Early Starting Pitcher ADP -- It's All About the Depth
Not that there isn’t a ton of information you’re getting from this ADP series, but if there’s only one thing that you take away from the multitude of articles you’ll be reading between now and Opening Day, please let it be that starting pitching is ridiculously deep. Obscenely deep. So deep that you can’t dive to the bottom of the pool and make it back up to the surface for air in time.
We can take the obvious and say 30 teams with five starters each gives you 150 starters from which to choose, but you know as well as I do that it doesn’t end there. You’ve got minor league call-ups throughout the season and middle relievers who are actually swingmen and get a number of starts as well. Not that the swingmen are guys you target in your draft, but we all know how bananacakes the fantasy community gets when they hear some kid is throwing 95 mph heaters with pinpoint command in Double-A. Only a matter of time before the kid gets fast-tracked to the majors, right?
But seriously. I’ve done a series of mock drafts already, from draft guides to ones just for fun. I’ve mocked with fantasy experts and guys who are just doing it for fun as they just get their prep work underway. I’ve launched the Mock Draft Army, for crying out loud. We’ve done 12-teamers, 15 teamers, mixed league, single league, you name it. And after each and every one, everyone makes some sort of comment on the ridiculous depth of the starting pitching.
Just to give you an example: I did a 15-team mock the other day for one site and decided that I was going to see what kind of staff I would end up with if I filled every starting offensive position first and then picked my rotation. How would the depth stand up then? Obviously this isn’t a strategy I recommend to anyone, but I needed to see that side of the spectrum first. It was a two-catcher, mixed league with five outfield slots and the usual middle, corner, utility thing going on, so that meant my first pitcher would be taken in Round 15.
Well, it’s not a world-beating staff, by any means, and I won’t say that it doesn’t have its flaws, but it’s actually a lot better than I thought it would be. A lot better. My first starter was Chris Archer and from there I went with Tony Cingrani, Taijuan Walker, Josh Johnson, Alexi Ogando, and Tim Hudson. I also splashed in some closers in David Robertson, Tommy Hunter and Nate Jones. Definitely some youthful upside for strikeouts and potentially decent ratios, the third closer was added in to help supplement the ratios of Hudson and potentially Johnson. Again, not a killer staff, but not too bad considering my first pitcher was picked in the 15th round.
So with all of that, let’s take a look at the current ADP for starters by way of the NFBC. To save some space, I’ll just list the top 80 here and then we’ll discuss a few noticeable things.
|Rank||Player||Team||Avg Pick||Min Pick||Max Pick|
One of the caveats to remember about the NFBC is that it doesn’t allow trading due to the money involved and the lack of desire for drama and potential collusion. So while many who do play in this league probably know they should/could wait on pitching, there’s always a bit of an overwhelming need to grab that ace before the top 10 or 15 run out. Need that anchor, is what they’re likely telling themselves. So when you see that run, from Max Scherzer (28.31) through David Price (53.74), that’s really where it’s being driven. If the only pitchers they can add come from the waiver wire, then they feel that this is a move they have to make fairly early. Things tend to spread out a lot more after that.
We go through this at virtually every position, but for some reason, when it comes to starters, owners go much crazier over pitchers. Probably because, a young hitter who hits 30 home runs at High-A won’t necessarily hit that many with each advancement of level, but a kid throwing 95 mph throws 95 mph no matter what level he’s on. But while that may be the case, there are other things you need to be careful with in the case of young pitchers; that being pitch counts, innings limits, and, of course, when that expected Tommy John surgery will arrive.
Still, fantasy owners fall all over themselves to grab them, as evidenced by the ADP of pitchers such as Michael Wacha (86.33), Gerrit Cole (93.33), Shelby Miller (117.08), and Danny Salazar (139.41). The moment one of these guys gets drafted, the chat room heats up with comparisons and questions as to which one you’d rather have more. But while all four are incredibly talented – and I think we can also add Sonny Gray, Tony Cingrani and eventually Taijuan Walker into the mix – fantasy owners need to make sure that they aren’t getting caught up in the hype. Will these guys pitch a full season? Will their coaches coddle them in the early goings of the season or will they let them reach 100 pitches if they’re able? It’s great to have these guys on your home team, but fantasy is a business, and unless you’re in a long-term keeper league with no contracts, it’d be a real shame to pass on quality, proven talent just because you get caught up in the fray. Be careful how you build your staff.
We’ll continue to go through a number of starters throughout this series and track the rising and falling ADP trends, but for today, remember, it’s all about the depth here. There’s plenty of pitching to go around, so do your homework and you’ll be just fine.