Players being over-drafted

It’s the middle of February, and by this point in the draft season we are starting to get a much clearer picture of how things will shake out at the end of March. Most high-stakes fantasy players have already dabbled in a slow draft or three, testing out the waters and getting their own feel for the flow of the player inventory.

Let me preface this by saying that all players have their own strategies, preferences and levels of risk tolerance when approaching a draft. I come from the belief that you should avoid unnecessary risk, especially in the foundation rounds of a draft. I lean toward consistent and proven production when assembling the core of my teams, avoiding players that have huge injury concerns or are unproven producers. I’ll slant toward players with more potential and higher upside later in the draft.

When I look over the most recent ADP list, a few names stand out to me as players I believe are being drafted too high. This isn’t to say that they’re going to fall flat on their faces or won’t return a profit at their particular draft slot. They are just players who I believe carry too much risk where they are being taken.

So you can peruse the list yourself, Shawn Childs has graciously posted a copy of the most recent ADP report at

Curtis Granderson (ADP 14): Granderson put together an absolutely dynamic season in 2011, and helped lead many a team to league titles. He did show a marked improvement against left-handed pitching, but before we praise him for figuring out how to hit lefties, realize that there could be some small-sample-size bias in only 191 at-bats against them last year.

Granderson hit 41 homers, towering over his previous career high of 30 in 2009. His HR/FB rate jumped to 20.5 percent last year, well over his career rate of 13.9 percent. This signals that he is due for a regression in the homer run category. He also drove home 119 runs, after not driving in more than 74 in any previous season. I think expecting him to finish with more than 80-85 RBI is probably wishful thinking.

In addition, he’s a huge threat to be a drain on your team’s batting average. In the early rounds of a draft, I try to establish a solid average base for my team. A player with 600 at-bats of .260-.265 can weigh down your total team average.

Another red flag is that Granderson had his worst stolen base success rate of his career in 2011 (25/35, 71.5 percent). It’s generally accepted that anything under a 75 percent success rate is actually hurting the team, and could lead to decreased opportunities in the future. If there is an actual decline in speed that has led to the lower rate, he loses more of his value.

I have Granderson finishing with something close to .264 average/107 runs/ 27 homers/ 84 RBI/23 steals. While the numbers do look relatively solid across the board (minus the average), I think that there are many better options on the board at pick 14.

Josh Hamilton (ADP 27): Hamilton has all the talent in the world, and is capable of putting up monstrous offensive numbers. I’m not disputing that at all. He simply doesn’t fit into the plan of someone like me who’s trying to avoid risk early on.

In Hamilton’s four years in Texas, he has averaged only 125 games played. That number drops to 114 games if you look at just the previous three seasons. He’s the type of guy who, if he manages to stay on the field for 150 games, can finish with first-round production. In all likelihood though, you’re looking at him missing nearly a quarter of the season.

In addition, how do you weigh his recent public relapse? Some don’t think it should change his draft position at all, but it’s obviously a factor that has to be considered. I have Hamilton finishing around .310 average/83 runs/27 homers/100 RBI /eight stolen bases provided that he gets 500 at-bats. He’s too risky for my taste in round two, but could gain some consideration if he falls further down the board.

Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 53): Asdrubal finally made good on some of his promise and delivered massive returns for owners who took a chance on him in rounds 15-18 last year. After never hitting more than 11 homers in any professional season (major or minor leagues), he belted 25 long balls in 2011. His HR/FB rate was 13.3 percent last season, after never being higher than 6.7 percent before.

He’ll be only 26 this season, and the power was consistent over the two halves of 2011, but I still expect some regression. His average dropped as the season progressed; he hit only .246 after July 1. He may also see a decline in RBI opportunities, since he’ll probably hit second the entire season with Shin-Soo Choo back in the lineup. I expect roughly .278 average/85 runs/18 homers/77 RBI/14 steals from Cabrera in 2011. While those are above-average numbers at a relatively weak position, I’m hesitant to pull the trigger in the fourth round.

Michael Pineda (ADP 89): Let me start by saying that I like Pineda. I’m grateful to him for pitching so well last year: I got him in the 19th round of the NFBC Main and he was a big part of leading my team to a league title. I just think that getting pushed up into the sixth round after the trade to the Yankees (and even the fifth in some drafts) is too high.

