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Collette Calls: LABR of Love

Jason Collette

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.

The 2014 Mixed LABR draft took place last Tuesday night and I was able to participate in the league for a second season, hoping to best last year's fourth place finish with my draft partner Paul Sporer. MLB.com's Fred Zinkie won handily last season while a few of us jockeyed for second place into the final weekend of the season. This season, our own Jeff Erickson was part of the league, and better yet, picked in the spot behind Paul and myself. For more on how that experience went between he and us, look for a Google Hangout to be posted in the near future as Jeff and I talk about the dynamics of each round as we made our selections.

LABR is the most recent expert draft to hit the market. In the past, the results of LABR were kept under lock and key until The Leviathan version of the Sports Weekly (RIP Baseball Weekly) hit the shelf with the published results. Nowadays, results are instantly tweeted out by participants and the draft is covered on SiriusXM radio. The live AL and NL LABR drafts take place the first weekend of March and both drafts are covered live on the station.

Before becoming a regular participant in these expert drafts - yes, the list of butts I've kissed is long and distinguished - I liked to compare the auction/draft results to what I was thinking about players. Nowadays, with published ADP results, we can see how the “experts" are viewing players and how draft dynamics may have played out. I put experts in quotations because the difference between an expert and the average Joe is that experts take the time to write and try to build up a site. Some of the best fantasy players I know have no name recognition on the national scene, but I would put their drafting, trading, and analyzing skills up against anyone. If you want to be one of those experts one day, start writing now. It took me nine years to get the first dollar for what I was writing about on fantasy baseball.

Back to business; there were some very interesting results from the Mixed LABR draft in terms of comparing the final draft results to the latest ADP reports. This was a 15-team draft with a 23-man active roster, meaning 345 players were drafted on the active roster with each team selecting six reserves. For the purpose of this review, I want to focus on the active results roster because reserve picks have as much to do with wild stabs at upside as they do rostering backups to the players that owners drafted.

These were the 10 reaches when comparing draft results to ADP. These are the players the experts are more bullish on than the NFBC mock drafters:

PLAYERDRAFTEDADPDIFFERENCE
Jesse Crain247407-160
Jason Kubel342474-132
Hank Conger284413-129
Tommy Hunter214331-117
Corey Dickerson323439-116
Ben Revere111209-98
Kelly Johnson210306-96
Matt Joyce301387-86
Mark Melancon266351-85
Nate Jones217297-80


Crain, Hunter, Melancon, and Jones were all taken on saves speculations in the middle to late rounds. Crain is a very risky play in that he has not been on a major league mound since before the 2013 All-Star break. The Rays traded for him in hopes of using him down the stretch, but repeated setbacks prevented that from happening. Crain and Qualls are competing for the job in Houston, and Qualls would seemingly have the advantage on health alone. Revere was taken as the owner admitted to wanting speed at that point and had Revere as the best remaining speed source. Kelly Johnson's owner admitted to immediate buyer's remorse, which I disagreed with because Johnson could be a 20/10 guy in Yankee Stadium and there's value to that level of production from three positions at the point he was taken in the draft. Conger was a selection Paul and I made as our second catcher late in the draft on a power hunt. Conger came up on his bat while his defense has taken time to come around. Both looked better in the second half of the season and we went this way after watching Yan Gomes get taken one pick ahead of us a few rounds earlier.

Conversely, these are the top-10 bargains in terms of draft position against ADP. These are the players the experts are more pessimistic about than those doing NFBC mock drafts.

PLAYERDRAFTEDADPDIFFERENCE
George Springer26119170
Marlon Byrd32025070
Francisco Liriano22516857
C.J. Wilson23618056
Jed Lowrie20414955
Eric Young Jr.27422252
Matt Wieters1489850
Alfonso Soriano16811949
Rajai Davis30626046
Joaquin Benoit33629343


Springer has had that level of helium all offseason as people have visions of 30/30 dancing in their head. There is no reason for the Astros to have Springer up at the major league level to start the season unless they are able to sign him to a pre-free agency deal like Craig Kimbrel inked with the Braves on Sunday. Otherwise, the Astros add an extra year of arbitration to Springer's ledger and this is not a team that is going to contend for a playoff spot in 2014. Byrd is coming off a season where he gave up a lot of his historical contact to hit for power and a new contract. It worked in 2013, but there is no guarantee this will continue, even with the switch to a better ballpark as he is on the wrong side of 35. Liriano was a player that Paul and I would have taken had we not incorrectly predicted that Jeff would pass on him at the wheel. We were eyeballing both Liriano and Johnson and went with the guy we liked best at that point. Jeff took Liriano after we took Chris Johnson and punted his corner spot to the next turn grabbing Chris Carter.

Alfonso Soriano stands out as he continues to slide down in drafts. I have done five mock drafts in 2014, and Soriano has fallen at least two full rounds in each of them. He was terrific in Yankee Stadium last season, but the skill set has volatility to it and could go the other way as much as it could maintain. Wieters, despite a poor 2013, is coming in the top-100 in ADP, but he fell over three rounds past his ADP. Lastly, Rajai Davis moves to a team where we do not know how the manager will treat the running game, and is a player who will be on the short side of a platoon. The funny thing is that Davis is historically underdrafted, and is now likely being overdrafted when his situation is very much unclear.

Here are the top three reaches and bargains by positions (LABR/ADP)

Catcher:
Matt Wieters (148/98)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (257/216)
A.J. Pierzynski (220/186)
Geovany Soto (285/341)
Derek Norris (334/403)
Hank Conger (284/413)

First Base:
Brandon Moss (185/148)
Adam Lind (268/236)
Justin Morneau (234/205)
Mike Napoli (96/141)
Mitch Moreland (292/337)
Kendrys Morales (122/168)

Second Base:
Howie Kendrick (207/167)
Daniel Murphy (134/104)
Brandon Phillips (123/100)
Chase Utley (114/139)
Jose Altuve (59/90)
Anthony Rendon (167/226)

Shortstop:
Jed Lowrie (204/149)
J.J. Hardy (169/140)
Andrelton Simmons (166/145)
Jonathan Villar (200/214)
Alexei Ramirez (118/150)
Derek Jeter (246/297)

Third Base:
Matt Dominguez (281/256)
Manny Machado (125/112)
Martin Prado (109/102)
Aramis Ramirez (110/154
Trevor Plouffe (294/353)
Pablo Sandoval (89/155)

Outfield:
George Springer (261/191)
Marlon Byrd (320/250)
Eric Young Jr. (274/222)
Jason Kubel (342/474)
Corey Dickerson (323/429)
Ben Revere (111/209)

Starters:
Francisco Liriano (225/168)
C.J. Wilson (236/180)
Archie Bradley (341/303)
Brandon Morrow (295/361)
Jenrry Mejia (339/409)
Joe Kelly (304/376)

Relievers:
Joaquin Benoit (336/293)
Rafael Soriano (163/141)
Sergio Romo (141/122)
Mark Melancon (266/351)
Tommy Hunter (214/331)
Jesse Crain (247/407)

If you would like to see the complete list from LABR compared to the latest ADP, click here.

There were 92 players in the LABR draft that were taken either two rounds earlier or later than their current ADP (30 or more picks). Those are the players that you should revisit and see why those player rocketed up or fell down in the LABR draft. I will give you my personal favorite to start with because I find him to be criminally underrated - Aramis Ramirez. I will have more on him on a blog post on the RotoSynthesis blog this week.

If you have questions on the others, please use the comments section below or drop me a line at collette@rotowire.com.