Articles by Howard Bender

A listing of all the articles written by Howard Bender for the RotoWire Blog.

Favorite Mid-Round Bargains With Stable ADP Trends

With the season going into full-swing as of Sunday night, this will be the last look at some of the recent and relevant ADP trends for those of you who still need to draft. Earlier in the week, we looked at some nice late-round bargains and then Friday we took a final look at how the top-50 overall were shaping up, so it’s only fitting that we wrap things up with a look at the middle. Your first six to eight picks usually set the tone for your draft while your last few are usually reserved for late-round fliers or potential sleeper picks. The middle, however, is the meat of your draft and can be the battleground where your season is won or lost.

If you’ve read through the entire series, you know my concerns with the outfield and how many come flying off the board early. While I’ve recommended filling a significant number of starters at that position, I’ve never elaborated on where you go from there. Obviously if you grab three or four outfielders early, chances are you’re going to want to grab some pitching as you see most, if not all, the elite starters disappearing as well. There’s nothing wrong with that. Grab a starter or two. Pick up a high-end closer as well. By the time you’ve reached the eighth round you probably have three outfielders, two starters, one closer and either a first or a third baseman. That’s usually the way it goes. Personally, I’d rather grab the first baseman as there are more bargains at the hot corner than there are at first. But obviously, to each his own and it also depends on how the rest of the league is drafting.

So let’s start from the eighth inning and move on from there, stopping somewhere around the 15th round (picks 96 through 180 in a 12-team league) where you usually begin rounding out your pitching staff because, like a wise man once told you, it’s ok to wait on starting pitching. Again, the ADP for these players hasn’t really changed much over the past month or two, so it doesn’t look like you’ll need to reach for any of them. Some of them could even slip through for an even better bargain price.

Jason Castro, C HOU (Current ADP: 158.79) – It’s not that he’s an under-the-radar type guy, but with so much hype going the way of guys like Wilson Ramos and Salvador Perez, Castro and his 15-20 home run power often get overlooked and he seems to slip through the cracks regularly. While you’ve been bulking up on power and laying a foundation for your pitching staff, those who wasted early picks on catchers are now scrambling to build their outfield with the likes of Coco Crisp and Curtis Granderson. Meanwhile, you’ve just grabbed a backstop in the 13th or 14th round who will produce close to the same, if not maybe better than their fifth or sixth-round choice.

Brandon Belt, 1B SF (131.20) – Let’s say you waited on the first base position and grabbed a different infielder with one of your early picks. Nothing wrong with that, but remember that you need to land a guy who sees consistent playing time and has at least 20-homer potential. Belt is just that guy. He had a nice breakout season last year with 17 home runs and a .289 average, but best of all, it followed his growth trajectory which remains on the rise. He’ll turn 26-years-old by the end of April and has steadily improved both his plate discipline and his batter’s eye. His second full year at first could be an explosive one and you’ll be getting him at a major discount. Just make sure you don’t wait too long as someone will likely go after him as a corner infielder.

Aaron Hill, 2B ARI (114.52) – Believe it or not, shortstop is actually deeper, so when building up the rest of your roster, you might want to tackle the keystone first. People seem to be focused on Jedd Gyorko and Brian Dozier this year, so hang out in the middle and grab Hill in the ninth or tenth round. His injury last year and history from back when he was with Toronto seem to be sticking in everyone’s mind and Hill, who has done nothing but hit over .300 since joining the Diamondbacks, makes for a great option for power at a thin position. A full season of health should net you 15-20 home runs with an average over .285 for the year.

J.J. Hardy, SS BAL (145.55) – How in the world is everyone forgetting about this guy? They’re so focused on guys like Andrelton Simmons and Xander Boegarts that they keep overlooking consistent 20-25 home run power with 70-80 RBI potential. Why? Because the average sits around .260? Puh-leeeeze! Your high-end outfield will likely have one or two guys whose average(s)  is/are outstanding and should balance Hardy’s out. If the average is the biggest of your concerns here, then you’re probably over-thinking the category.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B SF (146.01) – The weight and the injury history are sending fantasy owners running for cover, but I say buy, buy, buy! He started to eat better and lose weight during the second half of last year, continued to eat right and workout all winter while playing ball in the Venezuelan League, and came into camp in…wait for it…the best shape of his life! But seriously, his weight is a much more manageable right now, he’s got no more hamate bones to break and he’s in the walk year of his contract. We saw him come into camp in great shape back to open 2011 and he raked right up until he got hurt. Now with that health, shape and a contract incentive, it’s going to get even better.

Nelson Cruz, OF BAL (152.64) – Let’s say your league starts six outfielders and you only grabbed the three up top and want to secure one more big bat. A little Cruz action certainly fits the bill. Some might be scared of the post-Biogenesis power drop-off, but Cruz stays in a hitter-friendly park, is still more than capable of 20-plus home runs, and even if his ISO takes a slight hit, he’ll still be above-average against the league. He’ll never steal bases like he used to, but the power and a potentially decent average are more than enough here.

Andrew Cashner, SP SD (146.62) – While everyone is reaching for Gerrit Cole, Danny Salazar, and Michael Wacha, guys who are projected to pitch real well but could get shut down early due to pitch counts and innings limits, I’m settling in with Cashner as a likely No. 3 starter for my fantasy rotation. He should pitch between 190 and 200 innings this year, have a K/9 that sits somewhere between 7.00 and 8.00, throws mid-90’s heat, has a new developing curve, and isn’t afraid to throw strikes because the dimensions of Petco are still like a warm, fuzzy blanket wrapping him up all snug and secure. Some will point out that his peripherals last year didn’t look so good matching up against a 46.1-inning season the year before, but please…..he’s a work in progress with a strong skill set as a base. Last year was a great learning experience for him but this year he takes charge.

Steve Cishek, RP MIA (143.36) – Often overlooked by buffoons who think that closers on bad teams are unproductive. Ho hum. Boooooring! Cishek notched 34 saves for a terrible Marlins team last year and had the best season of his career. He posted strong strikeout numbers, great rations, a heavy dose of ground balls and a solid three-pitch arsenal. He’s 27-years old this year and while his spring numbers don’t look so hot, it was due to a sore neck to open the spring. Since three rough-and-tumble outings to open the Grapefruit League, he’s posted a 1.29 ERA over his last seven innings. And don’t sweat Carter Capps being in the bullpen. He’ll settle in for the eighth inning, most likely. Is he insurance in case something happens? Of course. But he’s not stealing the job for no reason.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

A Last-Minute Look at ADP Trends in the Top 50

With the real Opening Day…er….I mean….Night…..coming on Sunday, any leagues that haven’t drafted yet are cramming them in over the next three days. So this figures to be a big weekend for many of us in the fantasy baseball community. If you’re still waiting to draft, then the ADP trends that we have been witnessing over the last month are going to be important for you. Earlier in the week I went over some late-round options you may want to consider, so today we’re going to focus on those first few rounds.

