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Player Debates: Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor, Gerrit Cole, Trea Turner, Jacob deGrom

Apr 1, 2020

Trevor Story is one of two players with 70 home runs and 50 steals over the past two seasons

Welcome back to our player-by-player breakdown, where we take you down the draft board one name at a time. In this post, we will talk about the second half of the top ten, including the fair pair of pitchers.

If you have not already, check out our arguments for the top five ranked players!

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6) Trevor Story (SS – COL)

Case For
“Is Story a benefactor of playing half of his games in Coors Field? Yes, yes he is. Is that a bad thing? No, no it isn’t. This isn’t the Hall of Fame, folks. This is fantasy baseball, and we care about the numbers. Story is one of two players with 70 home runs and 50 steals over the past two seasons, and he’s put the batting average concerns to rest, as he’s hit .290 in back-to-back seasons after hitting .239 in his second year. The biggest way that Story proved the doubters wrong in 2019 was replicating his out-of-nowhere steals numbers that he put up in 2018 by putting up 23 in 2019. Story deserves to go as high as fifth in drafts.” Michael Waterloo

Case Against
Trevor Story continues to prove his fantasy value as he has developed into a first-round talent. If we are comparing him to other first-round options, however, we might pause before diving in with Story. His home ballpark should continue to yield stellar offensive numbers, but he is arguably being held afloat by his stolen base totals. At least 20 swiped bags in back-to-back years is outstanding for the batting average and power that Story gives, but can we count on this trend continuing? Not exactly. Of the 15 players with at least 20 stolen bases in 2019, only four were doing so for the third consecutive season. Each of these four are known for speed over power, and Story doesn’t fit the mold. A decline in stolen bases causes a decline in overall value.” Mario Mergola

Approach
“Story sits near the top of one of the deepest positions in fantasy and does not have quite the same name value as the guys we have talked about already. These two things could result in him falling a bit in your draft. He is very strong in every category and could be the last really legitimate 30/30 threat off the board in the early rounds of your draft. So long as Story is healthy and wearing a Rockies uniform, he is a very strong piece to start your offense with.” Jon Anderson

7) Francisco Lindor (SS – CLE)

Case For
“For some reason, Lindor doesn’t feel as exciting as some of these other names. He’s got a very early start to his big league career and now enters his sixth year in the league at the young age of 26. He did not offer an overwhelming line last year, as he was very good but not great in any single category (101 runs, 32 homers, 74 RBI, 22 steals, .284 average). However, the young age and the high floor make him a really appealing hitter to draft in the first couple of rounds. Lindor makes tons of contact (15% strikeout rate) and is as safe a bet as you can find for a 20/20 season with a strong batting average to go along with it. The Indians aren’t profiling to be a super-strong offensive unit, but Lindor is going to get his at the top of that lineup no matter what. While the ceiling isn’t monstrous, Lindor is one of the safest five-category hitters you’ll find.” Jon Anderson

Case Against
“Lindor is one of the best players in baseball, and he’s a staple to fantasy teams in the first round. If you want safe, he’s your pick here – which is totally fine! However, with fellow shortstops Story, Trea Turner, and Alex Bregman going around the same spot as Lindor, it’s hard to take him over the first two, at least, with their power/speed combo and ballpark (Story) or elite skill (Turner). He’s a five-category contributor, but he may not contribute enough at all of them at the elite level to take him here.” Michael Waterloo

Approach
“If you’re looking for stability, then Francisco Lindor must be on your radar in the back-end of the first round. Shortstop is deep enough that you don’t need to pay a premium for one, and the beauty of Lindor is that he is generally being valued slightly lower than Trevor Story and occasionally Trea Turner. For a relative discount, we’re basically locking in 25-30 home runs and at least 20 stolen bases. The added benefit is that these are basically his floor numbers. Lindor can give more — and imagine if he gets traded to a team with a better offense — making him the ideal low-risk, high-reward option that can pay huge dividends from the first round.” Mario Mergola

8) Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)

Case For
“Let’s take each of the standard statistics for a pitcher and put them into categories for Gerrit Cole. We’ll call these the “realistic worst-case scenarios.” Pitching for the New York Yankees, Cole should not experience a noticeable drop in wins. Maybe he’ll throw fewer innings — New York needs to protect its long-term investment and has an excellent bullpen — but Cole easily strikes out at least one batter per inning. We’re still looking at 200 strikeouts — if assuming a full 162-game season. Perhaps Cole’s ridiculous ERA and WHIP trend upward, but likely to the respective ranges of low-3.00’s and low-1.000’s, at worst. Unpack those categories. We have a floor projection of 200 strikeouts, close to 20 wins, a 3.00 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. Any singular area that outperforms would easily make Cole worth the high draft pick.” Mario Mergola