Yes, he will see a big increase in run support, and in wins, by joining the Yanks. Conversely though, he’s leaving the safe haven of Safeco Park and heading to one of the worst pitcher’s parks in the league. Pineda is a flyball pitcher (44.8 percent) whose HR/FB rate (9.0 percent last year) is sure to rise in New York. I think the addition in wins will be balanced out by his increase in ratios, putting his value to me as eighth or ninth round as a second or third starting pitcher.

Pushing him into the fifth or sixth round, he has to perform as an ace or high end second starter to return profit, and I just can’t place a high level of confidence in that happening. I have Pineda at 15 wins/3.60 ERA/1.15 WHIP/185 strikeouts. I also tend to be somewhat leery of young pitchers who rely so heavily on the slider (31.5 percent).

While it’s entirely possible that these players exceed my expectations and return profit even at their current picks, it’s not something that I will bet on. If you disagree with my assumptions or believe strongly in any of these players, leave your arguments here. I’d love to hear them.

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  1. Ender said...

    I think you underrate Granderson’s power and more specifically how that ballpark plays to his power.  He hit 30 HR in 2009 in a bad park for LH HR.  In 2010 he was on pace for 30+ again but had injuries chip away at his playtime and then he hit 41 last year.  I think 30 HR is a pretty safe starting point at this point. 

    The RBI are also a process of playing for the Yankees instead of leading off for Detroit so while he might not break 100 again I think 90 is a safe number in that lineup.

    I do think in most leagues 14 is just a bit too early, I did draft him 15th in a 16 team league but that is because I was sure Kinsler or Pedroia would be there on the turnaround so I passed on them to grab Granderson.  I do think he is a top 20 player though.

  2. Paul said...

    I totally agree Ender. 80-85 RBI’s is WAY too low given his power stroke at Yankee Stadium and the lineup around him. I think it is lazy to simply say that because he has NEVER done it before that he can’t do it again. I rode Grandy to the title last year, and fully expect regression only because there is nowhere to go but down after the monster season he put up. I have him at 110/34/97/.851/20. I am in an OPS league but I agree he can be an average drain, but a 30/20 guy with great runs/RBI’s is hard to not pick early. I am keeping him as a 4th rounder, and will laugh all the way to the bank….

  3. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I also would be very hesitant to take the plunge on Grandy that early.

    Hamilton is an interesting case each year. at #27, I do think you have to start thinking about him, but I agree he comes with a lot of built-in risk. I begrudgingly gambled on him last year because I wasn’t enamored with my other options at a specific point in that league’s draft, but I don’t know. …Here’s an interesting question – since you pretty much have to pay for 120 games of Hambone, should you basically start considering Ryan Braun as soon as you start being tempted by Hamilton? Braun is the better fantasy asset when they are both healthy, and ultimately they could wind up with fairly similar AB totals.

    Cabrera’s ADP is also a bit due to SS being such a wasteland. If he puts up your projections at his ADP, he probably won’t return full absolute value, but with positional weight, he wouldn’t be a terrible choice. I do preach that production wins leagues not value, but on it’s face, getting something like the 5th best SS at pick 53 doesn’t seem absurd.

    I agree on Pineda too. I love him, and I think he has potential to be one of the best few pitchers in the game when all is said and done, but SP is pretty plentiful. I don’t think I’d take him at 89.

  4. Dave Shovein said...

    @Derek: Absolutely I would consider Braun in that spot over Hamilton, and have Braun higher on my board for that very reason.

    I see what you’re saying about Cabrera, and I suppose I wouldn’t be able to fault someone too much for pulling the trigger on him there. He’s just not someone I feel confidant enough in to take at that spot

  5. Dave Shovein said...

    @ Paul: I’m not just saying that because he’s never done it before he can’t do it again. I’m also saying he had a massive increase in his HR/FB% which I don’t believe is sustainable, and I also don’t think that he will repeat the tremendous success that he had vs LHP last season. I truly believe that people expecting 30+ HR and 90+ RBI from him will end up disappointed.

  6. Dave Shovein said...

    @ John Hall: For me personally, I would rather have any of Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Kinsler, Kershaw or even Reyes, Halladay or Verlander in that spot. And I think that McCutchen and Stanton are very close.

  7. Duke Silver said...

    agree with that last post Dave. all those players listed are better options than Granderson at 14.  the slightest dip or regression in granderson’s success against lhp puts his BA in peril and thusly the counting stats too. 
    good call

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