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January 28, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Reviewing the First Expert Draft

by Jason Collette

Given the fact that my article from earlier this week was relevant for all of thirty minutes, I am not going to focus on any one particular player with this piece. This past Monday night, many fantasy notables—which included three of my AL Tout Wars competitors—gathered in Las Vegas to participate in the FSTA 13 team mixed league draft. As the first expert draft of the season, this draft gives us a peek at how the experts are viewing players, as opposed to those who are spending their time mock drafting over at mockdraftcentral.com.

I have normally been someone who has done only auction drafts, but having helped run the NFBC drafts these past two seasons, I have seen just how revered ADP is with players in those types of leagues. It is always helpful to see where the “experts” are tracking guys, because these are the same people who are producing the draft kits with which your own leaguemates are doing their draft prep. It also affects your own draft planning, because it helps you track which players the experts are going to start pushing up the charts these final few weeks, and which ones will start coming down, possibly causing you to re-think your own plans.

In between fever-induced coughing fits, I took the FSTA draft results and compared them to the ADP of the last 116 mixed mock drafts over at mockdraftcentral and found some rather interesting results. Here are the top five players that had the biggest difference between their draft slot at FSTA and their ADP:

·         David Freese: 168/397 (+229)

·         Neil Walker: 142/344 (+202)

·         Yunel Escobar: 183/380 (+197)

·         Koji Uehara: 197/394 (+197)

·         Austin Jackson: 140/331 (+191)

I am at a loss to explain why Freese exceeded his ADP by that much. There is nothing in his established skill set to suggest he is on the verge of some kind of breakout, and even if you look at the three months he played last year, it was clear that the league was starting to figure him out by June. The only other factor to consider was the talent pool at the position when he was drafted, because if you examine the draft results at the link above, there was a very sharp drop-off. On the other hand, Walker’s jump can be explained by the fact that he qualifies at second base and profiles as an above-average bat at that position.  The former top prospect finally stayed relatively healthy and put up the kind of numbers people have long expected of him. Now that he is entering his statistical prime, pundits believe he will continue to improve and are willing to ignore his ADP.

Escobar, like Freese, was a matter of available talent. Sure, he might hit 10+ home runs in the new bandbox of the American League but I like the pick of Danny Espinosa at 245 better than Escobar at 183. Uehara has two of the big skills pundits drool over for closer – a high K/9 and a high K/BB. Uehara quietly had a very good season outside of a few blow-ups against the Yankees. He also ended the season with elbow pain and has a history of injury issues making his overdraft an extremely questionable move. Jackson, like a lot of speedsters, got overdrafted. Yes, he had 27 steals last year but he also had a .400 BABIP and struck out 28% of the time last year. If one expects his chances to get on base to come down with BABIP regression, then certainly his stolen base production comes down. Since that is where a lot of his value lies, this was an extremely risky reach.

Conversely, here were the five players that were drafted well below their ADPs:

·         Ryan Ludwick: 339/142 (-197)

·         Alex Gonzalez: 344/156 (-188)

·         Johan Santana: 313/203 (-110)

·         Aubrey Huff: 213/108 (-105)

·         Scott Rolen: 307/203 (-104)

Clearly the pundits see what the mock drafters do not with Ludwick, and that is bad trends. Yes, he hit .299 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI in 2008, but that was in St. Louis with an inflated hit rate and a sky high HR/FB ratio. Welcome to Petco, where fly balls go to die. His hit rate has normalized, his HR/FB ratio is half of what it was back in 2008, and the home park won’t help that any. 2010 was the first time Gonzalez has had more than 435 at bats since 2004, and yet mock drafters are all in on him after seeing his 23 home run season last season. He hit 10 of his 23 home runs last season in the first five scoring periods in the home run derby played in the Rogers Centre and hit just 13 more over the remaining 21 scoring periods. Santana’s drop is all about the recovery from shoulder surgery and the fact that mock drafters see less risk than a real competition. After all, Santana’s K/BB ratio has been in a six-year slide from an impossible 5.3 to a more human 2.6.

Huff may have the cool rally thong, but I’m not sure why he was slighted this much unless people believe in patterns. Since 2006, Huff’s HR/FB ratio has been 15%, 8%, 15%, 9%, and 14% last season. If people expect that trend to continue, than there is a reason for Huff to slide that far down past his ADP. However, he showed more patience at the plate last season than ever before while maintaining the rest of his skills, and I do not foresee that much of a drop-off for him myself. Lastly, Rolen’s 475 at-bats last season were his most since the 2006 season and his HR/FB hit double digits for the first time since that same season in 2010. Do you pick the guy who hit 20 home runs in 471 at bats last season or the guy who hit 30 in his previous 1275 at bats? At his age, I am banking on the latter.

