One of the better features of ESPN Fantasy Baseball is their ‘Live Draft’ results which provides an idea of how players are being valued in 10 and 12-team mixed leagues.
There are two Point Shares ranks in the spreadsheet: 180/80 and 153/107. Point Shares values hitters and pitchers alike as it is based on how many points the player would add to the average team (replacing the average drafted player). If you valued hitters and pitchers equally, you’d invest 13/22 into hitting and 9/22 into pitching. Since there is no standard for valuing draft picks, it’s easier to divide it into the standard $260 auction budget which gives you 153/107. In most drafts, hitters go at premiums. The standard split I find with hitters vs. pitchers is 180/80. Since that’s the more common draft approach, I’m using the 180/80 split for this post.
Quick shorthand for the below. Any player with a positive (+##) is being picked that many picks after their estimated value. Any player with a negative (-##) is being drafted ahead of their value. Plus is good value. Minus is bad value.
In both the ESPN live drafts and Point Shares (180/80 split), the top 7 1Bs are within the first 28 picks (Pujols, Votto, A-Gonz, Miggy, Teixiera, Fielder, Howard). Point Shares are slightly more bullish on Votto (5th vs. 9th), Miggy (6th vs 12th), and Fielder (15th vs. 24). The other four actually match up within one pick.
The ‘fair value’ rates continue through Dunn (+3 in PS) and Morneau (+1 in PS) and then the poor values start kicking in as people panic on 1B depth. Kendry Morales, Konerko, Butler, and Adam LaRoche all are being picked 16-63 picks ahead of their Point Share value. The relative values outside the first tier of 1Bs are Carlos Pena (-4 picks vs. PS), Derrek Lee (+6), and Gaby Sanchez (-7).
Recommendation: Try to get one of the first 9 1Bs and, if not, be patient as there will be values later in the draft.
Historically, I’ve found 2B/SS are overpriced in ESPN leagues. Except Dan Uggla who I seemed to have on every team the last 2 years. Things have changed and I think it has something to do with injuries – three of the top 5 2Bs are coming off injury-shortened seasons (Utley, Pedroia, Kinsler). And Rickie Weeks at #7 is no sure thing for 150 games either.
For the first 7 2Bs (Cano, Utley, Pedroia, Uggla, Kinsler, Phillips, Weeks), the only player going well above Point Shares is Robinson Cano. He’s going #5 in ESPN which is way above his PS rank of #26. My projection for him is 94/25/98/5/.304 – if I switch this out for 110/30/100/5/.320, then he moves to #7. I like Cano a lot but 2B is deep and I think there are 1B and OF 1st round targets that are more likely to deliver that type of offensive line. Utley (#19) and Pedroia (#31), and Phillips (#57) are all within a couple spots of my rankings with Uggla going from the biggest bargain to the 2nd biggest reach (9 picks over value). Kinsler and Weeks come at 12-18 pick discounts but that’s assuming they reach 550 ABs which they’ve each accomplished once in the past four years.
The remaining 2Bs are all over the map. The overpriced: Martin Prado (-36), Aaron Hill (-38), Gordon Beckham (-86), Chone Figgins (-47), Howie Kendrick (-60) . The underpriced: Ben Zobrist (+20), Kelly Johnson (+2), Neil Walker (+23). Brian Roberts is squarely in the middle at 2 picks over value.
As usual, most shortstops are being overpriced but there are some bargains.
Correctly Valued: Han-Ram (2nd pick), Troy Tulowitzki (+1, 7th in PS vs. 8th in ESPN)
So if you’re not going to spring for Han-Ram or Tulo in the 1st round or Reyes in 3rd round, I’d wait and try to get the communists (Alexei and Castro) at their ESPN values.
Last year, I found all 3Bs to be overvalued. It’s a bit more mixed this year.
In the first tier, Longoria is going a little higher than I’d like (4th vs. 10th) as are Zimmerman (22nd vs 38th) and the soon to be 3B-eligible Youkilis (23rd vs 36th). But I think David Wright (13th pick), A-Rod (20th pick) and Jose Bautista (32nd pick) are all solid values. It goes downhill fast from there: Beltre (-65 picks), Michael Young (-63), Aramis (-54), McGehee (-44), Sandoval (-22), Ian Stewart (-50), and Polanco (-166). The two bargains are Pedro Alvarez (+23) and Mark Reynolds (+97). Yes, that’s a 97 pick difference for Mark Reynolds. Which is crazy because he was going around #18 last year (and I cautioned that was too high). Here are my projections: 88/34/93/13/.231. His line last year was 85/32/79/7/.198 but that came with a really low BABIP (.257). I’m not saying to draft him at 55th (the Point Share calculation) but he seems to be the best value now – especially if you get him near his ESPN ADP of 152.
