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Consensus Rankings Analysis: Late February (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Feb 28, 2020

Back in early February, I discussed players with wide discrepancies in their Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR) and ADP on the FantasyPros Baseball Podcast with Bobby Sylvester. This conversation led me down a rabbit hole of ECR analysis in a quest for draft value. Aggregating many great minds create a good gauge of a player’s worth. While the experts aren’t always right in their extra like or hate, I found myself agreeing with them more often than the public. The following lists (excluding those discussed on the podcast and recent injuries) thus feature a handful of players I’m targeting or avoiding in 2020 drafts.

Note: The following ECR and ADP were taken on February 25. 

Check out our early consensus rankings for 2020 fantasy baseball drafts >>

Players the ECR Likes More

Player ECR ADP
Anthony Rizzo 44 55
Yoan Moncada 56 75
Matt Olson 55 65
Tommy Pham 61 82
Eddie Rosario 69 85
Marcell Ozuna 75 91
Ramon Laureano 76 95
Oscar Mercado 107 126
Jorge Polanco 113 146
Lance Lynn 114 128
Kyle Hendricks 129 143
Amed Rosario 138 154
Matt Boyd 146 160
Jean Segura 159 185
Paul DeJong 168 187
Adam Eaton 170 182
Andrew Heaney 171 200
Andrew McCutchen 172 190
Justin Upton 178 213
Joe Musgrove 180 214
Griffin Canning 191 313
Shin-Soo Choo 198 230
Avisail Garcia 203 249
Mitch Keller 207 328
Ryan Braun 215 251
Dansby Swanson 231 261
Jose Quintana 236 331
Anthony DeSclafani 240 332
Mychal Givens 244 300
Steven Matz 246 333
Sandy Alcantara 247 323
Garrett Richards 248 390
Dylan Bundy 252 337
Dylan Cease 259 388
Jeff Samardzija 262 349
Pablo Lopez 266 400
Trent Grisham 270 340
Brett Gardner 272 332
Austin Riley 273 326
Michael Pineda 277 345
Johnny Cueto 287 343
Reynaldo Lopez 288 341
Josh James 289 364
Rich Hill 312 412

 
Observations:

Officially a boring veteran at age 30, Rizzo is falling even further down NFBC draft boards (68) in February. While the power has sagged, it’s come with a 10-point batting average rise in back-to-back seasons. I was going to call him the A-minus version of Freeman, but Rizzo had a higher wRC+ (141) and wOBA (.390) in 2019.

Those in five-outfield leagues shouldn’t fret filling those spots. There’s a hodgepodge of value, mostly of the”boring veteran” variety. Choo gets no love despite routinely hitting .260 with 20-plus homers and a plethora of runs atop the Rangers’ lineup. Maybe drafters just aren’t paying enough attention to runs. Eaton crossed home plate 103 times last year, and he should still bat second whether or not Washington sticks with the idea of batting Trea Turner third. Health is the only hindrance interfering with the 30-year-old again broaching his .285 career batting average with 15 homers and steals apiece. McCutchen is another great bounce-back bet who could score 90-100 runs as Philadelphia’s leadoff man. Those needing RBIs can instead bet on Justin Upton regaining his health and pop behind Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. If either break away from a planned timeshare, Braun or Garcia will make a great find beyond the top-200 picks. Braun could move over to first — where he’s likely to play some against lefties — if Justin Smoak doesn’t hit his weight again.

The rankers may not be accounting for an increased appetite for high-end pitching. Lynn and Hendricks are two of few top-50 starters with a higher ECR than ADP. Drafters should take note of those contrasting buying opportunities. Lynn makes a superb mid-rotation strikeout find after tallying 246 punchouts in 2019 with the best contact and swinging-strike rates of his career. Hendricks, meanwhile, has posted an ERA below 3.50 and WHIP under 1.20 in each of the last four seasons. Given his steadiness, the sudden price drop is strange without any glaring warning signs beyond the same low velocity he’s exuded for his entire career.

