This is the time of year when everyone is firing off their top-whatever lists ranking players in fantasy baseball. Those lists certainly have value as they give you an idea of what the “experts” are thinking in terms of player value, but they are really only half the story. Just because I have Howie Kendrick as my 11th second baseman, doesn’t tell you two things. (1) It doesn’t tell you where he is being drafted (maybe everyone else has him 16th?). (2) It doesn’t tell you when he is being drafted? That’s where ADP comes into play.
What is ADP? Simply put, it means Average Draft Position. What is that? It’s just what it says – in a standard draft when, on average, is the player being drafted? This information is crucial. Let’s return to our example of Howie Kendrick.
Again, let’s postulate my rankings system has Kendrick at 11th amongst second basemen. Therefore, you would most likely want to draft Kendrick after the top-10 second sackers were out of the way right (duh)? Now I trust my own draft list so I would have a lot of confidence in it on draft day, but I would be foolish not to check out what others were thinking. The best way to do this is to look over ADP information from a source, something like Couch Managers for example. That site offers draft software which enables people to do as many mock drafts as time permits. After those drafts, the site then compiles all the data and presents its ADP data based up on all the drafts for a specific time frame. This way you can average out the Anaheim crazy who drafted Kendrick 5th at the position as well as those leagues that are scared away by his poor track record of health causing him to fall to 22nd. The resulting number would be his “average” draft position (how convenient given the title of this piece, no?) This is the real world information you need in order to know where he is being drafted at the position as well as where he is being drafted overall.
Let’s take a look at the actual data.
Currently, Kendrick has an ADP of 173 according to Couch Managers. This means that he is going 173rd overall in standard leagues. So, if you are trying to decide if you should take him with the 122nd pick overall, you’d likely be able to wait at least another round or two before being pressed into having to make a decision. If you think Kendrick can be the 122nd most valuable player you can certainly draft him at that spot, but the ADP information allows you to understand that you don’t need to draft him that early – that is if you buy into the law of averages and what others are doing.
Secondarily, ADP data obviously gives you an understanding of where amongst the hierarchy at the position a player is being selected. Again, if I have him at 11th yet his ADP value shows him to be going 18th at the position as he is according to Couch Managers, I may be able to wait a bit longer before pulling the trigger on the Angels’ second sacker.
Third, ADP data is also useful because it can help to solidify some tiering thoughts in your mind. As an example, at second base Dan Uggla has an ADP of 87, 11th at the position. The 12th man on the list, Asdrubal Cabrera, isn’t being drafted until 120th overall. That means the average fantasy drafter clearly sees a big gap in the perceived value of second basemen with 33 spots in the overall rankings separating #11 from #12. Useful information, right?
In future pieces I’ll break down some of those players that I think are going off the board too early, as well as some of those that might be great draft day bargains, but I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page when it came to ADP data before I moved into the nitty gritty of it.
And finally, in case you missed it, one of the greatest sports stories I have ever come across showed up today, and I would be remiss if I didn’t direct you towards it. It involves a wiener, a guys eye, and a mascot, and if you think that sounds oddly enticing do yourself a favor and click on the link to Living Up the Nickname. Trust me, you won’t regret spending a few minutes on this one.
By Ray Flowers