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.

I have compared the ESPN results with my Point Shares to identify the relative bargains (and overpriced players) in standard leagues .  You can see the comparison vs. all ESPN’s top 200 players here.

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.

First Basemen

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.

Second Basemen

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.

Overvalued:  Derek Jeter (-26 picks), Jimmy Rollins (-56), Elvis Andrus (-47), Stephen Drew (-18), Rafael Furcal (-53), Ian Desmond (-34), Erick Aybar (-81), Juan Uribe (-93), Alcides Escobar (-99)

Undervalued:  Jose Reyes (+15), Alexei Ramirez (+17), Starlin Castro (+25)

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.

Third Basemen

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).

Starting Pitchers

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.

Relief Pitchers

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).

Some overpriced relievers:  Brian Wilson (-12), Mariano Rivera (-10), Francisco Rodriguez (-28), J.J. Putz (-8), Brad Lidge (-12).

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.

  1. wilsoniam says:

    thanks rudy,
    whats the word on utley? how many games do you think he makes it through this year?

  2. pat says:

    Just did a 10 team, 3 OF mock draft. What does everyone think?
    1. Adrián González (Bos – 1B)
    2. David Wright (NYM – 3B)
    3. Matt Holliday (StL – OF)
    4. Andrew McCutchen (Pit – OF)
    5. Derek Jeter (NYY – SS)
    6. Jay Bruce (Cin – OF)
    7. Francisco Liriano (Min – SP)
    8. Yovani Gallardo (Mil – SP)
    9. Chris Young (Ari – OF)
    10. Max Scherzer (Det – SP)
    11. Paul Konerko (CWS – 1B)
    12. Brandon Morrow (Tor – SP)
    13. Aaron Hill (Tor – 2B)
    14. Mike Napoli (Tex – C,1B)
    15. John Axford (Mil – RP)
    16. Joe Nathan (Min – RP)
    17. Gavin Floyd (CWS – SP)
    18. Daniel Bard (Bos – RP)
    19. Jhoulys Chacin (Col – SP,RP)
    20. Jordan Zimmermann (Was – SP)
    21. Jonathon Niese (NYM – SP)
    22. Edwin Jackson (CWS – SP)
    23. Hong-Chih Kuo (LAD – RP)

  3. Ian says:

    Rudy, do you see McCutchen as a potential top 5 OFer if he hits 3rd all season? Hitting in front of Overbay shouldn’t slow him down much, right? I mean a .290/20HR/100 R/90 RBI/40 SB line doesn’t seem all that outlandish does it?

  4. Buddo Chezuski says:

    Great stuff, Rudy. Thanks

    obvious quesiton alert: any chance we could get this for yahoo?

  5. Eddie says:

    Thanks, Rudy. What kind of PT projections do you have for Ian Stewart this season? Is he really stuck in a platoon with Jose Freaking Lopez?!

  6. Nathan says:

    I will second Buddo’s request. I seem to remember last year Grey did a similar post on the biggest discrepencies between his rankings and Yahoo!’s. It was a great post and I would very much like to see another one this year.

  7. BKK says:

    I did a really quick check against Y!, (since I draft more teams in Y!, I have tabulated their ADP’s) and dropped ESPN’s beside, thanks for doing this work.

    Some of the biggest differences (or at least notable):

    Miggy: 3.9 Y! vs 10.8 ESPN
    Howard: 16.6 vs 27.2
    Andrus: 99.1 vs 79.5
    Sabathia: 45.8 vs 27.6
    Reynolds: 97 vs 153
    Marmol: 59.4 vs 95.9
    Feliz: 68.8 vs 86.6
    Hill: 156 vs 112
    Gio: 166 vs +200

    The are others, I can make the chart available if you are interested.

    Obviously, it is important to know where you are drafting and the relative ADP’s and how player values might be affected.

    Otherwise, there is fairly reasonable correlation. I did note that (specific exceptions noted) that Y! seems to value closers more than ESPN while the opposite is true for Starters – certainly the elite variety. For instance Hallady is 10.6 in Y! and Felix is 21.9 vs 7.3 and 15.3 respectively at ESPN.

  8. Steve says:

    Rudy – now I know why you grabbed Span while Grey wasn’t looking in a draft you guys did recently ;-)

  9. charlie batch says:

    amazing post rudy. thank you.

  10. Carlos Silva says:

    I need to keep 9 to keep from this team to start the new season. Note: these players are not arranged in any particular order. I could really use the help! Our keeper lineup is due tomorrow!

