Early ADP Player Comparisons

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No matter how prepared you are for a snake draft, curveballs are going to come your way. Your buddy is going to take your big sleeper two picks before you. When you skip over a player thinking “he’ll be there next round”, POOF, he’s gone. But every now and then the fantasy gods throw you a bone. You become torn between two players, and the decision often feels like it will make or break your season. No matter how many different opinions you read, you cannot figure out which player will lead your team to the promise land. This article should give you two more set of opinions to further cloud (or clarify) your decision making when the time comes.

All ADP values taken from FantasyPros.com

Adam Jones [ADP 11.4] or Ryan Braun [ADP 13.2]

Aaron – The kid who aces every test versus the guy who cheats off of him. Jones is virtually a lock to repeat his numbers from 2013 (which were almost identical to 2012). He’s a 5-tool contributor who has only missed 2 games in the last 2 years. 2014 Ryan Braun may be the most intriguing yet. The guy has been a bona fide stud his entire career. It just goes to show you how far HGH can take a person. Knowing that Braun would play 150+ games, producing like he always has, Braun is a top 3 player. But the risk this year is greater than ever. Whatever he was putting into his body was helping him out; but to what extent? Is he still doing it? I’m minimizing risk in my 1st or 2nd pick of the draft and going with Jones.

Ben – A year ago if I asked you who you would rather have between Braun and Jones you would have bit my hand off taking Braun, but this year the decision is a little closer! First, let’s consider the projections for each player: Jones will bat behind the power of Chris Davis and that means he will probably lose out on RBIs, but he should counter this with runs by batting in front of Wieters, Cruz and Hardy. Both players are projected for around 30 homers and 15 steals so it comes down to average,and it’s here the pendulum swings heavily towards Braun and his projected average of nearly .300, in comparisons to Jones projection of around .280. So from a purely statistical view of things Braun should be your man but unfortunately we have the small issue of Braun and his PED usage. If you believe Braun has been taking PEDs right up until his suspension then you will be worried that a Braun off juice will be a shadow of his former self power wise. However, if you believe he stopped taking PED’s after his positive test then it’s possible he still has the power without the pills. Add in Braun’s injuries from last year and your concern will just keep growing. So the answer to which of these guys I want comes down to two things: Jones plays in a number of hitter friendly parks in the AL East and perhaps more importantly is less risky in terms of a drop off, injury or suspension.

Edwin Encarnacion [ADP 15.2] or Joey Votto [ADP 16.4]

Aaron – Pure power versus pure hitting. Encarnacion can smack the ball around the park. He hasn’t been the guy to put together a bunch of full seasons, but he’s hitting home runs when healthy. His average can fall anywhere in the .240-.280 range, yet his OBP sits at .350 for his career. Joey Votto is coming off a down year in which he only hit .305 with 25 HRs. He took a staggering 135 BBs which just shows how well the guy sees the ball. His .419 career OBP backs that up. Votto runs the bases a little better than Encarnacion which leads to more Rs each yeah. These guys are close, but I’ll take one of the greatest hitters in the game in Votto to man my 1B position.

Ben – If you are drafting late in the first round this year then it may be that within the space of a few picks you will face two of the conundrums presented in this article. First the stats: Votto walks a lot so he will have a great average and should score plenty of runs by being on base plenty. However, those walks negatively affect his HR and RBI numbers giving the more carefree Encarnacion the advantage in these categories. Steals should be fairly even with neither guy being a speedster but able to grab a couple of bases for your fantasy teams. Now to the line-up around them: both guys will bat third behind two players who should get on base plenty with powerful hitter right behind them so again this is a wash. What tips this over the edge for me is Encarnacion returning from wrist surgery, which for a power hitter is a minor concern, whereas Votto has had a normal healthy winter. For that reason alone Votto just edges it for me.

Shelby Miller [ADP 118.0] or Alex Cobb [ADP 118.2]

Aaron – Two of the game’s breakout pitchers from 2013, Miller and Cobb lived up to their sleeper hype. You won’t find many players who are being drafted at almost the same exact position with peripherals this similar.

K/9

K%

BB/9

BB%

BABIP

GB%

FB%

S. Miller

8.78

23.4

2.96

7.9

.280

38.4

41.3

A. Cobb

8.41

23.2

2.83

7.8

.279

55.8

22.5

As you can see from the table above, these guys are mirror images of each other. The only difference in their game is the way they are hit. Cobb induces far more ground balls than Miller. Being on the Rays, Cobb’s BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) stays low due to their solid fielding. A higher fly ball rate can lead to more HRs, but some pitchers know how to make hitters pop it up without making solid contact. I don’t think Miller’s 41.3% fly ball rate is cause for concern, but I prefer ground ball pitchers. That being said, I still think Miller has the edge with his “stuff”. His pitches are more violent than Cobb’s which should lead to a slight increase in strikeouts; the only category I see him beating Cobb in. Again, I’ll minimize risk and go with Cobb.