 Your first few picks are going to set the tone for your entire draft and how your opponents pick is going to obviously impact your decisions. I’ve done a slew of mock drafts over the last three months and Thursday was real draft #11 for me with one more still to go. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that anything can happen. Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are the consensus picks for one and two, but while you’d like to think that Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen are no-brainers for three and four, someone in your league is going to zig when you’re expecting him to zag. Thursday’s draft, case in point – McCutchen dropped to seventh. Crazy? Maybe not.

Without diving into some of the details and metrics we usually touch on, because you’ve heard it all before, I’ll just go over the top risers and fallers here in the top 50 picks and share some thoughts with respect to drafting or not drafting these guys. Hopefully you’ll get some insight out of it and it will help you make some of those tough decisions we get hit with in the first few rounds. Remember, the actual swings in number of picks aren’t too great here. Usually the movement is just a handful at a time. But it should help you when deciding between a couple of players as to whether or not this is the core upon which you build your team.

Top 50 Overall

Rank Player Team Pos Current ADP 1 Month Ago Trend
1 Mike Trout LAA OF 1.14 1.25 9.65|PERCENT|
2 Miguel Cabrera Det 1B/3B 1.89 1.77 -6.35|PERCENT|
3 Paul Goldschmidt Ari 1B 3.31 3.17 -4.23|PERCENT|
4 Andrew McCutchen Pit OF 4.29 4.49 4.66|PERCENT|
5 Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 6.58 6.43 -2.28|PERCENT|
6 Carlos Gonzalez Col OF 7.10 8.62 21.41|PERCENT|
7 Chris Davis Bal 1B 8.27 7.30 -11.73|PERCENT|
8 Ryan Braun Mil OF 8.83 11.26 27.52|PERCENT|
9 Adam Jones Bal OF 10.10 9.25 -8.42|PERCENT|
10 Robinson Cano Sea 2B 10.69 9.28 -13.19|PERCENT|
11 Bryce Harper Was OF 11.00 13.23 20.27|PERCENT|
12 Hanley Ramirez LAD SS 11.35 10.38 -8.55|PERCENT|
13 Jacoby Ellsbury NYY OF 12.98 11.72 -9.71|PERCENT|
14 Prince Fielder Tex 1B 13.80 15.89 15.14|PERCENT|
15 Troy Tulowitzki Col SS 16.13 14.26 -11.59|PERCENT|
16 Edwin Encarnacion Tor 1B 17.65 18.57 5.21|PERCENT|
17 Adrian Beltre Tex 3B 17.91 19.21 7.26|PERCENT|
18 Joey Votto Cin 1B 17.93 16.72 -6.75|PERCENT|
19 Yu Darvish Tex SP 19.72 17.02 -13.69|PERCENT|
20 Jason Kipnis Cle 2B 20.10 21.36 6.27|PERCENT|
21 Carlos Gomez Mil OF 22.68 24.66 8.73|PERCENT|
22 Evan Longoria TB 3B 23.24 22.06 -5.08|PERCENT|
23 Freddie Freeman Atl 1B 23.31 24.57 5.41|PERCENT|
24 David Wright NYM 3B 23.97 24.85 3.67|PERCENT|
25 Yasiel Puig LAD OF 25.93 21.28 -17.93|PERCENT|
26 Giancarlo Stanton Mia OF 27.10 26.23 -3.21|PERCENT|
27 Max Scherzer Det SP 30.45 28.87 -5.19|PERCENT|
28 Dustin Pedroia Bos 2B 30.65 32.25 5.22|PERCENT|
29 Jay Bruce Cin OF 31.18 30.17 -3.24|PERCENT|
30 Stephen Strasburg Was SP 31.44 34.06 8.33|PERCENT|
31 Adam Wainwright StL SP 32.86 33.91 3.20|PERCENT|
32 Jose Fernandez Mia SP 33.46 30.43 -9.06|PERCENT|
33 Alex Rios Tex OF 33.81 35.68 5.53|PERCENT|
34 Ian Desmond Was SS 34.17 36.25 6.09|PERCENT|
35 Jean Segura Mil SS 35.58 29.21 -17.90|PERCENT|
36 Jose Bautista Tor OF 35.59 42.66 19.87|PERCENT|
37 Jose Reyes Tor SS 38.18 34.68 -9.17|PERCENT|
38 Shin-Soo Choo Tex OF 38.90 42.60 9.51|PERCENT|
39 Albert Pujols LAA 1B 40.31 42.87 6.35|PERCENT|
40 Justin Upton Atl OF 40.96 40.64 -0.78|PERCENT|
41 Cliff Lee Phi SP 42.63 44.17 3.61|PERCENT|
42 Felix Hernandez Sea SP 43.05 42.79 -0.60|PERCENT|
43 Buster Posey SF C 43.37 40.06 -7.63|PERCENT|
44 Justin Verlander Det SP 43.73 45.92 5.01|PERCENT|
45 Madison Bumgarner SF SP 44.20 47.40 7.24|PERCENT|
46 Craig Kimbrel Atl RP 44.76 41.26 -7.82|PERCENT|
47 Chris Sale CWS SP 47.10 48.64 3.27|PERCENT|
48 Hunter Pence SF OF 49.43 49.57 0.28|PERCENT|
49 Eric Hosmer KC 1B 49.55 50.89 2.70|PERCENT|
50 David Price TB SP 52.93 53.74 1.53|PERCENT|

Risers

Before I discuss the individual players, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that the top four risers in ADP over the last month are all outfielders. I spent a fair amount of time warning you that outfielders are coming off the board in a hurry this year. Thirty percent of the top 100 have been outfielders and as you can see here, 16 of the top 50 (32-percent) are all outfielders. If you’re league requires you to start five or six outfielders along with a utility/DH, you’re going to want to make your move early. I employed the strategy of heavy outfield early during Thursday’s draft and I couldn’t have been happier.

Ryan Braun, OF MIL (+27.52|PERCENT|) – People are finally starting to come around and Braun is coming off the board quicker and quicker. And it’s not because people are overvaluing his .387 with two home runs and six RBI stat line this spring; they just understand that he is an amazing talent and with or without the PEDs help, he’s still a force capable of hitting 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases in a given year. Don’t let him fall too far as you may regret it all season.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL (+21.41|PERCENT|) – The outfield trend is overshadowing the injury concerns and CarGo is also going higher and higher in drafts. His ADP says seventh or eighth, but I’ve seen him go consistently between five and seven. He’s having a strong spring and don’t be fooled that he’s had just one stolen base attempt in which he was caught stealing. The team knows he can run and there’s no reason to put him at risk during spring games. Draft with confidence.

