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Collette Calls: Over & Undervalued

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at theprocessreport.net. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

Goodbye football, hello baseball. Just yesterday, I was at my local barber shop and the talk in the room was still about "the call" in the Super Bowl. The barber cutting my hair said he was ready for baseball season and I knew I was sitting in the right chair.

The annual Slooooow Fantasy 411 Mock Draft is underway and it is a great tool to see where the industry pundits are on certain players. Myself, as well as Jeff and DVR, are in on this snake draft and it has been fun to do thus far. To read the explanations of the picks, go here. If you'd like to see how the picks are in spreadsheet format with color coding so you can quickly identify positions, go here.

The mock draft is a one and done situation because we do not play the league out, or even track the statistics throughout the year. The main reason we developed this annual exercise was to help each of us help you all as well ourselves as nearly all of us has at least one team in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship.

However, the skin enters the game this week as the mixed LABR draft happens this Tuesday night. Erickson again gets to pick out of the top spot as he did in the mock draft, while Paul Sporer and I team up for the third spot in the draft. Last year, we called our shot and took Carlos Gomez eighth overall; this year we are calling our shot again. We are taking Giancarlo Stanton with that third pick unless that stinking Canadian nemesis of ours, Fred Zinkie, does not take Andrew McCutchen second overall. To see how the rest of the draft plays out this coming Tuesday night, you can go here to view the results live.

Paul and I have been combing through names and numbers to come up with our plan for Tuesday night, but here is a guy at each position that I feel is being overdrafted and one that is being underdrafted according to NFBC ADP Data.

CATCHER:

Overdrafted - Salvador Perez (ADP 110) - He is the seventh catcher off the board in drafts, coming off a season in which he hit 17 home runs with a .260/.289/.403 slash line. His slugging percentage and OBP have declined each of the last three seasons and while he hits for average, this is a hefty price for a catcher in a park that favors pitchers. In some leagues, he is being drafted ahead of the likes of Evan Gattis, Brian McCann, and Matt Wieters. I'd take any three of those over Perez at that price in 2015.

Underdrafted - John Jaso (ADP 298) - One of the frustrating things with catchers is that they are prone to injury to the nature of their job in the field and that they do not start one to two times a week due to the wear and tear of squatting. Good news - Jaso is only going to be the emergency catcher for Tampa Bay this season. He is going to be the DH for most of the year, and will likely be hitting in the second spot of the lineup. He hits for average, is a good baserunner, and should score more runs than most catchers. Right now, he's the 20th catcher off the board. That's criminal!

FIRST BASE:

Overdrafted - Joe Mauer (ADP 233) - Yes, it is possible to overdraft someone in a later round. Mauer's days at catcher are over, so he is now a one-category first baseman. In short, he is what James Loney has been mocked for being for years. Yet, Loney is going more than 100 picks after Mauer. First base is a position where you need to have power production or elite batting average, and while Mauer has the skills to do the latter, he has played more than 140 games just once since 2008.

Underdrafted - Mike Napoli (ADP 264) - He had a down year for Boston in 2014 that involved injuries as well as serious sleep apnea. The latter is now fixed. The thing that flew under the radar with him last season is that he improved his strikeout rate while posting the second-best walk rate of his career. He remains in a park suited for his swing and should be back to the run producer he was from 2011-2013. His current ADP is behind the likes of Steve Pearce and is right in line with the cost of Kennys Vargas. C'mon, man!

SECOND BASE:

Overdrafted - Jose Altuve (ADP 13) - I like Altuve quite a bit, but it's quite the reach to have him as the top second baseman off the board in 2015. He's coming off a season where his batting average was 51 points higher than his previous career best, and he had the high stolen base rate built off of those extra times on base. His game is compiling numbers, and the steals could easily drop back to the mid-30s where he was the previous two seasons. There's simply no value in taking him at the turn or at the end of the first round in bigger leagues.

Underdrafted - Ben Zobrist (ADP 154) - I know I am on record stating that Zobrist's days as a double-double guy are likely over. That does not mean he is chopped meat and should be going this far out of the top 100. Zobrist is still one of just five second basemen that Steamer projects for at least 80 runs, and he is more likely to get to 12 home runs than he is 12 steals. The dependable vet has one more year in the fantasy sun.

SHORTSTOP:

Overdrafted - Danny Santana (ADP 125) - He is coming off a season where his .405 BABIP is one of the highest rates of all time. Anyone remember Jose Hernandez in 2002? Santana is not going to hit over .300 again in 2015, and he may struggle to get to .270 with his lack of patience at the plate. With fewer on base opportunities come fewer steals, but he's going 40 picks ahead of the more established version of him in Alcides Escobar.

Underdrated - Xander Bogaerts (ADP 160) - Perhaps our expectations for him last season were a bit inflated. He is still only 22 years old and the skills that he flashed late in 2013 and throughout his minor league career are still there. He's projected to hit down in the lineup for Boston, but the key point is he has the job. I'll take Bogaerts in that spot over the extreme risk/reward of Javier Baez who is going nearly two rounds before Bogaerts.

