When preparing for your draft, you should look for similar players with a significant difference in ADP. We do this for several reasons. One is that you can comfortably attack more essential targets early in a draft if you know a comparable player will be available later.
Nick Pollack reminds us to know our strengths as a manager in his article “The Ultimate Fantasy Draft Guide for 2022–Who to Draft and When.” If you know your hitters, but have trouble pitching, you can pick the best pitchers early and fill multiple roster spots later. Nick also reminds us how much we trade the players we drafted in the last rounds of the season, and therefore implores us to use “the Mrs. Frizzle method: take risks, make mistakes and get dirty”.
The information here will help you perform an ADP comparison, so you can “muddle through” with educated guesses later.
How to make your own list
An easy way to find comparable players is to read the many “ADP comparison” articles published in the world of fantasy baseball. Ended! Build your list.
On the flip side, that means plenty of other fantasy baseball managers will have the same roster. So you may not necessarily beat the market.
There is another way to do this job by yourself without taking much time. Go to a website, like Fangraphs, and find the previous year’s charts. Check the ranking by a simple more in-depth statistic. This way, you can analyze the underside of player performance beyond the 5×5 rotisserie stats from 2021. For example, list players according to WAR or wOBA. WAR is tricky because it includes defense, which can be misleading as we don’t count defense in our score, but remember this is just a starting point.
This could very well lead to legitimate offensive comparisons too.
Once you have a list, that’s where your own knowledge of baseball helps (and it can be fun)! If I initially watch WAR, I can scroll through the leaderboard until a name comes up that doesn’t seem to be as popular as other names in the same field. Here is an actual example of a leader list in WAR:
Now, using your baseball savvy, which name stands out in this list?
For me, I like Adames in the middle rounds this year. But the best is Enrique Hernández.
Then I’m not just going to draft him assuming he’s the same as the other guys. Not yet anyway. This first step only gives me one player to research. I have to go further.
If I find it’s just a defense-based bump, then I’ll ignore it. However, if I find it’s within the realm of possibility that he can produce as well as some other guys, then look what I found compared to ADP! Here are the same players with their approximate ADP.
There are other criteria that go into the ADP. It’s true. Age, risk of injury, playing time, etc. Sometimes you have to weigh these issues. If I could choose between Castellanos and Hernández, of course I would take Castellanos. But it benefits me tremendously to have a name like Hernández at the end of a draft when I’m looking for a strong hitter, one who’s going to have a ton of at-bats at the top of a lineup.
Once you have a name, go further
I could compare players all day. That’s half the fun of fantasy analysis. But the main goal here is to show you three examples and inspire you to research some of your own comparisons as you prepare for the draft. I want to show that ADP can help, but sometimes it can get in the way.
This first one may seem obvious, but leave it to me.
After the first step above, I looked at the Stolen Bases, wRC+, and wOBA rankings. Two players stood out: Whit Merrifield (ADP 35) and Tommy Edman (ADP 106).
Obviously, Merrifield is better. He’s an iron man and he plays 162 games almost every year. Still, just note: “check Edman.” I went further.
According to Baseball Savant, here’s the MLB percentile for both players in 2021. Is that weird? I am NOT saying ignore Merrifield. He’s a set-it-and-forget-it All-Star. If you miss it, though, don’t freak out in your draft. Have a name. It’s round 2-3 of your drafts against round 8-9.
If you want both of their showings to be fun, here you go.
Here’s another fun one. We all know pitchers who failed as starters but thrived as relievers. This example is NOT that. Sometimes I just like to consider the type of reliever I buy comparing it to an elite starter. In other words, I want top starting numbers that exist in the bullpen.
Consider Minnesota’s own Taylor Rogers. I want to point this out because Rogers has an ADP of around 200, but some people were drafting him in the 10th round. It’s a whole range!
I’ll get Max Scherzer out of the bullpen any day now. Yeah, I said it. And someone is going to yell at me.
Again, like Merrifield/Edman, that doesn’t mean Rogers is Max Scherzer. It’s worth pointing out that in shorter workloads, Rogers’ stuff plays very well relative to where he’s drafted. I like to write skill more than role when it makes sense.
Let’s put Rogers in the middle of its ADP list, but add Fangraphs’ projections.
Who helps your team the most based on each category?
Give me Rogers any day of the week.
The Minnesota Twins were 73-89 last year, so let’s assume that acquiring more players will lead to a better record. In any case, difficult to predict the number of Saves. I think it’s safe to say, however, that Rogers is worth moving up your personal draft list over ADP.
“Get Messy” = Try your luck at a rehearsal =
Go against the tide
Let’s do one more.
Brandon Crawford is 35 years old and most people in the fantasy baseball community enjoyed his production last year. But at his age, you’ll hear the words “regression” and “aberration” and, my favorite fantasy baseball saying, “better in real life than in fantasy.”
Still, the late rounds are the perfect place to go against the grain.
In the later rounds, this is where my dart throws stretch the comparison even further.
Trevor Story (43) and Brandon Crawford (205)
Stage 1: I see something interesting in a slightly more in-depth stat list, which leads me to pull a player out to do further research. Remember that a stat like WAR is just a starting point. It can be misleading without more information.
Step 2: I go deeper (there are many ways to do this), and sometimes Baseball Savant is a possibility.
Step 3: Make a choice. Do I add him to my list of end-of-round names (or not)?
Building a fantastic team is fun. Preparation should also be fun. I have lists everywhere, and it can get overwhelming. Take the names you find and place them at the end of your queue before the draft begins. Have fun seeing if they stick with your list. Give yourself a pat on the back if a late guy turns gold.
Photos by Wikimedia Commons/iconsportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)