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Welcome to the latest installment of our new fantasy series focused primarily on analyzing early average draft position (ADP) trends. The goal of the series is to identify trends in the data over time to determine what we can learn to improve our draft-day strategy going forward.

A Brief Position Eligibility Primer
The standard we use for our pre-season content at BP to determine position eligibility is 20 games played. Some league providers set their eligibility threshold at just 10 games played, so make sure to check with your specific league settings if there is any question as to where a specific player may quality in your league. Hitters are ultimately ranked at the position deemed to be more valuable fantasy-wise. Fantasy owners should remain cognizant of hitters who qualify at multiple positions, but instead of rankings them at every position for which they are eligible at, we have chosen to rank them only at the position with more fantasy value.

Why Care About ADP?
Fantasy owners should be advised against reading too much into the early data, which can be subject to small sample size outliers, since a majority of leagues haven’t drafted yet. However, it does give us a window to evaluate how the general public perceives specific player value and draft trends heading into 2016. Even if you’re competing in an auction, this data will give you a good idea of which studs a majority of fantasy owners are willing to shell out the extra dollar to purchase and which shortstops (there is one veteran that currently fits this mold) may slip through the cracks and make excellent value targets.

The early ADP data referenced for this entire series, housed at STATS.com, is from 2016 National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) leagues, which are comprised of 15 teams. Therefore, the average round data is reflective of that league size. It’s also worth pointing out that the data is also both relatively thin and updating in real time at the link above, so be sure to check back frequently for the latest updates. Without further delay, let’s dive into the crop of outfielders.

The First Round
Trout, Harper, Stanton, and McCutchen…Were you expecting anyone else?

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

1

Mike Trout

LAA

2

1st

2

Bryce Harper

WAS

3

1st

3

Giancarlo Stanton

MIA

11

1st

4

Andrew McCutchen

PIT

14

1st

Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
The mammoth slugger was well on his way to justifying his lofty ADP (fourth overall) before a hamate fracture derailed his season in June. Despite the substantial injury risk, fantasy owners are still willing to take the first-round plunge on Stanton. Trust me if you spend five minutes mining MLB.com’s Statcast exit-velocity data, it’s hard to argue with their logic. There’s no doubting his elite power, however, the health issues are just as real, as evidenced by the fact he’s reached 600 plate appearances just twice in the last six years. Draft at your own risk in the first round.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
This ADP is puzzling for a few reasons. Perhaps the most significant being that McCutchen was the second player taken overall by ADP last season and now he’s almost fallen out of the first round entirely. Injuries contributed to a sluggish start in which he hit a paltry (by McCutchen standards) .225/.321/.370 with just four home runs and a pair of steals in 38 games (162 plate appearances) to open the season. However, he didn’t miss any time. From May 20th on, he looked like the old McCutchen again, hitting .313/.426/.526 with 19 home runs and nine stolen bases over his final 523 plate appearances.

He’s only 29 years old and remains one of the safest investments in fantasy baseball. Even if the days of 20-plus stolen bases are most likely behind him, he’s a virtual lock to hit .300 with 20 home runs and 90-plus runs scored and RBI. He may not possess the “upside” fantasy owners covet, but he has the highest floor of anyone not named Trout entering 2016. He’s a flat-out steal at his current ADP.

The Second Round
The Mookie madness is totally justifiable…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

5

A.J. Pollock

ARI

15

2nd

6

Mookie Betts

BOS

18

2nd

7

Starling Marte

PIT

24

2nd

8

Chris Davis

BAL

25

2nd

9

George Springer

HOU

25

2nd

10

Jose Bautista

TOR

26

2nd

A.J. Pollock, D'backs
Fantasy owners are bullish on a repeat from the Notre Dame product and paying accordingly. There’s no compelling reason to think that Pollock isn’t capable of replicating last seasons breakout performance, because he mostly jusr built on an injury-shortened 2014 campaign. This is the space where we remind you that Pollock was one of just seven hitters to steal 30-plus bases last season. The lofty stolen base total should insulate fantasy owners against any potential backslide in power, which is the greater concern given a 50 percent groundball rate and the fact that 11 of his homers last season were classified as “just enough” or “lucky” by ESPN’s home-run tracker. Still, this is what a potential first-round fantasy selection looks like in today’s fantasy landscape.

