This started as a project to compare my own rankings to Yahoo rankings in order to find players I felt were being ranked way too low by Yahoo. Knowing weaknesses in the default rankings for your preferred draft site is important and can be used to abuse managers who stick to close to the default rankings. However, I haven’t been able to find a full set of Yahoo rankings yet, so until then I’ve decided to compare my own rankings to MDP rankings to see which players I felt were being overdrafted and underdrafted so far in drafts. I compared the top 400 of my ranked players to the top 400 MDP and began to narrow it down from there. I removed all players that had a ratio of MDP rank to my rank between 0.80 and 1.20. This removed all the players I felt had MDPs very close to where they should be. I then removed most of the players ranked 300 or worse on either ranking system unless there was a large difference one way or the other. I also removed most relievers as my ranking system seems to overvalue non-closing relievers. Lastly I removed some guys who I had ranked higher than I would actually take them due to risk or injury concerns. This left me with 50 guys that I think are being undervalued, my sleepers, and 50 guys that I think are being overvalued, my busts.
A lot of the lower ranked players in the 200s and 300s are hard to call busts because they’re being drafted so late in the draft. Don’t take it too hard if one of your late round targets is on my bust list as rankings that far down get pretty subjective. I sorted by ratios to get a feeling of how big the differences between rankings were in relation to how high the rankings were. For example, even though the difference between MDP and my ranking for both Mike Napoli and Tim Hudson are very similar, the difference is much larger in terms of how high they’re being drafted. Basically, higher ratios are better sleepers, while lower ratios are bigger busts.
Obviously I’m not going to write about all 100 players I’ve listed, but I will make comments on some choice players. Along with the comments, I’ll be including my projection of the player. If you’d like my take on any player that I don’t include in this post, feel free to ask in the comments and I’d be happy to give you my thoughts.
Mike Napoli: .287-80-33-89-4. Napoli came out with the highest ratio by far due to the fact that my projections have him being worth a first round pick. While the inherent risk of catchers would prevent me from actually taking him this high, I do think any regression from last year should be counteracted by increased playing time. This kind of production from a catcher is ridiculously valuable and he is definitely worth reaching above his MDP to make sure you get him on your roster.
Pablo Sandoval: .317-78-29-94-3. After a torrid start to the season, Pablo lost a month of the season to a broken hamate bone. Despite the missed time, Panda still managed to finish the season with a line of .315-55-23-70-2 in only 466 plate appearances. With the hamate bone removed and Pablo working hard to stay in good shape for the season, there’s no reason the 25-year-old panda shouldn’t be able to stay on the field more in 2012 and add to those totals. With a MDP of 74, there is huge value to be had in drafting Pablo. I’d be happy with him in the third round, and getting him any later than that should have you seeing dollar signs.
Angel Pagan: .288-77-10-63-35. In 2010 Pagan showed what he’s capable of when healthy. Even though he missed 39 games in 2011, he was still able to put up a seven homerun, 32 stolen base season. Despite a .262 batting average, Pagan actually posted the best strikeout rate and one of the best walk rates of his career. His .332 xBABIP was the best of his career which indicates that he was hurt by some poor bounces as his actual BABIP was a paltry .285. If that number regresses and Pagan is able to keep his gains in patience and contact, we could see Pagan approach a .300 batting average. As is, I think a rebound into the .280s is very reasonable. Pagan projects to hit lead-off for the Giants, and should score a lot of runs even with the way the Giants have hit in recent years. Pagan isn’t being drafted until the 15th round in 12 team league, and could provide a ton of value if you can wait to grab him until the teen rounds.
Matt Wieters: .279-75-23-84-1. See here.
Desmond Jennings: .269-109-17-61-45. My projection system is based on three-year averages, so it’s tough for me to project a guy with such little major league service time. As such, this projection is based almost entirely on potential and is therefore a much riskier pick than an established major league guy with a similar projection. I’d probably feel more comfortable taking him at his MDP than at my own ranking, just keep in mind that he has plenty of potential to outproduce that spot if you’re willing to take on the risk.
Ted Lilly: 11-3.82-1.13-155 in 185 IP. No way should Lilly have an MDP in the 300s. A weak Dodgers lineup probably won’t help his win total, but decent strikeout numbers, a very good WHIP, and a sub-4.00 ERA carry way more value than his current draft spot. He could easily produce fourth starter numbers and isn’t even being drafted in shallower leagues.
Rafael Betancourt: 3-29-2.67-0.92-74 in 61 IP. Despite pitching in Colorado, Betancourt has put up some of the best peripherals of any reliever over the last two years. In that span he has struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings while allowing a miniscule 1.16 walks per nine. With Street being shipped off to San Diego, it seems like Betancourt is a lock for the closer job and with his skill set it shouldn’t be a problem for him to keep it. My projections have him as the six best relief pitcher this year and yet he has an MDP of 222. Definitely a guy you should be reaching on a bit as you get into the teen rounds.
