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Tracking ADP: The Youth Movement

Even if you’re not playing in a keeper league, the youngsters play an extremely important role in your fantasy baseball league. They always draw so much attention as everyone is looking to hit it big and be the one who drafts the next Albert Pujols or Ryan Braun or [insert any stud fantasy player’s name]. It’s almost a sickness as massive amounts of proven veteran talent is overlooked, year in and year out, while tons of youngsters with the ever-popular “high-upside” tag are snatched up and sometimes reached for, in most drafts.

Now obviously, there are plenty who are actually worth the high draft choice. Some are rookies who have shown that the minor league level can be easily mastered while others are second and third-year players who have shown growth in a variety of areas and are on the verge of a big breakout. We can go on a few different things such as projections systems and, shhhhh, don’t tell the sabermetricians, the “eye-test,” but while there are no guarantees, there is enough faith in these kids that some are going within the first three rounds without much of a proven track record.

So let’s take a look at what’s going on with the top 15 youngsters and their ADP trends. We’ll look and see where they are going in the NFBC, and now that we’re a week into spring training, we’ll also look at what the masses at Mock Draft Central are saying with their early drafting power. You might be surprised at some of the trends we’re seeing, or, if you’re one of those who love a nice 25-and-under fantasy team, you might not. Either way, it’s good business to know where everyone is falling into place.

NFBC

     
Player Team Pos Current ADP 1 Week Ago Trend
Mike Trout LAA OF 2.06 2.15 4.37%
Stephen Strasburg WAS SP 13.11 13.00 -0.84%
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 16.19 17.12 5.74%
Bryce Harper WAS OF 33.04 34.68 4.96%
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 52.53 54.76 4.25%
Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 61.64 60.82 -1.33%
Brett Lawrie TOR 3B 67.89 67.24 -0.96%
Chris Sale CHW SP 68.02 69.00 1.44%
Kris Medlen ATL SP 75.06 76.35 1.72%
Wilin Rosario COL C 80.11 79.44 -0.84%
Jose Altuve HOU 2B 92.91 93.71 0.86%
Eric Hosmer KC 1B 97.04 95.06 -2.04%
Matt Moore TB SP 97.49 100.26 2.84%
Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B 97.51 98.74 1.26%
Mark Trumbo LAA OF 97.66 105.20 7.72%

Mock Draft Central
     
Player Team Pos Current ADP 1 Week Ago Trend
Mike Trout LAA OF 2.86 2.10 -26.57%
Bryce Harper WAS OF 16.85 18.22 8.13%
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 20.31 18.37 -9.55%
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 20.67 24.00 16.11%
Stephen Strasburg WAS SP 32.60 30.12 -7.61%
Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B 49.44 53.15 7.50%
Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 51.84 54.19 4.53%
Eric Hosmer KC 1B 58.22 57.83 -0.67%
Brett Lawrie TOR 3B 68.64 67.99 -0.95%
Mark Trumbo LAA OF 69.52 73.51 5.74%
Wilin Rosario COL C 75.74 83.83 10.68%
Kris Medlen ATL SP 78.07 75.72 -3.01%
Chris Sale CHW SP 90.92 87.15 -4.15%
Jose Altuve HOU 2B 99.48 99.02 -0.46%
Matt Moore TB SP 137.21 126.34 -7.92%

Mike Trout, OF LAA – I’ve been in over a dozen mock drafts and two real ones and I have yet to see Trout fall out of the top three. I’ve seen him go first overall in both keeper and re-draft leagues, so while there may be an overall expectation that the kid will regress from his masterful rookie season, the belief is that there will still be enough home runs, stolen bases and .300-plus average to mandate such a pick.

Stephen Strasburg, SP WAS – Interesting difference here as he has maintained a strong place in the NFBC as a late first –rounder with virtually no movement, but is going close to 20 picks later in drafts over at MDC. Not only that, but he’s even dropped by 7.61% over the last week as more and more of Joe Everyman take it to heart when they analyze an expert mock draft and read that standard phrase, “You know, I don’t normally take starting pitching this early but…” And it’s not just Strasburg, as you’ll see. Pitching, on the whole is massively down at MDC comparatively speaking.

Giancarlo Stanton, OF MIA – Is it just that the masses haven’t caught up to the smarties of the NFBC yet or is there some lack of overall faith in the power potential of Stanton? In the NFBC he is gradually rising each week and is on the cusp of breaking into first round territory while he not only remains second round material at MDC, but he’s actually taken a 9.55% drop. Now obviously this high up in the draft that only amounts to a pick or two, but most experts will tell you that you’re making a mistake bypassing this raw and untapped power potential. So many are expecting this 23-year old’s first 40-home run season.

Bryce Harper, OF WAS – Here’s an interesting reversal in opinion as the pundits of the NFBC are willing to wait almost a full round to get at this 20-year old, potentially 20-20 phenom, while the masses are already sold on his potential fantasy studliness. But don’t think that anyone is really sleeping on this kid as you can see that he is trending upwards in both places.

Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE – The Tribe’s talented, young, soon-to-be 20-20 keystone guy seems to have leveled off as an early fourth round pick in NFBC drafts, and, if you assume most drafting at MDC are playing in 12-team leagues, he is trending towards that spot there as well. Yes, second base is relatively thin, but that alone shouldn’t justify the high pick, should it? Perhaps it’s because most believe that the first-half Kipnis we saw in 2012 is more representative of the talent level that the second-half Kipnis was. If so, this youngster is going to keep on climbing.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B ARI – The only thing better than 30-home run potential from a youngster is 30-home run potential with some double-digit steals thrown in there. It also didn’t hurt to see him hit for an unexpected solid average, but he showed some tremendous plate discipline as a rookie and the general consensus is that it was no fluke. While Goldy is trending upwards everywhere, it’s obviously the masses who are overlooking the massive depth at the first base position, taking him as early as the second round. The 16.11% increase may just be a handful of picks, but that’s a pretty big deal, seeing him crack the top 20 overall. If he’s a must-have then you’re going to have to invest early, but you may want to take a page from the NFBC playbook and not get so jumpy. I mean, he looks great and all, but sometimes it’s just about value.

Brett Lawrie, 3B TOR – Now this is the first player where both the NFBC drafters and the masses over at MDC truly agree. We all know that Lawrie is a tremendous talent and the fact that he will be hitting lower in the order should boost those RBI totals, but with only third base eligibility (some leagues had him second base-eligible coming up last year) he settles in where he’s at as the power might not be where it should be for a high pick at the hot corner.

Chris Sale, SP CHW – As we saw with Strasburg, starting pitching is way behind over at MDC compared to the NFBC and Sale provides another strong example. Perhaps it’s because most of the people drafting at the NFBC feel that the competition is so strong that you really can’t wait on the top starters and those doing mock drafts at this time of year at MDC are more confident in their abilities against weaker competition. Either way, this young lefty has, more or less, plateaued in NFBC drafts while he drops a little over at MDC. Personally, I think you can expect pitching to start trending upwards at MDC the closer we get to the season. Not everyone is on board with waiting and not everyone is immune to those panicky draft feelings which cause you to start reaching a round or two early for everyone you covet.

Kris Medlen, SP ATL – Both groups have Medlen pegged somewhere in the mid-70’s for ADP and while he’s moved up in one and down in the other, he’s, pretty much, stabilized and settled into this spot. He had a brilliant showing last year as he looked solid in the first half from out of the Braves’ bullpen, but he took his game to a whole new level – somewhere in the stratosphere—when they put him into the rotation. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him start climbing a little more soon, once more magazines have hit the shelves and more people start purchasing some of these web site’s draft kits. So many people are so high on him that a potential jump of a round or so doesn’t see so far-fetched.

Wilin Rosario, C COL – Everyone loves a power-hitting catcher, don’t they? Especially one in Colorado. Rosario has stabilized around the 80th overall pick in the NFBC, but with a 10.68% increase over at MDC, he is rapidly climbing the charts. The catching position is nice and deep, but it seems that once the top five come off the board, everyone is looking for Rosario sooner and sooner. Careful though. Don’t get too caught up in his power. The batting average came around in the second half last year, but he’ll need to maintain that for a whole season before we elevate him too much.

Jose Altuve, 2B HOU – The diminutive, young speedster is hovering just inside the top 100 overall in both places and rightfully so. He’s got exceptional talent but the reputation is not so overblown that you feel the need to reach too high for him. The top tier talent at second goes fairly quickly but allows you some time to get someone like Altuve before most start fishing for their middle infielder spot. Continue to look for him where he is and don’t be too concerned if others start reaching. That’s their panic, not yours.

Eric Hosmer, 1B KC – He was a highly-touted power hitter who dazzled in his half-year two seasons ago, but took a major step backwards last season. There are several theories as to how he will bounce back this year as most look at his improved plate discipline as an assurance that he was just suffering from some horrible BABIP luck. He seems to have plateaued in both places, but he’s going significantly higher, nearly 40 picks, over at MDC. That could actually be a little more panic than anything else as the top first basemen come flying off the board early. There is tremendous talent there, don’t get me wrong, but there’s also a lot of work to be done on his end to justify drafting him so early.

Matt Moore, SP TB – Again, it’s so difficult to talk about starting pitching with such a huge variance in ADP. Moore had a solid, not spectacular, rookie campaign, so it’s just a matter of how much you believe in the hype he had coming into last season. We’ll have to do some more pitching specific analysis in the coming weeks, but, personally, I’m definitely a fan.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B CHC – Similarly to pitching, but in reverse, there’s a huge variance in ADP for first basemen between the two spots. We might see it settle down a bit soon and find a happy medium between how late some of these young sluggers are going in the NFBC and how so many people are reaching early for them at MDC. Those in the NFBC will start to see the value in a guy like Rizzo while the masses will start to look at the draft board and realize that there’s not such a rush as so many people have their first basemen early and aren’t too worried about their corner infield slot just yet. You can see just how anxious the masses are with that 7.50% increase, vaulting Rizzo into the top 50 overall. I’d say to start targeting him in the seventh or even eighth round of a 12-team draft. That should prove to be where the value to be had is at right now.

Mark Trumbo, OF LAA – If he somehow qualifies at third base in your league, then elevate him early as the power is for real and he’s going to be playing every day. If he’s just at first base or the outfield, then look for that good ol’ happy medium again between ADP’s of each one here. Mind you, he is trending upwards in both, so more and more are in agreement that the second half was more of an aberration than anything else, but don’t get overly excited and reach for him where most are taking him at MDC right now. After all, while the power is real, there is still legitimate concern that the batting average will stay closer to the second half level than the first.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy and for more detailed questions, thoughts or comments, you can email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

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