Fantasy Baseball ADP Analysis: Pitcher Risers and Fallers
Over this past week, I've been checking out recent season-long draft trends to see how fantasy baseball enthusiasts have been drafting this month compared to way back in March. This includes how the first round has changed, in addition to the most noticeable risers and fallers at first base, third base, catcher, second base, shortstop, and outfielder.
Finally, it's time to check out which pitchers have seen the most movement.
I'll be using average draft position (ADP) data from NFBC's 12-team Sprint - Rotowire Online Championship drafts and comparing it to what ADP looked like in March. This should give us an idea of how players are now being valued and whether that's changed over the last several months.
Obviously, there are a boatload of pitchers, so rather than trying to list out everyone, I'll whittle it down to the 30 biggest risers and 15 biggest fallers within the top 300 overall picks.
For reference, I've included consensus projections from FantasyPros, which includes numberFire's own model.
|McCullers Jr., Lance||160.5||28.4||50.4||55||4||0||3.78||1.29|
- What's abundantly clear right away is the rise of relief pitchers across the board. The short season boosts the importance of every single save, and with far less time to play the waiver wire game, paying a premium on closers may be a necessity. Even shaky bets like Hunter Harvey, Tony Watson, Brandon Kintzler, and Mark Melancon have seen massive leaps in ADP as drafters scramble for anything they can get.
- Likewise, we see intriguing setup men like Corey Knebel, Seth Lugo, and Emilio Pagan move up. Between potential saves, occasional wins, strong ratios, and the general uncertainty with how teams will ultimately handle starter innings this year, top-of-the-line setup men will likely have a lot of value, too.
- If we expanded the above chart, it would show that the top closers also see fairly sizable bumps like Josh Hader (+10.4) and Kirby Yates (+11.3). In fact, Hader is now hovering around the top-12 pitchers overall, and some projections really love him this year. The NFBC has an overall component that must be factored into this collective rise in relievers, so normal drafts may play slightly differently, but chances are you'll need to bump up all relief pitchers if you want to be competitive in saves.
- Moving over to starting pitchers, cue the rocket ship emoji for Rich Hill, who is the biggest riser since March. Hill wasn't going to be ready for the start of the season back then, but fast forward several months, and he's all set for this new July start. Now with the Minnesota Twins, health is always the issue with the Hill, but we don't need him to stay on the mound nearly as long this time around, and he maintained a fantastic 29.8% strikeout rate over 13 starts in 2019.
- Top prospects like Nate Pearson and Spencer Howard see movement, and while neither one has a confirmed role yet, they're both in line to contribute early on. An injury to Chase Anderson has opened up an opportunity for Pearson to win a rotation spot. Howard isn't expected to make the opening day roster, but the Phillies only need to keep him off for a week to secure an extra year of control. Both players have put up impressive numbers in the Minors.
- Ross Stripling is most likely to be the main beneficiary of David Price's decision to opt-out. Stripling has consistently posted impressive numbers with the Dodgers, and the lack of a full-time starting role is one of the only things that's held down his fantasy value. Price's absence will also give Dustin May starting opportunities, and Alex Wood appears to have secured a rotation spot.
- Like Hill, James Paxton gets a boost from the extra time off, as back surgery was originally going to keep him out until May. He's now slated to start the Yankees' second game, but it's worth noting his fastball velocity is down, which could be a red flag.
- Miami Marlins starters Caleb Smith and Sandy Alcantara both drop a couple of rounds. Smith walks too many guys and gave up a boatload of home runs last year, but he has a promising strikeout rate (26.0% in 2019), and his fly-ball tendencies should play well in Marlins Park at least. As manager Don Mattingly said the other day, Alcantara is one of those guys who's always had good "stuff," and he was a breakout candidate last year, but it ultimately hasn't shown up on the stat sheet yet.
- Masahiro Tanaka took a scary line drive to the head a couple of weeks ago, but it sounds like he may only miss one turn in the rotation. Following a mediocre 2019 season where Tanaka saw a decline in strikeout rate, projections aren't particularly exciting for the veteran right-hander.
- Will Smith is a positive test case, which is another reason why Braves teammate Mark Melancon has risen up the ADP ranks as the closer to begin the season. Smith is asymptomatic, though, so he should return quickly and could get into the saves mix down the line.