Case Against
Gerrit Cole has been, at worst, the second-best pitcher in the Majors over the last two seasons. The draft price reflects that now, which naturally makes him a bit less appealing. There are three things working against Cole in 2020. The first thing is the move to Yankees stadium where tons of routine fly outs turn into home runs. The only thing Cole was not super-elite at in 2019 was giving up homers, as he surrendered 1.23 home runs per nine innings. It won’t be surprising if that gets even worse this year. The second thing giving me pause on Cole is the massive contract he got. Cole undoubtedly had his impending free agency motivating him over the last two seasons, and now that motivation is no longer present. Maybe this doesn’t affect him, but it is something to consider. Thirdly, this is set to be a pretty random season with a lot fewer games, making pitchers outcomes even more variant than they already are. Do you really want to use your first pick on a pitcher with all these question marks? I’m not sure I do.” Jon Anderson

Approach
“We’ve seen the risk with taking pitchers early in drafts – Noah Syndergaard, Chris Sale, Luis Severino say hello – but if you want to get that true difference-maker after the top three, there’s no shame in pulling the trigger on Cole. You know you’ll get the strikeouts, and with the Yankees offense behind him, you know the wins will be there, too. There are few pitchers who can give you the elite ratios, strikeouts, and innings that he can, so if you’re a believer that you can fill your offense with quality bats throughout, hit the draft button on Cole.” Michael Waterloo

9) Trea Turner (SS – WSH)

Case For
“If Turner finally puts together the season we’ve all been waiting for and runs as he did before breaking his finger last year, he could finally have the huge, Jose-Altuve-MVP-type season that we’ve been waiting for. Turner is already vastly underrated – even for a first-rounder. His 162-game career average is .291/.348/.467 with 21 homers, 112 runs, 73 RBIs, and 53 steals. Looking at 2019, that’s a combination of Mike Trout’s average, Whit Merrifield’s on-base, Yasmani Grandal’s slugging, Tommy Pham’s power, Charlie Blackmon’s runs, Nick Castellanos’ RBIs and, well, no one’s speed, but Mallex Smith came the closest with 46 steals.” Michael Waterloo

Case Against
“So much of Trea Turner’s value is predicated on “if.” If he can hit for power. If his stolen base total remains high. If he can stay healthy. I’m a big believer in taking risks and targeting upside, but Turner is the embodiment of risk with upside. He’s played more than 125 games only once in his career and still has not hit 20 home runs in a season. We’d be paying a lot for what Turner could be, and there’s no guarantee that this is the season he ascends to the next level.” Mario Mergola

Approach
“Turner is more appealing in category leagues than points leagues, given that steals mean so much more in those cases. His upside is a top 5 hitter in fantasy this year, as evidenced by his awesome 19 homers, 35 steals, .298 batting average line in just 122 games in 2019. There is no shame in making Turner a first-round pick in your categories league. You should downgrade him in points leagues, as he will likely put up a below-average home run and RBI total for you this year and those steals probably won’t be enough to make him a top 10 hitter in that format.” Jon Anderson

10) Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)

Case For
“There is a case to be made for deGrom being the first pitcher off the board this year. He has been amazingly consistent and is not undergoing a complete environmental change like Cole is heading into 2020. In three straights of throwing 200+ innings, deGrom has posted ERAs of 3.53, 1.70, and 2.43 with elite WHIPs of 1.19, 0.91, and 0.97. You could say he might be past his prime at age 31, but he seems pretty young when you are considering him next to Verlander and Scherzer. I think deGrom is the safest bet to put up a Cy Young caliber line this year, and having that security goes a long way for your pitching staff.” Jon Anderson

Case Against
“When you win back-to-back Cy Young awards, it’s hard to have an argument against you. The one argument to make against him is that he’s a pitcher. While he’s generally safe and an elite pitcher – either No. 1 or No. 2 in rankings – he’s still a pitcher. You’re drafting him at a spot where one pitch can ruin your season. The one goal when leaving the draft is to find value and not mess up in the early rounds. If deGrom stays healthy, you’ll have an edge on your competition. But if he gets hurt – he already has one Tommy John surgery in the books – it can ruin your entire season. Drating deGrom is all about your risk-averse approach.” Michael Waterloo

Approach
“Transitioning from mock drafts to real drafts often shines a light on one trend that appears quite often: pitchers carry a premium. More specifically, proven pitchers who have shown no signs of decline carry a massive premium. Enter Jacob deGrom. His track record is outstanding, and he routinely gives fantasy owners a full season’s worth of starts. Hence the reason why it will cost so much to acquire him. deGrom is as close to a guarantee as we can get in the fantasy sports world, and he is clearly worthy of a mid-to-late-first round pick. In a points league, he generally appears in the top-five. He might even be a bargain at that price, as well.” Mario Mergola

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