While the analysts are more reticent to reach for pitching, they like several end-game flyers far more than the current draft rates. In many cases, they appear to be overrating innings and name value. Samardzija and Quintana are better suited for deeper leagues than 12-team mixed leagues, where talented streamers are usually on the waiver wire. The viability of stashing Pineda or Hill also depends on your league’s roster constructs. Both coming back from Tommy John surgery, Richards and Cueto could erase any early buying opportunity by pitching well in spring training.

Players the ECR Likes Less

Player ECR ADP
Aaron Nola 63 46
Zack Greinke 70 58
Josh Hader 72 57
Kirby Yates 85 66
Aroldis Chapman 89 70
Max Muncy 90 73
Trevor Bauer 92 80
Mike Soroka 105 92
Gary Sanchez 106 72
Hyun-Jin Ryu 132 114
Yasmani Grandal 137 97
Yuli Gurriel 145 125
Willson Contreras 152 107
Gavin Lux 179 151
Tommy Edman 188 153
J.D. Davis 202 181
Aristides Aquino 209 174
Hunter Dozier 212 179
Will Smith (C) 222 159
Dustin May 241 220
Nick Senzel 242 208
Joc Pederson 245 194
Garrett Hampson 257 201
Starlin Castro 276 243
Luis Arraez 278 237
Jo Adell 285 225
Dee Gordon 292 253
Dakota Hudson 300 235
Austin Hays 302 278
Nick Madrigal 303 272
Austin Hays 317 267
Matt Carpenter 309 269
Jon Berti 310 256

 
Observations:

Once again, it’s apparent that the ECR short-sells pitchers. Yet the skepticism is justified in many cases. There’s oddly no discount given to Nola despite notching a 3.87 ERA with a 4.03 FIP and huge uptick in walks last season. The same goes for Trevor Bauer, who has yet to post an ERA below 4.15 outside of his 2018 breakout. And as many other analysts have already noted, Soroka is essentially a younger, more expensive Hendricks. Go with the experts on that trio, but don’t ignore Greinke as a high-floor SP2. The expected dip has yet to come despite diminished velocity, so the 36-year-old is the perfect complement to a higher-risk, higher-strikeout ace such as Blake Snell, Luis Castillo, or Lucas Giolito.

Notice another trend in the table above? It’s flooded with rookies and other young Shiny New Toys. The analysts often favor a value-based approach. As a result, their projected-orientated rankings don’t love the unproven options as much as drafters blinded by hype. I’m also unlikely to land Lux, May, or Adell at their going rates. Likely a result of last year’s wildly successful rookie class, these neophytes are all too rich for my blood. Interestingly enough, Luis Robert is actually ranked 10 spots higher than his 98 ADP, which will likely keep rising in light of the White Sox buying out his arbitration years.

With that said, don’t be surprised if the experts change their tune on Madrigal if he has a standout spring. Playing time should be fueling the trepidation far more than his skills as a contact fiend who could steal 20-25 bases. Hays should already have a job in Baltimore, but a big March would lead many to look back at his 146 wRC+ during last year’s September call-up.

The ECR on the whole is unforgiving to catchers. Only four catchers have a higher ECR than ADP, and Mike Zunino has the largest difference at eight spots. He’s only usable in a two-catcher AL-only league that doesn’t count batting average. My first instinct was to blame two-catcher formats, but the trend also carries over to Yahoo’s single-catcher leagues. While the ECR and ADP don’t vary much within the position, the experts like Jorge Alfaro, Tom Murphy, and Jason Castro (the other three with a higher ECR than ADP) more than the public.

When first beginning my research, the ECR and ADP among closers were surprisingly consistent. That changed with ESPN and Yahoo drafts bumping up the position’s cost. As of this writing, Edwin Diaz (+2), Hansel Robles (+1), and Nick Anderson (+16) had a higher ECR among top-20 closers. While the experts are skittish about paying a premium, drafters apparently haven’t learned their lesson from Diaz and Blake Treinen and last year.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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