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.
Rich Harden – Current ADP 217 – Harden has been a lot more durable than you’d think over the last two years. He made 25 starts in 2008 and 26 in 2009. In those seasons, he struck out 181 and 171 batters, respectively. He has a career K-rate of 9.4/9, which is awesome. He led all MLB starters in that statistic last year. Sure his ERA crept up to 4.09 last year, but his WHIP was perfectly usable (1.34). What’s more, his career numbers are much better than those (3.39 and 1.24). Certainly he carries the risk of pitching just a handful of games for you (like he did 2006 and 2007), but in the 21st round, there isn’t really any downside. In fact, I’d advocate for taking him around pick 175. If healthy, I bet his numbers will be pretty similar to Javy Vazquez’s I certainly would draft Harden him over replacement-level types, Andy Pettitte, Tim Hudson, Rick Porcello, Joba Chamberlain, Scott Kazmir, or Carlos Zambrano. You can whiff on picks this late and not be hurt by it. Why not shoot for the stars?
Jonathan Sanchez – Current ADP 229 — Sanchez has put together periods of brilliance in his short four season career. In March/April of 2008, Sanchez threw 33.2 IPs, posted a 3.48 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, while striking out 40 batters. In 40.2 IPs in June 2008, he posted a 3.10 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, while striking out 39 batters. Of course, his 2008 wasn’t altogether useful, as he ended up with a 5.01 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Still, he was a tad unlucky (.323 BAbip). Those brief pockets of success shouldn’t have made his 2009 success all that astounding (4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 177 Ks). However, his 2009 was blessed with a .278 BAbip. These two BAbips suggest we can average out 2008 and 2009 and crystal ball Sanchez’s 2010. Magic eight ball says: 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 167 Ks. There is a lot to like in his ability to K a batter per inning, certainly over the likes of Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets, Ervin Santana, Mark Buehrle, Kevin Slowey, Andy Pettitte, Tim Hudson, and others.
Wade Davis – Current ADP 314 — When he was called up, Davis pitched 36.1 IPs, posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.27 WHIP and struck out 36 batters. This awesome performance wasn’t altogether surprising, given his minor league track record (3.28 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 8.7 K/9). There is one caveat: his best performances came against the likes of the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners, while he struggled mightily against the Red Sox and Yankees. Davis should be in the rotation throughout the year and represents alarmingly cheap K upside. Maybe I’m bullish because I have him late in my keeper league, so there is that. Still, I am confident drafting Davis over Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Aaron Harang, Stephen Strasburg, Ricky Romero, Joe Blanton, Aroldis Chapman, Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Kevin Correia, Aaron Cook, and others. I’d be happy taking him about 100 picks higher than he is going – lucky I won’t have to!
Philip Hughes – Current ADP 318 – There isn’t much to support my love of Hughes. I just have a feeling about him. This is something I have to listen to because I despise the Yankees. So anytime I think well of one of their players, I’m going to have to look into it. (For what it’s worth I liked Swisher and Damon going into last year, of course I couldn’t predict the park effects). As a starter, Phil Hughes has a 5.22 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 141 IPs. As a reliever, he has a 1.40 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in 51.1 IPs. Hughes will be 24 in June. It seems the Yankee community would like to see Chamberlain as the heir apparent to Mariano, which would pave the room for Hughes, the starter. There is also real minor league dominance in Hughes’ resume: 2.37 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10/9 k-rate. His k-rate was 10/9 IPs in the majors last year as well. I’m willing to take a risk on Hughes, especially in the later rounds of drafts. I’d grab him over Arroyo, Derek Lowe, Homer Bailey, Strasburg, Romero, Blanton, etc. Those guys are replaceable, yet they don’t have anywhere near the K or win upside that Hughes has. Excuse me while I go throw up.