- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

ADP Values in Center Field (Part 1?)

This was supposed to be a look at the ADP values in the tiers I created during my Check the Position series, but two pairs of players in the second center field tier caught my eye. These players lie right on fantasy fault lines: they are within a couple picks of each other, yet it seems that their value is disparate. I think you’ll be able to tell who I fancy (as the Brits say).

First up are two borderline second-rounders (though a bit less borderline if your league breaks out the outfield into three positions). Jacoby Ellsbury (20.36 ADP) goes earliest, and many fantasy managers may scoff at the number if they are accustomed to playing with plain “OF” positions, and they could be right. He is projected to retain his game-changing speed and put up a steals number north of 50. To put that in perspective, only three players crossed that threshold last year, and only one other player is projected to do so in most projection systems next year (Michael Bourn). There’s a good chance that Ellsbury finally nets triple-digit runs too, provided he remains atop the order and the Boston offense doesn’t take a step back with their renewed emphasis on defense. So Ellsbury will have some good qualities.

But what about Grady Sizemore (26.52 ADP), who is being picked almost a half-round later? If you were in the right draft spot, you could actually avoid Ellsbury and take Sizemore after the turn in the third round. I did it recently, and felt great about it. It’s not like Sizemore won’t steal any bases – although the amount is in question. He put up a career-low 6.0 speed score last year (5.0 is average) and the projections range from 20 steals to the Fans’ more optimistic 29 steals. He’s still young (27), and here’s a bet that he’ll touch the higher end of the steals projections. The power is no question – he should out-homer Ellsbury by at least a dozen home runs, and as many as 20. For whatever reason, his batting average won’t be as nice, either.

So how do you compare two different players like this? How much are Ellsbury’s extra singles and stolen bases worth? How much should you pay for Sizemore’s extra power? An excellent site, BaseballMonster.com, attempts to answer this question by measuring a player’s impact in each of the 5×5 categories in terms of standard deviations above the mean in said category. Using Sizemore’s projections for 2009 (2010 is not up yet, and the .276, 32 HR, 38 SBs only need to be scaled back a little in the speed category to make sense), his across-the-board positive contributions gave him a ranking as the ninth-best hitter. How did Ellsbury finish last year? 14th. (I report, you decide.)

Next up is Curtis Granderson (53.64 ADP), who already seems like an ADP value at his draft position. In fact, in that mock where I scored Sizemore in the third, I took Granderson after the turn in the fifth and called it a double-victory. Granderson is going from a park that had a .974 park factor for home runs last year to one that sported a 1.261 factor this year. He’s going to have a nice bounce-back season according to his BABIP (.276 last year, .323 career). Yes, his speed factor was lower than his career average, but the speed factor counts stolen bases, and it’s hard to steal bases when you aren’t on base (and it’s hard to get on base when you’re getting unlucky with the bouncing ball). All systems go for Granderson, despite his unfavorable splits against lefties, which may not be as bad as they first appear.

And yet, Josh Hamilton (52.85 ADP), who has further to bounce back, is getting picked before Granderson. This is really a head-scratcher, in the end. Perhaps fantasy managers are being swayed by that gaudy 130 RBI total a couple of years back, because his career-high in home runs (32) is only two more than Granderson’s, and he doesn’t really steal bases (at all). Again, we are left to ponder the value of Hamilton’s batting average, because the RBI are so team-specific, and Granderson may out-produce Hamilton in that category depending on his position in the batting lineup in the Bronx. I think the home run totals will be close, and Granderson will get the final laugh.