I have a love/hate relationship with Average Draft Position (ADP) data. I've attacked it previously for being blatantly skewed towards the rankings from the sites that host the drafts like MockDraftCentral yet I recognize that it at least gives us a tiny idea of what way the general public may be thinking as we enter draft season. Ultimately, it beckons the timeless question that philosophers have pondered: does the public influence the ADP or does the ADP influence the public? We may never know.
Regardless, in looking at a new year of mock draft data, it's always interesting to see how far players dropped after a bad season like Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford had. On the other hand, it's equally interesting to see how much of a boost is given to guys who had career years like a Curtis Granderson or Jacoby Ellsbury. It may be early January but let's go ahead and see how the early ADP data is shaking up:
The High Risers
- Mike Stanton's stock his risen quite a bit and understandably so. He's a prolific power hitter that I hyped up a lot last year. He ended up with 34 HR in 2011 but he had relatively average production in the Runs, RBI's and AVG departments. His low RBI's may be due to the fact that 25 of 34 HR's came with bases empty. It was still a good season where he performed better than his draft spot but it wasn't an amazing fantasy season. Next season, he should continue to progress and if he hits 35 HR and hits them with more runners on base (Jose Reyes should help) then he should have a 100 RBI season to go with his decent batting average. According to MDC, he's being drafted around 26th (and is 35th in their rankings so people are jumping on him early) which would be at around the 3rd round in most leagues. He has the potential to deliver 1st or 2nd round value.
- Right with Mike Stanton at the start of the 3rd round is Andrew McCutchen. In his third year, he showed a bit more power by hitting 23 HR to go along with his 23 SB. While his batting average was only .259, he was quite a bit unlucky as he had an xAVG of .292 (coincidentally that was exactly what his AVG was the previous two seasons). He should continue to give you above average production in all categories in 2012. The big question is whether he will hit 15 HR or 25 HR and the answer to that question will let us know whether he's worth taking in the 3rd round or not.
- Currently Jay Bruce is slotted at the beginning of the 4th round. He actually didn't do much differently in 2011 than the first few years of his career other than the fact that he stayed healthy. In 664 PA's, he delivered 32 HR with nearly 100 RBI to go along with a poor batting average (.256). The batting average isn't going to change as that matches his career average and his xAVG was right around there as well. He's kinda like Mike Stanton except with a little less power and a much worse batting average. His draft slot seems about right considering those facts as power is harder to come by in later rounds.
- Former top prospect Desmond Jennings came into the league by stealing 20 bases while hitting 10 HR's in half a season last year. Now he's slotted to be about a 5th round pick it seems. One thing is for certain: the Rays like to steal bases as they're almost always among the leaders in SB attempts. While the stolen bases seem to be a sure thing, the power is a bit more of question mark and the answer to that question will determine if he's more of a Carl Crawford or Juan Pierre. In 2010, he hit only 3 HR over nearly 500 PA but then he jacked 22 HR's in 2011 between AAA and the majors. Looking at his full career and his PA/HR, we see that both years seem to be out of the ordinary. His power numbers might regress slightly based on that past history. I'd bank on him hitting closer to 15 HR over a full season as opposed to 25 but that's still pretty awesome to go with 40 to 60 SB. Add a decent batting average to those numbers and that creates a valuable pick in the 5th round.
- Right with Desmond Jennings is Eric Hosmer in the 5th round. He plays 1B which is the most offensively heavy position but he lacks premier power and hits in a weaker lineup. It doesn't necessarily add up to 5th round material. He should give you above average production for AVG (should hit around .300) but relatively average numbers elsewhere. That would be all fine and dandy if he was a catcher or SS but this isn't quite as enticing for your starting 1B.
The Big Fallers
- In fantasy baseball, some people give up on older players like Alex Rodriguez too early while others hold on too long. For that reason, the 5th round seems like a fair spot for A-Rod even if he is surrounded by guys like Eric Hosmer here. It doesn't seem like he'll ever hit for .300 again but he still hits in a good lineup with decent power so a season with .280 avg, 25 HR, 90 R and 100 RBI isn't out of the question if he can stay healthy. Also, there's the issue of 3B being a very weak fantasy position again so that raises his value up a bit. It seems like A-Rod may still be worth the risk.
- Hanley Ramirez had a down year last year due to only being able to play in 92 games while hitting for a terrible AVG. But, his xAVG shows that he should have hit closer to .269 last year if luck didn't hurt him. Aside from that, he was on pace for about 15-20 HR and 35-40 SB if he played a full season. If he stays healthy, there's no reason to think he can't return to being a 20/30 player who hits for .300 at a scarce position. That makes him have some nice value in the 2nd round.
- In case you didn't know, Carl Crawford was doo-doo last year yet drafters are still giving him hope by making him a 3rd round pick for next year. There are signs that some things should turn around for him as his xAVG was .274 which was higher than his actual AVG. His power numbers were his normal 10-15 HR but the SB's are worrisome and those are the main source of his value. I don't see enough signs that he'll turn it around to make him worth the risk at this point.
- Matt Holliday has now dropped down to become a 4th round pick and it may be because he had an injury plagued year in 2011 or it may be the Albert Pujols factor. The injuries hurt his overall numbers but he still was close to the Holliday of old minus a few points of batting average. A healthy 2012 should mean good production across the board even if the loss of Pujols does have a slight effect on his Runs and RBI totals.
- A host of others dropped down a bit this year as well like Ryan Zimmerman (4th Rd), Chase Utley (6th Rd), Jayson Werth (8th Rd) and Jason Heyward (9th Rd) and they each deserve further evaluation on their own. Older players, injuries in the previous year and bad production scare away drafters quickly and sometimes that opens the door for value so it's worth doing your homework on these guys before moving forward with any of them.
It's definitely still early but it's time to start thinking about how far you want former stars to fall in your rankings based on age or injury and also how high you want to rank possible upcoming stars who may or may not have what it takes. In your mind, is the public going too far for guys like Eric Hosmer and are they being too hard on guys like Matt Holliday? That's for you to judge. Answering those questions will have a big impact on how you draft in 2012.