Bryce Harper, OF WAS (+20.27|PERCENT|) – If you’ve seen the photos of Harper during the spring or have watched him play, there’s no denying that he’s added some serious muscle to his frame. Perhaps he’s done what Mike Trout did last year and added the weight in anticipation of some of it coming off during the season, but I’m wondering if it’s going to adversely affect him early on. Yes, it’s the spring, but just one double, two home runs, 2-for-4 in stolen base attempts and 11 strikeouts in 46 at-bats gives me pause here. Not a big pause, but some. Given that he’s going at the tail-end of the first round, I might bypass for more proven talent in re-draft leagues. Keeper leagues, I’m still grabbing him, as I don’t think this new physique is going to last if we don’t see the on-field results we expect.

Jose Bautista, OF TOR (+19.87|PERCENT|) – Just a fierce spring for Joey Bats with five doubles, five home runs and a .358 average. Fierce. He looks both comfortable and confident at the plate and it would appear that the wrist is no longer an issue. He’s on the rise, but still a late third/early fourth round pick so if he’s still on the board at that point and it’s your pick, you may not want to hesitate.

Prince Fielder, 1B TEX (+15.14|PERCENT|) – His ADP has actually been on the rise since the moment he was traded to Texas, and rightfully so. The change in ballpark is obviously a huge help and the overall lineup improvement is also going to be a boost. Rumors of some person problems affecting him in Detroit have seemingly been put behind him and he’s ready to mash. If I’m drafting in the latter half of the first round, I’m grabbing him. The warmth and comfort of his home runs and RBI will be one heck of a place to live this season.

Fallers

Yasiel Puig, OF LAD (-17.93|PERCENT|) – Well, it looks like my anti-Puig grass roots campaign has worked and his ADP has officially fallen out of the second round in 12-team leagues. Of course, the back problems might have something to do with it too. I still think he’s going to disappoint a lot of people should they land him close to where his ADP is right now, but I can only warn you off him so many times. If you’re a member of the Puig Fan Club, maybe take a look through this series and find the numbers from his last 216 at-bats in 2013.

Jean Segura, SS MIL (-17.90|PERCENT|) – There have been serious shoulder concerns this spring and what with the news of Jurickson Profar, you can understand people’s hesitancy to invest. People are also not convinced of the power he showed last year and a bum shoulder will certainly seal that deal. But a recent MRI came back clean so there doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about too much. He may get off to a slow start given his recent time off, but he should be fine for the season. The fact that his ADP is dropping could be a good thing for you. Talk up the concerns at the start of your draft and look to get him at a bargain. He went in the sixth round of Thursday’s 12-teamer, just two picks before I grabbed Starlin Castro.

Yu Darvish, SP TEX (-13.69|PERCENT|) – The news of him missing Opening Day due to a stiff neck was a bummer, but Darvish saw a specialist on Thursday and test revealed that there is no structural damage. His issue is muscular and that is easily remedied. He’ll be more than just fine this season so expect his usual high-strikeout total and a push for the AL Cy Young award.

Robinson Cano, 2B SEA (-13.19|PERCENT|) – People were down on him with the move to Seattle, then they started to come around and now they’re down on him again. His ADP still has him as a first-rounder which I agree with , so if you’re in the back-end of your draft and he falls to you, draft with confidence. He may only hit 20-25 home runs, but his other numbers should be more than just fine.

Chris Davis, 1B BAL (-11.73|PERCENT|) – The crowd still loves him and I could easily see another 40 home runs. Fifty? Probably not. But that’s not the whole reason he’s falling towards the back end of the first round. Obviously the outfielders are garnering some added attention but there are also some interesting options available a bit later such as Jose Abreu, Mark Trumbo and Anthony Rizzo. Perhaps owners are bypassing him with a plan.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

My Favorite Bargains Based on ADP Trends

As spring training winds down, we’re in crunch time for drafts. With the exception of a few position battles that may or may not be even be decided until the season actually opens, you’ve probably got all the information you’re going to get. You know who’s doing what this spring and what the expectations are heading into the season. In addition to that, you’ve hopefully done a number of mock drafts and have studied the bulk of the ADP data and trends we’ve been discussing since January. It’s a lot to digest, but the payoff in the end is nothing short of spectacular. There’s really nothing better than bringing home a championship and really sticking it to your friends and colleagues.

For today, we’re going to look at some of my favorite picks whose ADP hasn’t really changed all that much and still remain late-round options who seem to be off-the-radar for the most part. We all know that the studs are the studs and so long as they stay healthy, you’re at least keeping pace with the rest of your league. But fantasy championships are won in the later rounds. It’s about drafting guys in the 20th round and having them produce like eighth –round picks. Now I’m not saying that all of these guys will produce that well, but I’m a firm believer that each one will out-produce his respective draft position.

Dioner Navarro, C TOR (Current ADP: 296.91) – A month ago, his ADP was sitting less than 10 picks higher than it is right now and his current ADP is almost exactly where it was at the month before that. So basically, he’s not budging which is great because he’s got some real nice potential in Toronto as the primary backstop. He took a nice step forward with both his power and his plate discipline last year and with a move to a friendlier hitter’s park along with an increase in plate appearances, he could prove to be a fantastic second catcher at virtually no cost.

Nick Swisher, 1B CLE (212.60) – I never like waiting on first base, but should you be looking late for a corner infielder, then Swisher makes for a fantastic choice. He’s hovered within five picks of his current ADP over the last two months and no one is reaching for him. You have to love his dual-position eligibility (outfield) and he’s had no fewer than 21 home runs in any of his last nine seasons. His average can be tough some years, but he’s always a solid option for OBP leagues. It’s too bad you don’t get fantasy points for being a great clubhouse guy too, but what can you do?

Anthony Rendon, 2B WAS (235.26) – Maybe people were actually scared that Danny Espinosa was going to steal his job away from him, and that’s why his ADP hasn’t changed much in the last two months, but Nats manager Matt Williams said that Rendon was his guy at the keystone and Espinosa would be mixed in as a utility guy. He disappointed a little during his first run in the majors last year, but he’s got plenty of time to develop. He’s looked pretty good this spring batting .324 with a home run and six RBI, but the strikeouts could stand improvement. People are overlooking him a lot in drafts, so when the time comes, grab him for your middle infield spot.

Derek Jeter, SS NYY ( 298.10) – Cast aside all your Yankee hatred and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played – with your head, not your heart. Jeter may not be a fantasy juggernaut, but here in his final season, he’ll make for a solid middle infielder that you can super-cheap right now. He’ll post an average close to .300, should hit 10-12 home runs, steal 15-20 bases and thanks to a reserved spot at the 2-hole in the lineup, he’ll offer a ton of runs scored. He costs you next to nothing and think how smart you’ll look when he goes out on top with strong numbers and a World Series ring.

Matt Dominguez, 3B HOU (271.03) – He’s been lingering as high as 12 picks better than his current ADP, but has stayed close to where he is now, leaving him as a high-upside corner infielder. The batting average could be rough given his strikeouts, but he’s just 24-years old and has great raw power. He blasted 21 dingers last year and has the potential to hit even more this year. Often overlooked because he plays for Houston, Dominguez is one of those late-round guys who surprises many once the season gets rolling and he starts hitting.

