ADP Update: Is February the Window to Draft Starting Pitchers?

Starting pitcher average draft position (ADP) is the stuff of legends around the fantasy baseball community. Particularly in the NFBC, it seems the closer to the season’s first pitch the earlier starting pitchers are drafted compared to hitters. However, as this analysis shows, right now may be the best opportunity to get starting pitchers at a (relative) discount.

The key ADP movement for the top 50 starters is shown below, utilizing data from all non-auction NFBC drafts, which includes 10, 12 and 15-team formats. Casting this wide net allows us to separate the data into two parts - 57 drafts in the first 10 days of February and 40 drafts between February 11 and 21. This gives us a picture of which starting pitchers are moving up and down draft boards with a very recent filter.

The main takeaway is that of the top 50 starting pitchers, only 10 have been drafted earlier on average in the most recent 10-days (and in addition 5 of those 10 are pitchers that come off the board as SP40 or later). One pitcher (Lance Lynn) has been essentially unchanged, with the great majority (39 pitchers) being drafted later.

The chart below shows the top 50 starters in detail – 15 starters have lost 5% or more from their previous ADP; 24 had a later ADP between 0-5%; one pitcher was unchanged, and 10 pitchers showed improving ADP.

The biggest fallers include Gerrit Cole (there seems to be a preference for first-round hitters right now); Luis Castillo (he isn’t perceived as highly among second/third round options perhaps because of a lack of offseason improvements by Cincinnati and the realization that he is unlikely to be dealt to a stronger team); Kenta Maeda (growing concern about whether he will hold up to a full 162-game season); and Frankie Montas (Feb. 17 report that he had tested positive for COVID-19).

The gainers include Trevor Bauer (signed with the Dodgers Feb. 5); Sixto Sanchez (fantasy owners are chasing his massive upside); Mike Soroka (reports that he is making good progress coming back from his Achilles injury); and Corey Kluber (the pitcher recently made statements that he has had no setbacks with his shoulder and is on a normal preparation schedule for the upcoming season).

Pitchers with an earlier ADP (drafted sooner) are in blue; those unchanged are in gray (Lance Lynn only); those with a modestly falling ADP (drafted a little later) are in yellow, and those being drafted 5% or more behind the earlier February drafts are in red.