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Early ADP Trends For AL and NL-Only Leagues

Written By: Howard Bender on 1/27/2012 10:54 AM
The amount of data in for us to work with right now is fairly limited, but it’s probably a good idea to start the process of looking at some of the ADP trends in the single leagues as well.  We should see a major increase in draft reporting over the next few weeks, obviously as we near spring training, but also because the majority of free agents have signed on and AL and NL-only leagues have a much better idea of what their player pools will look like here in 2012.  If you’d like to look at the individual ADP trend reports, then you can follow the links here – AL Only ADP Trend Report; NL Only ADP Trend Report – but we’re just going to highlight a few things for now as the fluctuations should be significant as more data comes in.

AL Only League Trends (28 leagues reporting)

It’s pretty easy to understand why Albert Pujols has been the consensus top pick with little or no variance over the last few weeks.  However, coming in at number two is Miguel Cabrera who has actually seen an 84.5% increase over the last two weeks, moving from a third, fourth or even fifth pick to a no-brainer second choice.  But there’s a chance that you could see Miggy overtake Pujols in the coming weeks.  He’s actually moved up 46.0% in just the past week and now with news of Prince Fielder hitting behind him in that Tigers lineup, that number could increase.

We’re also seeing Adrian Gonzalez shoot up the rankings as he’s seen an increase of 63.1% in the past two weeks.  With Jacoby Ellsbury’s 25.1% drop and Justin Verlander’s 11.7% decrease, there’s a good chance we see A-Gone reach to the fourth overall pick in most leagues.

And speaking of Verlander’s drop, also very noticeable is the declining trend of starting pitching, well, top starting pitching to be exact.  With the exception of Jered Weaver who saw a 12.6% increase (from the 18th pick to the 16th pick), the top 10 starting pitchers in the AL have either taken a noticeable hit or have remained stagnant at best in the rankings.  With the more data that comes in, the obvious notion that offense wins fantasy becomes more and more prevalent.

Trust in rookies is losing its luster as more and more owners are relying on proven talent early on.  Desmond Jennings (-13.2%), Brett Lawrie (-23.0%), and Jemile Weeks (-10.4%) have all taken a hit in the rankings.  However, strange as it seems, Mariners rookie second baseman Dustin Ackley is bucking the trend and has actually seen a 51.7% increase over the last two weeks, moving from a mid-90’s pick into an early 60’s pick.  Perhaps more people are putting their faith into a stronger surrounding lineup as Ackley doesn’t project to be very productive in any category but batting average.  With some offensive upgrades, maybe his runs scored will see an increase this season.

Catchers, overall, are taking a significant hit in the ADP rankings right now.  Carlos Santana (-8.8%) is dangerously close to falling out of the top 20 and once you move past the next three or four backstops, the remaining catchers have all taken a significant hit.  In fact, the biggest catcher run, which you’ll find between picks 137 and 156, all have taken a hit of greater than 10.0%.  The position has one or two clear cut stars such as Santana and Mike Napoli, but the rest are being considered fairly interchangeable and people have decided that waiting on the position is the most sensible course of action.  If you want a top catcher, then you’ll still be able to wait until the third round, but beyond that, it looks like the 12 round is where most of the action will be.

Relievers, on the whole, are also being taken a little earlier as more drafts are reporting.  Mariano Rivera continues to be the first closer off the board with a fourth round selection, but you’re also seeing the closer runs moving up the board as well.  The first group, that consists of players like Jordan Walden (19.4%), Andrew Bailey (27.6%), Joakim Soria (17.7%), and Sergio Santos (5.3%) went from picks in the ninth and tenth rounds to picks in the seventh and eighth.  It appears that if you want to lock into some saves this season, you’re going to have to pay a heftier price than in years past.

The Biggest Winner:  Mark Melancon, RP  BOS (90.0%) – It appears that few people have faith in Andrew Bailey staying healthy this year or even holding down the job.  Melancon has shot up the ADP charts by nearly 100 picks.  He went from being taken somewhere around the 208th pick to the 109th in just a two week span.

The Biggest Loser:  Victor Martinez, C  DET (-84.3%) – Surgery to fix a torn ACL in the off season coupled with missing all of the upcoming season will do that to your draft position.

NL Only League Trends (46 leagues reporting)

Position scarcity, particularly at shortstop, is the name of the game here in the NL.  Troy Tulowitzki (181.9%) is just a few drafts away from taking over the number one overall spot while both Jose Reyes (25.9%) and Hanley Ramirez (19.5%) have cracked the top 10 overall.  Most people in mixed leagues have been down on both of them due to injury history, but in NL –only leagues, owners are locking them in as quickly as possible.  In fact, despite the distinct separation in ADP rankings, all of the top 10 NL shortstops have seen an increase over the last two weeks.

No one is scared of Ryan Braun’s potential 50-game suspension.  He’s seen a 103.5% increase over the last two weeks and sits just outside the top 10 overall.  Supposedly there will be a resolution by the start of spring training, but for now, no one seems concerned.  And rightfully so…a mid-June arrival for Braun will still produce better totals than most of the other NL outfielders out there.

Starting pitching gets a little more attention in the NL than it does in the AL.  Three of the top 10 overall are starting pitchers, none of whom seem to be sliding out of their positions.  Clayton Kershaw at #6 overall, has taken the biggest hit at -9.2%, but as we all know, fluctuations of less than 10.0% are fairly negligible, even this high up in the rankings.  As for the others, the other seven pitchers who make up the top 10 all go before the 33rd overall pick and the only one who has seen any real decrease is Cole Hamels who remains at #15 overall but has seen an 18.2% drop over the past two weeks.

Welcome to the NL:  #50 Michael Cuddyer, OF  COL (+190.1%) – Imagine if he was listed as a 2B here on MDC; #57 Gio Gonzalez, SP WAS (+165.7%) – primed for a big increase in K’s; #86  Trevor Cahill, SP  ARI (+87.2%) – Obviously he’s been in the NL longer than the other two which is why his increase is starting to stabilize.  Imagine over the next few weeks how big a jump Marco Scutaro is going to have as a newcomer to the NL and a shortstop!

If you thought third base was thin in mixed leagues, check out the fact that there are only four NL third basemen in the top 40 overall picks.  And until you get down to Mat Gamel (#183 overall, #12 for 3B, -4.3% ADP over last 2 weeks), every third sacker is on the rise.  It looks like even if you want a top 10 guy, you’re going to have to overpay a little.

Bryce Harper has seen an increase of 98.3% over the last two weeks, moving from a 17th or 18th round selection to a ninth rounder in your average 12-team leagues.  Even without the guarantees of playing time, he is going to be someone you need to act fast on if you want to get him.  The rumors of an early May call-up are running rampant and people are going to pay for that in drafts.

The Biggest Winner:  Michael Cuddyer, OF COL (190.1%) – A few came close to him, but that power now in Colorado with second base eligibility is going to be one highly coveted commodity come draft day.

The Biggest Loser:  Brett Jackson, OF  CHC (-36.0%) – With the Cubs inability to trade Alfonso Soriano or Marlon Byrd, coupled with the signing of David Dejesus, it looks like Jackson will toil in the minors for a longer than people had hoped.  He looks like a decent mid-season call-up, but his value is taking a hit in 2012.


Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including Rotowire, FanGraphs and The Fantasy Baseball Buzz.  You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at