Carlos Quentin, OF SD (318.78) – The injury history is long and painful. Those who have owned Quentin in the past tend to stay away from him for fear of losing an outfielder for months at a time. Use that to your advantage. Quentin has, for the first time in his career, adjusted his batting stance to one that is slightly more upright which should help take a load of pressure off the knees. He still has that vicious swing and has always mashed the ball when healthy. Could this be the year he stays off the DL and jacks 30-plus? Could be, and he’ll cost you nothing to try out.

Michael Pineda, SP NYY (303.88) – How is this guy not moving up the ADP ranks? I know pitching is deep and we shouldn’t put too much stock into spring numbers, but a 16:1 K:BB over 15 innings with a 1.02 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. His shoulder is finally healthy and you should all be jumping at the chance to get him. One of the things to watch when looking at pitchers recovering from shoulder or elbow injuries is their command as that tends to be the last thing to come back. Pineda’s is most definitely back and he’ll enter the season as the team’s No. 5 starter. Though that’s how he’s listed, there’s a tremendous chance that he’ll finish as the team’s No. 2.

Nate Jones, RP CHW (218.45) – I was all set to put Joakim Soria here, but with the recent announcement that he has been named the Rangers’ closer, his ADP is moving up faster than sh|STAR|t through a goose. Jones had been moving up from his original spot, but has stabilized recently and remains a solid late-round option. He still hasn’t been officially named the closer, but he’s having a strong spring and is well-deserving of the shot after posting a 2.70 ERA with a 7:3 K:BB over 6.2 innings. If you grab yourself a high-end closer early on, you can bypass the middle-round closer runs you’ll see and grab Jones nice and late.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

The Unwanted: Top-10 ADP Fallers

Looking at ADP risers and fallers in the NFBC is a great way to look at some of the trends from your more hardcore fantasy players, but it doesn’t always prepare you for some of those more-casual leagues where reaches tend to be a lot greater. Hardcore fantasy players usually have the good sense to not overreact to spring numbers or rumors and/or news coming out of either Florida or Arizona. The ADP over at Mock Draft Central often gives us a better look at what the casual fantasy players are thinking – who they like, who they don’t and who is gaining or losing in popularity amongst the masses. Earlier in the night we were taking a look at the top-10 ADP risers at MDC over the last two weeks; the popular kids, if you will. Now we’re going to pay some mind to that “loser” over there in the corner; to those kids who are shunned by the popular kids and are cast aside. With the help of the ADP trend report, we are now going to look at the 10 biggest ADP fallers.

Emilio Bonifacio, 2B CHC

Current ADP: 437.38
2 Weeks Ago: 279.18
Trend: -36.20|PERCENT|

Right off the bat, this is where the masses just don’t know. While Bonifacio doesn’t have a full-time job in Chicago, there’s a good chance that either he finds one or, at the least, has value in a part-time role. There’s not a whole lot standing in the way right now as Darwin Barney covers second base and Luis Valbuena handles third. Neither is that strong a player and each, with the help from the right type of slump, could give way sooner than later. Sure, there’s the potential of Javier Baez coming up and playing second base, but that wouldn’t be until May as the club doesn’t want to start his arbitration clock early and he’s still learning a new position. And even then, there could be opportunities at third or even the outfield. His drop in ADP here may be fine for shallow leagues, but any league with some sort of depth, he shouldn’t be dropping this far.

Neftali Feliz, RP TEX

Current ADP: 314.34
2 Weeks Ago: 223.47
Trend: -28.90|PERCENT|

Well what did you expect to happen when you lose the battle for the team’s closer role? Actually, Feliz was trending downwards before the official announcement that Joakim Soria had won the closer’s job because the sensible fantasy owner could see the handwriting on the wall. Soria was having the stronger spring and just seemed better suited for the role in general. Both were coming off of Tommy John surgery, but this being Soria’s second go-around, he was better prepared for the rehab process. Feliz is still a strong talent and will be great in leagues that count holds, but if you’re just looking for a closer, he’s not one to use.

Tyson Ross, SP SD

Current ADP: 326.74
2 Weeks Ago: 242.14
Trend: -25.90|PERCENT|

While he’s slated to be the Padres No. 3 starter this season, it’s been a tough spring for Ross. He’s sporting a 4.63 ERA with a 16:9 K:BB over 19.1 innings. His command looks off and there doesn’t seem to be much life in his pitches right now. Perhaps some has to do with the fact that he is a strong ground-ball pitcher and the supporting defense isn’t all that strong right now. He’s not always playing in front of his starters and some of the youngsters just aren’t ready. His spring time FIP totals aren’t available nor would the casual fantasy player even look for that, so let Ross drop and take a late-round flier on him.

LaTroy Hawkins, RP COL

Current ADP: 341.22
2 Weeks Ago: 274.01
Trend: -19.70|PERCENT|

There’s little respect out there for Hawkins right now despite the fact that he has the closer’s job in Colorado. We all know he’s on borrowed time. Rex Brothers is the heir-apparent and most are just waiting for Hawkins to either implode on the mound or get traded somewhere to be a set-up man. But the fact remains that Hawkins is, in fact, a closer and he will accrue saves early on. Will manager Walt Weiss play the match-ups every so often and use Brothers who is a southpaw? Probably. But those moments aren’t likely to be abundant. Let him fall in your draft and once you reach the final few rounds, you can make your move. Use him as a complementary third closer to build up your saves, but dump him as soon as you see his value diminishing.

Alcides Escobar, SS KC

Current ADP: 297.79
2 Weeks Ago: 239.22
Trend: -19.70|PERCENT|

When Escobar’s batting average and stolen base plummeted last season, it was somewhat apparent that his 2012 numbers were more a product of his high BABIP than anything else. Once that was identified, Escobar was losing his luster in drafts and despite the ability to swipe 20-plus bases at the shortstop position, people were losing interest. There’s also the fact that he’s been dealing with an elbow issue for a fair amount of time and receiving cortisone shots for the pain and inflammation. The masses might be right about this one, so be careful and check his health before drafting.

Adam Jones, OF BAL

Current ADP: 10.91
2 Weeks Ago: 8.78
Trend: -19.50|PERCENT|

The drop within the top-10 overall is fairly negligible and has more to do with personal preferences than it does with Jones’ talent level. Once you get past the top four players, picks five through 12 tend to be a bit all over the place. The players are all the same but the order in which they come off has numerous permutations that we see. People are showing more faith in Ryan Braun these days, they’re softening on their stance that Robinson Cano is going to be a bust in Seattle, CarGo’s injury history, you name it. All of these are affecting ADP up top by a pick or two in either direction. But if you’re drafting in the bottom half of your league, at least you know that there’s a very good chance that Jones slips to you.

