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.
Scott Podsednik – Current ADP 325 – Podsednik had his best season since 2006 last year. In 2009, Podsednik played 132 games, posted a .304 AVE and .353 OBP en route to stealing 30 bases and scoring 75 runs. Those aren’t bad statistics at all, especially with him slated for full playing time in Kansas City. There is likely some regression in the OBP as his career average is .340 and it hasn’t been that high since 2005. Furthermore, he had a higher BAbip in 2009 (.341) than over his career (.319). Still that isn’t a dramatic difference, so, outside of injury, Podsednik’s production isn’t going to fall of a cliff. I understand why he is an afterthought on draft day, but you should be tabbing him over the likes of Conor Jackson, Daniel Murphy, Mark Teahen, Clint Barmes, Alexi Casilla, Carlos Delgado, and Jeff Blake. He won’t be great, but he’s a cheap source of steals and runs.
Nick Swisher – Current ADP 243 – As I wrote last year, I thought “Swish was incredibly unlucky [in 2008] and will tally at least 25 HRs.” The career anomaly was 2008, not 2009. Yet people are treating him as if his 2009 wasn’t totally legit. Swisher is 29, in the sweet spot of his prime, in a fantastic line-up and in a great park. There is no reason he can’t duplicate 25+ HRs, 80+ RBIs and ratios that won’t kill you (especially in an OBP league). The fact that he is going behind the likes of Macier Izturis, Placido Polanco, Travis Snider, Carlos Gomez, Alex Gordon, Martin Prado, Casey McGehee, Chris Coghlan, Jhonny Peralta, Jermaine Dye, Adam LaRoche Corey Hart, and others is crazy. Swisher will clearly hit 25 HRs with upside to 30+. Some of those previous players are not as assured to touch that many bombs (Gordon, Snider, Dye, Peralta, and Hart). Draft Swisher with confidence around pick 170.
Scott Sizemore – current ADP 319 – Sizemore is a rookie with no major league track record to rely on. That didn’t stop the Tigers from handing him the keys to the second base position. Sizemore, who is 25, profiles to hit for a decent average with a little pop and speed. In 1,455 minor league ABs, he put up a rather healthy line: .296 AVE, .383 OBP and a .441 SLG. Last year, in the minors, Sizemore hit 17 HRs and stole 21 bases. While I don’t love guys with no track record of success, I’d rather have Sizemore than Felipe Lopez, Freddy Sanchez, Clint Barmes, Alexi Casilla, Jeff Baker, Maicer Izturis, and Casey McGehee, all of whom are being drafted before Sizemore.
Chris Young (Arizona) – current ADP 328 – Young won’t be 27 until November, so let’s relax on writing him off. His ratios have never really been good in the majors (.235 AVE, .307 OBP), but he has put up some decent counting stats: 71 HRs and 54 SBs. His 162-game average season produces 24 HRs and 19 SBs. There aren’t a ton of 20-20 guys out there. He’ll never hit for a good average in the majors (his minor league AVE is just .269), but if he can raise hit batting average to around .255 in the majors, he’ll be an asset. And it’s not like you have to pay anything but a last round pick. If I’m sitting at the end of a draft and need an outfielder, I’d pull Young’s name before Luke Scott, Skip Schumaker, Melky Cabrera, Daniel Murphy, or Mark Teahen. Those guys have limited upside and aren’t much better than typical free agent fodder, whereas Young could be a starting fantasy outfielder.