How Does Fantasy Baseball’s Position Scarcity Look For 2015?

Your goal at your fantasy baseball draft is to maximize the value at each of your starting positions. You have to start somebody at each position so your decision in each round isn’t only about which player you want to draft but what position you want to draft. That decision about which position to draft should be mainly driven by how many options you may have at those positions in the following rounds.

This post is going to specifically look at player value throughout a traditional 12 team roto league draft so draft rounds are referring to a player’s current average draft position (using the Fantasy Pros ADP data) and what round that falls in for a 12 team league. Despite references to draft rounds, the findings about which positions are most scarce can be applied to all league types.

First, let’s look at the average roto total WERTH values by draft position throughout the first 20 rounds of a draft. This will give us some indication of when there’s potential dropoffs in value at a position.

Draft Round
1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10 11-12 13-14 15-16 17-18 19-20
C
1
-3
0
-4
-2
-5
-4
-6
1B
7
3
0
0
-1
1
1
-2
2B
4
0
0
-3
-1
-2
-2
-2
-3
3B
3
-1
1
0
0
-3
-3
-1
SS
6
2
-1
-1
-2
-3
-3
-3
OF
6
2
2
1
-1
-1
-1
-3
-3
-2
SP
7
4
1
0
0
-1
-1
-1
-3
-3
RP
3
1
-1
-1
-2
-1
-2
-3
-4

Looking at the data above, you can see how the value flows throughout a draft at each position. But, beyond that, the question remains about how you should adjust your draft strategy this year as a result of potential position scarcity. A closer look at each position is needed.

Target 1B Early

First Baseman

There are five great options in the first two rounds for 1B and then a huge drop in value afterwards. While there’s still some decent options that follow in the next two rounds, it’s still a far cry from the top five here. After the first nine 1B are drafted, there’s a significant drop in value throughout the rest of the draft but, at that point, it’s best to just wait because there’s not a huge value difference between grabbing a Joey Votto in the 6th round or drafting a Justin Morneau or Eric Hosmer in the 16th round. The drop in value here from the early rounds is significant though so targeting 1B early is key.

Either Gamble Or Wait On These Positions

Catcher

This position has some major scarcity issues as there’s a pretty big dropoff after Buster Posey is off the board but there’s still some decent options at each stage in the draft. Evan Gattis is projected to be a good value at around the 100th pick and Brian McCann is still projected to be a viable player 50 picks later. Aside from that, there’s really not any great values at the catcher position if you miss on those guys so it’s best to just pick up someone like a Travis d’Arnaud at the tail end of the draft. Regardless, you have options.

Second Baseman

While there’s some scarcity here, you can find 2B value at all points in the draft. Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano will be the first names off the board then Ian Kinsler should be a decent value in the 5th round and Dustin Pedroia in the 8th round. If you miss on those then Ben Zobrist or Javier Baez are both solid values in the later rounds. While it’s nice to get one of the top two here, I wouldn’t worry too much if you don’t because there’s good value at many points.

Shortstop

There’s a lot of value to be had at the top here if you’re willing to gamble on the health of Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. Aside from gambling on those two, there’s not a ton of value at SS. Jose Reyes is a nice value in the 4th round and then Elvis Andrus is a decent value in the 10th round but it’s a bunch of slop after that. If you miss out on one of those SS, I’d gamble on the potential of a Xander Bogaerts in the 14th round or settle for the consistency of an Erick Aybar even later on.

Relief Pitcher

RP’s are notably hard to project because their value can be changed by a finicky manager who determines who is filling in the closer role and there’s always a lot of movement throughout the league there. The first four options at RP (Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen) represent the safest options and should all deliver great value but they will cost you an early round pick. You can possibly get similar value later but you have to rely on things like whether Jake McGee can get healthy or Andrew Miller can secure the closer role in New York. If you’re not a fan of risk then spending an early pick may be worth it. RP is so volatile that I’m not a fan of using an early pick on it because you can always find closers on the waiver wire if you’re active enough (especially if you’re using Closer Monkey to get notified of closer changes).

Don’t Wait Too Long On These Positions

Third Baseman

Much like 2B, this is a position that has some value at the top and then some stagnancy afterwards but there’s value to be had at 3B afterwards. I’d try to ensure that you have your 3B by the end of the 10th round because there’s a huge dropoff after that though. In the 5th or 6th rounds, Evan Longoria and Nolan Arenado are nice players to target but Pablo Sandoval and Manny Machado both represent a source of good value later on. I’d keep my eye on one of them instead of stressing about an early round option.

Outfield

There’s some serious elite value in the first round here and then it’s a pretty gradual decline without any huge notable drops in value. However, your options become more and more limited after the 10th round so I’d ensure you have at least most of your OF spots filled by this point. Afterwards, there’s some decent veteran options like Shin-Soo Choo, Jayson Werth and Denard Span and some higher potential options such as Joc Pederson, Lorenzo Cain and Oswaldo Arcia. Targeting an elite OF option is certainly a good idea but making sure you continue to find value options through the first 10 rounds is important here too.

Starting Pitcher

There’s Clayton Kershaw and then there’s everyone else. There’s probably not a single pitcher from the earlier rounds that doesn’t have at least some questions surrounding them (such as “how will Max Scherzer react to a new team and league?” or “will his playoff workload affect Madison Bumgarner?” and so on). While there’s certainly many talented options at all points in the draft, I feel that you can grab one or two elite arms early but then find some serious gems later in the draft if you know where to look. In the later rounds, there are guys that I’ve projected as possible sleepers such as Collin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker or Danny Salazar who may very well end up being just as valuable as the early draft picks. In my opinion, SP represents the best chance at finding value in the late rounds and I’d invest in some sure things but then load up my bench with a lot of high upside pitchers and hope that a few of them hit as low-risk but high-reward options.

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  • Smitty
    March 2, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Ever use the solver function in Excel to maximize the werth based on ADP and your draft position?