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Projections vs. ADP: Seeking Bargains & Avoiding Busts (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Mar 15, 2022
Jarred Kelenic

I love projections. Every year when I start my research and begin to put together my rankings, I pull the projections first. Why? Because projections are less biased than rankings and way less biased than ADP. Projections are based on stats by and large. Some subjectivity comes into play during their creation, but not too much. The Zeile Consensus Projections on FantasyPros take it further by combining forecasts from several sources, effectively smoothing out the peaks and valleys even more. It’s a great place to start to prepare for a new season.

Recently, I started comparing the projections to ADP to see where potential bargains and overpays may lie. Below are two hitters and two pitchers who look like excellent values and two of each who look overpriced.

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Potential Values

Eric Hosmer (1B – SD)

  • 2022 Projections:  16 HRs, 71 RBIs, 61 Runs, 5 SBs, .268 BA
  • 2022 ADP:  #319 overall, #43 among first basemen

I get it. Hosmer is the epitome of a boring fantasy player and offers little to no upside at this point of his career. However, with an ADP of 318, he’s not even getting drafted in a lot of leagues. By comparison, Alex Kirilloff (1B,OF – MIN) is forecasted to provide similar production: 18 HRs, 60 RBIs, 53 Runs, 4 SBs, and a .267 average. Given his youth and eligibility at multiple positions, Kirilloff should go higher than Hosmer. But his ADP is 178! If you’re in a deep league, would you rather have Hosmer with one of your last picks or someone like Kirilloff in the 18th or 19th round?

Isiah Kiner-Falefa (SS – TEX)

  • 2022 Projections:  7 HRs, 43 RBIs, 58 Runs, 14 SBs, .270 BA
  • 2022 ADP:  #296 overall, #33 among shortstops

Barring injury, Corey Seager (SS – TEX) will be holding down shortstop for the Rangers next season. With Marcus Semien (2B,SS – TEX) entrenched at the keystone and Josh Jung (3B – TEX) knocking on the door, fantasy managers are understandably nervous about Kiner Falefa’s playing time. However, this guy’s pretty good. He was third on the Rangers in WAR last season, stole 20 bases, and is an excellent defender all around the diamond. Plus, Jung hasn’t won the job yet. At worst, Kiner-Falefa is a super-utility player who can plug multiple positions on your bench – maybe even catcher. He looks like a bargain at pick 295.

Kyle Gibson (SP – PHI)

  • 2022 Projections:  180 IP, 10 Ws, 156 Ks, 4.49 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
  • 2022 ADP:  #354 overall, #102 among starting pitchers

Gibson doesn’t strike out many batters, and his ERA and WHIP are projected to be middling at best. That said, he was very effective last year with the Rangers before getting traded at the deadline. Even though Philadelphia’s ballpark is hitter-friendly, and he was a bit lucky in the first half, his projections compare favorably to several players going well ahead of him in drafts. For example, Zach Plesac (SP – CLE) is projected for 162 IP, 9 Ws, 127 Ks, a 4.53 ERA, and a 1.26 WHIP – pretty similar to Gibson. His ADP, though, is 100 spots higher than Gibson’s. The point is not to target Gibson but rather to wait on filling in the back end of your staff once you get past a certain point of quality.

Kyle Finnegan (RP – WAS)

  • 2022 Projections:  67 IP, 21 SVs, 68 Ks, 4.26 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
  • 2022 ADP:  #376 overall, #58 among relief pitchers

It’s pretty simple with Finnegan. He’s the leading candidate to close for the Nationals at this point, and he’s not being drafted. In a traditional 5×5 league, your relief pitchers need to be closers unless you are punting the category. His projection of 21 saves is tied for 16th highest among all pitchers. He may not get or keep the job, but if you are drafting at this point, how is he not on the radar?

Potential Overpays

Daulton Varsho (C/OF – ARI)

  • 2022 Projections:  17 HRs, 55 RBIs, 57 Runs, 9 SBs, .255 BA
  • 2022 ADP:  #116 overall, #5 among catchers

Varsho is intriguing, but taking him 116th overall is madness. He’s not the lead catcher on his team and is only estimated to get 394 ABs. The only catchers worthy of being drafted this high are Salvador Perez (C,DH – KC), J.T. Realmuto (C,1B – PHI), and Will Smith (C – LAD). Do yourself a favor and be patient with the position. You will be rewarded with someone nearly as good 10 rounds later.

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)

  • 2022 Projections:  22 HRs, 67 RBIs, 64 Runs, 11 SBs, .228 BA
  • 2022 ADP:  #134 overall, #40 among outfielders

We all love young players with upside, and Kelenic is brimming with it. However, he hit .181 last season, and his xBA wasn’t much better at .218. The potential is there, but investing in him this early is very risky – especially if the projections are even close to being accurate. Give me Alex Verdugo (OF – BOS) two rounds later instead.

Jesus Luzardo (SP/RP – MIA)

  • 2022 Projections:  103 IP, 6 Ws, 99 Ks, 4.34 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
  • 2022 ADP:  #260 overall, #106 among starting pitchers

I was all in on Luzardo before last season. I love young pitchers with live arms. But even before his unfortunate video-game-related injury, he wasn’t pitching well. In fact, he didn’t pitch well all year. He was arguably worse with the Marlins after the A’s gave up on him and had an ERA over 6.00 for both teams. His projections for 2022 indicate that the experts expect that his usage will be limited. In addition, his stats don’t jump off the page, and his WHIP is alarming. If you want to take a flier on him with your last pick, fine. Just don’t count on him – there are much safer options to be found later in the draft.

Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA)

  • 2022 Projections:  78 IP, 5 Ws, 68 Ks, 3.82 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
  • 2022 ADP:  #293 overall, #116 among starting pitchers

Luzardo’s teammate, Sanchez, is similarly overvalued. His issues are injury-related, however. He likely won’t be ready until midseason, and even then, it’s hard to know what to expect from him given his lengthy absence. He was great in 2019 and still has loads of potential, but he shouldn’t be drafted for 2022 unless you’re in a dynasty league.

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