Manny Machado, 3B BAL

Current ADP: 197.45
2 Weeks Ago: 162.94
Trend: -17.50|PERCENT|

He’s been battling a knee issue all spring and while we expected it, we just learned that he will definitely be starting the season on the 15-day DL. The reports on him have actually been better lately, but the Orioles are wisely taking a cautious approach with their star third baseman in an effort to ensure that he doesn’t succumb to this particular injury again this season. But even though he’s supposed to be back no later than mid-April, the casual fantasy player sees injury and backs away almost immediately. Maybe it would be different if he were a bigger home run threat, but since he’s only sitting with average power, the masses are starting to steer clear so not to start off the season on the wrong foot…or leg as the case may be.

Carlos Ruiz, C PHI

Current ADP: 355.70
2 Weeks Ago: 293.66
Trend: -17.40|PERCENT|

Sure he can legally use Adderall during the regular season, but he’s still a 35-year old man living in a 82-year old man’s body. Between the knee issues and the plantar fasciitis, Ruiz is more likely to spend some time on the DL than most others in the league. He can be as gritty as they come, but his frailty is keeping him on the lower end of the spectrum for fantasy owners. Even with the ADHD under control, it’s hard to imagine him reaching that double-digit power we saw in 2012, so I can’t blame the masses for leaving him behind. Maybe he makes for an ok option in two-catcher leagues, but he’s much more the complement than the primary.

Gordon Beckham, 2B CHW

Current ADP: 340.19
2 Weeks Ago: 284.35
Trend: -16.40|PERCENT|

His days have been numbered for some time, but the strained oblique he’s been dealing with since March 15 could keep him on the sidelines on Opening Day. He swears he’ll be ready, but GM Rick Hahn seems to think otherwise. Regardless, his stock remains on the decline as few people even believe in him anymore and many are expecting either Marcus Semien or Leury Garcia to step in and poach most of the work. Let him pass by in your draft, even in the deep leagues, as his long-range plans are unclear. You don’t want to grab him as your middle infielder if he’s not going play regularly.

Carl Crawford, OF LAD

Current ADP: 289.52
2 Weeks Ago: 241.96
Trend: -16.40|PERCENT|

Maybe it was the shoulder inflammation raising a red flag or maybe people thought that by staying back in the States to be with his expecting wife would give Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier too much of an opportunity to steal away his playing time. Whichever the case may be, Crawford has dropped more than 40 picks in drafts and few people are believing in him these days. Considering where he’s falling to lately, he’s definitely worth a flier even if you don’t believe in him. A hot start for him and his name recognition could land you a favorable trade with someone less-informed than you.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

The Popular Kids: Top-10 ADP Risers

Remember back in high school when your class elections were going down? People weren’t necessarily voting for the person whom they thought would do the best job. They were voting for the person they liked the most. It was a popularity contest, not a political election. Well, sometimes when assessing your fantasy baseball draft plan, you need to look at players much in the same way. Not that you’re selecting them based on their popularity, but adjusting your strategy based on it. The more popular they are the higher the auction bid and the higher some people may be willing to reach for them in snake drafts. With the help of the trend report on Mock Draft Central, a good gauge for player popularity amongst the masses, we’re going to check and see just who would have earned a place on the student council had they been in fantasy baseball high school right now.

Yordano Ventura, SP KC

Current ADP: 260.57
2 Weeks Ago: Not Drafted
Trend: N/A

He was already trending upwards in the NFBC so to see him start getting more attention from the masses comes as little surprise. He was just named the fifth starter for the Royals, and owns a 1.76 ERA with a 15:1 K:BB over 15.1 innings this spring. He can hit triple-digits on the radar gun when he digs down, but his fastball routinely sits in the mid to upper-90’s. He also throws a cutter and continues to fine-tune his curveball and changeup. Obviously spring numbers must be taken with a grain of salt, but he’s got the stuff to be a front-end starter and should prove his worth this season.

Archie Bradley, SP ARI

Current ADP: 329.85
2 Weeks Ago: Not Drafted
Trend: N/A

The injury to Patrick Corbin has opened the door even wider for Bradley who was supposed to be a mid-season call-up anyway. Now, he may end up with a spot in the rotation to start the season. His numbers in the minors look fantastic though his call-up to Double-A last season had some flaws, particularly found in the drop in K-rate and rise in walks. He’s had some command issues during the spring, as evidenced by his six walks in 8.1 innings, but he’s also got 10 strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a home run. He’s not a lock for a spot just yet, but could be in there sooner than later.

Josmil Pinto, C MIN 

Current ADP: 454.96
2 Weeks Ago: Not Drafted
Trend: N/A

I have to admit, I’m on the fence with regard to drafting Pinto this year. His minor league numbers dictate average plate discipline and fairly good power. His spike in strikeouts and drop in walks last season were understandable given the move up, but I just don’t know how real the power is; whether or not it is sustainable, especially at Target Field. His 454.96 ADP shows that he’s not on many people’s radar, and the ones who are drafting him are likely doing it as a second catcher and never until the very end of the draft. Hard to picture him rising much more given the depth at the position, but you never know.

Michael Pineda, SP NYY

Current ADP: 267.81
2 Weeks Ago: 372.24
Trend: +39.0|PERCENT|

The Pineda whom the Yankees dealt Jesus Montero for has finally arrived. While spring numbers always need to be taken with a grain of salt, how do you ignore a 14:1 K:BB over nine shutout innings? You can’t. Prior to the shoulder injury, the surgery and the subsequent lengthy rehabilitation, Pineda was absolutely outstanding. He dazzled for the Mariners and finished his rookie season with a 3.74 ERA (3.42 FIP) and a 9.11 K/9 over 171 innings. Had the shoulder issue not arrived, who knows how good he could have been. Now that he’s back and pitching well this spring, he’s becoming the belle of the ball.

David Price, SP TB

Current ADP: 95.18
2 Weeks Ago: 117.92
Trend: 23.9|PERCENT|

It’s always comical to see fantasy owners leap off a failing pitcher’s bandwagon like rats from a sinking ship. I say comical because this is Price we’re talking about and those who abandoned him last year were kicking themselves once he came back in the second half. After a brutal April in which he finished with a 5.21 ERA, May got even uglier as he posted a 5.29 mark in just 17 innings before landing on the disabled list. However, once he came back, it was almost the Price of old as he posted a 2.87 ERA over 108 second-half innings. Sure, he slowed a bit in September but nothing to the point where you needed to be too concerned as an owner. Now this year, Price is 100-percent healthy and ready to roll. He’s got a 2.70 ERA over 13.1 innings, but most importantly, he’s got a 15:2 K:BB ratio. He’s already moved back into the top-100 overall in drafts and could continue to rise this week while everyone is getting in those last-minute drafts.