We still have LABR, FP911 Invitational, and Tout Wars left on the Expert League circuit to help line up where the experts are compared to the rest of the mock drafters, but the FSTA draft was a nice early peek and where things are lining up so far. If you would like to see the full break down of pick compared to ADP for the draft, see this google spreadsheet of the results.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who,  Mock Draft

19 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Brian Oakchunas

MDC's ADPs are heavily influenced by their own default rankings. If MDC has Walker defaulted at 355, the draft participants don't notice him in their list until they are in the 300s. If they had him defaulted at 155 it would be a different story.

Jan 28, 2011 12:48 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Agreed - but this is also the time of year where the seriousness starts to kick into high gear as the high stakes players start prepping more intensely. I will be curious to see where Walker's value is 2 weeks from now compared to where it was this week.

Jan 28, 2011 13:24 PM
 
BurrRutledge

... and unless I've missed an announcement, we're still shy 2011 PECOTAs. Shouldn't those be coming out soon for fantasy players? Beta? The spreadsheet at the very least?

I love BP and thank you all for your efforts!

Jan 28, 2011 16:29 PM
rating: 3
 
Dave Scott

I am forced to assume ADP stands for Average Draft Position, but I would prefer these acronyms be spelled out at least once.

Jan 29, 2011 08:44 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Duly noted. Bad assumption on my part as I consider ADP commonplace in draft prep dicussion.

Jan 29, 2011 19:26 PM
 
Kevin Wilson

I appreciate that you put the word "experts" in quotes. Professionals might be a better choice of words, given the fact that very, very few seem to be significantly better at predicting the future than average serious player.

Jan 29, 2011 15:23 PM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Thank you. Yes, I play in two national expert leagues but I respect most of the owners in my own local leagues just as much. They constantly remind me that I won one of my expert leagues last year but finished out of the money in one of my local leagues.

Jan 29, 2011 19:25 PM
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

That will teach you to draft Jacoby Ellsbury, as that can ruin a team right quick.

Oh, wait, that's the league you won.... nevermind.

Feb 01, 2011 21:24 PM
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

I'm still as surprised by that as the rest of you

Feb 02, 2011 04:22 AM
 
Mikedaddy

It seems to me that the "stay away" warning from guys drafted much lower than their ADP is inherently more valuable than the "buy low" suggestion from the guys who went considerably earlier. One guy with a hunch about a guy like Walker, Freese, or Escobar (I think he's the best example) will cause him to show much higher than ADP, but someone dropping an extra 100-200 slots from ADP means that each of the twelve experts passed on him several times after his normal slot. To me, that's much more telling. I'm planning on taking the list of guys who went significantly lower than slot and putting them on a big "no draft" list.

This was a great blog entry, btw. Thanks!

Jan 30, 2011 18:58 PM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Yes! If you thought Neil Walker was a sleeper in your draft - think again. If you had Ludwick projected highly, it is time to re-evaluate that projection and see where you went wrong. I saw a guy in a high stakes NFBC league last season take Chipper Jones within the first 80 picks; I had to turn away to hide my laughter.

Jan 31, 2011 06:24 AM
 
juiced

Shandler's draft is very interesting in that he picks several "overreaches" within his first 10, at least as compared to ADP position. Braun, Konerko, etc.

Jan 31, 2011 14:08 PM
rating: 0
 
juiced

...and Shandler took Ethier in the 2nd round, Napoli in the 7th. Dont get me wrong Shandler is the man, just noting the overreaches is all.

Jan 31, 2011 14:09 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

I am guessing he was trying out one of his plans to write about in the coming weeks. Ethier in the 2nd round was a stunner to me; he has to hit his max upside to justify the pick.

Jan 31, 2011 17:24 PM
 
jeasthope

Is there an update on the 2011 PECOTA's?

Feb 01, 2011 16:24 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Was just told it would be by Monday

Feb 01, 2011 18:49 PM
 
Mikedaddy

I just noticed that Chris Young (CF-AZ) is listed at an ADP of 192. How can that be right? I mean, I know he's never going to win a batting crown, but he's 26, he's ranked in just about everyone's top 70, and he finished last year No. 38 on the ESPN player rater, and roughly the same on Yahoo. Am I missing something here?

Feb 01, 2011 19:00 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Over the past five seasons, he's had just two seasons of $20+ value in NL only leagues and those 2008 and 2009 seasons ring loudly in drafter's ears. I think that is a very nice bargain right now but I don't expect it to be there in March as more mock drafters get serious about their draft prep.

Feb 02, 2011 04:24 AM
 
kmitchell

I know this is a little late for a reply, but I've been breaking this draft down but can't seem to find any reference to what the starting lineups consist of.

Feb 08, 2011 15:28 PM
rating: 0
 
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Ahead in the Count: Te... (01/27)
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