Early Catcher ADP
With NFBC drafts, both real and mock, already taking place, we’re starting to get a decent return on some ADP numbers which, at this time of year, make for a great base. The sample size is still small, but at least we know (or at least we think we know) that most of the opinions of the players which are reflected in their ADP are coming from reasonably-informed fantasy owners. We have a long way to go still, but now is as good a time as any to start looking at each position and where everyone’s ADP is starting out. So let’s kick things off with the catchers..
Ten years ago, the catching position, at least in the fantasy world, was a relative throw-away. Sure, there were a very small handful of elites who cost a little more in drafts, but for the most part, waiting on a catcher was commonplace because more than most of them were posting very similar numbers. Three to five years ago, we started to see a bit more of a separation in both talent and numbers and many were justified to reach a little more in drafts for some backstops than usual. However, in the last two years, suddenly that top tier has stretched out and while numbers were incredibly higher than they were 10 years ago, the draft trend for catchers has reverted back to where, sure, maybe one or two guys are worth a high selection, but waiting on a catcher seems to again be your best course of action.
In looking at the last two years, two or three catchers went between rounds two and five, but for the most part, the eighth round seemed to be a strong marking point for catcher trends to begin. A pick of Wilin Rosario in the eighth turned out to be a better value than a third round pick of Carlos Santana. But so was a 12th round pick of Jonathan Lucroy. Going even further though, a 20th round pick of Jason Castro proved to be an even bigger value. The disparity in numbers wasn’t all that significant between Castro and Lucroy, but waiting eight rounds certainly allowed for better players at other positions while maintaining a very similar level of production from the catcher position.
Here’s a look at how things are shaping up at the position this year:
|Rank||Player||Team||Avg Pick||Min Pick||Max Pick|
This season seems to be fairly similar. Buster Posey seems to still be a top pick taken in the second or third round but owners are waiting a little longer for the rest of the stronger talent as there seems to be very little difference in overall production from the likes of Joe Mauer through Matt Wieters. According to the numbers, they’re going higher than the usual eighth round rush we’ve seen in the past, but that’s likely because of the fact that production from the position is up and the NFBC is a two-catcher league format. The top 10 at the position tend to go a little higher in two-catcher leagues than one-catcher formats.
We might not see a huge overall change in ADP numbers and trends in the NFBC data over the next two months, but once we start looking at data from Mock Draft Central and other mock sites, we’ll see the numbers adjust to account for more one-catcher league drafting. Now here are a few backstops whose ADP I will be monitoring before I step into my first official draft.
Wilson Ramos, WAS – He had a solid debut in 2011, but injuries robbed Ramos of most of the last two seasons. Still, last year, in just 78 games, he hit .272 with 16 home runs with 59 RBI and he is now one of the more popular “sleeper” picks headed into 2014. His current ADP of 143.92 has him going roughly four rounds after Lucroy and Wieters, but the more the pundits write and the more sleeper lists he’s found on, that number could start rise in the rankings. He may even end up being drafted at a similar spot as those two by the time March rolls around. I’m a fan of his overall skill set, but not before the 10th round, given the injury history.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, MIA – Salty’s average has been a major deterrent for fantasy owners, but for those willing to sacrifice that category in favor of a boost in the counting stats, he’s been a great play. But last season, he dropped significantly in power and posted a .273 average, moving him into the general population at the position. This year should be an interesting watch as to where he ends up in drafts, as the move to Miami and the dimensions of Marlins Park will likely suppress some of his power. Should that .273 average drop (after all, that .372 BABIP is tough to sustain) and the power dissipates, how much value will he really have?
Devin Mesoraco, CIN – Well not only is Dusty Baker gone, but so is Ryan Hanigan, the guy who Mesoraco has been forced to platoon with the last couple of years. The job is all his finally and there doesn’t seem to be anything or anyone standing in his way. Almost as a show of support for him, the Reds brought in perennial back-up Brayan Pena to play behind him. Pena isn’t likely to poach too much work. Mesoraco will find his way onto a number of lists consisting of formerly-hyped players who could potentially break out and suddenly his ADP will start to climb. Hopefully it won’t rise too quickly and he could still be had for a bargain rate.
Miguel Montero, ARI – There’s likely to be a fair amount of debate as to whether or not Montero’s 2013 was a fluke or actual decline. He was one of the more consistent producers for fantasy owners yet completely undervalued in drafts. Many saw him as a well-kept secret. But last year’s .230-11-42 season was a disaster for those who owned him and, as you can see in the ADP numbers, have abandoned him as a potential option. If too many believe in a rebound, then his ADP should rise, but if not, then, at worst, it should remain the same while other catchers with more upside pass him by. If he does stay where he is, or even drops a little, he has the potential to post a much better return value if last year was, indeed, a fluke.
Mike Zunino, SEA – Let’s face it. The hype on this kid is big. His trip through the Mariners farm system was swift and despite hitting .214 with just five home runs over 193 plate appearances last year, there’s still plenty of buzz favoring him. He showed strong power and a high average during his various yet quick stops at the different minor league levels and a strong spring is going to vault him up the ADP charts in a hurry. His value in keeper leagues is a bit higher than in re-draft leagues, but don’t reach too far until he’s legitimately proven himself.
We'll be tracking ADP for each position over the next several weeks, so stay tuned for more. And if you're interested in joining some of the industry's finest for a few mock drafts, hit me up on Twitter (see below for link) and ask about the Mock Draft Army.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.