MLB Best Ball is live on DraftKings and that means it’s time to start dissecting rankings and ADP like it’s the Zapruder film. My colleague Zach Thompson continues to release his positional rankings, but in this space we’ll be venturing to the always exciting world of busts and sleepers.
Disclaimer: Not every “bust” is the worst player on Earth. Not every “sleeper” was a farmer in Iowa who only discovered he could throw a baseball last week. They’re just words that the Google SEO Gods like. In fact, I like to think of these players more in terms of being either overvalued or undervalued, so that’s how I’m going to sort them. Sue me.
Let’s get into it.
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Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies
DraftKings ADP: 6.6 (IF1)
This is completely about ADP. In reality, Turner is about as well-rounded as a baseball player can be. He hits for average. He steals bases. He was even one of just five men to collect over 100 RBI and 100 runs in 2022. Still, this isn’t a format that rewards Turner’s greatest attributes. An 89th percentile expected batting average (.276) is nice, but average matters less outside of a 5x5 category format. Same goes for stolen bases and shortstop eligibility — two things that tend to be at an absolute premium in redraft.
The simple fact of the matter is that power is the path to the highest ceiling in Best Ball and there’s obviously better places to look than Turner, who is projected to finish with 22 home runs and a .175 ISO by THE BAT in 2023. Turner should also see his RBI total fall back to his career norms, as he’s set to be the Phillies’ leadoff man on Opening Day. His 100 RBI last season were a direct product of taking 85.2% of his plate appearances out of the two or three-spot in the Dodgers’ lineup. Hitting behind Mookie Betts and a .366 BABIP with RISP didn’t hurt his cause, either. Again, this isn’t a major slight to Turner, yet if I’m drafting the first infielder off the board, I’d much rather go with Jose Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Freddie Freeman.
Francisco Lindor, New York Mets
DraftKings ADP: 45.4 (IF16)
The case against Lindor is somewhat similar to the case against the aforementioned Turner (or even Bobby Witt Jr.). While points are accumulated for stolen bases, they aren’t a necessity in Best Ball like they are in 5x5 category leagues. Nor does it matter that Lindor puts up elite counting statistics at his position. He’s merely an infielder in the eyes of DraftKings, one that now has to put his resumé side-by-side with every power-hitting 1B and 3B in baseball. For me, it’s not a comparison that tends to favor Lindor all that well.
While the veteran did post sterling numbers in 2022, Lindor’s production since the beginning of 2020 leaves a lot to be desired. In 1,496 plate appearances within that span, Lindor is slashing .254/.332/.430 with a .176 ISO and a 115 wRC+. For some context, here’s a list of players who have outperformed Lindor’s .762 OPS the past three seasons: Daniel Vogelbach, Patrick Wisdom, Jared Walsh and Darin Ruf. Not exactly the cream of the crop. Even if you want to solely account for last year’s success, Lindor’s sat below the 70th percentile in expected batting average (.254), expected slugging (.427) and expected wOBA (.331). Lindor is an amazing player in a vacuum. However, in a format where so much value is derived from the bat alone, I’m not sure he’s a top 20 talent in the infield.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets
DraftKings ADP: 22.6 (IF7)
If there’s two things this Best Ball format rewards, it’s power and volume. As such, there’s a case to be made that Alonso could be the first infielder off the board. I still have Jose Ramirez as my No. 1 ranked IF heading into the 2023 campaign, yet Alonso is certainly in the mix for No. 2 with Freeman, Guerrero Jr. and Paul Goldschmidt. It’s not very difficult to make the case for the Polar Bear when you start considering the landscape of the league since Alonso’s debut in 2019. Among the 247 position players to take at 1,000 plate appearances in that span of time, Alonso sits first in home runs (146), first in RBI (380) and, maybe most importantly, fifth in PAs (2,254).
That’s a long track record of availability and success, and it’s one the projection systems don’t see changing all that much in 2023. THE BAT has Alonso penciled in to finish top five in both home runs and RBI, while his 141 wRC+ would sit fourth among all infielders. Meanwhile, ZiPS has Alonso with 38 bombs and a 144 wRC+. Considering Alonso’s never played in fewer than 152 games or hit fewer than 37 home runs in a full season, those estimates might even be downplaying how sturdy the 28-year-old’s combination of ceiling and floor truly is. Hitting in the middle of what should be a potent Mets lineup, Alonso is an asset that was made for this format.
Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins
DraftKings ADP: 92.7 (IF32)
Finally. A shortstop that’s undervalued. It’s exceedingly easy to figure out how Correa has been consistently still on the board past pick 90 in these early Best Ball drafts. It’s the same reason he’s not currently a member of the San Francisco Giants or the New York Mets: Injury risk. Not just your basic, run-of-the-mill injury risk, either. The health of Correa’s ankle — apparently the “worst ankle” some doctors have ever seen — was the biggest story in an offseason where Aaron Judge was also a free agent. Heck, it might’ve been the biggest offseason storyline baseball’s had in a decade. That sort of infamy can obviously work against a player.
However, there’s a couple things to remember when it comes to Correa in 2023. First and foremost, he’s healthy at the moment and should be for the foreseeable future, at least as it pertains to that pesky ankle. The Giants and Mets didn’t back out of their reported offers because they thought Correa was likely to miss significant time this year. It had far more to do with the health of the ankle in a half-decade. Secondly, injury red flags are mitigated in Best Ball, so there’s little reason to be having this conversation at all. At the end of the day, Correa’s managed a .363 wOBA and a 136 wRC+ dating back to 2021 — both top 25 marks among qualified players. He’s a better hitter than Lindor, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Willy Adames and a whole host of other assets currently being drafted ahead of him. I’ll take my chances with Correa’s upside every time.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.