This is a very different post than I thought I’d be writing this week. I’ll refrain from going on for paragraphs about how sad, frustrated, disappointed, and angry I am regarding the current state of major league baseball, even though it’s admittedly tempting to just vent uncontrollably right now. I truly thought this post would discuss how to navigate the flurry of transactions, injury updates, and general player news as drafting season kicked into high gear. Instead, our horrible lockout vacuum continues, but many of us are soldiering on and continuing to draft nonetheless. So, why not try to take a moment to regroup and make sure we are drafting to the best of our ability given the information, or lack thereof, at hand?
Editor’s Note: Speaking of drafting, make sure to check out our Razzball Commenter Leagues and sign up for one, two, three, or more! They are free to play and the overall winner gets a Razzball gift basket. Play against your fellow commenters, lurkers, and Razzball writers! We have this league drafting tomorrow (Saturday) at 3 PM ET and Laura has a high rollers $100 buy-in league drafting on March 23rd at 8 PM ET. <–Just click the links and you’re in!
This brings us back to using ADP as a draft tool, since it’s one of the few concrete pieces of intel that we have right now to take into the draft room with us. All tools need to be used correctly, though, so this week we’ll touch on how erratic ADP can be, and remember how quickly draft plans can go awry if we rely on it too heavily. I’ve gone through the NFBC ADP data for all 2022 drafts so far, and pulled out a few players who have some of the biggest ranges in terms of highest to lowest pick. I’ve ignored anyone near the top of this list who has had an obvious change in value due to retirement (Posey, Seager), potential role change (Knebel), or injury news (Jung) and focused on players whose value on paper shouldn’t have changed much over the last several months.
I’ll add a few of my specific player thoughts, but the overall point of this exercise is not necessarily about individual player values, but more about reminding myself and anyone out there reading this to use ADP as wisely as possible (even if at times that means throwing it out the window altogether). Thinking about my own drafts so far combined with looking at the NFBC data provided two important takeaways: 1) That if I am going to consider ADP when preparing for a draft, it makes sense to look at the low pick and high pick of players I might be targeting, not just the overall ADP number, and 2) It is hugely important to go in with a fleshed out list of my own personal player rankings and make a concerted effort to stick to them. Seeing names in that little NFBC or fantrax player box over my own queue will affect my perception of who I want to draft and when, whether I want to admit it or not, especially while the radio silence when it comes to baseball news continues.
Brad Hand (pick differential 489 spots: high 242, low 731/overall ADP 548), Rowan Wick (pick differential 462 spots: high 123, low 585/overall ADP 343), Jake McGee (pick differential 457 spots: high 83, low 540/overall ADP 280), Richard Rodriguez (pick differential 455 spots: high 257, low 712/overall ADP 562), Ian Kennedy (pick differential 436 spots: high 133, low 569/overall ADP 364). Five of the top fifteen or twenty names on the “biggest ADP differential” list are speculative closers, which I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise. I have no shares of Hand, one of Rodriguez and McGee, and two of Kennedy and Wick. Hand, Rodriguez, and Kennedy are free agents, and I’ve grabbed Kennedy in two draft and hold leagues because I think he has the best chance of getting signed as a closer. Also, after being bad in 2017 and 2018, meh in 2019, and disastrous in 2020, his numbers last year were way better than I realized… which of course doesn’t mean they will continue that way into 2022, but if they do, he could be useful as a live body in a late season very deep league lineup even as a middle reliever.
McGee to me is the poster child for being cautious while using ADP to plan a draft, as well as pointing out how strongly serious fantasy baseball players can disagree on value – looking at his 280 ADP during a draft, it’s fairly shocking to see him having been picked both in the top 100 and outside the top 500. Clearly, there is no consensus as to whether he’ll be closing for the Giants, setting up Camillo Doval, or sharing the gig with him. Personally, I’ve drafted Doval twice, but realizing how far we are from knowing how this bullpen is going to shake out, I recently drafted McGee late as well.
Moving to Rodriguez, one unsourced and potentially inaccurate report from months ago saying the Pirates might have a glimmer of interest in a Rodriguez reunion was enough for me to grab him once as an end-of-draft what the hell pick, also in a draft and hold. And I took Wick late a couple of times since he (maybe?) seems like the current best bet for saves in Chicago. I also have a couple ultra-late Cody Heuer shares though, and the fact that Wick pitched poorly down the stretch last year means he could be a headache for owners even if he gets the job. Also, the Cubs could do something weird like sign a mediocre free agent reliever who ends up getting saves, which brings us back to the ADP numbers. As with Ian Kennedy, I’m nowhere near high enough on Wick to target him at his current ADP, but more than happy to take a dirt cheap flyer once we’re a hundred picks or so past it.
Steven Kwan (pick differential 448 spots: high 294, low 742/overall ADP 554), Jeremy Peña (pick differential 453 spots: high 260, low 713/overall ADP 506), Jose Miranda (pick differential 428 spots: high 269, low 697/overall ADP 548). The high/low pick range makes perfect sense here, as we have three players with low floors in re-draft formats (i.e.not making the club at all), but high floors (i.e., making the club and playing regularly and productively). I honestly don’t know a ton about Miranda, but have drafted him three times now after seeing the phrase “raw power” attached to his name from multiple sources and reading about his stellar (AA plus AAA) 2021. I grabbed him ahead of his ADP on all three occasions, as even a decent chance at regular productive at bats from a guy who qualifies at 2B and 3B anywhere near his current cost is more interesting to me at the moment than alternatives at the same price point.
Kwan is an example of where relying on overall ADP kept me from having more shares: I’d take him at his current overall ADP all day long, but only own him on one team. It may have been a reach for me when I did finally draft him, but it was a reach I knew I probably had to take if I wanted him because he’d gone several rounds above where I’d expected in every other one of my drafts. It’s really going to be interesting to see how things play out for Kwan this year; he is gaining steam in drafts, but the experts are divided, for what that’s worth. You already know how high Grey is on him, but here’s what a couple of the kids over at fangraphs said about him: “everyone’s pencilling Steven Kwan in as the strong side of a left field platoon, but we don’t see why—he doesn’t look that good to us.” Kwan is another 2022 mystery that we’ll have to wait a few more days or weeks (or please don’t let it be months) to start unraveling!