Only 9 catchers have an ADP below 200 in ESPN drafts. The more established catchers seem to be going at about fair value if not a little higher: Mauer (-7 picks – 26th vs. 33rd in PS), V-Mart (+2), McCann (+2), and Geovany Soto (-4). It looks like most of Matt Wieters’ hype has worn off because he’s only going 14 picks ahead of PS (172nd vs 186th).
The bargains are: Buster Posey (+22 – 23rd in PS vs. 45th in ESPN) and Carlos Santana (+38), Mike Napoli (+109). I’ve got Posey at 84/21/90/3/.299, Santana at 79/19/83/8/.267, and Napoli at 70/26/75/6/.255. Maybe these projections are slightly bullish but I think all three are possible (except if Mike Scioscia starts coaching the Rangers). I’m always trying to get a big discount on catchers or I punt so I’d wait until the 5th round for Posey, 9th round for Santana, and 13th round for Napoli before pulling the trigger.
Carl Crawford is the top OF in ESPN ADP – going 3rd behind Pujols and Han-Ram. I have him 8th overall and behind two other OFs: Braun (3rd vs. 7th in ESPN) and CarGo (4th vs 10th). I love both those guys if they are on the board after the first 2 picks (and you can take a 1B on the turn). I’m finding that OFs are generally available at a discount vs Point Shares. That holds true throughout the draft so I’d stick to the BRAN plan and try not to draft more than 1 OF per 5 rounds to avoid stocking up on OFs only to find better bargains on OFs in later rounds.
Here are some bargains: Matt Holliday (+7), Nelson Cruz (+17), Shin Soo-Choo (+22), Andrew McCutchen (+14), Jayson Werth (+17), Jacoby Ellsbury (+10), Hunter Pence (+13), Andre Ethier (+21), Mike Stanton (+28), BJ Upton (+24), Jay Bruce (+27), Curtis Granderson (+26), Drew Stubbs (+43), Brett Gardner (+30), Torii Hunter (+49), Carlos Quentin (+35), Nick Markakis (+67), Bobby Abreu (+51), Rajai Davis (+46), Nick Swisher (+59)
Here are some overpriced OFs: Ichiro (-12), Alex Rios (-13), Shane Victorino (-7), Delmon Young (-9), Michael Bourn (-25), Colby Rasmus (-9), Juan Pierre (-7), Vernon Wells (-29), Grady Sizemore (-54), Manny Ramirez (-73), and TRavis Snider (-78).
This is the position where I’m most surprised. Every year, I find that I overvalue starting pitchers vs. ADP. For this post, I’m using a modified ranking which bumps up hitter value and takes down pitcher value after finding most drafts weight offense heavier. One additional factor behind this decision is that last year was the ‘year of the pitcher’ as ERA/WHIP fell across the board. At the same time, the performance for Aces has stayed relatively flat. To consider an SP in the first 15 picks, I want either a projected WHIP near 1.00 and/or 250+ Ks. I don’t think Halladay or F-Her are going to deliver either of those marks.
But the ADPs for starters are as high as I’ve seen them in years. ESPN has 4 starters in the first 18 picks (Halladay at #6, Lincecum #14, F-Her #15, Cliff Lee #18) and 10 in the first 4 rounds (48 picks). Last year, I think Halladay and Lincecum had ADPs closer to #20. My first inclination is to think my weighting is too severe but my rankings for hitters line up pretty well with ADP. I think we’re just seeing a situation where ESPNers are moving starters up their draft boards. My only guess is that the lower offensive counting stats are making pitchers look more tempting in comparison.
I think the best bet this year is to be patient and find pitching bargains throughout the draft.
Here are the best bargains I’m finding: Felix Hernandez (-10), Justin Verlander (-1), Dan Haren (-8), Mat Latos (+6), Josh Johnson (+10), Jered Weaver (0), Max Scherzer (-9), Shaun Marcum (-10), Ted Lilly (+5), Colby Lewis (+8), Daniel Hudson (+37), Jeremy Hellickson (-10), Ricky Nolasco (+43), Ryan Dempster (+14), Edinson Volquez (+1), CJ Wilson (+13).
One word of warning – a number of those pitchers in the bargain list are on my ‘risky pitcher‘ list.
The relative value of closers in ESPN ADP and Point Shares is about even. There are differences, though, in specific player values.
Here are some bargains: Neftali Feliz (+7), Joakim Soria (+4), Carlos Marmol (+24), Jonathan Papelbon (+15), Jonathan Broxton (+19), Huston Street (+44), John Axford (+10), Francisco Cordero (+12), Jose Valverde (+29), Matt Thornton (+75), and Craig Kimbrel (+22).
I’d stick with the BRAN strategy on relievers. In a 12-team league, I’d want at least one closer in the first 9 picks and eventually have at least 3 closers (preferably 4). When in doubt, go for guys with stron K potential (Thornton, Kimbrel, Lidge, Nathan) over true SAGNOFs like Ryan Franklin and Brandon Lyon.