dean Berceau says

    Tried numerous mock drafts – maybe 1 out of 5 will Soto be there as 12th pick in round #1. If he is available it seemed Verlander was usually taken.

    Alvarez was never available for 3rd pick but Altuve was a t3.12/4.1

    1. Mick Ciallela says

      Hi Dean. I definitely caught some breaks early which I think I took advantage of. Arenado was still available also, so if Soto was gone, I probably would have gone Verlander/Arenado.

      It’s just a mock, so the results don’t really matter. I just wanted to highlight the thought process because when you’re at the turn you have to ignore ADP and consider marginal value more than in other slots. At least that’s been my experience. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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