Top 50 Ranked Players: Value vs. ADP

“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks,

… or fantasy baseball players

I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” –Warren Buffett

Collecting as much value (talented players) from as little possible resources (draft picks or auction dollars) is the key to starting off a winning fantasy season. From now until each draft, owners should be trying to calculate player values and the possible range of outcomes. With these value ranges in mind, owners can use their draft resources to get the best deals. It’s time to start finding those deals.

To find the bargains, player values first need to be calculated. To create the values, I will use the average final standings from the 32 leagues in the 2017 NFBC Main Event (15 team, 5×5 roto with AVG).

I took these values and found the Standings Gain Point for each player. This procedure can be found at SmartFantasyBaseball.com or in Larry Schechter’s book, Winning Fantasy Baseball (SmartfantasyBaseball helped me with my final SGP formulas) Using a $260 budget, 67/33 Hitter/Pitcher split, and the latest Steamer projections, I created the SGP values. With this values, I needed to check for position scarcity.

In the standard 14 position player (2 C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 5 OF, MI, CI, Util), 9 pitcher league, I search for any position scarcity. In this format, there is no position scarcity for 2018 except with catcher. It ends up being a whopping $17 adjustment. Without the adjustment, only 7 catchers made the top 210 hitters while 30 are needed.

Finally, I create dollar values which I use in drafts because players can be ranked 30 places apart but they could have only a couple dollars difference in value. Additionally, these dollar amounts allow me to give each draft pick a dollar value for comparison when drafting players.

While all this seems like a ton of work, I’m trying to find small gains. I try to never overpay and aim for $2 of surplus value per pick. If I’ve done my pre-draft research correctly, I should be able to roster a $306 ($260 + $2 * 23) team, according to my values, for just $260 of value. Sometimes, a $340 team can be bought. An owner should always leave the draft or auction with the best team according to their values or they failed somewhere in the process.

Here are the top 345 players I have as of now.

Looking at them, I see some values I don’t like (e.g. too many starts by Kershaw and Syndergaard) and that’s why this procedure is necessary. It’s a chance to find out:

  • If the projections, especially the playing time estimates, should be adjusted
  • If the pitcher/hitter mix needs to be changed
  • If the position scarcity value is too much.
  • Why owners are under or overvaluing a pick
  • Or finally, if the player is a buying opportunity.

While Justin ran his Too Early Mocks a month ago, I got the ADP from four drafts actual drafts this past weekend at Fantrax which used the same format as NFBC. From this list, I compared the top 50 players I ranked to their actual draft position and the pick’s dollar value. Here they are ranked according to surplus value.

