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November 22, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Early Off-Season ADPs

by Jason Collette

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If only MVP voting was as straight forward as fantasy baseball drafts and projections. That way, we could all chuckle at seeing a guy that was the 12th highest dollar earner in 15-team 5x5 leagues get a 1st place vote from a writer. As we saw yesterday with the AL MVP vote, and could likely see in the NL vote later today, some agendas can come into play in putting together your top ten players because the voting process is terribly subjective and allows people to do things such as put Michael Young 1st or leave Justin Verlander off a ballot, but fantasy baseball is much more objective. The goal in compiling draft lists is to rank people in order of their projected output totals and who will earn the most money. It may be easy to pencil in Young 1st on a ballot, but the case to draft him over Mike Napoli or Adrian Beltre is much tougher to make.

In any draft, you can find agendas where owners start going after their pet players and overdraft or overpay for them, but rarely do you see this happen in the first 50 picks of any kind of draft because the risk is too high to start reaching at that point, and the pecking order on player value is pretty straight forward in those first three rounds. There can be some wiggle room between who goes 25 and who goes 40, but you will rarely see someone projected in the mid 20s go in the first round in a competitive league.

In looking over the latest report from MockDraftCentral.com, 48 different drafts have been run over the past two weeks, giving us enough a glimpse at what some of the more serious fantasy baseball players are thinking as they pass the time staring out the window waiting for spring.  We can look at the average Average Draft Position for each position and see where some of last year’s busts and surprises are going so far in this mock-draft season as we start looking for trends and into reasons why some of these players are perceived to be over or under-drafted.

POSITION

AVERAGE ADP

AVERAGE 2011 PFM $$

Catcher

167

$8.20

First Base

159

$9.50

Second Base

157

$9.90

Shortstop

164

$8.70

Third Base

166

$8.40

Outfield

154

$10.60

Designated Hitter

174

$7.10

Starting Pitcher

162

$7.10

Relief Pitcher

164

$8.60

By average 2011 dollar value according to our Player Forecast Manager, the three top positions are outfield, second base, and first base. This is not surprising because the five-category studs are mostly found in the outfield and more so at second base these days than shortstop. After all, four different second baseman—Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Ben Zobrist—were all in the top 16 spots on the MVP balloting yesterday for the American League. First base always draws money because it is a power position, and with the problems at third base the last two seasons related to player injuries and disappointing performances, first base is getting more attention from owners as they fill the corner position on their roster.

Taking the 15-team 5x5 format that proliferates most high-stakes competitions that many of us play outside of our own local leagues, we can use these ADP reports to see which positions are being addressed early in the draft and see where the depth comes in later. Using the latest ADP report, here is how each position is being drafted in the first eight rounds of the draft.

Catcher: Eight catchers currently have an ADP of 120 or lower, led by Brian McCann at 44 with Alex Avila the lowest at 116. Avila has the lowest ADP of the eight catchers that qualify yet had the fourth-highest dollar value for the 2011 season. So far, drafters are taking Brian McCann 76 spots in front of Avila and are still comfortable taking Joe Mauer two full rounds ahead of Avila. Despite the fantastic season Mike Napoli had, he is still going off the board fourth behind McCann, Victor Martinez, and Carlos Santana. Perhaps people are picking up on the fact that Santana’s OPS improved each month of the 2011 season as he bounced back from that gruesome leg injury in 2010.

First Base: 11 first basemen are taken in the first eight rounds, led by Albert Pujols and his ADP of 3 with Justin Morneau going 117th. Six first baseman are going in the first two rounds: Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, and Mark Teixeira. After that, Paul Konerko is going at the end of the third round, Eric Hosmer at the end of the fifth round, and then Mike Morse, Freddie Freeman, and Morneau come into play during the eighth round. 2011 dollar value wise, the ADP and dollar values nearly matchup.

Second Base: Ten second baseman are going by the end of the 8th round with Robinson Cano leading the pack at 12 and Dustin Ackley rounding out the group at 113. Only Cano and Dustin Pedroia are going in the top two rounds, but they, Ian Kinsler, Dan Uggla, and Rickie Weeks are all going in the top five rounds. Somehow, Ben Zobrist is falling into the 7th round which is nearly as surprising as seeing Chase Utley falling into the end of the 5th round.

Shortstop: Just eight shortstops are going in the first eight rounds with Troy Tulowitzki’s ADP of 8 leading and Stephen Drew’s ADP of 96 closing out the group. Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez are all going in the first two rounds, and Elvis Andrus and Starlin Castro are going before the end of the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jimmy Rollins are 6th round material so far, and the fact that Stephen Drew has a top 100 ADP despite last year’s struggles and injury speaks to the lack of depth at this position.

Third Base: Ten third basemen make the cut with Evan Longoria leading the pack with an ADP of 11 and Brett Lawrie rounding it off at 111. Nine of the ten third baseman are all being taken before the end of the fifth round, but only Longoria is going in the first two rounds. David Wright and Adrian Beltre are being taken 11 spots in front of Alex Rodriguez while there is a two-round gap between when Pablo Sandoval is being taken and where Lawrie is going.

Outfield: 32 different outfielders make the top 120. Matt Kemp has the highest ADP of any player and is first off the board, while Nick Markakis is the last guy in at 109. Ten outfielders are going in the first two rounds: Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista, Justin Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Stanton. Derek Carty addressed some concerns he had about Stanton in the comments to the article he and I did together on Nolasco next week, which you should go read. The next outfielder taken after Stanton is Carl Crawford, whose ADP of 33 is 20 spots lower than where it was last season, but he is a guy that could easily bounce back to become a top 20 producer when it is all said and done. Personally, I cannot take Stanton over Crawford in 2012. By the middle of the sixth round, the top 20 outfielders are off the draft board so far this off-season, but that list does not include the likes of Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton, Brett Gardner, or Lance Berkman.

DH: Only David Ortiz and Billy Butler qualify, and both are going in the 8th round with ADPs of 105 and 113 respectively.

Starting Pitchers: 29 starters make the top 120 with Justin Verlander leading the pack with an ADP of 8 and Shaun Marcum making the final cut at 120 on the nose. Verlander, Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and Jered Weaver are all going in the first two rounds. Additionally, 15 of the first 60 players (25 percent) taken in the drafts so far are starting pitchers, and yet that group does not include Ian Kennedy (69) or James Shields (71).

Relief Pitchers: Just eight relievers make the cut with Craig Kimbrel leading the pack at 70 and Jose Valverde right at 120 in a tie with Marcum. The fact that not a single closer has an ADP that places them in the first five rounds of a draft makes me beam with pride as someone who has spent the better part of the last five seasons discouraging that action, but the fact that only five closers are going in the first seven rounds so far is a bit of a surprise.jaso

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:  First Base,  The Who,  Ten Pack,  First Month

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