The Most Undervalued at Every Position

Last Wednesday, I look at the most overvalued hitters at every position (sans catcher), comparing the positional rankings inferred from the ADPs at Mock Draft Central to my dollar values. Avoiding the players that are unlikely to earn their draft slot or auction price is important, but winners also usually end up with a chock full of players that were undervalued as well. Last time, I looked at the top 10 at each infield position and the top 24 outfielders. This time I will look at every starter expected to generate positive value in a standard, 12-team league.

C: Ryan Doumit
ADP Rank- 17
My Rank- 10

This is understandable as he has never garnered more than 431 at-bats in a season and a broken ankle limited him to just 218 at-bats last year. However, the oft-injured catcher is set to be the everyday DH for the Twins, so an opportunity to set a new career high in plate appearances is there for the taking. Besides designated hitter, he will also still catch every so often. His BABIP, and resulting batting average, has really jumped around, making him a tough one to make a projection for in the category. But he has good power for a catcher, though Target Field will certainly dampen his home run potential.

1B: Ike Davis
ADP Rank- 20
My Rank- 13

Well, this undervaluation might not remain this way for long after reports have come out suggesting Davis has Valley Fever. Several years ago, Conor Jackson was diagnosed with the malady and he hasn’t been the same since. I love Davis’ power potential and was even more excited after the Mets decided to move the Citi Field fences in. He isn’t going to be much of an asset in batting average, but he won’t hurt you there. It is easy to see why he was undervalued, as an ankle injury limited him to just 129 at-bats last season. This Valley Fever throws a wrench into his sleeperness though, so hopefully we find out more in the days to come.

2B: Jose Altuve
ADP Rank- 17
My Rank- 9

I was as surprised to see his name so high in my values as you are. My projection seems pretty reasonable to me: 575-.291-8-55-70-24. The batting average is a real positive and a nice contribution in steals, while only being barely negative in home runs, mixes together to generate this ranking. He makes solid contact and has shown good power for a little guy in the minors, while stealing 31 bases combined last year and 42 in 2010. Being part of the Astros crappy lineup won’t do his RBI and run numbers any favors though.

SS: Marco Scutaro
ADP Rank- 19
My Rank- 15

Not a whole lot of undervalued shortstops, which means that this is a position worth trying to get one of the top guys. Scutaro moves from a good home park for right-handed batting average to an even better one, which also boosts power. He is expected to hit second, sandwiched between Dexter Fowler and his strong OBP and Carlos Gonzalez. That is an excellent spot to hit in terms of RBI and run potential. Remember what Placido Polanco used to do, contributing a little in homers and steals, while posting a strong batting average and solid RBI and run totals? He was typically undervalued since most of his value came from his batting average. That pretty much describes Scutaro’s potential this season. Nothing flashy, but will likely outearn his draft cost.

3B: Pablo Sandoval
ADP Rank- 9
My Rank- 4

This surprises me because I had no idea he would be undervalued. Maybe it has something to do with him accumulating just 426 at-bats after a hand injury led to some missed time and suppressed his counting stats. He has now had HR/FB ratios of 16%, 7%, and 14%. Which was the fluke? His 2010 7% mark looks like the clear outlier. I projected the slightest of regressions this year to a 15% HR/FB ratio, but a home run or two wouldn’t change his ranking. It’s the .307 projected batting average that really boosts his value. I don’t even project any other third baseman to hit .300 at all. So that’s a big advantage for Sandoval.

OF: Delmon Young
ADP Rank- 65
My Rank- 39

A couple of weeks ago, I detailed exactly how I projected Young. After comparing my projection to the rest of the systems on FanGraphs, it was clear that I was slightly more bullish than the consensus. Of course, these systems don’t know that he is slated to hit fifth, behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and have no knowledge of his Hit Tracker data. It is hard to remember that he is still just 26 years old, so he should just be hitting his prime years now. A repeat of his 2010 breakout wouldn’t be a surprise.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

16 Responses to “The Most Undervalued at Every Position”

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  1. novaether says:

    I’m also a fan of Doumit and Altuve for late sleepers. I had not heard about Davis’s Valley Fever, but he wasn’t exactly my top 1b sleeper in the first place. How do you feel about Goldschmidt or a healthy Kendrys Morales?

    Also, panda bear (or a nickname I hadn’t heard before a few weeks ago – the round mound of pound) reportedly gained 25 pounds in the offseason. That may have dropped his ADP. He’s also reportedly in the process of losing that weight, so who knows. Either way, his speed is just as much a vice as Mark Reynolds’s batting average, and Reynolds has more pop, so he’s my choice.

