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Friday 26th May 2017

At the recent Fantasy Sports Association Experts Draft, I was taken aback by how early a trio of talented youngsters left the board, as well as the order they were selected.  Brett Lawrie was picked 32nd, Desmond Jennings was taken 35th while Eric Hosmer was drafted 40th.  There are several lessons to be learned from this, the primary one I want to focus on is the danger of misusing an ADP.

By means of brief review, "ADP" stands for Average Draft Position and is becoming an increasingly popular tool, especially in snake drafts.  Just as it sounds, the ADP shows where every player is being drafted.  But remember, the A stands for average, so sometimes the player goes earlier, sometimes later.

One pratfall of drafting using ADP as a guide is too many people forget what it actually is and use it incorrectly.  An abundance of drafters aim to get players after their ADP.  On paper, this makes sense.  The thing is, getting a player after his ADP means nothing.  In theory, each pick in a draft is “supposed” to return a certain amount of value, be it in a vacuum.  If you do not like the term value, think of it as potential.  What you want to do is pick as many players as possible at a point where they will return more value (potentially) than can be reasonably expected.  The ADP can be useful in scheming the order and timing of your picks, but the goal is not to accrue as many picks after their ADP as possible.

Another means the ADP is misused is learning when you feel a player will be picked, then deciding that in order to insure you get him, you jump the ADP.  In some cases, there is nothing wrong with this.  But in many instances, you end up drafting a player at a spot where the potential value he can return is significantly less than what can be reasonably expected from that spot.

Let us discuss the above using Hosmer, Lawrie and Jennings as case studies.  What we will do is look at where this troika has been drafted in various formats.

The first example is a money league that our own Perry Van Hook administers.  This is a pseudo-NFBC league, playing by many of the same rules and in fact many NFBC veterans comprise league ownership.  We drafted in December and Hosmer went 61st, Lawrie 73rd and Jennings 84th.  Keep in mind that there is a dearth of information available at this time to guide your draft.  We rolled out our projections on December 1.  A couple other sites also had early projections, but the available information was limited.  I think it is no coincidence that these draft spots came pretty close to the site’s projections where we have Hosmer 64th, Lawrie 71st and Jennings 94th.  I am not trying to insinuate these people used our projections, just that this is where these players “should” be drafted, based on an objective view of their potential stats.

Next, Mock Draft Central has kept an ADP composed of drafts organized for magazines so the drafters are my fellow industry brethren.  I actually participated in five of the seven drafts used.  Here, Hosmer’s ADP is 51, Jenningsis 61 and Lawrie’s is 66.  Some of these drafts took place after the Halloween candy was off the shelves but before the majority of turkeys were consumed with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberries.  Some are more recent, but the point is my fellow pundits, many of whom were aware of the reasonable projections for these players, opted to take them at a point where their return on investment was likely to be poor.  But, they want to be the person to be able to say “I told you so.”

Mock Draft Central also tracks general ADPs.  Looking at mock drafts from the past week, Hosmer’s ADP is 52, Jennings’ is 54 and Lawrie’s is 56.  You can see how recent drafters use the experts’ (oh how I loathe that word) picks/ADP as a guide and have drafted Lawrie and Jennings a little earlier in order to make sure they get them.

An ADP produced by the National Fantasy Baseball Championship incorporating their slow draft format have Hosmer’s ADP at 46, Lawrie’s at 48 and Jennings at 60.  This makes sense to me as Lawrie’s 3B eligibility is going to be attractive to NFBC participants, probably more so than other formats.  And while I consider the NFBC to be the sagest group of drafters, one area I do not pay too much heed to is where the young players go, as even the NFBC has owners fascinated by the shiny new toys.  I do pay attention to global trends within the ADP.

The final comparison will be a second league also run by Perry, with almost the exact rules as the other, having several owners playing in both.  We started about a week ago and Hosmer fell to 41 (61 first time), Lawrie went 54 (73 first time) and Jennings 65 (84 first time).  What we are observing is a direct result of the subjective influence of some experts and others that have to have the shiny new toy.

By means of review, here is a chart showing all of the above data, JBL being Perry’s first league and PBY the second while MB is the Mastersball ranking according to our most recent projection.

