StrategyJanuary 22, 2009

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Median Draft Position (MDP) Report #1: Rationale and Early Trends

By rookies and cream

This is the first edition of the MDP report where I will discuss in detail draft trends and strategy using players’ up-to-date median draft position.

For those of you that are new to the cafe, I have compiled a list of average draft positions (ADPs) from various sites. Right now, I have ADPs from Mock Draft Central (MDC), Couch Managers (CM), and Fantasy Gameday (FGD). Once the draft season heats up, I will be adding ADPs from CBS, Yahoo, ESPN, KFFL, National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC), and possibly Fox. I want to give a special thanks to Mock Draft Central for providing me with their ADP data this year. The full MDP list can be found here.

People often ask me why I use the median rather than the mean (average) statistic to summarize draft data. The reason is simply that the median is less affected by extreme outliers than the mean. For example, in the series 1, 3, 4, 7, 55, the median of 4 is a truer expression of the common-run than is the mean of 14. As many of you have probably noticed, ADPs tend to be very different between sites because they are highly dependent on their own ranking systems. As a result of this variability, there are bound to be outliers. Take Rich Harden for instance. His current ADPs are 117.14 (MDC), 112.36 (FGD), and 66.5 (CM). As you can see, 66.5 is the extreme outlier here (primarily because Couch Managers ranks Harden #66). It’s pretty clear in this example that the median of 112.36 is a truer measure of where Harden is usually being drafted than is the mean of 98.67.

Now, how does one use MDP? First and foremost, the MDP report is designed to be a tool to approximate where players will be drafted. For example, Jacoby Ellsbury has an MDP of 67.5, which tells us that he tends to be around the 67th player selected in drafts, which equates to about the mid-sixth round in standard 12-team leagues. This is not to say that you should wait until the mid-6th round to draft Ellsbury. But why draft him in the 3rd (like I’ve seen in several “expert” mocks) when you can usually get him at his market value two to three rounds later?

Although the MDP list has become my primary draft resource the past few years, I don’t recommend using it as your only tool. It is designed to be a guide, not the gospel. You should generate your own rankings, use them as a comparison, and feel free to reach a little if a particular player is on your target list. I may grab a player a round before his MDP if I value him greatly, but usually not more (except in the later rounds when I tend to gamble a bit more).

One thing I have learned since I have been tracking MDPs is that it is important to monitor player draft trends. Which players are moving up and which are moving down draft boards? To aid in this, I will be including a column in the MDP report that calculates MDP change. It should be noted that sometimes the movement is artificial because MDPs can change significantly when ADP sources are added. However, since no new sources were added for the present update, one can assume that significant MDP changes are legitimate and reflect a shift in where players are drafted.

Here are some notable early MDP trends.

Gaining Steam:

Grady Sizemore – A 14% increase puts Grady ahead of MCab for the 6th overall position.

Alexei Ramirez – Up 12% and being drafted solidly in the 5th round in 12-team leagues. Although I’m a bit wary, drafters apparently aren’t fearing a sophomore slump.

Ryan Ludwick – An 11% increase makes Ludwick a borderline 6th round pick in 12-team leagues.

Chris Davis – Up 13% from the previous report and 20% in the past month. Let the hype machine begin…

JJ Hardy – An 11% increase puts Hardy ahead of Peralta and makes him a borderline top 100 pick.

Carlos Marmol – A 14% increase puts him immediately behind Broxton and ahead of Capps, Cordero, and Wood.

Brian Fuentes – Up 9% and likely to move more following signing with the Angels.

Jose Lopez – Up 12% puts him in the same tier as Kendrick, Aviles, DeRosa, and Kelly Johnson.

Nelson Cruz – Rumors of batting 4th in a powerful Texas line-up vault Cruz up 12%.

On the Decline:

Magglio Ordonez – An 8% decline puts Maggs behind Dunn and Hart, and for good reason. He is averaging less than 25 HRs over the past 3 years.

Bobby Abreu – 20-20 for the first time since 2005 but down 9% now that he will no longer be protected by ARod.

Carlos Pena – Down 16%, drafters are beginning to realize first base is deep and similar players can be had many rounds later.

Scott Kazmir – Down 11%. Will there be further decline now that Kaz has announced that he’ll be pitching in the WBC?

Miguel Tejada – A 29% decline makes the aging Tejada the biggest mover and puts him down a tier where he belongs.

Joe Saunders – A 15% decline indicates that drafters are beginning to look past Saunders’ W-L record and notice his extremely low BABIP and poor K/9 in 2008.

Jose Arredondo and JJ Putz – Down 14% and 21%, respectively, for these favored closers turned set-up men.

Stay tuned for future MDP updates in which ADPs will be added from actual drafting sites such as Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS. Once spring training heats up, I will be updating the MDP list more frequently and will also provide you with additional data and analyses that will keep you ahead of the curve and (hopefully) your competition.

Bryan Freilich is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Bryan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of rookies and cream.
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