Mookie Betts, Red Sox
According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, since 1901, only nine hitters age 22 or younger have equaled what Betts did in his first full-season, last year, hitting .291 with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases. In the last decade, Mike Trout (twice!) and Melvin Upton (wow, really) are the only two hitters to replicate those power, speed and average statistics at such a young age. If that’s not impressive, check out PECOTA’s 2016 projection.

PECOTA

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

2016

654

92

18

71

25

.297

We’re nearly 1,000 plate appearances into his career and the only negative thing we can say about Betts is that he’s apparently terrible at driving golf carts. Just like Pollock, this is what a potential first round fantasy selection looks like in today’s fantasy landscape.

The Early Rounds
There is a lot to like in this range from a value standpoint…Elite speed (Blackmon), elite power (Martinez, Cruz, Gonzalez and Cespedes) and a slew of veteran outfielders (Braun, Upton, Cain, Gomez and Jones) who contribute across the board…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

11

Charlie Blackmon

COL

37

3rd

12

J.D. Martinez

DET

38

3rd

13

Yoenis Cespedes

NYM

40

3rd

14

Ryan Braun

MIL

42

3rd

15

Nelson Cruz

SEA

46

4th

16

Justin Upton

DET

50

4th

17

Lorenzo Cain

KC

51

4th

18

Carlos Gomez

HOU

55

4th

19

Carlos Gonzalez

COL

59

4th

20

Adam Jones

BAL

59

4th

Carlos Gomez, Astros
I’ve written extensively already this offseason already about the myriad of injuries he dealt with last year that effectively destroyed his season. A top-10 selection (eighth overall) a year ago, Gomez prior to last year hit .284 with at least 24 home runs and 34 steals in back-to-back seasons. He’s still only 30 years old and is hitting in the heart of an outstanding Astros lineup in one of the friendliest home parks for right-handed power. The rebound potential here is off the charts.

Lorenzo Cain, Royals
After finishing as a top-10 hitter, earning $32 in standard mixed leagues last season, Cain’s ADP has soared from outside the top 200 overall (211th) a year ago to just outside the top-50 selections. It’s still not high enough, which is why he represents one of the best values in 2016 drafts. He turns 30 in April, but how many other hitters have possess the power/speed combination to hit .300 with 15 home runs and 25 steals? In 2015, the answer was three. There might not be a better fantasy value out there right now than Cain.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

21

Jason Heyward

CHC

70

5th

22

Billy Hamilton

CIN

73

5th

23

Matt Kemp

SD

83

6th

24

Yasiel Puig

LAD

89

6th

25

Corey Dickerson

TB

94

7th

Corey Dickerson, Rays
This is the most intriguing group of outfielders given the disparity between their respective ceilings and floors in relation to their ADP’s. I’ll be writing about Hamilton and Dickerson over the next two weeks with our outfield preview, so I won’t spoil those pieces. However, I will note that I think both are excellent values at their current ADPs, especially in leagues that allow for daily lineup changes. Specifically Dickerson, whose ADP will take a hit with the move out of Colorado (and it should), but he still crushes right-handed pitching and I can name more than a few hitter-friendly venues in the AL East. Let’s pump the brakes on the hate fantasy owners.

Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
A hamstring injury destroyed his statistics and limited him to just 311 lackluster plate appearances last season. Assuming he’s fully recovered from the injury and his hamstrings don’t become an issue again this spring, there’s huge bounce-back potential with Puig, who was a top-20 selection in fantasy drafts last season. At 25years old, it’s way too early to give up on him. If you’re looking for a reason to believe, PECOTA should provide that with it uber-bullish 2016 Puig projection:

PECOTA

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

2016

456

58

17

61

9

.283

The power is impressive and if he can get to 600 plate appearances, something he did in 2014, there’s no reason to think he can’t get to 20 home runs with double-digit steals and an average over .280. If he does that, he’s going to significantly outperform his current ADP.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

26

Gregory Polanco

PIT

97

7th

27

Michael Brantley

CLE

101

7th

28

Jacoby Ellsbury

NYY

102

7th

29

Adam Eaton

CWS

103

7th

30

Ben Revere

WAS

104

7th

31

Christian Yelich

MIA

106

8th

32

Hunter Pence

SF

111

8th

33

Kole Calhoun

LAA

114

8th

Michael Brantley, Indians
According to the latest reports, he’s expected to be out until May due to offseason shoulder surgery, which has caused his ADP to plummet. Now going outside the top 100 picks, he becomes someone to watch on draft day in case your league mates allow him to slip too far. Personally, I would rather have four-plus months of Brantley than six months of Kole Calhoun. Just saying.

The Middle Rounds
If you’re looking for value, this is the right spot…Except for Hanley…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

34

David Peralta

ARI

124

9th

35

Khris Davis

OAK

131

9th

36

Hanley Ramirez

BOS

134

9th

37

Shin-Soo Choo

TEX

137

10th

38

Brett Gardner

NYY

139

10th

David Peralta, D'backs
Here’s a fun nugget for your next dinner party. According to Baseball Info Solutions, Peralta’s average stolen base attempt time from first to second (3.88 seconds) was the third-slowest total of anyone with at least five attempts last season. Yet somehow, he still managed to steal nine bases in 13 attempts. He also hit an incredible .312/.371/.522 with 10 triples and 17 home runs in just 517 plate appearances, but that stolen-base stat is way more fun to lead with.

Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
We knew losing shortstop eligibility would be a crushing blow to his fantasy value, but if he’s losing outfield eligibility as well in a year, the end could be closer than we think for Ramirez. He’s now 32 years old and hit just .249 with 19 home runs last year. In the last six years, he’s hit 20 or more home runs just once and the speed that once made him such a dynamic dual-threat has pretty much evaporated too. On the positive side, playing first base should in theory keep him healthy (something he was not last year) but there’s also the potential he’s so bad defensively that the Red Sox have to bench him. It’s not a situation I want any part of as a fantasy owner.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

39

Billy Burns

OAK

153

11th

40

Kevin Pillar

TOR

156

11th

41

Byron Buxton

MIN

170

12th

42

Curtis Granderson

NYM

171

12th

43

Delino DeShields

TEX

174

12th

44

Joc Pederson

LAD

177

12th

45

Jorge Soler

CHC

179

12th

46

Ender Inciarte

ATL

181

13th

47

Mark Trumbo

BAL

181

13th

48

Jay Bruce

CIN

182

13th

49

Randal Grichuk

STL

183

13th

50

Michael Conforto

NYM

183

13th

51

Alex Gordon

KC

184

13th

52

Dexter Fowler

FA

189

13th

Randal Grichuk, Cardinals
The earliest darling of the Statcast exit-velocity hipster crowd, Grichuk’s average exit velocity (94.5 mph) trailed only Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Sano as he crushed 17 homers in just 350 plate appearances. That’s the good news. He also struck out 31 percent of the time and is going to have to compete for playing time in a crowded Cardinals outfield. Still, that power is real.