 

JBL

Mag

MDC

NFBC

PBY

FSTA

MB

Hosmer

61

51

52

46

41

40

64

Lawrie

73

66

56

48

54

32

71

Jennings

84

61

54

60

65

35

94

 

While I do not want to give the impression that everyone else is silly because the site’s projections are correct, I do think that the current market value of this triumvirate is overly optimistic.  I do not think it is an accident that the market value started out in the neighborhood of our projection and has since morphed to be greater and greater.

Perhaps it is best to let you decide.  These numbers are ballpark, but they are close enough to get a pretty good idea of where you put these three youngsters in terms of potential value.  Below are approximate stat lines necessary to finish the season as the 30th, 40th and 50th best player.

30th: .290-.310, 30-40 HR+SB, 170-180 runs+RBI

40th: .280-.310, 30-40 HR+SB, 160-170 runs+RBI

50th: .270-.290, 27-40 HR+SB, 150-160 runs+RBI

Take a look at the numbers needed for 30th and 40th and decide if any of Hosmer, Lawrie and Jennings has a reasonable chance to attain that line.  Of course, they all have the potential to do it, but you cannot convince me that should be their 50th percentile projection.  This means there is a 50% chance they produce BETTER numbers and a 50% chance they produce WORSE numbers.  Those lines might be their 95th percentile projection, 5% chance they do better, 95% chance they do worse.  Drafting any of the three in the 30s like what was done in the FSTA gives you about a 5% chance of BREAKING EVEN, let alone getting a return on your investment.

As was alluded to initially, there are several pertinent points that can be extracted from this case study.  The first is being wary of how you use ADPs to guide your draft.  Do not get overly exuberant, jumping the ADP to a point where the intrinsic value of the player drafted cannot provide a reasonable return on your investment.  The second is be careful.  Owning the next big thing is fun, but winning is even more fun.

Comments   

0 #10 Ryan Carey 2012-01-25 17:04
Fair question daeasle. I can answer the Rollins one easily - I have owned him many times over the last few years and admit I have soured on him significantly. At that pick - I had Derek Jeter ranked not far behind Rollins and figured I could get him later (I did in rd 8 - so I have no regrets in passing on the injury prone Rollins). As for Bourn - while I was chasing speed - I did not necessarily want a pure "Judy" which Bourn is. Jennings offers more power upside and at least an outside shot at a 20/40 season. I have him projected for about 12/40 - but 20 HR's is within his reach with a little luck. Bourn will be lucky to give you 5 HR's. So that was the thought process for me. I think Stanton has kind of knocked his "risk" out of the park already - I see only upside with him. Again - I have him projected conservatively, but he's a lock for 30_35 HR's with "Upside" for MUCH more.
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0 #9 wes jones 2012-01-25 08:05
directed primarily towards deans daddy....

I am curious how you can take a young jennings, when rollins and bourne are still on the board? Your admitted lack of speed say bourne would be a great addition to your team, and with the lack of depth at SS and considering you have no MI at that point, I think rollins or bourne were serious needs for your team, vice the bright young star. (Just my humble opinion)
You already had stanton who might be the next big young star....why take another big risk with a young guy this early in the draft? you might find lightning in a bottle twice? or maybe you took too many chances early and end up in the bottom of the pack? again just my opinion.
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0 #8 Antonio Abruzzese 2012-01-25 04:56
Quoting Todd Zola:

We can leave the ADP outof it.

While I agree that there are times where the intrinsic value of a player may make him worth taking "at a loss", there is still a limit to where you can take a player to get a fair return on investment. Each draft spot has a potential "worth" associated to it. If you take a player that has no reasonable chance of earning that worth, you picked him too early.


I think even by default, there are several rounds where a player's value will just 'jump' at you, provided one has invested heavily enough in draft prep.

Not advocating 'reaching' for players at every round, however, in a 15-team 50 rounder, you need to have a 6th sense for depleting stocks as well as the usual value-premised considerations.
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0 #7 Todd Zola 2012-01-25 03:42
Quoting TheRunner77:
I did exactly as deansdaddy in a all of my NFBC drafts (5 to date and counting).