Scott Baker: 12-3.51-1.23-156 in 180 IP. Not going quite as late as Lilly, but an MDP of 251 is still way too low for a player of Baker’s ability. It seems almost guaranteed that Baker will miss some amount of time to injury, but the time he is on the field he has consistently produced very good peripherals. The quality of his innings and the chance at a healthy season make him significantly more valuable than a 20th round pick. Grabbing Baker and Lilly late in the draft could provide a very underrated back end of your fantasy rotation.
Overall thoughts: Holy wow outfield is deep. Of the 50 sleepers, 27 of them are outfielders and they range early round picks to deep league sleepers. In the Mock 60 draft I didn’t draft an outfielder in the first five rounds and that’s looking like a pretty legitimate strategy with all the outfield value available throughout the draft. I wouldn’t avoid drafting outfielders early if that’s where the value is, but I also don’t see any reason to go out of your way to fill your outfield if there is better value elsewhere.
Ryan Zimmerman: .292-74-20-72-4. I don’t dislike him as much as my ranking suggets, but I do think he’s being drafted too high given his injury history. While a return to 2009 form isn’t out of the question, I don’t think the possibility of that is enough to warrant the risk involved in taking him in the third or fourth round. A healthy season would crush my projection and make him a pretty decent pick at 39 overall, but I’d prefer a little more certainty and wouldn’t look to grab him until a couple rounds after he’s likely to be drafted.
Dustin Ackley: .262-70-11-57-10. Ackley is a prime except of youth bias. He was a very highly touted prospect who profiles as a better real life player than fantasy player. He has very good on base skills which don’t really translate well to fantasy viability, especially in a weak Mariners lineup that won’t make the most of the opportunities they’ll have to drive him in. He doesn’t have much power, doesn’t have much speed, and probably won’t hit for a very high average. With many managers looking grab the next big thing, you can do yourself a favor by passing on guys like Ackley for more experienced players with more predictable value. There are higher upside guys available if you’re looking to go the high risk, high reward route.
Rickie Weeks: .264-90-25-68-10. Pretty good pop for a second baseman, but his speed has dropped off, his average will hurt you, and he’s a perennial injury risk. Second base is actually reasonably deep this year and there are plenty of better options to spend a fifth round pick on than a guy who is all but guaranteed to miss a significant amount of time to injury.
David Price: 14-3.32-1.16-197 in 210 IP. Price is a very good pitcher, he’s just not on the same level as the top 10 pitchers who are going within the first four to five rounds. This is simply a case of a guys skill set being mis-valued leading him to get picked sooner than he should. While he’ll provide great numbers across the board, he’s not really elite in any one category and pitching in the AL East will probably prevent him from getting there. By taking him at 42 overall, you’re basically taking him as the first pitcher in the second tier, which is something I absolutely hate to do. With all the good hitting available in this area, I think it’s a mistake to reach on Price.
J.J. Hardy: .266-71-22-74-0. His 30 homerun season was a result of a career high FB% and HR/FB. As those regress his homerun total will drop and with it almost all of his value. His average will hurt, he has no speed to speak of, and his counting stats will be stunted by the fact that he can’t stay on the field. If he could stay healthy he may justify a pick in the 10th round, but otherwise he’s being severely overdrafted.
Jose Reyes: .303-95-10-50-37. Unsustainable average and a huge injury risk which is exasperated by the fact that his value is almost entirely in his legs. He’s great when he’s on the field but there is just too much risk that he’ll miss a significant amount of time. I prefer a little more stability with my second round pick.
David Freese: .290-55-13-74-1. Post season hero turned overrated fantasy player? I honestly can’t see any reason why people would be targeting him before the end of the draft. He should hit for a decent average, but other than that there really isn’t much value in a guy who will likely barely crack double digit homeruns with no speed. About the only way he could produce enough to be worth a pick in this range is if he got a ton of at bats in the middle of the order and that’s not something I would bank on happening.
Elvis Andrus: .282-94-4-55-40. Andrus is a two category guy who isn’t quite elite enough in those two categories to be worth the complete lack of power. His age and shortstop eligibility have people reaching when there are plenty players available who won’t leave you scrambling to make up for his shortcomings.
Overall thoughts: There is almost an entire tier of pitching that my rankings either undervalue or are being overvalued by early drafters. With the talent level of hitting in the early portion of the draft and the depth of pitching this year, I’m leaning toward the latter. I’ll likely make sure to grab one of the top 10 pitching studs and then bypass the second tier of pitchers unless one falls further than I believe they should. As well as that tier of pitchers, it seems like there are quite a few shortstops being overvalued. With six making the list, I get the feeling that drafters may be getting antsy about the shallowness of the position and reaching past more valuable players to grab their shortstop. While shortstop is clearly very shallow, there are quite a few viable shortstops available throughout the draft. I would prefer to wait for one to fall to where I’m comfortable taking them rather than miss potential value by drafting one earlier than they should be taken.
Michael Marinakis is a 26-year-old Giants fan who took 2011 off from fantasy baseball to bask in the glory of the World Series victory. He's now back in the game and looking forward to another year of baseball obsession. You can find him on the forums where he posts as GiantsFan14 or on Twitter @FBC_GiantsFan14.
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