    OF – Marlon Byrd
    OF – Andrew McCutchen
    OF – Austin Jackson
    1B – Miguel Cabrera
    2B – Chase Utley
    3B – Pablo Sandoval
    SS – Marco Scutaro
    C – Geo Soto
    DH – Mark Teixeira
    B – Jorge Cantu
    B – Erick Aybar
    B – Julio Borbon
    B – Adam Lind
    B – Curtis Granderson
    B – Carlos Ruiz
    B – Conor Jackson
    SP – Mat Latos
    SP – Francisco Liriano
    SP – Matt Cain
    LHP – Johan Santana
    RP – Leo Nunez
    B – Ryan Dempster
    B – Phil Hughes
    B – Jeff Niemann
    B – Gavin Floyd
    B – Edwin Jackson
    B – Tommy Hanson

    I think the best 9 to keep are the following: McCutchen, Cabrera, Utley, Sandoval, Teixeira, Hanson, Liriano, Cain, Latos

    Note: we can only start one RP so there is no need to keep Leo Nunez as closers are plentiful.

    Should I drop Sandoval or one of my pitchers to keep Phil Hughes or something? What do you think?

  11. sean says:

    @Rudy: thank you for two very insightful, informative posts. I’m starting to feel like a real vet around here now that this is the third version of the risky starter post I’m seeing.

    Both Grey’s jedi projections and your more quant pointshares show that Mark Reynolds is a player who is being seriously undervalued. Any real reason to avoid him like drafters seem to be doing? Why does it seem like negative average, plus power guys (Dunn, Uggla) seem perennially undervalued?

  12. steve b says:

    well Rudy the pitcher post was closed but the shirelles did he best version of will you still love me.The Shaft and nat gio stuff was great. I dont want to have your baby or anything but damn…you guys are fun to read.

  13. Howard says:

    Hi Rudy, I can’t remember if I asked but any update on the formation of the Razzball Leagues?

  14. royce! says:

    Hey Rudy,

    Thanks for the post- saved me the time of creating an excel doc like I did last year (unfortunately, it will also benefit my competitors). One question- you cite as “bargains” many SP who are being drafted higher than your point shares would suggest, ie, the parenthetical number is negative. Am I missing something, or are you just more enthusiastic about these pitchers than the point shares indicate? Are you citing them as bargains due to their Point Share Rank (standard split – 153/107)?

    Thanks again

  15. Eddy says:

    Why in the world is Jay Bruce still hitting leadoff in these exhibition games?

  16. Coll says:

    Got a question for a keeper league…having trouble deciding which two to keep…Nelzon Cruz, Brain McCann, Tommy Hanson, Justin Morneau, Zack Greinke, Elvis Andrus….I get to pick two to keep. HELP ME!!!

  17. KCC26 says:

    keeper league: im starting off with pujols (rd 1, pick 10), youkilis (rd 3, pick 10), and choo (rd 7, pick 10). With keepers factored in, I’m looking at an available group of players in the kemp/holliday/reyes area for my second round pick. Ive been hoping that holliday or kemp make it to me, but given the fact that im starting with an OF already and like a lot of the OF in the rounds 4-8 range, would anyone take reyes with that 2nd rounder? or only as plan C to holliday/kemp even with the current composition of the team? thanks!

  18. Rabbit says:

    Followed your link in your earlier post today to your KitchenSnark post on the Beatles–really enjoyed that. I thought you laid out a clear-eyed look at the Beatles Ranking Phenomenon, which arguably does not stand up under scrutiny. Your post raises some Big Questions surrounding music (and really, all art) like, What Makes Certain Music Great, What Makes Certain Music Personally Transcendent, and What’s the Difference (if any) Between These Two? I tend to think there’s a big difference–I respect the Beatles’ music because of what they did within the time period in which they were doing it, and what effect they had on their contemporaries and those that followed them, but I can’t say that a single Beatles song has ever had a particularly moving effect on me (as in the five situations you cite in your article). It’s like watching the films of early directors like Jean Renoir (or even Hitchcock, and maybe even Wells)–you respect their work, but it feels so dated that it fails to transcend, so there’s a distance between you and the work. Not like, e.g., listening to The Clash.
    One that last point, I would offer the following to your question about whether there were any important Clash songs about relationships (excluding Should I Stay or Should I Go): what about Train in Vain, and Spanish Bombs (using the Spanish Civil War, arguably one of the most horrific civil wars in history (and that’s saying a lot), as a metaphor for particularly bad breakup. Oh mi corazón.

  19. Fanning says:

    can someone explain to me why no one seems to a fear a any type of regression with posey?

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