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ADP Comparison - Overpriced / Underpriced Players on ESPN

Average Draft Position (ADP) is a must-have piece of information when it comes to drafting. While every league is different and may have a particularly aggressive or conservative group of owners when it comes to certain players, it’s the best tool we have when analyzing players’ value. Now, instead of just talking about total ADP from all sites, we’re going to look at ESPN’s respective ADP data.

Specifically, we’re going to talk about players who are priced higher or lower — being selected earlier or later — on ESPN compared to other sites. The price tag being higher doesn't make them undraftable and being lower doesn't make them an automatic steal, but it helps to stay oriented with the bigger picture of ADP data. In general, players on ESPN can expect starting pitchers to be undervalued and outfielders to be overvalued against the average.

What we're looking to sidestep is the anchoring effect — a cognitive bias where we over-rely on the first piece of information encountered (such as the ADP ranking column in a draft room). Here, we simply raise awareness of those whose draft stock is seemingly getting raised or dropped based on nothing other than the site's default rank. ADP data current as of February 23.

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Cheaper Early-Round Picks on ESPN

Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF, ATL) – ESPN ADP: 23 (CBS: 6, RTSports: 12, NFBC: 8, Fantrax: 10, Yahoo: 8, Average: 11.5)

Normally, being one round off of the average isn’t notable. This changes when we’re talking about the first and second round, though, as the 2018 phenom is almost universally taken in the top-12 except in ESPN leagues. Don't ask questions and take the monstrous discount on a true five-category talent that you can pair with a stud SP in the first round for massive profits.

Gary Sanchez (C, NYY) – ESPN ADP: 76 (CBS: 49, RTSports: 57, NFBC: 55, Fantrax: 57, Yahoo: 61, Average: 59)

Don’t go thinking this is a position-wide shunning of catcher from ESPNers, as J.T. Realmuto’s ADP is only six slots below his average ADP on the platform. Those targeting this Bronx Bomber can wait nearly two extra rounds to scoop the backstop as he looks to rebound from a 2018 campaign that was torpedoed by BABIP. His .220 ISO and 18.2% HR/FB rate are still stellar marks and his rate of making contact with balls in the strike zone actually rose by over three percentage points to a career-best 86.4% in '18, but a .197 BABIP is impossible to overcome unless you crank 50 homers. For reference, he posted a .317 BABIP in '16 and .304 in '17 -- most projections are giving him a .280 BABIP and a .250 batting average alongside 30-homer pop for '19, which makes for a nice median with potential for more.

Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS, KC) – ESPN ADP: 152 (CBS: 34, RTSports: 41, NFBC: 43, Fantrax: 48, Yahoo: 77, Average: 66)

I'm not sure how this can be legitimate, but here we are. While players on Yahoo are getting a decent discount, Mondesi backers should be swarming ESPN and telling me what the hell is going on here. Sorting by average ADP, Mondesi is ranked 64th overall on aggregate draft boards yet he has a gap of 118 picks between the minimum (CBS) and ESPN’s maximum value. No player taken ahead of him has a gap wider than 30! Even if you don't believe in Mondesi much, you can't deny that his ceiling is the player who slugged 14 homers and swiped 32 bases in just 75 games (291 PAs) for a ridiculous 30HR/65SB pace! The most bearish of projections still give him roughly 20 homers, 35 steals and an average in the .240s, which is worth so much more than an ADP of 152.

Miles Mikolas (SP, STL) – ESPN ADP: 136 (CBS: 118, RTSports: 90, NFBC: 92, Fantrax: 98, Yahoo: 119, Average: 109)

Mikolas had little buzz when returning to the MLB in 2018 after playing in Japan for three seasons, but he delivered serious profits to those who invested. Now, those on ESPN have some extra room to stretch their dollar compared to other sites on St. Louis' Opening Day starter and get a solid ERA/WHIP anchor to go alongside some high-strikeout aces in earlier rounds. While I'm not painting him as a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher -- he had a 3.28 FIP, 3.67 xFIP and 3.93 SIERA behind last year's 2.83 ERA -- I lean towards THE BAT and ATC projections of an ERA around 3.75 with a WHIP below 1.20. His meager 3.6% walk rate leaves a lot of wiggle room on the mound and also helps minimize any mistake pitches that get sent over the wall. Don't pay for last year's stats, but the 136th pick is a wonderful price tag to take advantage of.

