- It's never too early to see which players are coming off draft boards too soon or staying on them too long. Here are six names to keep an eye on as you plan for your league's draft.
The fantasy baseball draft landscape changes continuously. From day to day, those changes are imperceptible, but from week to week, we can identify how player values are shifting by looking at their average draft positions. That’s exactly what we’ll do in the ADP Watch.
This is the first of three columns in March on ADP leading up to the heart of draft season at the end of the month. This first one will set the scene, looking at six players who either have values that already seem out of whack or have a chance to move significantly up or down boards. It’s important to know the lay of the land going into your draft. ADP Watch will help you stay on top.
Tip of the hat to our pals at FantasyPros, which tracks ADP data on the three biggest fantasy baseball sites. The number after each site is the player’s ADP on that site, with an average of all three at the end.
Trea Turner, SS, Nationals
NFBC: 10 | CBS: 11 | Yahoo: 14
Turner has the look of a star-in-the-making, and he’s still years from his peak. Here’s the problem with his ADP, though: It assumes he’s a fully-formed MVP candidate. His ADP has him off the board before Anthony Rizzo, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. Are you really prepared to take him over those four players (and a host of others) based on a 73-game sample? Turner was excellent last year, hitting .342/.370/.567 with 13 homers and 33 steals, but you can’t have any doubt about your first-round pick. He needs to be a surefire stud, and Turner’s price leaves no margin for error. I’d be comfortable taking him immediately after those four aforementioned players, but all that means is I won’t have him on any of my teams.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks
NFBC: 35 | CBS: 29 | Yahoo: 38
Pollock is going to be one of the most interesting players to watch this spring. After a breakout 2015, he missed nearly all of last year because of a broken elbow, but all indications are that the injury is comfortably in his rear-view mirror. Still, an injury that severe can set a new ceiling for a player. If he can match or approach his 2015 form, he’ll end up a draft-day steal; remember, he slashed .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers and 39 steals that year. There are certainly safer players in his draft-day neighborhood, including George Springer and Ryan Braun, but Pollock’s best-case scenario returns first-round value. I’d be surprised if his ADP didn’t move noticeably in one way or another by the end of the month.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
NFBC: 67 | CBS: 55 | Yahoo: 57
After four straight years finishing in the top five in NL MVP voting, McCutchen had the worst year of his career last season, hitting .256/.336/.430 with 143 strikeouts. He still hit 24 homers, but that didn’t come close to salvaging his draft-day price. Drafters aren’t penalizing him too much, but it’s still a shock to see McCutchen available in the fifth and sixth rounds of 12-team leagues.
McCutchen doesn’t run anymore, stealing 17 bases over the last two seasons combined—likely the result of a nagging knee injury that has bothered him since 2015. Despite that, it’s worth remembering his track record, as well as the fact that this is his age-30 season. McCutchen’s speed and athleticism added to his overall game, but they weren’t entirely responsible for it. Even if the 2012–15 McCutchen is a thing of the past—something I wouldn’t concede so readily—there’s no way last season is his new normal. We can’t say he’s a steal at this ADP, but it’d be shocking if he couldn’t turn a profit on a late-fifth or early-sixth-round price tag.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
NFBC: 72 | CBS: 61 | Yahoo: 73
In Carpenter's five full seasons in the majors, he has amassed a career slash line of .284/.376/.462 and averaged 17 homers, 102 runs and 75 RBIs per 162 games. But in 2015, he changed his approach and started embracing more of his natural pop, and over the last two years, he has hit .271/.372/.505 with 24 homers per season. He has never had a batting average worse than .271 or an OBP worse than .365, and he has slugged at least .463 in four of his five seasons. So what am I missing? How is Carpenter still around into the late-sixth and early-seventh rounds in 12-team leagues?
CBS drafters seem to be wise to his value, but I’m wondering how Carpenter is still flying under the radars of so many fantasy owners. Do they hate versatility? (Carpenter will mostly play first for the Cardinals this year, but he’s eligible at second and third.) Do they hate consistency? I can’t figure it out, but I hope my leaguemates make the same mistake that drafters are making all across the internet early on this spring. This is the fantasy baseball equivalent of found money.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals
NFBC: 90 | CBS: 97 | Yahoo: 96
I didn’t want to include Rendon in this version of the ADP Watch, because I didn’t want to have two of my six names in this column come from the same team. But the fantasy baseball universe forced my hand, because Rendon is another player whose draft-day price just doesn’t make any sense. An average ADP of 94? Are you kidding me? You can get Rendon in the eighth or ninth round of most drafts.
I’m convinced that will go down as one of this year’s biggest steals. Rendon finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in 2014, but knee, oblique and quad injuries robbed him of one half of the '15 season and kept him hobbled for the other, resulting in a lost year right as his career was taking off. His 2017 ADP would have you think that he settled somewhere between those two extremes, but 2016 Rendon was awfully reminiscent of the '14 version, hitting .270/.348/.450 with 20 homers, 91 runs, 85 RBIs and 12 steals—essentially matching what he did in his first full season. And while he may not have the same promise of youth he did after 2014, this is still just his age-27 season. He’s expected to hit fifth in the Washington order, behind Adam Eaton, Turner, Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper; in other words, he’s not going to lack RBI opportunities. Rendon feels like a lock for .270/.350/.450 with 20 homers and 90-run and 80-RBI floors. Getting a player like that in the eighth or ninth round is a joke.
Michael Fulmer, SP, Tigers
NFBC: 136 | CBS: 129 | Yahoo: 110
This isn’t a commentary on Fulmer’s price tag. At an average pick of 125, which places him in the 11th round of a 12-team league, it’s impossible to say he’s overvalued. At the same time, he struck out fewer than 7.5 batters per nine innings last year and never projected as a huge strikeout pitcher, so it’s hard to say he’s undervalued. As a 10th–12th-round pick and the 32nd starting pitcher off the board in a typical draft, Fulmer is appropriately valued. His movement with respect to the pitchers around him, however, will be interesting. At the start of March, Fulmer is in the same draft-day neighborhood as Felix Hernandez, Rich Hill, Dallas Keuchel and Matt Harvey. The next tier down includes Tanner Roark, Jameson Taillon, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, John Lackey and Kevin Gausman, and the tier above him features Julio Teheran, Aaron Sanchez and Danny Salazar. Again, his price tag feels right compared with the pitchers in his area of the draft, as well as those a tier up and a tier down. But given that he is entering his age-24 season and coming off a Rookie of the Year season, that price could climb as we get closer to draft season.