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Intro: Finding Overvalued Players Using Expected Draft Values


Yesterday we introduced the concept of Expected Draft Values and looked at four undervalued players that are prime targets in 2019.

Today, we'll look at four overvalued players. Stay tuned the next few days as we bring you a deeper look at undervalued and overvalued players from each position using Expected Draft Values.

Generally, what we are trying to do here is identify players who will return negative value, based on their ADP, the average stat line typically produced at that ADP, and the player's projection. Here's how it works.

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Our Methodology

First, let's explain what Expected Draft Value is. It is the value you would historically expect, on average, from a given draft slot. In other words, Expected Draft Value lets you put a stat line next to every pick in the draft... if the player you draft performs better than expected, you get positive value. If the player you draft performs worse than expected, that's negative value. As we all know, a fantasy draft is all about maximizing the potential positive value from every pick. Expected Draft Values help us do that.

As you'll note, this analysis only pertains to hitters and will focus around batting average, home runs and stolen bases. Runs and RBI do enter the equation, but they are more products of circumstance and of HR and BA.

We took every player-season from the past 10 years and classified them into one of seven cohorts: 1) BA+HR+SB, 2) BA+HR, 3) HR+SB, 4) BA+SB, 5) BA, 6) HR, 7) SB. The minimum bar for entry into each cohort is:

1) BA+HR+SB: .270, 15 HR, 12 SB
2) BA+HR: .275, 25 HR
3) BA+SB: .270, 15 SB
4) HR+SB: 12 HR, 12 SB
5) BA: .300
6) HR: 27 HR
7) SB: 15 SB

The cohorts were defined to have roughly the same amount of players (150-170 each), and we chose these cohorts to reflect the types of players we frequently target in drafts, i.e. 5-category guys (cohort 1), pure power guys (cohort 6), speedsters (cohort 7), etc.

We then took each cohort and created rolling averages of the stat lines and player rankigs to smooth things out from the top to the bottom of each cohort.  The end result was a smooth dataset that allowed us to set Expected Draft Values for any draft pick. This allowed us to say "If you draft a power + average hitter 97th overall, your Expected Draft Value should be a line of 285-26-76-75-4. That's your 'break even point'. If you draft a player at 97 who performs better than that, you win, are at least put yourself one player closer to winning. 

 

How Expected Draft Values Help You Win Your League

It may be clear by this point already, but if you know the expected break-even point of every draft slot, you can identify which players are projected to return positive or negative value. Below, we look at four overvalued based on their NFBC ADP, ATC + THE BAT projection averages, and Expected Draft Values.

Without further ado, here are some players that stand to return negative value at their current cost in 2019 drafts. 

 

Jonathan Villar - 2B/SS, BAL

NFBC ADP: 78
Expected Return for a Power+Speed Hitter Drafted 78th: 89-18-73-23-.261
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 67-15-50-38-.251

Analysis: Villar won championships in 2016 and caused great pain in 2017 as a first-round flop. His 2018 started without much fanfare but he received a much-needed change of scenery in July after being dealt to Baltimore. Even though the Orioles offense is a big step down from the Brew Crew, he was allowed to run and mustered enough pop to be useful. Was that two-month spurt for real? Or will he revert closer to the 1.5 years’ worth of hitting from 2017 to the deadline in ‘18? The projection systems that strip emotion away aren’t forgetting the bad times so easily, which is a good lesson for us all. If Villar reaches his projection, he'll be returning significantly less value than you would need to justify at 78 ADP.

 

Carlos Correa - SS, HOU

NFBC ADP: 49
Expected Return for a Power+Average Hitter Drafted 49th: 83-29-91-5-.292
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 87-25-90-5-.276

Analysis: Correa enters his fifth Major League season at the ripe age of 24, though he’s failed to eclipse 500 PAs in the last two seasons. These projections aren’t splitting hairs over playing time, though it’s worth mentioning. After stealing 27 bases in his first 252 games, Correa has only attempted six steals in his last 219 games. It’s possible that returns but impossible to bank on it. Mix in a strikeout rate that jumped nearly five percentage points in ‘18 and the weaker contact (13.9% HR/FB rate compared to a 19% career mark) and it’s hard to push the power projections up. However, Correa would need to do just that, and raise his batting average back towards the .315 mark from ‘17, in order to meet expectations here. If you're relying on the projections, there are better options with less risk at an ADP of 49.

 

Max Muncy - 1B/2B/3B, LAD

NFBC ADP: 117
Expected Return for a Power Hitter Drafted 117th: 74-32-84-3-.254
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 77-28-79-4-.247

Analysis: Muncy swings a powerful stick, but is still at risk of not being an everyday player when all are healthy. Now that Chris Taylor got designated as the utility player, Muncy has a better lock on PAs, but Dave Roberts still likes to mix his lineups up frequently. That said, Muncy should still top last year’s 481 plate appearances after he rode the bench for most of April, which should help offset regression sucking down the 29.4% HR/FB rate. While the expected return at Muncy's ADP is pretty close to his projection, it doesn't offer a ton of room for profit, and if he doesn’t top 30 homers or a .250 average, you might be left needing profits elsewhere to break even.

 

Billy Hamilton - OF, KC

NFBC ADP: 154
Expected Return for a Speed Hitter Drafted 154th: 69-9-53-32-.260
2019 The Bat + ATC Projection: 68-4-34-42-.242

Analysis: Hamilton, much like Dee Gordon before him, is also returning poor value on his one-category contribution. We said how Gordon’s barrel rate was the lowest, but Hamilton is in the bottom-five (he had two on 376 BBEs) alongside a 79.3 MPH average exit velocity -- the worst out of all qualified hitters. Maybe a move to Kauffman Stadium’s power-suppressing park will help dissuade him from that ugly 35.2% fly-ball rate that he posted in ‘18. His value comes on the grounders that he can beat out and not much else. His RBI count will continue to stink at the bottom of KC’s order and you’ll need him to swipe 50 bags in order to turn any sort of profit, and still love yourself come October.

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