Yasmani Grandal, C SD

Current ADP: 354.66
2 Weeks Ago: 439.45
Trend: +23.9|PERCENT|

He’s like that kid in the corner that no one pays attention to anymore because someone’s mom caught him doing drugs one day. But Grandal is suddenly expected to be ready for Opening Day and should be behind the dish when the Padres open the season against the Dodgers. Obviously the home park isn’t very good, even with the alterations, but Grandal has legitimate power lurking. I don’t think he’s first-catcher material, and neither does the fantasy community based on the ADP numbers, but if you’re looking for a serviceable No. 2 who should see the majority of starts, then he’s not a bad option.

Justin Verlander, SP DET

Current ADP: 71.14
2 Weeks Ago: 84.19
Trend: +18.3|PERCENT|

Is it a rebound year for Verlander or are we in the midst of his decline? The sabermetric community says that his advanced metrics show that he’s virtually the same pitcher and you can expect him to finish amongst the top starters in 2014, but I don’t necessarily know if I’m drinking that Kool-Aid. Strikeouts are down, walks are up and, most importantly, velocity is down. Now I’m not saying that he’s going to completely fall apart, but the sixth or seventh round (his current ADP) is probably as high as I would go with him. There are so many other great pitching options available to you, especially at that point in your draft that you might want to re-think that notion that he’ll be a Cy Young hurler once again. It’s like musical chairs – no one wants to be the guy without the chair when the music stops. Do you want to be holding the bag when Verlander doesn’t deliver?

Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF DET

Current ADP: 274.01
2 Weeks Ago: 315.37
Trend: +15.1|PERCENT|

We’re looking at a three to four round jump for Castellanos in just the last two weeks, so we’re talking some serious popularity. He’s like the new kid in school who does something to immediately impress the cool kids and curry favor. In this case, we’re the cool kids and his impressive feat is a .373 spring average with three home runs and 16 RBI over 51 at-bats. He’s not going to hit like this all year, but it’s become extremely promising to have someone like this joining the third base ranks. Some leagues make it tough because you might have to draft him as an outfielder and then move him after reaching the league eligibility but given the reasonable price tag, he should be worth it.

Cliff Lee, SP PHI

Current ADP: 35.50
2 Weeks Ago: 38.81
Trend: +9.3|PERCENT|

He’s like your senior class treasurer. He’s been elected every year since you were a freshman because he’s always consistent and he’s always done a good job. His percentage increase only amounts to a handful of picks, so we’re not looking at a massive jump or anything. He goes where he goes and you can choose to pay for him or not. If you do, you know exactly what you’re getting.

Jose Bautista, OF TOR

Current ADP: 20.64
2 Weeks Ago: 22.25
Trend: +7.8|PERCENT|

He continues to draw steady attention and even with the slight increase in ADP, sits right on the cusp of the top-20 overall. His power likely won’t ever be what it was, but 30-homer potential is definitely in-play here. Personally, I think he continues to climb the ADP ranks because those who own him just love being able to call him Joey Bats. Had he still had his third base eligibility, I’d be all over him, but for the price, I’d rather wait a couple of rounds and grab Mark Trumbo. Just sayin’.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

ADP Trends of 2014’s Trendiest Picks

The old adage is, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well, it’s no different in the fantasy baseball community. Each and every year, there is always one group of players whom the fantasy writers latch onto and write about and those players, subsequently become the hottest commodities of the draft season. The names are always different, but the buzz about them is always the same and consequently, the fantasy community becomes obsessed with drafting them. The ironic thing is that usually, these players are the young up-and-comers with very little track record. The sample size of data from which we have to go on, from an individual statistic point of view that is, is relatively small, yet rather than dismiss or even discount, we move full-speed ahead because “we know” they’re going to be great.

We first discussed this group’s players about a month ago and there was concern then about their individual ADP rankings being a bit too high, particularly in the NFBC where no trading is allowed so the “sell high” outlet which most of us use as safety net when it comes to these particular players is gone. Well here we are checking in with the group again to see if any of the trends have changed. Are they still on the rise? Are they still the hottest commodities out there? And most of all, are fantasy owners still overvaluing them?

ADP Trends for the Trendy Picks

Player Team Pos Current ADP One Month Ago Trend
Yasiel Puig LAD OF 23.78 21.14 -11.10|PERCENT|
Billy Hamilton CIN OF 67.6 74.00 9.47|PERCENT|
Jose Abreu CHW 1B 88.61 96.87 9.32|PERCENT|
Gerrit Cole PIT SP 91.24 95.21 4.35|PERCENT|
Michael Wacha STL SP 91.44 90.58 -0.94|PERCENT|
Danny Salazar CLE SP 129.11 136.56 5.77|PERCENT|
Matt Adams STL 1B 129.26 126.39 -2.22|PERCENT|
Leonys Martin TEX OF 130.29 130.47 0.14|PERCENT|
Wilson Ramos WAS C 136.91 139.98 2.24|PERCENT|
Sonny Gray OAK SP 150.77 155.00 2.81|PERCENT|
Khris Davis MIL OF 198.65 202.02 1.70|PERCENT|
Corey Kluber CLE SP 251.75 272.96 8.43|PERCENT|
Yordano Ventura KC SP 288.16 313.05 8.64|PERCENT|

Since we only have the Lucky 13 here, we are able to touch on them all to a certain degree. Some warrant more attention than others, but keep in mind, that even those who are trending down may still be overvalued on the whole. But let’s go from biggest riser to biggest faller here.

Billy Hamilton, OF CIN – We’re always trained to discount and even disregard spring numbers, but in this case we cannot. Hamilton’s .303 spring average and .410 OBP are exactly what the Reds want/need to ensure that the speedster breaks camp with the big club and opens the years as their starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. Had he been hitting .203, there may have been a greater debate, but the hot spring that includes nine stolen bases and a 6:4 BB:K locks him in. And with that, his ADP continues to climb. He’s now hovering in the fifth round in the NFBC and right around the same now in most leagues actually, so if you want those stolen bases, you’re going to have to pay for them. Just make sure you don’t forget about the category during the rest of your draft. All it takes is for one injury to wipe everything out and leave you with nothing.

Jose Abreu, 1B CHW – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his Cuban resume reads as if he were the almighty Zeus using a thunderbolt for a baseball bat. We’re talking record-breaking numbers here. Any thoughts of those numbers coming back to Earth now that he’s in the major leagues for the first time? Not according to his ADP trends. Despite a .257/.278/.400 spring slash line with just one home run and six RBI over 35 at-bats, Abreu continues to trend upwards. Even in leagues that use OBP instead of average having him climbing up because people insists that the power is so massive that the numbers this spring are virtually irrelevant. While I enter the season an Abreu owner myself in a number of leagues, I am cautiously optimistic. He did start off slowly, but has definitely turned it on over the last week or so, but what I’m appreciating more is that he’s only struck out five times. He is looking over pitchers quite methodically and seeing a lot of pitches, so that level of study and intelligence is something in which I take a lot of comfort.

