That title make you tongue-tied? Well that’s nothing compared to how tongue-tied most fantasy players get about middle infielders. No positions have fewer bargains in the draft. This post is to make sure you don’t pay scalper rates.
Below is a comparison of middle infielder value comparing Average Draft Position (ADP) on MockDraftCentral.com vs our Point Share rank (+ means # of picks above estimated value, – means picked lower).
(For the full Point Shares rank and explanation, see here. This is based on PECOTA and Shandler projections.)
I’ve created three buckets – Fair Value, Undervalued, and Overvalued – with the cutoff on each side at 15 spots in the ranking (a player is ‘overvalued’ only if his ADP is 15 picks earlier that his Point Shares estimate is his value).
(MockDraftCentral ADP, Point Share Rank, +/-)
Fair Value (within +/- 15 in rank)
Hanley Ramirez (2, 7, +5)
Jose Reyes (4, 14, +10)
Jimmy Rollins (6, 12, +6)
Chase Utley (8, 9, +1)
Brian Roberts (33, 46, +13)
Carlos Guillen (49, 58, +9)
Robinson Cano (64, 74, +10)
Dan Uggla (103, 116, +13)
Placido Polanco (169, 178, +9)
Orlando Hudson (182, 168, -14)
Kelly Johnson (165, 129, -36)
Dustin Pedroia (176, 130, -46)
Khalil Greene (191, 166, -25)
Aaron Hill (192, 153, -39)
Ty Wigginton (214, 151, -63)
Felipe Lopez (219, 174, -45)
Freddy Sanchez (236, 140, -96)
Mark Ellis (264, 189, -75)
Luis Castillo (280, 227, -53)
Asdrubal Cabrera (303,194, -109)
Brandon Phillips (19, 42, +23)
BJ Upton (22, 80, +58)
Derek Jeter (35, 103, +68)
Troy Tulowitzki (45, 68 +23)
Chone Figgins (53, 83 +30)
Ian Kinsler (68, 107, +39)
Miguel Tejada (71, 117 +46)
Rafael Furcal (76, 108, +32)
Michael Young (80, 115, +35)
Edgar Renteria (99, 241, +142)
Rickie Weeks (106, 149, +43)
Howie Kendrick (118, 188, +70)
Orlando Cabrera (123, 211, +88)
JJ Hardy (128, 217, +89)
Jeff Kent (137, 193, +56)
Jhonny Peralta (173, 201, +28)
Kaz Matsui (193, 325, +132)
Stephen Drew (213, 235, +22)
After the first top four middle infielders, all but 4 of the next 14 are overvalued. I think this is because middle infielders are drafted based on upside more than any other position. Or, in other words, they are drafted at picks where they would provide fair value only if they hit their best case on stats vs. their likely case.
Drafting on 30/30, More Likely 20/20: Brandon Phillips, BJ Upton
Drafting to Improve vs. Last Year, More Likely to Repeat at Best: Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Kinsler
Drafting For Big Bounceback, More Likely to Repeat/Slightly Improve: Miguel Tejada, Rafael Furcal
Drafting On Hope, More Likely To Underperform vs. Expectation: Rickie Weeks, Howie Kendrick
Drafting on Yesteryear, More Likely to Produce a Lesser Tomorrow: Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Jeff Kent
Now I’m not going to invest time in the majority of these cases as at least there is a chance they might produce fair value. Here are three that I think will definitely not produce fair value based on their current ADP:
Derek Jeter – I’m a Yankee fan. Great player both on the field and in the NYC bars. But he’s hit 20+ HR once in the last 5 years. He’s stolen 25+ SB once in the 5 years. He’s hit 80+ RBI once in the last 5 years. Yes, he delivers runs and AVG but the former stat declined from 122 to 102 over the past 3 years and batting average is a slave to regression (good article on it here). Here are the projections I have for him this year: 93/10/66/13/.303. I think he has upside in all those categories but drafting him at #35 means you’ve got him at something much closer to 2005’s 122/19/70/34/.343. Chances he’ll hit that – I’ll say 5%. If you really want a Yankee MI, wait until the 6th or 7th round and take Cano – much better value.
Edgar Renteria – Renteria is an AWFUL middle round pick. He’s ‘Latin’ 32 this year (more likely 34), returning to the league that overmatched him in 2005, and is a prime candidate to see 40 points fall off his batting average (that .332 was a fluke due to a high increase in BABIP). Has hit 15+ HR only once in his career (2000) and hasn’t stolen more than 17 bases since 2003. Prediction: Fails to hit 12 HR or steal 12 SB. Will be on the waiver wire in many 5×5 10 team leagues by mid-season. I’d rather have DP mate Polanco and he’s going 7 rounds later.
Orlando Cabrera – Vlad’s little buddy won’t be seeing as many fastballs and runs now that he doesn’t have the Impaler behind him. Wow that sounded gay. But what’s more distasteful is taking this guy anytime before, say, the 18th round. What’s to like? He hasn’t hit more than 10 HR since 2003. Has stolen 20+ SB the last three years but he’s 33 this year – can’t count on much more than 15 SB. His .301 last year was a fluke – his average the previous two years was .257 and .282. I suppose he’s picked higher based on familiarity but, in this case, familiarity should breed contempt. Another guy likely to find the waiver wire at some point this season in mixed leagues.
So here is my simple MI drafting strategy for you…don’t reach! There are a few guys in the first 7 rounds that you can get at close to fair value. After that, just draft other positions until the 13th round or so and start picking up some of the Undervalued guys (or if an Overvalued guy tumbles). There is enough depth out there that you could pick up guys in the 20th round (Sanchez, Ellis, Wigginton) who’ll likely outperform several of the MIs taken in the middle rounds.