ADP Update: The Middle Rounds
The market for a particular player in fantasy baseball drafts is whatever someone in your league is willing to pay and obviously changes from draft to draft. But nevertheless, there are useful ADP trends highlighted by the data from NFBC drafts. In this article, we’re focused on the players from rounds 11 through 20 of 15-team leagues. However, please note that even though this analysis is 15-team focused, I am 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 - 82 drafts in the last two weeks of January and 33 drafts in the first two weeks of February. This gives us a picture of which players are recently moving up and down draft boards.
In order to show players that have moved somewhat significantly, this ADP analysis highlights players that have moved at least fifteen places.
ROUND ELEVEN (Based on 15 team drafts)
The twelfth round features a pair of Minnesota closers, as Taylor Rogers’ grip on the closer gig grew decidedly weaker following the Feb. 12 signing of Alex Colome. Rogers dropped more than two rounds as a result, and Colome thus far is being drafted two rounds earlier than when he was unsigned. If there are indications that one or the other has the inside track to the ninth-inning role that player will go earlier, but for now they are being taken at about the same time.
The thirteenth round highlights the effect the Feb. 11 Trevor Bauer signing has had on Dustin May, one of the prime upside targets in early drafts. It’s now questionable what May’s role will be, and even whether he would be the first pitcher the Dodgers would turn to in the event of an injury. He might start in the bullpen, which limits his value.
We have an interesting quartet of players being drafted in the fourteenth round. The Padres signed Ha-Seong Kim out of Korea in December, and fantasy owners are dropping his ADP in response to the lack of clarity in his role. Although he is expected to get close to everyday at-bats at second, third, and the outfield, San Diego has lots of options and he’s a bit of an unknown coming out of the KBO. Nick Madrigal is a polarizing player, as he is capable of stealing 20 or more bases but may be limited by his complete lack of power and the possibility that he will hit ninth in the lineup when he does play. Leody Taveras also dropped about a round – he has been a popular speed selection in early drafts but drafters are having second thoughts considering his 32% strikeout rate last year and the possibility that he hits under .250. Still, his speed and role make him an interesting gamble in the middle rounds. Finally, Drew Pomeranz registered a fine season in 2020, and his stock rose as he appeared to have the inside track on saves. But just a few days ago (Feb. 12) the Padres signed Mark Melancon, further muddying up his role. Now he will have to compete with Melancon as well as Emilio Pagan, so I expect his ADP to fall back from its current level.
The fifteenth round holds the second Dodger pitcher impacted by the Feb. 11 Trevor Bauer signing. Tony Gonsolin was going later than Dustin May in early drafts because the feeling was he was behind him on a possible starting role, but now both are probably out of the rotation barring injury. However, Gonsolin deploys a four-pitch mix which effectively supported his 26% strikeout rate, and could still be a useful addition to fantasy rosters in deeper leagues.
Grichuk hit .273 with 12 homers in 2020, producing even better in the Blue Jays' temporary home in Buffalo. In upstate New York, he posted a .306 average and slugged .528 compared to just .241 and.435 on the road. The big question, though, is whether the Jays are committed to him as a regular. In his favor, the Jays signed him to a five-year $52 million contract in 2019, but on the other hand, they were reportedly considering a trade for him at the end of January. This latter news item may have sparked a drop in ADP from concerned fantasy players. James Paxton signed a one-year deal with Seattle on Feb. 13, too late to impact this ADP analysis. Before then, his ADP had already risen based on indications of positive health coming off a season limited to 20.1 innings due to a forearm injury. Although his fastball velocity dropped from 95 to 92 MPH last season, he reportedly reached 94 MPH throwing for scouts this offseason. If he can hold those gains, he could be a value later in drafts.
Yadier Molina re-signed with the Cardinals on Feb. 8, and this has fueled a rise in his ADP as fantasy managers seek solid playing time while drafting a catcher late. Molina was diagnosed with COVID-19 last season, and it's unclear if that caused his steep drop in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. Molina still should see the volume to remain in the mix in two-catcher leagues, but the question is whether he will give you much beyond that. Wilson Ramos also signed recently – on Jan. 26 with the Tigers – which has supported increased interest in drafts. Ramos had a down year in 2020 with a .684 OPS in 45 games, but he averaged an .808 OPS over the previous four seasons. If he can regain that former level, he should get most of the playing time in the Motor City. Jake Diekman is starting to be recognized as the Athletics’ top closer option, following a December statement by general manager David Forst that he is the top internal candidate to close for the team in 2021. Fantasy owners noted the "Internal" designation, and this seemingly held down his value through early drafts. But since no one with closing credentials has been added by the team, it seems he might have the inside track.
Three players whose ADP is rising are found in round nineteen, all with very different situations. The news that Matthew Boyd pitched through a hamstring injury and plantar fasciitis last season has built a narrative allowing fantasy managers to largely ignore his 6.71 2020 ERA. Boyd produced a career-high 30% strikeout rate in 2019, so there is some hope he can return to that level in 2021. Wander Franco was invited to Tampa Bay’s spring training on Feb. 1, fueling hope that he would garner playing time this season. The top prospect is still just 19 years old, but owners can dream on his bat, which has generated a career batting average of .336 and a career slugging percentage of .523 in 175 professional games. He probably isn’t too far away from the majors, but might have to wait until at least later this season. Joc Pederson signed with the Cubs on Jan. 29, and this has supported a stronger ADP with the hope of more frequent at-bats. He still might lose some playing time against LHP though, as his OPS is just .508 against them since 2018 (compared to .879 against RHP).
Round twenty has seven players with significantly changing ADP. First, Amed Rosario has dropped significantly following the Jan. 26 signing of Cesar Hernandez, which crowds Cleveland’s middle infield positions. Nothing much has changed for Jose Leclerc, but since he’s one of the last closers with a reasonable inside track to the job, it seems fantasy owners are reaching earlier for him in drafts. There seems to be some worry about Yuli Gurriel’s playing time that has dropped his recent ADP, but this is an annual event and he usually finds a way to accumulate regular at-bats in Houston. Alejandro Kirk is in the mix as Toronto’s catcher, but fantasy owners are drawn to his batting average of .375 in the shortened season and are hoping he can beat out Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire for playing time. Justus Sheffield is dropping in recent drafts likely due to the news that the Mariners won't let their starters exceed 170 innings and using a six-man rotation. He sports a 50% groundball rate and a 21% strikeout rate and has an excellent slider, and the 24-year-old might be a value late in drafts, especially in a pitcher-friendly park. There has similarly been nothing new supporting a better ADP for Noah Syndergaard. He had Tommy John surgery late last March and the timeframe is 12-16 months, so a prudent expectation is a return in late May or early June. Perhaps recent fantasy drafters are just hoping for an earlier return to form. Finally, Stefan Crichton has dropped significantly in ADP as his earlier status as the odds-on favorite for saves in Arizona has changed. However, the signing of Joakim Soria on Feb. 3 put a dent in that plan. Although the Diamondbacks still maintain that Crichton can compete for the closer role this spring, he carries a lot less certainty now than he did in January.