Inching closer, bit by bit, day by day, hour by hour ... pitchers and catchers report in just over a week. Once the mitts and balls are unpacked, things will turn more serious for fantasy players everywhere. We'll start to get daily spring storylines. We'll begin to pile up 'day-to-day's' and 'precautionary' sit-downs. Pitchers will be iced with aches, hitters will come up with lame hamstrings, and managers will deal with daily questions about position battles and batting order decisions. And, you can bet that with each of those questions and non-answers, Average Draft Position (ADP) will adjust.
Of course, we'll be here to follow the winding road and to pass along the information. It's info that is part of the map to help you to draft day success. Here are some of the more notable ADP marks for this week. (All ADP numbers courtesy of Greg Ambrosious with the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and are based off of more than 60 drafts).
• An ADP Build for Shields?
As of this writing, James Shields is said to have an agreement in place with San Diego (reportedly, to pay him near $75 million over the course of four seasons). We all know what Petco Park means for any pitcher ... a chance to shine. The yard has a 3-year park factor for homeruns that measures around 90 (anything under 100 means you're in a stadium that favors hurlers) and has been an oasis for ERA and WHIP since opening in 2004.
Shields currently is going off the board around 102. That's 23rd at his position. Now that Shields wears the Friar hat for 2015, you can book a decent climb up the ADP ladder. But, for me, I wonder if there is 'better' Shields than the Shields we've gotten for the past half-decade. In nine years between Tampa and Kansas City, Shields has crafted an ERA under 3.15 just once. Do you know he's never posted a K/9 of one per inning, dipping to a pedestrian 7.1 last year? And, WHIP-wise, Shields has always settled into the 'solid' territory of 1.20. Plus, he's now 33 with nearly 2,000 innings on his right arm.
I do like Shields. I just think his ADP is spot-on, right now, and should stay there even with the move to San Diego. His world-renowned changeup is still the money pitch, but he fought with it for a good portion of last year. Draft him with the idea of getting last years' digits ... 12-15 wins, a lot of innings, 190 whiffs, an ERA just above 3, and a WHIP near 1.15. That makes him a low-end SP2 in a 12-team league ... ah-ha ... around 23rd overall!
• A Move Up the Lineup, A Move Up in ADP
San Francisco manager, Bruce Bochy, indicated this past week that his earliest lineup incarnations have Brandon Belt holding down the 3rd spot in the order. If this were to stick, it would be a huge boost to Belt. A current ADP of 181 should go up 20 or so spots, purely because you'd get him out of the 6-hole in the Giant order.
Now, understand, there would still be some hurdles to jump here. Belt has fought the injury bug a good deal. Beyond the simple fact that he must stay on the field, will the defending champs bat a pair of lefties (Joe Panik and Belt) back-to-back, 2-3, near the top of the order? And, finally, can Belt ... do it?
He missed a ton of hittable pitches last year (his contact rate on pitches in the strike zone crumbled nearly 10%) and that led to concerning amount of punch-outs. But, the talent appears to be there and getting a home in the upper-third of the lineup would make him an excellent choice for the much-sought-after 'breakout'. All in all, if Belt is still sitting on the board after the first 12-14 1st basemen have been selected, you're taking a worthwhile risk to snag him.
• Us vs. You
Can you believe that the public at-large sometimes disagrees with us?! Well, it does happen on occasion. Actually, on a lot of occasions ... that's the beauty of the game! Here are a few that are showing up early in an (inexact) comparison of our Value Above Medium (VAM) vs. your ADP. Plus, my own personal opinion on who is doing a better job of hitting the player's true value.
Adrian Beltre - 17th VAM; 29th ADP - I lean towards the crowd here. Beltre's homers crashed last year. I don't think they get back above 25 this year and the average will slip.
Max Scherzer - 9th VAM; 28th ADP - Let's give it to the drafters again! I can give you Kershaw and King Felix in the first round. No way on the very good, not great, Scherzer.
Anthony Rendon - 31st VAM; 13th ADP - Rendon had everything go right for him in 2014. I don't think it can get better. The 3rd round grade from Fantistics is much more legit.
Jose Bautista - 39th VAM; 9th ADP - Bautista is just behind Stanton when it comes to safely assuming home runs. But, I just don't think he's the .286 hitter he showed a year ago. I'm between the two numbers here.
Justin Upton - 58th VAM; 30th ADP - Upton's move to San Diego is scaring off many. I think he'll end up in a very similar spot to last season, with a slight downtick. The 30 spot is a fairer spot considering his power production in the midst of a league-wide offensive stupor.
Bryce Harper - 52nd VAM; 34th ADP - It's STILL all potential with Harper. At this point, let's see it flesh out before we buy on it. Sign me up for a spot close to the VAM here.
• The Slow Slide Begins
Victor Martinez was a miracle last season. Quite simply, you just don't count on a 35-year to come up with a career-best summer. And, this wasn't just any 35-year old. This 35-year old had multiple All-Star games and multiple Top-25 MVP finishes.
The early draft returns coming into this season indicated that there were plenty of fantasy managers counting on a repeat. V-Mart was routinely going inside the 3rd round ... much too high. Well, that's probably over.
Martinez's mid-week knee ligament injury will keep him down for at least the next 4-6 weeks. And, at his age and with a knee that seems to be acting its' age, V-Mart will be eased into April. His ADP has already dipped a couple of spots to 37th overall. Moving through the rest of this month and into March, you can expect Martinez to still be sitting on the board in the 7th round.
Josh Hamilton joins Martinez on the dinged-up docket. This has become a second home for him and, as I wrote about last week, he's toxic. His ADP has already slid outside the top 200 and he'll be available around 250 in upcoming drafts. Don't be the owner to catch him on the way down.
• Just For the Record
In closing, here's your current top 12 in ADP. 1.) Mike Trout 2.) Giancarlo Stanton 3.) Andrew McCutchen 4.) Clayton Kershaw 5.) Miguel Cabrera 6.) Paul Goldschmidt (bargain alert!!!) 7.) Jose Abreu 8.) Carlos Gomez 9.) Jose Bautista 10.) Felix Hernandez 11.) Edwin Encarnacion 12.) Jose Altuve
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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