Maximizing every drop of value in every pick is hugely important. Taking a player in the fifth round that you could just as easily have taken in the sixth round is a major mistake. To avoid this, you need to know all about Average Draft Position (ADP).
While no two drafts are identical, knowing where a player typically goes gives you a general idea of where he will go in your draft. That said, be sure to do homework on your league mates subjective tendencies. For example, if there are Red Sox fans, be sure to snag guys like Lester and Youkilis a bit earlier than you normally would. In addition, you should talk up your sleepers before the draft (discreetly of course) to see if anyone is on to them. If you don’t, an opponent with an itchy trigger finger who hasn’t done his ADP homework might snag one of your sleepers a round before anyone else is typically taking him.
Now that you know WHY ADP is important, I want to show you HOW to exploit it by highlighting those players who are going too low compared to players with similar ADPs. You can grab an ADP report at Mock Draft Central.
Brian Matusz – current ADP 322 – I am on record as being a biased Baltimore Orioles fan. However, Brian Matusz’s career to date has verified my belief that his ADP is entirely too low. In his brief stint in the majors last year (44.2 IPs), Matusz posted a 4.63 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and a 7.7 K/9 rate. Not bad at all for a debut. Combine these numbers with his minor league promise (1.91 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 9.6 K/9) and his age (23) and you have a bonifide future ace. Matusz has a great fastball (it touches 94 MPHs), as well as outstanding breaking stuff (both a slider and curve). Check out his scouting report from oriolesprospects.com for more information. Based on his 2010 upside, I don’t understand why he isn’t going in many leagues. I can certainly see myself drafting Matusz ahead of Bronson Arroyo, Derek Lowe, Barry Zito, Ryan Madson, Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen, Homer Bailey, Matt Thornton, Stephen Strasburg, Ricky Romero, and Joe Blanton. I’d be fine drafting Matusz with a pick as high as 260. In the interest of full disclosure, I did go on EBAY last night to buy a Matusz rookie card.
Colby Lewis – Current ADP N/A – So, Colby Lewis has not been drafted enough to register at Mock Draft Central. That is crazy to me. Sure Lewis hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007, when he posted a 6.45 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. And sure his career rates aren’t better (6.71 ERA and 1.81 WHIP). However, he tore up the minors 3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 rate, 2.5 BB/9 rate and a 0.7 HR/9 rate. According to NPB Tracker, “Lewis went 26-17 with a 2.83 era, and led the Central League in strikeouts in each of the last two seasons.” He posted an incredibly impressive walk rate in Japan (only 46 walks in 354.1 IPs), something he was unable to do at the major league level (5.1 BB/9). He is certainly worth a late round flier over John Lannan, Oliver Perez, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergensen, Tommy Hunter, Koji Uehara, Ian Kennedy, Kevin Millwood and others.
Bud Norris – Current ADP 355 – with only 55.2 Major League IPs to his name, Norris compiled a 4.53 ERA and 1.51 WHIP, while striking out 54 batters (8.7 K/9). In so few innings, it’s not unlikely to see an uncommon BAbip (Norris’ was .318). Norris also has a pretty good track record in the minors: 3.67 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 361 Ks in 340.2 IPs. He also posted an impressive minor league HR rate (0.6/9) and K rate (9.5/9). I’d take a chance on Norris over the likes of Kevin Millwood, Franklin Morales, Jason Marquis, Micah Owings, Micah Pelfry, Derek Holland, Jarrod Washburn, Nick Blackburn, Justin Masterson, Doug Davis, and Jeremy Guthrie. I’d have no problem grabbing Norris in the 250 pick range.
Gio Gonzalez – Current ADP 335 – any casual reader of mine will note that I am bullish on Gio this year. By most accounts, he didn’t have a great 98 IPs last year (5.75 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP). Still he did rack up 109 Ks (9.9 K/9). It’s hard to fathom how someone who strikes out so many batters can be so bad when it comes to base runners allowed. Well, one reason for this would be his abnormally large BAbip (.363). When that corrects itself to the historical norm of around .300, his WHIP and ERA will come down. Gonzalez has pretty much torched the minors (3.58 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 783 Ks in 684 IPs), so there is some optimism in the young lefty, who won’t turn 25 until September 19. If Gonzalez can find his way to a rotation spot and a little luck, he might be a real bargain, especially because he appears to be an afterthought in mock drafts. I’d be selecting Gonzalez with confidence over the likes of Micah Owings, Mike Pelfry, Jarrod Washburn, Nick Blackburn, Justin Masterson, Doug Davis, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Hammel, Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Richard, CJ Wilson, Brandon Morrow and others. I wouldn’t mind using a pick around 240 on him, either.