I don't care what the ADP might be for any given player. I only care about the snapshot I take of my team at the time my turn is up. I have an aversion to MDC trendlines as there are too many clowns using their site. Lots of horror stories involving autobot owners.

I'm equally leery of "industry" drafts -- most of the results are irrelevant in paying leagues.

Bottom line -- value is fluid, relative and contextual.

Unless you have the ability to put yourself in the drafter's shoes at a given juncture and be cognizant of his strategy, it matters little where a given player may have been taken.


We can leave the ADP outof it.

While I agree that there are times where the intrinsic value of a player may make him worth taking "at a loss", there is still a limit to where you can take a player to get a fair return on investment. Each draft spot has a potential "worth" associated to it. If you take a player that has no reasonable chance of earning that worth, you picked him too early.
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0 #6 Lawr Michaels 2012-01-25 03:14
not to be disagreeable--and, i like all three "toys" discussed--but, i would rarely suggest a player "will" do this or that.

As in will hit 30 homers.

i do think all can, but that is different.

i mean, we all thought adam dunn would last year, and he was a lot more experienced than any of these guys (and ok, it was an off year).

i just find it a better overall strategy to underestimate what my players will do, rather than have expectiations too high.

not that i am negative. quite the contrary. but, i would rather have an unexpected surplus to deal with than a surprise deficit.

after all, whacking 30 homers in the major leagues is really hard.
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0 #5 Antonio Abruzzese 2012-01-25 03:03
I did exactly as deansdaddy in a all of my NFBC drafts (5 to date and counting).

I don't care what the ADP might be for any given player. I only care about the snapshot I take of my team at the time my turn is up. I have an aversion to MDC trendlines as there are too many clowns using their site. Lots of horror stories involving autobot owners.

I'm equally leery of "industry" drafts -- most of the results are irrelevant in paying leagues.

Bottom line -- value is fluid, relative and contextual.

Unless you have the ability to put yourself in the drafter's shoes at a given juncture and be cognizant of his strategy, it matters little where a given player may have been taken.
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0 #4 Todd Zola 2012-01-24 19:43
On a "value in a vacuum" basis, the question is could you have found other means of making up for the lost speed by getting players closer to their "potential value." That's the catch with drafts and why the INTRINSIC value of someone like Jennings surpasses his raw value.
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0 #3 Ryan Carey 2012-01-24 19:23
Being as I took Lawrie in JBL and Jennings in PBY - I will add some context to my thinking as it applied to Jennings in the later (PBY) draft. I opened this draft with Adrian Gonzalez/Mike Stanton/Cliff Lee/Pablo Sandoval. While I was happy with my start - I was woefully short on speed and had missed out on most of the best power/speed combos. My decision to move Jennings up was knowledge that he would not make it back to me and not seeing any SS/2B that I really loved. Jimmy Rollins was the other player I considered. For this particular draft, I felt I had to take the shot on Jennings upside. Interestingly, only one OF came off the board, Michael Bourn, before I picked again. I missed out on a bunch of SP's, but still landed a sliding Jon Lester with my next pick. So I got the guy I NEEDED by pushing him up and worried about what would fall to me later. But it was a direct result of grabbing three bats with no speed earlier in the draft which forced the move.

Another young player that jumped a ton was Dee Gordon - who went from 104 in JBL to 76 in PBY in another case of a drafter bumping up a player he wanted out of fear he wouldn't last 28 picks.
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0 #2 Todd Zola 2012-01-24 17:00
I agree on the HR+SB for all 3, I am concerned about the BA plus the RBI+runs.
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0 #1 Perry Van Hook 2012-01-24 16:03
Very good review Todd....and yes the "shiny toy" theory exists especially in "Industry Drafts"

BUT all three players will exceed 30 HR+SB and Lawrie and Jennings should EASILY exceed 40 although Hosmer is the only one who can be relied on for the higher BAvg......choose wisely drafters - and that does NOT mean avoid them.....Lawrie with 20-30 easily attainable and more a possibility AND the dearth of quality 3B outside the first two rounds will likely stay there....my $.02
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