This article is part of our The Z Files series.
My approach to drafting may seem contradictory. A deep understanding of projection and valuation theory unveils the inaccuracies of both, yet I prefer to work from an objective foundation, generated from projections and valuation. That is, rankings are a starting point. Drafting isn't about taking one from the top; it's about team construction, reading the room and managing risk. Rankings are not absolute.
If rankings are not absolute, it helps having an idea how far one can stray. One approach is factoring in the error of projections and the resultant expected earnings to determine error bars. This is viable and will be looked at in future discussions. Today though, we'll take a different approach, having some fun with the batters likely to be drafted early in the first round of 2020 leagues.
I'm currently churning out my first-run projections with the disclaimer they're subject to change. We're going to look at seven hitters: Ronald Acuna, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Mike Trout, Trea Turner and Christian Yelich. All have been taken in the top five in early drafts or mocks.
Below are my projections, giving 650 plate appearances to each. I don't have the complete set of 2020 batters done, so to determine projected earnings, I replaced their 2019 final numbers with the projection and computed values for a 15-team mixed league.