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    • Really like Goldschmidt, actually drafted him in the LABR mixed league. Morales was obviously good before his injury, and I don’t have any unique insights into his situation. Worth rolling the dice on.

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  2. cfg720 says:

    I’d like to know which leagues Sandoval is going 9th overall at 3rd? I like him a lot too, 4th or 5th at the position (depending on is Bautista is elidgible there), but that’s only about 1 spot ahead of what I’ve seen.

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    • On Mock Draft Central, he’s listed as the 8th third baseman, but when you also include Jose Bautista who qualifies at the position, Sandoval becomes the 9th one drafted.

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    • Jay29 says:

      Yeah I’m in a 5×5 OPS league and instead of having the #1 BA Sandoval is projected for around 3rd-5th-best OPS among 3Bs, and I still have him 8th on my rankings (Reynolds Jumps way up w/ OPS). Sandoval’s lack of speed, mediocre lineup, and sub-30 HR power make him a lot less of an exciting option than Lawrie, Beltre, Wright, etc.

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      • davisnc says:

        I’m not sure his power is as sub-30 as people think it is. He’s still young (25) and hit 23 HR in 466 PA last year. The fans’ projections here at FanGraphs think he’ll get about 200 more PA than he got last year, but hit only 2 more HR. Doesn’t seem right to me. 30-33 HR wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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      • novaether says:

        I don’t think anybody is contesting the fact that Sandoval could possibly send 30+ fly balls past the point of no return this year, but it’s not the most likely outcome.

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  3. Brian says:

    This is not a nipick about specific players, but you mention that since there aren’t (m)any undervalued shortstops it would be wise to draft one of the top guys. What is the rationale for this? I would think that if there’s no value to be had at a position you should grab a cheap one and limit your lost value. Ideally you should invest the most auction dollars in positions with highest rates of return. Spending a lot of money on a position where there’s no value to be fouind is like keeping a billion dollars in a bank account that pays 0.2% interest.

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    • Because typically fantasy owners choose some positions to hold off on drafting the top guys because they really like a sleeper or two they can get later for cheap. Example: Why draft Michael Bourn early when I can wait until the late rounds for Ben Revere? But if there are no sleepers you like, then might as well get a top player since everyone has to draft a player in each round and will draft a top player from at least 1 position.

      In an auction, the same concept applies. If there is no sleepers at SS, but there are at OF, you’re not going to draft a $2 SS for $2 and then draft a $30 OFer. The sleepers at OF are going to be the cheaper guys, so that’s where you’d want to go cheap.

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      • Brian says:

        That’s assuming all of the under-valued players are late-round sleepers, which I don’t believe is true. There is value all throughout a draft/auction. I find that there are patterns throughout a draft/auction where each position is undervalued. For SS, which is the example you gave, most of the value is on the low-mid end. Guys like Desmond, Cozart, Alexei Ramirez. The SS near the top are pretty much all over-rated. Tulo, Hanley, Reyes – no thanks. I’d rather use the money on OF/1B/2B at that point. The funny thing is that you said to get a top SS and then recommended Scutaro as the most under-valued, haha.

        I guess I just diagree with you over the theory. Anyway, for the projections I agree with for the most part from what I can tell. Ryan Doumit and Delmon Young are definitely players I’m targeting. Are the projections published anywhere? Would be interesting to see them.

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  4. Ron Paul says:

    Brian and Mike:

    You both make valid points, and whether it’s better to go expensive or cheap at a position with no relative bargains is probably going to be best determined by draft style and “in-draft” action. I would say both arguments are correct in many instances.

    Mike’s argument would be spot-on in taking Tulo early in the first round in a snake draft. Since there’s little value to be had in this format, at that point in the draft, taking Tulo early would make sense.

    However, I would agree with Brian that spending full dollar value early in an auction to grab Tulo would make no sense at all. Spending money on value during auctions is always better. Obviously, if all your “value targeted” players are $15 guys likely to go for $5 or so, then spending $35 on Tulo would probably be fine.

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    • Of course, in auctions it’s all about value. But you also have to spend your entire budget. You can certainly do that by simply drafting all $20 value guys for $15, but it’s more likely you’ll be drafting a bunch of $5 sleepers you think are worth $10, and you’ll have to spend your remaining budget somewhere, so the positions with no sleepers are the best options.

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      • Brian says:

        I think it can all be summed up by saying: it depends. haha. I don’t play in many draft leagues though so I’m used to watching a couple guys load up on studs and then nabbing a bunch of $15 players, and maybe end up with a guy like Ellsbury or Upton if they’re relatively cheap to use up some money. Nothing worse than having a ton of money near the end of an auction, though. Usually I do well to avoid that situation.

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