50 Best Players Ranked By Surplus Value
Name Rank Value ADP Pick Value Diff
Evan Gattis 17 $29.5 188 $8.4 $21.1
A.J. Pollock 24 $28.1 58 $15.9 $12.2
Manny Machado 5 $35.0 21 $25.1 $9.9
Willson Contreras 30 $24.8 54 $16.2 $8.6
Jose Quintana 38 $22.9 73 $14.5 $8.5
Noah Syndergaard 22 $28.2 35 $20.2 $8.0
Ryan Braun 49 $20.2 93 $12.2 $8.0
Chris Archer 32 $24.5 53 $16.6 $7.9
Ian Desmond 44 $20.8 116 $13.0 $7.8
Rougned Odor 47 $20.4 113 $13.2 $7.2
Salvador Perez 50 $20.2 109 $13.4 $6.8
Nelson Cruz 36 $23.6 52 $16.9 $6.7
Gary Sanchez 14 $31.3 23 $24.8 $6.5
Anthony Rizzo 15 $30.4 24 $24.4 $6.0
Josh Donaldson 20 $28.6 27 $22.9 $5.6
Giancarlo Stanton 2 $36.6 11 $31.3 $5.3
Stephen Strasburg 25 $26.1 32 $20.8 $5.3
Brian Dozier 33 $24.4 41 $19.4 $5.0
Luis Severino 31 $24.6 39 $19.5 $5.0
Starling Marte 34 $24.2 37 $19.8 $4.4
Jacob deGrom 27 $25.2 33 $20.8 $4.4
Marcell Ozuna 41 $21.4 49 $17.3 $4.1
Justin Verlander 35 $24.2 36 $20.2 $4.0
Mookie Betts 3 $36.4 9 $32.4 $3.9
George Springer 19 $28.9 22 $25.0 $3.8
Andrew Benintendi 40 $22.2 44 $18.7 $3.5
Chris Sale 10 $32.5 14 $29.5 $3.0
Max Scherzer 12 $32.4 12 $30.4 $2.0
Kris Bryant 16 $30.2 17 $28.6 $1.6
Clayton Kershaw 4 $35.9 6 $34.4 $1.5
Zack Greinke 48 $20.2 43 $18.9 $1.3
Francisco Lindor 18 $29.2 19 $28.1 $1.1
Bryce Harper 7 $34.4 7 $33.7 $0.7
Jose Abreu 45 $20.8 34 $20.4 $0.4
Madison Bumgarner 42 $21.1 31 $20.8 $0.2
Dee Gordon 39 $22.3 29 $22.2 $0.1
Mike Trout 1 $49.9 1 $49.9 $0.0
J.D. Martinez 29 $25.0 20 $25.2 -$0.2
Carlos Correa 23 $28.2 15 $29.2 -$1.0
Trea Turner 11 $32.4 8 $33.5 -$1.0
Carlos Carrasco 43 $20.9 28 $22.3 -$1.5
Nolan Arenado 9 $33.5 4 $35.0 -$1.5
Jose Altuve 6 $34.4 2 $36.6 -$2.2
Paul Goldschmidt 8 $33.7 3 $36.4 -$2.7
Freddie Freeman 46 $20.8 26 $23.6 -$2.9
Charlie Blackmon 13 $31.5 5 $34.4 -$2.9
Jose Ramirez 28 $25.1 18 $28.2 -$3.1
Corey Kluber 21 $28.3 10 $31.5 -$3.2
Joey Votto 26 $25.2 16 $28.9 -$3.6
Aaron Judge 37 $22.9 13 $30.2 -$7.3

There is quite a bit of disagreement, especially on the upside. Here are my thoughts on some of the players with the biggest disagreements.

  • Catchers: Four of the top 13 spots are for catchers with Evan Gattis taking the top spot. While some arguing over the projections can be done, most of the difference is the catching adjustment. Truthfully, I expect the ADP to not change much. I don’t see myself reaching for Sanchez in the second round when I can wait and pick up a ton of surplus value from the second tier catchers.
  • A.J. Pollock: I’m about 90% sure the difference comes down to expected health. Steamer has him at 600+ PA and 20/20 production. As long as his injuries aren’t chronic, there is no reason to expect him to get injured compared to any other hitter ($$$). Looks to be a perfect 2nd round talent picked up in the 4th round.
  • Manny Machado: An ADP of 21? I would guess a small bump to the end of the first round may happen, but he’s still a value. I need to dive in and find why his perceived value is so much lower than his projections. I may not see him get to the top of the first round but he’s a nice value for those at the 1st/2nd round turn.
  • Jose Quintana: Boring but damn good. If his price stays deflated, I’d love to pick up a 3rd round value in the 5th round.
  • Noah Syndergaard: I don’t buy the 32 starts at all. I am putting him closer to 25. He’d drop quite a bit in my final rankings if his start estimate stays the same.
  • Ryan Braun: The 34-year-old Braun played with a wrist and calf injury last season costing him time and production. I’m buying the projections and waiting until the 6th round to get the 4th round value. While I was worried about his back, he hasn’t had a back injury since 2015.
  • Chris Archer: I see nothing wrong with his projection and will be happy to pick him up a round later than his value.
  • Ian Desmond and Rougned Odor: Both had horribly disappointing 2017 seasons. Odor with a .224 BABIP and Desmond with only 7 HR in Coors. I’m not sure I blindly follow the improved projections. Odor had some changes to this plate discipline while Desmond went ground ball crazy. I need to dig in a little more with this pair.

Note: If I was to assume the above information is correct (I’m not this close in the offseason), I’d stay away from outfielders in the first few rounds with several possible later round values.

And the major guy on the downside …

  • Aaron Judge: A 15 HR drop and the Runs and RBIs that go with them are stopping him from repeating 2017. It only takes one owner to hope for a 2017 repeat for his ADP to stay up. I’m not going to be that owner.

That’s it for now. I will dive into the next 50 or so player next to see who else is on the move.



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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Underwood4000
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Underwood4000

I’m impressed that a Nats minor leaguer has got the ear of Warren Buffett.