Ben – Two young guys who are likely to be pitching 180 plus innings for good teams in decent parks make this an interesting matchup. Projections: Miller should strike out 10-15 more guys but is projected to have a worse ERA (3.60ish compared to 3.30ish). They should be fairly even in WHIP and playing in strong teams should get 10-15 wins. Cobb missed a chunk of last season through injury but it was a concussion caused by being hit by the ball, so is not something to worry about. Meanwhile Miller suffered a curious absence during the postseason last year but the Cardinals have reassured everyone it was not injury related and the news Miller won’t be strictly limited this year is good. However, I’m taking Cobb this year when faced with this decision purely because I feel the better ERA is worth sacrificing those few strikeouts for.

Josh Hamilton [ADP 73.2] or Billy Hamilton [ADP 79.0]

Aaron – We go from comparing the Olsen’s to Jekyll and Hyde. Josh is going to get you HRs and RBIs; Billy will get you Rs and SBs. A lot of SBs. Although Josh played 150+ games last year (something he’s only done twice now) he only managed 21 HRs and 73 RBIs. His BABIP was down almost 30 points from his career average which could help explain the .250 average, but not the drop in power. He’s always an injury risk, but the numbers indicate that last year may have just been a down year for the big slugger. Billy is a completely different breed. He shattered the minor league record for steals in a season, capturing instant fame in his back pocket. Don’t be fooled by his .368 average from last year, albeit a limited sample size. He was a decent hitter in the minors but I don’t see him being above .300 anytime soon. He strikes out a lot and won’t be hitting many homeruns, but he’s the guy who could win you SBs every week. My decision here would be based on who I’ve drafted to this point. If I have 3-4 solid power hitters who don’t run at all, I’m going with the speedster. If I picked up a couple of 20/20 guys in the early rounds, I’d take the plunge with Josh to get me more power.

Ben – Who would have thought that two years removed from a power bonanza, we would be comparing Josh Hamilton to a guy who is unlikely to hit 5 homers this year. But here we are and its down to one thing that Billy possesses… speed. Billy is predicted to steal 65+ bases this year which is an extraordinary number and should lead to a decent runs total as well. However, that comes at a cost as he is likely to be a .250 average guy with less than 50 RBI as well as barely any homers. In contrast Josh may only steal 5 or so bases but he will likely hit for a 260 average, smash 25 balls out of the park and knock in 90+ runs all while scoring a similar amount of runs. Ok so Josh is aging, has been injury prone in the past and had a terrible year last year, but I’ll still take the guy who at worst hurts me in two categories (Steals and Average) over a guy I know will hurt me in two (HR’s and RBI) categories at least and may even be worse in average. One caveat to this is if I have landed a bulk of power early and negated on steals Billy is a great way to put you right back up there in steals but the risk is if he doesn’t hit he could find himself in the minors. I don’t see that happening with Josh at all.

TRIPLE PLAY: Brandon Phillips [ADP 109.4] or Aaron Hill [ADP 115.0] or Jedd Gyorko [ADP 117.6]

Aaron – BP is the model of consistency: 18 HRs in each of the last 4 years. He’s had at least 18 HRs and 78 RBIs in each of the last 7 years. The only knock on Phillips is that he has lost his speed in the last few years. Aaron Hill is very similar to Phillips statistically with a litter greater risk of injury. Hill’s batting average has increased in the last two years, sitting right around .295, which is a stark contrast from his .205 and .246 from ’10 and ’11. Gyorko seems to have things figured out at a young age. Although he only hit .248 last year, he slugged 23 home runs in only 125 games. His HR/FB% was a little high at 14.9% meaning he could have gotten some lucky shots land over the fence, but his LD% sits at 22% which is higher than Phillips and Hill. In a dynasty league Gyorko is a no brainer. And he makes a very compelling case to be the top guy chosen here in standard redrafts league.

Ben – First off none of the three will help you in steals and they are fairly even in RBIs and Rs. As for average Hill should have the slight advantage over the other two but Gyorko will likely hit 5-10 more homers than either of them. The fact Gyorko plays in the least hitter friendly park is a concern but he has a decent line up around him and he appears to have power to spare. Hill will likely be the most consistent of the three and Philips has the advantage that he could be batting behind Hamilton and in front of Votto. However, I am going for Gyorko here because I believe that a power hitter who was consistently around a 300 average in the minors is a rare thing at second base. Second I will take Hill because he has the advantage over Phillips in average and power.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @MoreThanFantasy and Ben @brolfe1507 for all things Fantasy Baseball

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