German Marquez (SP, COL) – ESPN ADP: 148 (CBS: 72, RTSports: 76, NFBC: 79, Fantrax: 111, Yahoo: 109, Average: 99)

Did everyone just forget that Marquez struck out 230 hitters as a 23-year-old in Colorado? I know, Coors Field is a frightful environment to bank on continued success for a pitcher, but that's more K's than Aaron Nola, Corey Kluber and Blake Snell, good for seventh in the bigs! We’ve seen blips on the radar from Ubaldo Jimenez and Jon Gray, but now we’re staring down Marquez and teammate Kyle Freeland after both staved off the ERA dragon that resides a mile high and causes pitchers to take on another run to a run-and-a-half on top of fielding-independent metrics. Some other sites are asking those in 12-teamers to invest as soon as the seventh round, yet his ADP paints him as a 13th rounder on ESPN. That makes him a perfect upside pick where you're guarded against his volatility with several higher picks, yet you're getting someone with true top-10 upside in the middle rounds.


Other Cheaper Picks

C: Wilson Ramos -- ESPN ADP: 161, Average ADP: 140
1B: Max Muncy -- ESPN ADP: 124, Average ADP: 113
2B: Jonathan Villar -- ESPN ADP: 133, Average ADP: 103
3B: Jurickson Profar -- ESPN ADP: 155, Average ADP: 135
SS: Paul DeJong -- ESPN ADP: 214, Average ADP: 205 (I know, barely any + value!)
OF: Tommy Pham -- ESPN ADP: 88, Average ADP: 76
OF2: David Dahl -- ESPN ADP: 111, Average ADP: 97
OF3: Victor Robles -- ESPN ADP: 138, Average ADP: 113
OF4: Eloy Jimenez -- ESPN ADP: 199, Average ADP: 119
SP1: Jose Berrios -- ESPN ADP: 106, Average ADP: 80
RP1: Jose Leclerc -- ESPN ADP: 140, Average ADP: 127
RP2: Jordan Hicks -- ESPN ADP: 242, Average ADP: 211


Costly Early-Round Picks on ESPN

Buster Posey (C/1B, SF) – ESPN ADP: 107 (CBS: 167, RTSports: 137, NFBC: 145, Fantrax: 160, Yahoo: 118, Average: 139)

Posey required to surgery on Aug. 27, 2018 to address a hip impingement and torn labrum, and he then underwent a microfracture procedure to promote healing. While that may help some pop return as he regains usage in his lower half, he also finds himself hitting in a weak lineup that calls a pitcher-friendly stadium home. I get that we can’t blindly project the power loss that we saw last year moving forward because health should be improved, but he’s on the wrong side of the aging curve at a position that can take a serious toll on the body. He currently costs a ninth-round pick in 12-teamers on ESPN, which is not a price worth of consideration to me.

Brian Dozier (2B, LAD) – ESPN ADP: 118 (CBS: 169, RTSports: 130, NFBC: 138, Fantrax: 136, Yahoo: 143, Average: 139)

When you load up the Barrels Leaderboard from Statcast and Ctrl+F “Dozier” then you’re going to find Hunter before Brian. Hunter Dozier had a 7.0% Barrels-per-PA rate, good for 62nd out of 390 players with at least 100 batted-ball events, while Brian Dozier was 193rd at 4.3%. Brian’s average exit velocity was just 86.7 mph, a meager 274th out of the same player pool, as the second-half surge we’ve come to expect from Dozier never came in ‘18. While I don’t buy a .240 BABIP (career .271) holding his average down at .215 again, the projections calling for .240 around 35-40 HR+SB instead of the 50-60 we’d seen in 2016 and ‘17 explain why picking him in the top-10 rounds could be a whoopsie-daisy.

