Who was actually good…

Last time, I used ADP data and player values to determine Kyle Lohse was the most under-drafted player of the last five years. Turns out, there are some assumptions in the calculation that could be tweaked, and the result could be a totally different most under-drafted player. Go figure! The methodology was to take the difference between a player’s preseason ADP and his end-of-season rank to determine  “undervalued-ness”. This time we’re still going to take the difference, but it’ll be between the square root of his ADP and the square root of his EOS rank.

Why the square rooting? The reason is to give more weight to better players, which square rooting accomplishes.

For reference, here’s the list from last time (that won one lucky man a Razzball T-Shirt):

Number Name Underdraft Score
1 Kyle Lohse 452.0
2 R.A. Dickey 408.9
3 Adam LaRoche 404.5
4 Mark Melancon 397.4
5 Marlon Byrd 384.4
6 Ian Kennedy 381.0
7 Alfonso Soriano 373.2
8 Tyler Clippard 371.1
9 Johnny Cueto 364.0
10 Torii Hunter 360.7

Square Roots

Now, let’s see what the new Top 10 list looks like using the square root of ADP and Rank:

Number Name Underdraft Score
1 Kyle Lohse 18.2
2 Alfonso Soriano 17.3
3 Johnny Cueto 17.0
4 Ian Kennedy 16.7
5 Max Scherzer 15.7
6 R.A. Dickey 15.5
7 Torii Hunter 15.5
8 Adam LaRoche 15.1
9 David Ortiz 14.4
10 Corey Kluber 14.3

Well, sh*t. Lohse is like “Can’t dethrone me!”. We’ll have to take more extreme measures. But first, let’s take note of some of the newcomers to the list. The major addition is Max Scherzer, who was propelled to No. 5 off the strength of his 2013 (drafted 78th, finished 6th), his 2012 (drafted 170th, finished 51st), and 2010 seasons (drafted 237th, finished 106th). Using different ways of getting there, Ortiz and Kluber are the other new faces that round out the Top 10.

Natural Logs

So what’s more extreme than taking the square root? We could ask these guys or we could take the natural log, your choice. Not! Using natural logs, here’s your new Top 10, America:

Number Name Underdraft Score
1 Clayton Kershaw 5.59
2 Johnny Cueto 4.66
3 Mike Trout 4.44
4 Max Scherzer 4.43
5 Adam Wainwright 4.31
6 R.A. Dickey 4.05
7 Corey Kluber 3.85
8 Hunter Pence 3.79
9 Alfonso Soriano 3.74
10 David Ortiz 3.68

Woo! An interesting result! Most dataists do ethically questionable things for one of these!

Posolutely one of the more polarizing preseason players, Clayton Kershaw forces his way to the top. And I like that it’s not off the back of one season, but rather by consistently beating his ADP a little bit each year. Take a look:

Clayton Kershaw – SP – LAD
Season ADP EOS Rank Diff Wins Ks ERA WHIP
2010 87 43 44 13 212 2.91 1.18
2011 39 6 33 21 248 2.28 0.98
2012 15 10 5 14 229 2.53 1.02
2013 13 5 8 16 232 1.83 0.92
2014 5 1 4 21 239 1.77 0.86

Kershaw’s dominance over the past five years—and almost equally important his health—has challenged us to consider just exactly how high we will draft a pitcher. While I wouldn’t necessarily take away from this table that Kershaw should be taken first overall in drafts, it does illustrate well the skepticism tax we place on pitchers, and how maybe Kershaw should be the lone exception to the rule.

So where did we draft Kershaw in 2015 you ask? His ADP this year was 4.1, which ranks fourth highest behind only Trout, Andrew McCutchen, and Miguel Cabrera If you look at Average Auction Cost, he ranks second at $49, still way behind Trout at $60. However based on my auction experiences, I would have thought Kershaw would have gone for less. Now I’m intrigued about the relationship between AAC and ADP.

The Most Over-Drafted

Like anti-matter to matter, no Top 10 list is complete without its corresponding (and usually more entertaining) Not Top 10 list. Here are your Razzies:

Number Name Underdraft Score
10 Dustin Pedroia -5.75
9 Chase Utley -5.77
8 Tim Lincecum -5.84
7 Pablo Sandoval -5.92
6 Alex Rodriguez -6.39
5 David Wright -7.13
4 Joe Mauer -7.16
3 Evan Longoria -8.12
2 Hanley Ramirez -8.24
1 Albert Pujols -8.30

By this methodology, Albert Pujols is the most over-drafted player of the past five years. To be honest though, that designation is a little harsh for him; he’s being punished a little more than he should for being a top 10 pick 4 of the 5 years we’re looking at.

The next three guys on the list though—Hanley, Longoria (sorry Grey), and Mauer—are truly players I feel we remained optimistic about for a few years too long and are more deserving of the ‘over-drafted’ label.

