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Reach For the Stars

We’ve heard it all before. Studying ADP and the trends that are developing each season is an extremely important part of your prep work for your fantasy baseball draft. It helps to guide you along and point you in the right direction so that you don’t reach too high for a player you may be able to get a few rounds later and concentrate on the positions that command your focus early on. Simple, right?
Maybe not.

While it’s true that studying ADP is important, you have to remember that it’s a guideline, not the gospel. It works perfectly in a vacuum, but few drafts ever go down that way and you need to remember that. Got a bunch of Giants fans in your draft? Well guess what…? Players like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Belt and even Buster Posey are going to end up going earlier than ADP indicates. Hell, Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford are going to get drafted and I’ve never heard either player’s name mentioned in the dozens of mock drafts I’ve already done.

Understanding your league-mates and being able to roll with the punches is just as important as knowing the ADP list and its trends. Now obviously, watching your opponents take players like Crawford and Scutaro is great for you as it leaves much better quality on the table from which you are able to choose. But what happens when you’re in a competitive league with savvy owners who do their homework just as much as you do? What happens when you all get turned onto the same players and now have the same targets? You never want to be the first to reach for a guy, but you best be prepared to reach for some of your favorites once someone else breaks the ice first. Sometimes you just have to accept that if you really want a guy...if it's someone you truly covet....you just may have to take that leap of faith and reach for him. It's not ideal, but it's a sacrifice you have to make if you want to lock up a particular player.

That’s exactly what’s happening to me in the KFFL B.A.D. (Baseball Analysis Draft) Experts League. It’s a 15-team, mixed, two-catcher roto league with some of the best minds in the fantasy baseball kingdom. If you play fantasy baseball, you’ve heard of each and every guy in this league and if you haven’t, you better start brushing up because you’re already falling behind.

But the point here is that while everyone in this league has their own opinions, there is a tremendous amount of overlap when it comes to some of the rising stars out there. The trendy picks that we covered last week are the perfect example. They’re trendy for a reason and that reason is because everyone sitting in the K-BAD league is not only writing about them, but raving about them as well. And as such, we’ve seen a number of reaches so far in this draft that seem to take ADP and chuck it out the window. And if that’s going on in this league, it’s only a matter of time before some of these guys start getting plucked earlier and earlier in mainstream drafts.

It’s a slow draft and we’re only in Round15 right now, but here’s a look at some of the players being reached for here and whom you can expect to be reached for in your draft as well…

Gerrit Cole, SP PIT

NFBC ADP: 93.58 K-BAD Selection: 59

This was the first big reach of the draft and while we all know how much attention Cole is getting this spring, it still came as a pretty big surprise. Not only does he have an outstanding five-pitch arsenal, but his command on each and every pitch is equally good. He throws both a two and four-season fastball in the mid-90’s, gets strikeouts and ground balls with his curve and slider and then also throws a mean changeup at you as well. Most of the writers say that they’ve been driving his bandwagon, so it’s just a short matter of time before everyone else starts hopping on.

Jose Abreu, 1B CHW
NFBC ADP: 98.88 K-BAD Selection: 76

When word broke that it would be Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko splitting time at DH while the latest Cuban sensation would man first on his own, his value in the eyes of the pundits skyrocketed. Even more telling is the drop-off in talent you see at the position, so when he was taken with the first pick of the sixth round, it hardly should have been a surprise. In fact, I already had him queued up to be taken just two picks later but never got the chance. With so many of us all-in on Abreu, he’ll be more of a staple in the fifth round soon enough.

Xander Bogaerts, SS BOS
NFBC ADP: 162.79 K-BAD Selection: 89

To be perfectly honest, I just don’t get it. Similarly to Jurickson Profar last year, Bogaerts has been touted for his glove much more so than his bat. He showed some nice power at the lower levels in the minors, but with each step to a higher level, his ISO has gradually dropped. By the time he’s consistently getting at-bats at the major league level, we’re probably going to be looking at league-average power, at best. We’re not saying that’s bad, but a reach like we see here in the K-BAD league seems completely unnecessary.  

Danny Salazar, SP CLE
NFBC ADP: 132.62 K-BAD Selection: 111

Similarly to Cole, Salazar and his immense strikeout potential are being highly coveted by many of the experts this year. When he was missing 2010 and most of 2011 after Tommy John surgery, no one was talking about him and in 2012, we saw nothing spectacular by any means. But last year he turned a corner and we were looking at crazy strikeout numbers at both Double and Triple-A (we’re talking K/9 rates over 11.00) and he was able to maintain that through 10 start in the big leagues. If you want him, you’re going to have to reach for him because someone in your league is reading up on him right now and just champing at the bit to take him.

Sonny Gray, SP OAK
NFBC ADP: 154.11 K-BAD Selection: 133

I like to call this the reactionary reach pick because it was I who took Gray here a good round and a half before his usual ADP sits. Knowing how much I love him, his strikeout per inning potential, his pinpoint command and his mound poise, I knew that others would as well and with both Cole and Salazar going early, I knew that if I wanted Gray I would have to reach. And again, the point of this whole article is to show you that if you want a guy you know everyone else is coveting as well, you’re going to have to adjust your strategy and overall game plan because sometimes…the reach is necessary.

Nate Jones, RP CHW
NFBC ADP: 276.32 K-BAD Selection: 212

Just a quick mention here to serve as a warning. If you’re waiting on closers until the end and looking for those bargain, upside guys, Jones is no longer a best-kept secret. In fact, he’s turning borderline mainstream which is a crying shame because his return value was going to be insane if he stayed off the radar. But a high-strikeout, ground ball closer on the South Side of Chicago isn’t going to be kept a secret for much longer and the spring time performance is going to make him even more popular. If you want him, you’re going to have to reach for him too.

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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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