by Todd Lammi
As a tie in to one of my previous posts regarding mock drafting, I am going to examine some of the current ADP (average draft position) rankings for the 2009 fantasy baseball season.
There are a multitude of sites that have ADP’s listed, but for the purposes of this discussion, I am going to examine the ADP’s at Mock Draft Central. After clicking on the header at the top of the page, the average draft position will have several filters you can pick from to run your report. The key is to filter on the type, as it will give you several options. I usually use the one for the NFBC format. Having participated in NFBC drafts and auction leagues before, I know it is a little higher level of player participating in those leagues so I think the ADP’s might be a little bit more accurate.
Of course there are caveats with the ADP’s because you are not sure if there were actually real owners drafting or if the computer was selecting for any of the picks, but it is another “tool” to use as you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft.
After selecting the NFBC scoring system, which is a standard 5 x 5 league, the only difference being there are 15 teams and the leagues are no trades, you can also filter by position which is located right next to the player grid.
At the top of the report, it tells you there have been 39 qualifying drafts between 2/3/09 and 2/17/2009 so there is a good sample size to work with. When you are looking at the grid, it tells you the ADP, the earliest the player was picked, the latest the player was picked and what % of the drafts the player was taken in. For converting the ADP into a draft round, it is simply a matter of dividing the ADP number by the number of teams in your league. For example, Victor Martinez has an ADP of 78.56 or rounded to 79. For a 12 team league, that means he is being drafted on average in the middle of the 6th round. In a 15-team league, that is roughly the first few picks of the 5th round, etc.
So let’s get started and examine each of the infield positions.
Fantasy baseball catchers: Matt Wieters, Baltimore’s rookie catcher is currently listed as the 7th highest drafted catcher which is way too high for a one year league. On 2/13, Orioles exec Andy MacPhail spoke of Wieters starting the season in AAA. With Greg Zaun in camp, there is no reason to fast track Wieters who has not played a game in Triple-A yet. With lots of quality catchers available, there is no reason to take a risk on Wieters unless you are playing in a keeper league. Yes, I know, rookies are the sexy pick and it is nice to brag to your friends that you discovered the next hot thing, but Wieters should not be the first catcher that is drafted to your roster in a one year league. If you are looking at a late round play in leagues that require two catchers, John Baker of the Florida Marlins is a good selection. He should see 400 at bats this season and has been a slid .277 hitter in the minors throughout his career. Although he is little old at 28, a lot of catchers don’t develop as hitters until later in their career. He led the Pac-10 in batting average as a junior in 2002 and was part of the famous draft of the Oakland A’s in 2002 that was wrriten about by Michael Lewis in his book Moneyball.
Fantasy baseball first basemen: Just a few years ago Derek Lee of the Chicago Cubs was top three round pick. This year ADP has him being drafted behind the likes of Chris Davis, Carlos Pena, and Joey Votto. Lee has always been a player that seems to be drafted higher because of his name and potential for high production but in his entire career he has only driven in over 100 runs one time! His wrist injury in 2006 seems to have sapped him of some of his power and days of his double digit steals are well behind him. Paul Konerko was plagued by injuries in 2008 but is looking like a good value pick with an ADP of 171. Add in an extra 100-125 at bats for last year missed due to injury and his stats come out to 28 home runs and 74 runs batted in. The average was still low in the Jim Thome range, but if you can grab that type of power in the middle of your draft and he boosts the average up into the .270 range, that is great value.
Fantasy baseball second basemen: It looks like Howie Kendrick has a lot of people still on his bandwagon without the performance to back it up with an ADP of 134, ahead of Mark DeRosa, Kelly Johnson and Rickie Weeks, etc. Kendrick has been unable to stay healthy for an entire season, logging around 350 at bats the past two seasons. While the average is nice to have he has shown little power with a few stolen bases thrown in. You can get that same type of production from a Placido Polanco five rounds later. Again, the sexy young pick of Kendrick versus the grizzled veteran Polanco seems easy. It is much better to tell a friend, “I got Kendrick” with some excitement in your voice, rather than, “yeah, I got Polanco” muttered under your breath. But in reality, their numbers are pretty close and that is assuming Kendrick ever hits the 500 at bat mark one of these seasons.
Fantasy baseball shortstops: Derek Jeter has finally fallen from the top three rounds of fantasy baseball drafts, with his ADP projecting him around 100 overall. I am going to give you stats for two players and you decide which player you want:
Player A: .300 avg. 88 runs 11 home runs 69 rbis 11 steals
Player B: 281 avg. 93 runs 8 home runs 57 rbis 19 steals
Player A is Derek Jeter, player B is Orlando Cabrera. Their stats last year were not that much different, but Jeter for this year has an ADP of 100 and Cabrera around 164. Part of that could be tempered by Cabrera still being a free agent, but the point remains, don’t draft a player just for their name, make sure their stats support the round at which you are drafting them.
For value, I like Edgar Renteria currently listed at 236. He returns to the National League where he hits roughly 20 points higher and it looks like he will be hitting second for the San Francisco Giants this season which will give him a boost in runs scored. With Bruce Bochy willing to steal bases a little more often to manufacture runs, Renteria could even swipe 15 bags this season.
Fantasy baseball third basemen: Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals looks to be going a little high in drafts with an ADP of 99. Coming off of wrist surgery in 2007 he suffered a torn labrum in 2008 and his power suffered as a result. His walk rate decreased and his stolen base totals went from 11 two years ago to only 1 last season. He can still have a productive season but I think there are better, safer choices that will be available in a one year league draft. Lots of injury plays at 3b in the later rounds; Scott Rolen, the always injured Eric Chavez and Troy Glaus, though none of which I would risk a pick on unless it was in the reserve rounds. In the later rounds, I would be targeting either Casey Blake or Kevin Kouzmanoff. Either guy will get you 20+ home runs, close to 80 rbi’s and will be available in the later part of your draft.