Michael Conforto, Mets
He’s 22 years old and hit five of his nine home runs to the opposite field in his first exposure to major-league pitching last season. I leave you with this image, courtesy of the invaluable Baseball Savant:

The Late Rounds
If you draft Souza, all of the 2015 projection systems will love your team…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

53

Stephen Piscotty

STL

207

14th

54

Wil Myers

SD

209

14th

55

Josh Reddick

OAK

215

15th

56

Gerardo Parra

COL

220

15th

57

Cameron Maybin

DET

234

16th

58

Marcell Ozuna

MIA

237

16th

59

Steven Souza

TB

239

16th

60

Rusney Castillo

BOS

246

17th

61

Odubel Herrera

PHI

249

17th

62

Matt Holliday

STL

254

17th

63

Denard Span

SF

257

18th

64

Melky Cabrera

CWS

264

18th

65

Kevin Kiermaier

TB

268

18th

Matt Holliday, Cardinals
There’s no way his ADP should be this low. He’s 36 years old and coming off a pair of quad injuries that limited him to just 277 plate appearances, but it was the first time in a decade that he didn’t reach the 500-plate-appearance plateau. When he was on the field, he was outstanding hitting .279/.394/.410 (.299TAv). He’s not even remotely close to being done, and assuming he’s healthy this spring, there’s no way he should be going in the 17th round of fantasy drafts. It’s absurd.

The Leftovers
Put your hands in the air if you’re wearing an Avisail Garcia shirsey…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

66

Eddie Rosario

MIN

276

19th

67

Avisail Garcia

CWS

285

19th

68

Aaron Hicks

NYY

292

20th

69

Jayson Werth

WAS

296

20th

70

Colby Rasmus

HOU

298

20th

71

Michael Taylor

WAS

298

20th

72

Hyun-Soo Kim

BAL

301

21st

73

Jarrod Dyson

KC

301

21st

74

Jackie Bradley Jr.

BOS

316

22nd

75

Domingo Santana

MIL

317

22nd

76

Carlos Beltran

NYY

318

22nd

77

Nori Aoki

SEA

323

22nd

78

Chris Colabello

TOR

324

22nd

79

Leonys Martin

SEA

327

22nd

80

Mark Canha

OAK

330

22nd

81

Aaron Altherr

PHI

330

22nd

82

Brandon Moss

STL

330

22nd

83

Rajai Davis

CLE

340

23rd

84

Joey Gallo

TEX

341

23rd

85

Josh Hamilton

TEX

347

23rd

86

Dalton Pompey

TOR

348

23rd

87

Desmond Jennings

TB

353

24th

88

Anthony Gose

DET

354

24th

89

Austin Jackson

CHC

360

24th

90

Nick Markakis

ATL

369

25th

Domingo Santana, Brewers
The trade of Khris Davis to Oakland virtually guarantees that the 23-year-old will receive everyday playing time in Milwaukee. He’s never going to hit for a high average, but he posted a .299 TAv along with six home runs and a pair of steals in 145 plate appearances last season. Late round lottery tickets don’t get any more exciting than this.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Nope. Just nope.

The Undrafted Crop
Potentially the best Nomar since Garciaparra…Or as use Bostonian’s called him “No-Mah”…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

91

Peter O’Brien

ARI

406

Undrafted

92

Andre Ethier

LAD

415

Undrafted

93

Jake Marisnick

HOU

423

Undrafted

94

Angel Pagan

SF

429

Undrafted

95

Marlon Byrd

SF

448

Undrafted

96

Nomar Mazara

TEX

451

Undrafted

97

Franklin Gutierrez

SEA

466

Undrafted

98

Adam Duvall

CIN

469

Undrafted

99

Carl Crawford

LAD

470

Undrafted

100

Mikie Mahtook

TB

485

Undrafted

Nomar Mazara, Rangers
The most obvious name to target in this group of hitters, the soon-to-be 21-year-old was recently ranked the number four overall fantasy prospect in the game by BP’s managing editor Bret Sayre. He could have a major impact for the Rangers this season, but his major-league arrival is up in the air at this point.

Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
The veteran outfielder would have come close to leading the majors in slugging percentage (.620) if he had enough at-bats to qualify, but that’s pretty much been the story with Gutierrez who missed the entire 2014 season and a majority of the 2015 campaign due to ankylosing spondylitis, a debilitating arthritic condition of the spine. The health concerns aren’t going away for the 33-year-old, but if the power production when he’s on the field is his new baseline, he’s worth a speculative investment in extremely deep formats.