Nicholas Castellanos (OF, DET) – ESPN ADP: 57 (CBS: 93, RTSports: 105, NFBC: 85, Fantrax: 76, Yahoo: 80, Average: 83)

Castellanos has blossomed into a great pure hitter and enters his age-27 season with five full campaigns in the books. While he turned in a career-best .854 OPS in ‘18 that was fueled by a 47.9% hard-hit rate, he still only clubbed 23 homers and went 2-of-3 on steal attempts (he’s never swiped more than four in a year) while barely falling short of 90 runs and 90 RBI. It appears ESPN’s OF inflation really plays with Casty, who is good-not-great in four categories and a zero in the fifth (SBs).

The closest comparison is Lorenzo Cain, who has an average ADP of 59 (and oddly sits at 75 on ESPN) and delivered 40 HR+SB for a second straight season while hitting .308 and scoring 90 runs. Sure, you take a big hit at RBI (38 in ‘18), but I’ll take Cain a few rounds later than Castellanos and scoop the extra output in stats that a player can exert more control over.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, PHI) – ESPN ADP: 104 (CBS: 156, RTSports: 147, NFBC: 146, Fantrax: 149, Yahoo: 125, Average: 138)

McCutchen’s fantasy relevance appeared to be in jeopardy two seasons ago, but he pulled himself up in San Francisco and the Bronx and now finds himself in hitter-friendly Philadelphia. While the environment and strong lineup around him are pros, this is a stiff market price considering he may not hit in the upper-third of the lineup. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has said he wants to keep Cesar Hernandez at leadoff. That means Cutch must battle with Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins to be in the precious 2-4 slots. There's also no shying away from the fact that Cutch is much more valuable in formats where his stellar walk rate comes into play, but he's only topped a .260 batting average once in the last three years.

Clayton Kershaw (SP, LAD) – ESPN ADP: 25 (CBS: 46, RTSports: 29, NFBC: 35, Fantrax: 32, Yahoo: 35, Average: 34)

I had written this up before the news broke about his resting for a few days due to a condition reportedly unrelated to his back/shoulder issues, but it'll likely tank his stock a bit moving forward compared to historical data. My coldness towards Kershaw is well-documented at this point, but making him a top-25 overall pick is just asking to be hurt. Speaking of hurt, we know that Kershaw is nearly a lock to hit the Injured List at some point(s) in 2019 thanks to his back condition that doctors say won’t heal as long as he keeps playing. It’s one thing to miss Kersh when on the IL but still have a peak ace when he is healthy, but 2018 saw his performance slip.


Other Pricier Picks

C: Willson Contreras -- ESPN ADP: 100, Average ADP: 122
1B: Carlos Santana -- ESPN ADP: 114, Average ADP: 182
2B: DJ LeMahieu -- ESPN ADP: 149, Average ADP: 205
3B: Kyle Seager -- ESPN ADP: 171, Average ADP: 253
SS: Elvis Andrus -- ESPN ADP: 116, Average ADP: 172
OF1: Michael Conforto -- ESPN ADP: 80, Average ADP: 103
OF2: Michael Brantley -- ESPN ADP: 81, Average ADP: 109
OF3: Stephen Piscotty -- ESPN ADP: 122, Average ADP: 148
OF4: Kyle Schwarber -- ESPN ADP: 158, Average ADP: 188
SP1: Jon Lester -- ESPN ADP: 156, Average ADP: 175
SP2: Julio Teheran -- ESPN ADP: 223, Average ADP: 278
RP1: David Robertson -- ESPN ADP: 91, Average ADP: 172
RP2: Dellin Betances -- ESPN ADP: 174, Average ADP: 246

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