Tim Lincecum get the auspicious title of being the only pitcher to make the list. And unfortunately for him, he’s the only pitcher in the top 40 until you get to none other than Steven Strasburg, who certainly isn’t helping his case with his performance this year.


That’s all I got this week. Hopefully you found this information interesting and even a little useful.

For those who remain interested, I’m still working on the fantasy baseball bot. I’m actually in the middle of the “fun” part, which is coding the algorithm itself that figures out when to bench a player, or add a guy from free agency, etc.

One practical spin-off of the full-season algorithm that I will inevitably build in the process is a single day lineup maximizer. My thought right now is to offer that as a standalone product (maybe charge $1 per lineup maximization if I’m feeling greedy). If you’ve ever signed up for a site and had to ‘click to authorize’ to give an app permissions, what you were doing was generating an access token for that app to use another site’s API (like Facebook’s to get a list of your friends).

Essentially if I figure out how to do it, people could authorize me to use Yahoo’s API on their behalf and the algorithm can do it’s thing on their specific league and team data.

One day…



  1. Scott says:

    Pitchers prefer Square Roots and Natural Logs. Go figure!

  2. Pickleball says:

    Interesting. I was going to say I know for sure hunter pence is under appreciated in my league every year…

    • paul

      paul says:

      @Pickleball: Happy to lend some proof.

  3. CMUTimmah says:

    I love the not top ten. All guys I distanced myself from over the years… I took a shot on Wright last year in the third round (which is the equivalent to the 8th or 9th round in a 12 team 6 keeper league…) and got burnt. I kept Utley Hanley for a couple years while they had value and 2B and SS was a cesspool… but that was more out of value at the position than actual value of the player… so I wonder if there’s a way to mix in position elligibility? (If this was covered in one of the previous articles, I apologize, reading comprehension isn’t what it used to be… Thanks alcohol!)

    Every year, I smile as Longoria, Pedroia, Panda, and Mauer are kept… (Save Mauer and Pedroia this year) when there’s plenty more value to be had at their positions in the draft. For example… aside from the one year his contract ran out, Longoria has never hit the draft pool in my league (since 2009) That’s nuts, if you ask me. I don’t think he’s finished in the top 5 3Bs but once in overall value (purely a guess, but I think it’s a good one)…

  4. CMUTimmah says:

    Also, my non-posted guess for top undervalued was Adam LaRoche, since for about 4 seasons he was consistently late round flyer/undrafted, yet put up 5-14 1B seasons. I know a stat geek in my league had him almost every year, and I always thought it was a strong play to count on him… until it wasn’t anymore.. but when the day comes they fall off, the investment was so small that it makes it easy to cut bait.

    I’ll definitely take this info into account in next year’s draft. Nice work!

  5. Clint says:

    That Square Roots list doesn’t exactly lend credence to Grey’s annual theory of waiting on pitchers, does it? Seems to tell me that getting a stud like Scherzer or Kluber or Cueto while avoiding pitfalls like Kennedy & Dickey looks vital to a title, doesn’t it?

    • Scott says:

      @Clint: I think it says if you don’t get one of the top 5, it’s better to wait.

    • Men-in-Cleats says:

      Not necessarily, it is not so much a question of return on investment from a player as guys like Kershaw, King Felix, Greinke, etc. have been very consistent for a while and at the top of their game. The problem is that, unless you hit on a lotto pick or two, the hitters you can get later are a much bigger drop from the early round guys than the pitchers you can get later are from the high priced aces. Hell, I’m right near the top of my standings in pitching thanks to Bumgarner falling further than he should have, getting Cole at a good price, then hitting on Pineda, Salazar, and Shelby Miller (last round). To get an ace I’d have had to pass on Bryce Harper, Arenado, Justin Upton that I got in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds. @Clint:

    • paul

      paul says:

      @Clint: It’s hard to make a hard-fast rule using such broad generalizations. Overall I think it is a good idea to make sure you get at least one ace because you can’t expect to hit on all your upside pitcher picks. But other than that, it’s really on a player-by-player basis. In doing these articles it does seem that there’s a little bit of bias against “boring vet” hitters like Torii Hunter, LaRoche, and Byrd.

    • RotoLance

      RotoLance says:

      @Clint: A think a lot of the waiting on *something* strategy just has to do with what the rest of your league is doing. In most leagues, go figure, to get HRs you have to take those guys early. Therefore good SPs fall and _everyone_ is going to get good value out of their SPs. Because of that you can only take advantage of it (pitchers falling later than they should) so much.

  6. RotoLance

    RotoLance says:

    Excellent post, I’m glad you did this follow up because I had missed the first one.

    • paul

      paul says:

      @RotoLance: Thank you!

    • paul

      paul says:

      @RotoLance: I plan on doing a similar analysis for football data in the next few weeks by the way. It’ll be better timed at least. Look out for that!

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