THIRD BASE:

Overdrafted - Josh Harrison (ADP 90) - We are on pick 174 in the Fantasy 411 Mock Draft and Harrison is still on the board. I've seen scattered skepticism of a repeat from Harrison, but not this much consensus in one place. The 100-point BABIP spike and the compilation of stats with the extra turns on base were nice, but clearly the VIP room isn't as high on the guy as the normal room.

Underdrafted - Chris Davis (ADP - 71) - How many players can you safely say will hit 30 home runs in 2015? Davis is projected to do that by Steamer and is one of 10 players to have such an honor. He hit 26 last year with injuries and distractions and has dual-position eligibility now as well. People are taking Evan Longoria 50 picks ahead of Davis in some leagues because of the better batting average (which isn't that great). Davis was a first-round pick last season and is now being drafted in the sixth round or later. Pounce.

OUTFIELD:

Overdrafted - Nelson Cruz (ADP 58) - From the beginning of the season until the end of May 2014, Cruz batted .315/.383/.675 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI over 230 plate appearances. From that point onward, he batted .249/.308/.451 with 20 home runs and 56 runs driven in over 448 plate appearances. Now, he moves from a park that inflates right-handed power to one that works against it. He's not repeating 40 homers, and even 30 looks like a pipedream in Safeco. He doesn't steal bases any longer, and his 2013 line of 27 homers, 76 RBI, and a .266 average is more repeatable than his monster year in Baltimore. People are paying closer to the 2014 price than they are the 2013 price.

Underdrafted - Denard Span (ADP 175) - The Nationals are going to be very very good this season. Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth.the list goes on. Span is going to be the guy setting the table in front of that strong lineup. All Span has to do is get on base and he's going to fall into 90 runs and he has an excellent chance of leading the NL if not MLB in runs scored. Over the past six seasons, he has a .347 OBP, so getting on base is not a problem for someone that rarely strikeout out and sprays the ball all over the field. He's being taken three rounds behind Ben Revere, and frankly, that should be the other way around.

STARTING PITCHING:

Overdrafted - Adam Wainwright (ADP 52) - Wainwright had offseason elbow surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his elbow and just began playing catch in early January. There's that and there's the fact his strikeout rate has declined each of the past four seasons. Despite the risks, he is the 12th pitcher taken in most drafts ahead of Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, and Jordan Zimmermann among others. In short, Waino has barely suffered a penalty for his health and signs of decline. He's not a top-50 player let alone a top-12 pitcher in 2015.

Underdrafted - Gio Gonzalez (ADP 123) - Fantasy baseball drafting is mostly about recency bias. With that said, let's compare Mr. 123 to the pitcher going 54th in drafts:

NAMEK%BB%BABIPHR/9GB%FIPWHIP
Gonzalez25.0%9.0%0.2940.645.0%3.031.20
Lester25.0%5.0%0.2940.742.0%2.801.10


Clearly, Lester had the better season last year, but past success does not predict future performance. As I said earlier, the Nationals are going to be insanely good this year as they are clearly the best team in a weak division if not the best team in the National League. Gonzalez is going to fall into double-digit wins and could end up with 15 while pitching as the fourth guy in this deep rotation. Lester has the Cubs behind him, which have a very volatile roster and a more competitive division. There shouldn't be a 60-pick gap between these two pitchers. Pass on Lester and get the cheaper version with more upside four rounds later.

RELIEF PITCHER:

NFBC drafts fuel most of the ADP data, and in those drafts, you can't punt a category like saves and hope to win the league. You have to have a balanced approach to a draft, so closers go earlier than they do in reset leagues, but that's not to say we still don't have some overdrafted or underdrafted.

Overdrafted - Trevor Rosenthal (ADP 108) - Rosenthal is the 10th closer off the board, even though he's really the ninth since Sean Doolittle's injury will drop him out of the top 10 with more drafts. The strikeout rate for Rosey is sexy, but the walk rate nearly doubled last season and he had a 3.20 ERA despite a 1.41 WHIP last season. He has demonstrated an ability to strand runners at an above-average clip, but the walk rate is holding him back from the next tier. Steve Cishek, Huston Street, Zach Britton, Drew Storen, Koji Uehara, and Jonathan Papelbon are going within two rounds of him and there is not that much in play to put a two-round difference between he and someone like Papelbon who appears destined for a better team any day now.

Underdrafted - Ken Giles (ADP 260) - As soon as Papelbon is traded, this ADP is going to get cut in half. He piles up strikeouts and displayed better command of his pitches in his time in the bigs last season than he had in the minors. He has the chance to follow the path Dellin Betances blazed last season. We're at the point in the offseason that you have to draft this guy as a closer for April 2015 rather than July 2015. He should be in the top 200.