What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to another article in our series of early ADP value analysis for fantasy baseball.
Keep reading for my thoughts on undervalued and overvalued AL starting pitchers, to identify draft targets and avoids based on ADP.
Opening Day is still over two months away, but it's never too soon for draft prep. ADP data from early NFBC rankings can give us a glimpse into what other owners are thinking heading into a new campaign.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Undervalued AL Starting Pitchers
Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics (ADP: 179)
After some initial struggles in his rookie season, Manaea really found a groove. He posted sparkling ratios (2.67 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) after the All-Star break, with the underlying metrics to back them up. Manaea's K-BB% increased by over five points in the second half, thanks largely to the progression of his changeup. It's true that he also benefited from a bit of good fortune with a .254 BABIP and 83% strand rate during that time, but there was legitimate improvement here. Given his obvious talent and favorable home park, it's surprising to see him lasting into the middle-late rounds of drafts so far. Perhaps lingering health concerns are playing a role.
Lance McCullers, Houston Astros (ADP: 191)
On the other hand, there's no question that health is what's keeping McCullers' price tag depressed. It's understandable, given that he experienced both elbow and shoulder issues last year. There's also the question of how much of his wildness in 2016 was attributable to those health problems, and how much of it was just lack of polish. The upside is immense, though - peep that 30% strikeout rate in an injury-marred season! I'd rather gamble on this kid and his sexy spike curve than many of the other arms being drafted around his ADP.
Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 252)
Over the last three seasons, Richards is 13th in ERA, 22nd in WHIP, and 30th in K/9 among pitchers with at least 400 innings logged. The right-hander opted against Tommy John surgery in favor of stem cell treatment for his injured elbow last season. There haven't been many reports on his status recently, but the Angels' ace is expected to be ready for Opening Day. Richards is certainly worth a flier at his current price.
Overvalued AL Starting Pitchers
Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 107)
Porcello's unlikely Cy Young season in 2016 has him back in the good graces of fantasy owners after his awful Boston debut the prior year. His price tag isn't egregious, but there are too many other arms in the 20-30 range that are more appealing. Porcello's elite walk rate notwithstanding, he's not a great source of strikeouts and we saw in 2015 what can happen when he has trouble keeping the ball in the yard. He did fine on that front last year, but actually has seen his GB/FB decline in five straight years now. Beyond that, we can probably expect some regression in his .269 BABIP from last season, given that there wasn't much of a change in his contact quality. It's also tough to bank on him winning 22 games again, even with the Red Sox looking like the team to beat in the American League.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 136)
Heading into last season, I was RotoBaller's resident Debbie Downer on King Felix. Where others saw a reliable ace coming off another excellent season, I saw a guy with a ton of mileage on his arm whose rates and velocity were all trending in the wrong direction. 2016 turned out to be Hernandez's worst season in almost a decade, as he battled injury and ineffectiveness. His strikeout rate tumbled, his ratios were middling, and he failed to reach 190 innings for the first time ever. Incredibly, he's only entering his age-31 season, but he's already thrown 2,400 innings. It's fair to wonder if we'll ever see the King on his throne again.
Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: 150)
Gausman finally got a chance to pitch a full season in the majors, and the results were pretty solid. He posted a 3.61 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while striking out nearly a batter per inning, mostly on the strength of his 95 mph fastball and devastating splitter. However, he continued to have serious problems with the long ball, allowing 28 homers in 180 innings. Gausman pitches the majority of his starts in hitters' parks, so this is something he really needs to get under control if he's ever going to be the ace the Orioles expected when they took him fourth overall in the 2012 draft. In order to do that, he'll have to develop a legitimate third pitch. His slider and changeup continued to be among the worst in the majors in 2016, and until that changes, he'll remain a frustrating fantasy asset.
More Undervalued & Overvalued Picks
Check out RotoBaller's entire 2017 fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!