Has Kris Bryant's Average Draft Position Climbed Too Far in Fantasy Baseball Drafts?
The term "video-game numbers" does not describe what Kris Bryant has done this spring. If his on-base percentage were based solely on hitting home runs, it would be higher than the .268 mark Zack Cozart posted last year. He has as many home runs in 25 at-bats as the Atlanta Braves have in 776. His OPS may be higher than your GPA.
All of this has combined to amplify the hype-train Bryant has been chugging behind him since midseason last year. It has also taken his average draft position (ADP) to mind-boggling levels.
Just seven days ago, Bryant's ADP in ESPN leagues was at an understandable 156.7. As of Monday night, it was up to 116.7. That's a 40-position leap in seven days, equating to a rise of 25.5 percent. Good golly, Missy Molly.
This change has to make you ask the question: is Bryant still a smart selection at his current price? Let's take a look.
Playing Time Uncertainty
A big part of the question surrounding Bryant is about his playing time. Because MLB contracts rate well on the "wackness" scale, Bryant isn't likely to make his Major League debut until mid-April, so the Cubs can squeeze an extra year of team control. It's hard to fault the Cubs for doing this as it's the smart business decision, but it can cause some concerns when drafting Bryant in fantasy.
The earliest the Cubs could bring Bryant up if they want that extra year is April 17th, according to this report by ESPN's Jesse Rogers. If that were the case, you'd be missing him from your lineup for the first two weeks of the season.
This means you'd basically be using some replacement-level third baseman for your first two weeks. Two weeks of Brett Lawrie isn't going to kill you. In that respect, you can rest easily in picking Bryant.
Of course, there's always the possibility that the Cubs don't call Bryant up right away. This would put them in the position of choosing between, most likely, Mike Olt and potentially the best rookie since Mike Trout. Tough choice, chaps! Me thinks he'll be chatting with good ol' Theo at midnight on the 17th or shortly thereafter.
With that fear -- at least in my mind -- set aside, can his production justify his current ADP? It depends on whom you ask.
Back in January, numberFire's John Stolnis did a killer job breaking down the fantasy angle of Bryant's projections. He concluded that, if he were to reach his high-end projections, he could be one of the top producers of all third basemen in 2015.
That alone should be enough to make it seem as though Bryant's current ADP is justified. But now we also have more information about Bryant and where he is being taken in real drafts. This means we can compare him head-to-head with the other players in his draft wheelhouse.
The chart below shows the four third basemen being taken immediately before Bryant along with their 2015 projections. The projections for the top four players are via numberFire's projections. Because Bryant has not yet made his MLB debut, we will take his projection from Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections.
If you're in a 5-by-5 roto league, Bryant is projected to out-pace all four of those guys in four categories. It's not even really that close in three.
So if Bryant were to, indeed, fulfill his Neville-Longbottom-esque prophecy, he'd be more than worth his ADP. At the same time, Bryant still has as many big league plate appearances as the aforementioned fictional character. Can we reasonably have such grandiose expectations?
If Bryant were to hit those 29 home runs, he would become just the 10th rookie to do so since 1990. His projected 91 runs would rank 23rd in that timeframe, while the 96 RBI would rank 11th. While these are lofty expectations, they don't seem unreasonable for a guy that's being as highly touted as Bryant.
Based on all of this, it seems as though Bryant at his current ADP is totally justified. But there is nothing to suggest that his ADP is going to stay where it is. That 40-position jump was based on the last seven days. What will that number be after the next seven days? Eventually, you will reach a tipping point where Bryant won't be worth it.
Based on the chart above, a draft pick around 100 seems appropriate for Bryant. Anything before that isn't necessarily a reach, but it's placing a cap on any value you would get from him.
If you know you want Bryant on your team, you'll have to monitor his ADP each day with the crazy rate at which it's fluctuating. You should also set a limit of at what point you give up your dream so that you don't lose all of the value associated with his selection.
Yes, Bryant is posting unearthly numbers in spring training. No, he is not likely to duplicate those numbers in the regular season. However, he is looking like a guy in whom you can place a good hunk of trust. But if his ADP continues to rise, you may want to jump off that crazy train before his value falls through that same floor as well.