Yordano Ventura, SP KC – I knew it wouldn’t be long before he started climbing up the rankings, and keep in mind that these numbers really come before he was actually named the Royals’ fifth starter, an announcement that only came a couple of days ago. Ventura has amazing stuff and has consistently touched triple-digits on the radar gun with his fastball. Both his curve and his changeup seem to be works in progress, but are steadily improving and his 15:1 K:BB this spring is no joke. Now that he has a spot locked down in the rotation, expect to see him continue his ascension up the ADP charts even more.

Corey Kluber, SP CLE – I’ll admit that I didn’t see much in the numbers from Kluber last year to warrant the level of hype he was getting. But after looking a little deeper and seeing the below-average contact hitters were making against him and the swinging-strike rates he had been posting in limited time at the major league level, I’ve softened a bit on my stance. His velocity saw a slight uptick in his first “full” season last year, and he mixes in all four of his pitches well enough that hitters have often looked confused at times when facing him. I’m not sure his ERA will ever be that of the super-dreamy sub-.300 variety, but he should post solid numbers and get 170-180 innings this year. His ADP is climbing, but he’s still going in a very reasonable 16th or 17th round.

Danny Salazar, SP CLE – It’s all about the strikeouts here and for that reason alone, Salazar’s ADP continues to rise. It’s only a handful of picks at a time, but right now he’s coming off the board in the ninth round which puts him at a round higher per month. Luckily, time for drafting is running out and he can’t get much higher, but you never know. His double-digit K/9 in the minors has certainly translated to the major league level on a limited basis. Now let’s see what happens when he logs 150 innings instead of just 50.

Gerritt Cole, SP PIT – He’s the only young hurler more coveted than Salazar right now and as you can see by his ADP, it’s going to take a sixth or seventh round pick to acquire him. Heck, I was in one industry league where he went in the fourth. Mind-numbing to me, but considering his strong performance last year in the majors, I suppose we just have to go with it despite a limited showing this spring. Cole hasn’t logged much in the way of innings this spring, but he’s looked pretty good in the ones he has thrown. The velocity on his fastball seems to have even gone up a bit, but I’d prefer the same mark with better ratios, personally.

Sonny Gray, SP OAK – While his ADP has continued to trend upwards, it is only by a slight margin and he actually seems to have plateaued. Perhaps the rough spring numbers – 6.30 ERA with a 8:4 K:BB – have had something to do with it as he never quite received as much hype as guys like Cole or Salazar. It’s tough for me to be concerned right now as I haven’t seen the FIP numbers for him and being as how he is a strong ground ball pitcher, I’m curious to see just how much his inflated ERA has to do with him versus his defense. He’s given up just one home run which we can obviously pin on him, but how many of those 14 hits would have been taken away with the A’s big league defense?

Wilson Ramos, C WAS – His power display last year (.199 ISO over 303 PA) had everyone turning their heads and coming into this season he was kind of a best-kept secret. But once the fantasy community was pointed in his direction, his ADP ascension began. The depth at the position is what’s keeping his ADP from getting out of hand, but the more people realize that he’s batting .385 with a home run and 11 RBI this spring, the more his ADP will climb up. It won’t come in large increments, but just when you thought you’d be able to wait for him until the ninth round, someone’s going to swipe him in the eighth.

Khris Davis, OF MIL – “Little Khrush” Davis is doing his best to emulate the real Crush Davis apparently as his 11 strikeouts this spring (39 AB) are making people a little nervous. He does have a pair of home runs, but I believe the enthusiasm is being tempered as evidenced by the lack of significant movement up the ADP charts. He’s climbed a few rounds from two months ago, but it ldoesn;t look like you’ll have to worry much about someone reaching too high right now.

Leonys Martin, OF TEX – He too has plateaued from the times where old school fantasy pundits like Todd Zola and Lawr Michaels were raving about his impending breakout. Perhaps it was the fact that he was being pushed back down in the batting order with the arrival of Shin-Soo Choo or maybe it’s the .179 spring average with just one stolen base and two caught-stealings. He still makes for a solid play this year and he could be due for a nice breakout, but at least the ADP hasn’t gotten out of hand and he’s still reasonably priced.

Michael Wacha, SP STL – I find it very interesting that Wacha’s ADP hasn’t really done much in the last month. He’s having a great spring – 1.08 ERA with a 9:3 K:BB over 8.1 innings – and his playoff performance from last year is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Could it be that the fan base are tempering their enthusiasm on their own? Are the Wacha supporters just being both sensible and reasonable? I certainly won’t complain if they are policing themselves but I would still garner league opinion before heading into my draft. Someone in your league quietly loves him and will undoubtedly pull a reach when you least expect it.

Matt Adams, 1B STL – He started trending downwards a month ago when there was growing concern that the Cardinals would continue to carve out playing time for everybody, but now that Oscar Taveras is headed to the minors and there is growing concern regarding his health – particularly the mental state with regard to his ankle – it appears as if Adams is again headed for full-time duty. Continue to watch his trends over the next week or so though as we might see him start to creep up a round or two soone enough. That drop-off in talent at first base is becoming more and more evident each week.

Yasiel Puig, OF LAD – We don’t need to get into my feelings about Puig again. We’ve played that out. I do like the fact that he’s trending downward even by just a bit. That tells me some of the craziness is being tempered. Still, a second round pick? That little tub of goo is batting only .122 this spring with no home runs and only three RBI over 41 spring at-bats.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

Recent Starting Pitcher ADP Trends

It’s time to talk a little starting pitcher ADP right now which seems appropriate considering the debates we’ve been hearing lately with regard to when you start drafting starters. You’ve got those you firmly stand by using higher picks to grab elite hurlers as they are supposed to be the most consistent/predictable, while the other side of the coin, which tends to be where the majority lie, is that the position is so deep, so rich with talent, that you can and should wait on it while you build your offense up to juggernaut level.

Personally, I side with the latter group as I love to go offense-heavy early and use high-end closers to help supplement the ratios and strikeouts of my less-accomplished staff. For me, the decision is easy and with so many young, high-upside hurlers available throughout the middle to late rounds, and drafting this way doesn’t leave you out in the cold by waiting on the position. We all can’t expect guys like Danny Salazar, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha and Sonny Gray to be incredibly dominant each and every time the toe the rubber, so having the high-end closers to help balance out some of the rough patches. Not to mention, how much your offense rules!

And just to add more flavor to this deliciousness, while all those guys in your league are out wasting FAAB dollars and waive r priority chasing saves, you’re looking at more starters and position players to help supplement your team in times of slump and/or injury.

But that’s not to say that you don’t land yourself an anchor or two for your rotation. There are usually some rock-solid guys left in the fifth or sixth round, so depending on how many teams are in your league and how much your league mates value starting pitching, you can still land yourself a Chris Sale or Madison Bumgarner. In fact, in my FSWA draft the other day, I grabbed Sale in the fifth and then Masahiro Tanaka in the eighth to do just that. All the while, I was stacking my offense, adding in elite closers and still wound up with a pitching staff that includes Sonny Gray, Corey Kluber, Andrew Cashner, Chris Archer, James Paxton and Nate Eovaldi.

