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Expected ADP Risers -- The Trendy Picks

With the number of fantasy web sites we see strewn about the internet, there are very few well-kept secrets in fantasy baseball. In fact, it’s the complete opposite these days. Players who would normally be considered late-round steals and hidden gems are now plastered all over the magazines and web pages so that even the casual fantasy owner knows who they are and how good they could potentially be. Consequently, we are now in an age where we rarely seek to unearth the player no one knows about and build our draft strategy around avoiding the players who everyone knows about. To sum it up, beware the trendy picks.

For those who haven’t been following this ADP series over the last couple of years, the use of “trendy picks” refers to those players whose popularity here in the preseason grows to a level where they become mainstream choices rather than the sleepers they were at one point. Usually, the popularity grows larger the more fantasy experts continue to write about them and the more articles we see, the greater the odds are that they will lose their value on draft day. Once the casual fantasy owner starts latching onto a player, their ADP tends to rise each week and thus begin to lose their value. For example, one of last year’s trendy picks was Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge. He opened the preseason with an ADP equal to a 17th or 18th round pick, but by the time mid to late march rolled around, he was going in the 12th. Those who drafted early remained relatively unscathed by his lack of production due to the low-round investment, but those who reached and took him on the early side got burned in the end.

This season, we’ve got a number of trendy picks you may want to steer clear of should their ADP spike to a level where they lose their inherent value. There’s definitely talent to be had, but should you succumb to the whims of the masses and draft a great 20th-rounder in the 14th round, you’re coming up short on the net return value. Here’s a look at some of the players who could become some of the trendiest selections of 2014.

The Trendy Dozen

Player Team Pos Current ADP 2 Weeks Ago Trend
Yasiel Puig LAD OF 21.14 21.68 0.54%
Billy Hamilton CIN OF 74.00 77.49 3.49%
Michael Wacha STL SP 90.58 86.33 -4.25%
Gerrit Cole PIT SP 95.21 93.33 -1.88%
Matt Adams STL 1B 126.39 130.87 4.48%
Leonys Martin TEX OF 130.47 128.97 -1.50%
Danny Salazar CLE SP 136.56 139.41 2.85%
Wilson Ramos WAS C 139.98 143.92 3.94%
Sonny Gray OAK SP 155.00 155.71 0.71%
Khris Davis MIL OF 202.02 208.84 6.82%
Corey Kluber CLE SP 272.96 279.13 6.17%
Yordano Ventura KC SP 313.05 319.62 6.57%

Well what’s trendier than taking a bunch of highly-touted rookies? We covered the ADP for those highly-touted youngsters early last week – Billy Hamilton and the sixth round pick that he’s likely to cost, as well as “rookie” hurlers like Michael Wacha, Gerrit Cole, Danny Salazar and Sonny Gray – but we should touch on them again here.

Hamilton continues to climb up the ADP rankings and will probably continue to do so as long as he starts off the spring with some hits. The Reds have him penciled in as their starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, so concerns about the arbitration clock can probably be put to rest, but the onus falls on him to hit and get on-base. If he doesn’t, there is still belief that the Reds could go with a platoon of Chris Heisey and Skip Schumaker, and while that’s obviously not ideal, it could still prove better than a struggling rookie who only wishes he could steal first base.

As for the young hurlers, the debate is a constant. Wacha, Cole, Salazar and Gray (you can probably toss in Shelby Miller as well) are some of the most sought-after pitchers right now, so much so that people are bypassing solid proven talent in favor of their short but sexy track records. Don’t let the early drop for Wacha and Cole fool you here. Word is out as to just how deep pitching is, so offensive players have been on the rise. But Wacha and Cole both remain high picks with respect to other starting pitching. If you want them, you’ll have to invest a little more than you’d probably like, but if it’s too rich for your blood (like it is mine), there’s plenty of pitching coming in behind them.

Yasiel Puig has plateaued for now, but really, how much higher do you expect to see him get with the knowledge that he’s already coming off the board before the end of the second round? He’s got a lot to do if he’s going to even earn the equivalent of his second-round value, so if you’re drafting him, you better hope that his .215 ISO is for real, because with a 22.5-percent strikeout rate and a league-average walk rate, that .319 batting average looks very driven by an over-inflated .383 BABIP. What happens when regression walks through that door?

With a starting job seemingly in-hand to open the 2014 season, Matt Adams .220 ISO (17 HR and 14 doubles over 298 at-bats has fantasy owners champing at the bit. His steady rise through the ADP ranks should eventually push him from corner infield material to starting first baseman, but be wary of the fact that with Oscar Taveras on the cusp of making the 25-man roster, Adams better hit right from the start or the Cardinals could investigate the possibility of starting Allen Craig at first and Taveras out in right.

I’ll admit that I am probably going to be, in-part, to blame for the rise of Leonys Martin. The acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo pushes him back to the bottom of the order, but I’m still a big fan of his skill set. We’ve already seen some excellent speed with his 36 steals and an 80-percent success rate last season, but he’s also got a little bit of developing power as well. He’s moving into his age-26 season and with an improvement in plate discipline (we hope), his numbers could look even better. I continue to look for him around the 10th round of a 12-team league which is where he should go right about now, but another few articles from me and a few of the other fantasy writers I’ve spoken with, his ADP could take a jump.

Last season it was Salvador Perez who was on everyone’s wish list. This year, it’s Wilson Ramos. Injuries have hampered the Nationals backstop, but his 16 home runs in 287 at-bats last year put him right smack-dab onto everyone’s radar. We’ve already seen a slight increase over the last month and that ADP is going to get higher and higher as the masses start to look for a catcher with the potential to hit like a top-10 guy. He won’t be found at the top-10 price right now, but that figures to change soon enough.

His .316 ISO last season has everyone calling him little Khrush Davis already, but Khris Davis is anything but little when it comes to the bat. He’s exhibited good power in the minors and last year’s work as a fill-in for Ryan Braun got all sorts of people excited, and we’re not just talking Brewers fans. He should have a full-time gig with the trade of Norichika Aoki and if you think he’s popular now, just wait til the spring games and his bat starts to heat up. He’s a great 16th or 17th round pick-up right now, but you might need a 13th or 14th to get him if he starts to impress more than just the hardcore fantasy owners.

And finally, rounding out the Trendy-12 are Corey Kluber and Yordano Ventura. Kluber is loved by many within the sabermetric community and if he can continue to exhibit the command he showed last year, they’ll be talking him up for sure. Ventura doesn’t technically have a job yet, but he’ll get the chance to compete for the fifth starter’s spot in Kansas City and his continued ability to hit triple-digits on the gun will certainly make people stand up and take notice. Both a solid values where they are, but you should probably expect both to start increasing once they start hitting the mound in March.

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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 rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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