Once again a fantasy freak is allowed out into the light, and, well, I feel the pressure to be… fantastic. But how better to represent what we’ve been doing on RotoGraphs than to continue a series that gets right at the heart of what FanGraphs’ beautiful numbers can do for you in fantasy? That’s right, we’re checking out players from our tiered ranking series that are likely to outperform their Average Draft Position (ADP) as determined by MockDraftCentral.com.
It’s a mouthful, but remember, in the words of the immortal Black Sheep, “You can get with this, or you can get with that, I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.” It’s all about choosing the right player at the right spot.
For example, Victor Martinez is a fine young man. He’ll probably hit twenty home runs and have a nice batting average. His runs and RBI should be elite for a catcher, given the lineup surrounding him and his home ballpark. His ADP (24.19) reflects all of these things by placing him at the end of the second round. You could get with this.
On the other hand, there’s Brian McCann, who is also a fine young catcher. The fans have him hitting a couple more home runs, though, probably because his ISO has been much steadier and more impressive (.183, .222, .205 since 2007) than Martinez has shown (.205, .086, .177 over the same time period). Of course, picking McCann may come with a little more risk in the batting average department. There is the matter of his .270 batting average in 2007 in some minds. But McCann had a sub-.300 BABIP that year for the only time in his career, despite also owning a .307 xBABIP that year. It looks like he’s at least a reasonably solid bet to give similar value to Martinez… and he’s going as much as two rounds later according to his ADP (42.37). Among the top-tiered catchers, this is where it’s at (for value).
Once the top three catchers go, the ADPs plunge into the 100s, and for good reason. Because of the way the average catcher is used, the top 12 catchers by at-bats averaged 490 at-bats compared to 586 average at-bats for the top 12 first basemen last year. That’s 16.4% fewer at-bats. So before you use any pick on a catcher, remember that he’s going to get 15% fewer chances than the average position player – and also that his poor batting average will be 15% less hurtful than a bad batting average on a player at a different position.
In the next tier, Miguel Montero and his emerging game make for a good value given his draft position (149.78). He’s shown a .173+ ISO three seasons running, and seems to have finally reigned in the strikeouts to a reasonable level (18.6% last year). He’s also twelve years younger than the more expensive Jorge Posada (116.53 ADP). Catcher-years can catch up to a catcher in his late thirties. (Catch that?)
I could certainly get with Kurt Suzuki (131.37 ADP), but Russell Martin is cheaper (137.89) and more likely to offer a handful of extra steals. In the end, I’m probably just going to bypass the lot of them and go for end-game sleepers like the always-solid never-exciting AJ Pierzynski (246.68). As commenter Bas noted on our Check the Position: Catcher piece, AJ and Suzuki have similar high-contact, low-walk-rate, medium-power approaches – why you would pay almost ten rounds more for Suzuki? Certainly not for those five steals.
Finally, a word for a deep league ADP value guy. John Baker was first made famous for his inclusion in Billy Beane’s wishlists in Money Ball, and won’t hurt you with his low ADP (318.62). Jesus Flores, on the other hand, has an ISO that’s going in the right direction and is even cheaper (332.92). Provided Flores is healthy, both are fine late-round additions in deep leagues.
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