But enough patting myself on the back for a strategy well implemented. Let’s take a look at some of the ADP trends we’re seeing in starting pitching…

Recent Starting Pitcher ADP Trends — Top 80

Rank Player Team Current ADP 1.5 Months Ago Trend
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 6.21 6.18 -0.48|PERCENT|
2 Yu Darvish Tex 17.51 16.82 -3.94|PERCENT|
3 Max Scherzer Det 30.02 28.31 -5.70|PERCENT|
4 Jose Fernandez Mia 32.31 28.72 -11.11|PERCENT|
5 Stephen Strasburg Was 32.77 34.44 5.10|PERCENT|
6 Adam Wainwright StL 33.76 33.62 -0.41|PERCENT|
7 Felix Hernandez Sea 43.12 42.90 -0.51|PERCENT|
8 Cliff Lee Phi 43.61 44.62 2.32|PERCENT|
9 Madison Bumgarner SF 46.07 47.82 3.80|PERCENT|
10 Justin Verlander Det 46.86 44.49 -5.06|PERCENT|
11 Chris Sale CWS 47.89 49.87 4.13|PERCENT|
12 David Price TB 55.11 53.74 -2.49|PERCENT|
13 Zack Greinke LAD 61.99 60.85 -1.84|PERCENT|
14 Anibal Sanchez Det 76.63 76.13 -0.65|PERCENT|
15 Cole Hamels Phi 77.20 62.36 -19.22|PERCENT|
16 Jordan Zimmermann Was 87.56 86.05 -1.72|PERCENT|
17 Gerrit Cole Pit 91.97 93.33 1.48|PERCENT|
18 Michael Wacha StL 92.46 86.33 -6.63|PERCENT|
19 James Shields KC 94.19 97.56 3.58|PERCENT|
20 Gio Gonzalez Was 96.84 99.77 3.03|PERCENT|
21 Matt Cain SF 97.57 102.62 5.18|PERCENT|
22 Mike Minor Atl 101.09 102.08 0.98|PERCENT|
23 Homer Bailey Cin 104.42 110.77 6.08|PERCENT|
24 Mat Latos Cin 105.75 101.15 -4.35|PERCENT|
25 Alex Cobb TB 110.56 116.38 5.26|PERCENT|
26 Masahiro Tanaka NYY 111.14 140.08 26.04|PERCENT|
27 Hisashi Iwakuma Sea 112.72 88.74 -21.27|PERCENT|
28 Kris Medlen Atl 120.53 119.46 -0.89|PERCENT|
29 Julio Teheran Atl 121.72 126.33 3.79|PERCENT|
30 Shelby Miller StL 121.97 117.08 -4.01|PERCENT|
31 Matt Moore TB 130.11 118.85 -8.65|PERCENT|
32 Danny Salazar Cle 130.91 139.41 6.49|PERCENT|
33 Jered Weaver LAA 138.79 137.15 -1.18|PERCENT|
34 Tony Cingrani Cin 143.38 149.03 3.94|PERCENT|
35 Hyun-jin Ryu LAD 149.23 152.26 2.03|PERCENT|
36 Andrew Cashner SD 155.11 159.74 2.98|PERCENT|
37 Francisco Liriano Pit 162.34 163.51 0.72|PERCENT|
38 Doug Fister Was 167.06 175.79 5.23|PERCENT|
39 Patrick Corbin Ari 167.51 169.28 1.06|PERCENT|
40 Jon Lester Bos 172.73 172.56 -0.10|PERCENT|
41 Jeff Samardzija ChC 177.26 175.31 -1.10|PERCENT|
42 Johnny Cueto Cin 179.43 188.79 5.22|PERCENT|
43 C.J. Wilson LAA 183.50 180.56 -1.60|PERCENT|
44 Justin Masterson Cle 195.76 202.28 3.33|PERCENT|
45 Neftali Feliz Tex 196.68 216.15 9.90|PERCENT|
46 Clay Buchholz Bos 198.69 194.08 -2.32|PERCENT|
47 CC Sabathia NYY 203.06 212.44 4.62|PERCENT|
48 Lance Lynn StL 210.51 224.49 6.64|PERCENT|
49 Zack Wheeler NYM 211.48 214.97 1.65|PERCENT|
50 R.A. Dickey Tor 213.81 218.56 2.22|PERCENT|
51 Marco Estrada Mil 220.02 222.26 1.02|PERCENT|
52 A.J. Burnett Phi 222.50 262.79 18.11|PERCENT|
53 Chris Archer TB 222.89 228.36 2.45|PERCENT|
54 A.J. Griffin Oak 228.20 228.33 0.06|PERCENT|
55 Taijuan Walker Sea 232.63 218.13 -6.23|PERCENT|
56 Brandon Beachy Atl 238.25 243.23 2.09|PERCENT|
57 Chris Tillman Bal 238.97 247.15 3.42|PERCENT|
58 Ubaldo Jimenez Bal 239.13 241.64 1.05|PERCENT|
59 Tim Lincecum SF 241.32 249.10 3.22|PERCENT|
60 Hiroki Kuroda NYY 243.01 251.05 3.31|PERCENT|
61 Matt Garza Mil 248.28 257.46 3.70|PERCENT|
62 Corey Kluber Cle 257.36 279.18 8.48|PERCENT|
63 Tyson Ross SD 257.70 275.08 6.74|PERCENT|
64 Dan Straily Oak 258.05 272.15 5.46|PERCENT|
65 Alex Wood Atl 260.89 270.85 3.82|PERCENT|
66 Jarrod Parker Oak 261.14 266.31 1.98|PERCENT|
67 Dan Haren LAD 262.95 268.72 2.19|PERCENT|
68 Scott Kazmir Oak 264.06 276.15 4.58|PERCENT|
69 Yovani Gallardo Mil 265.99 266.67 0.26|PERCENT|
70 Ian Kennedy SD 268.70 275.90 2.68|PERCENT|
71 Jake Peavy Bos 273.97 271.41 -0.93|PERCENT|
72 Rick Porcello Det 278.61 306.54 10.02|PERCENT|
73 John Lackey Bos 281.36 281.21 -0.05|PERCENT|
74 Jose Quintana CWS 286.96 296.59 3.36|PERCENT|
75 Ervin Santana Atl 287.10 291.90 1.67|PERCENT|
76 Ivan Nova NYY 293.47 306.85 4.56|PERCENT|
77 Kyle Lohse Mil 295.20 308.46 4.49|PERCENT|
78 Josh Johnson SD 298.48 304.74 2.10|PERCENT|
79 Bartolo Colon NYM 298.67 300.79 0.71|PERCENT|
80 Archie Bradley Ari 305.71 302.05 -1.20|PERCENT|

Overall, it looks like more than half the pitchers here in the top-80 are on the rise, but it’s where they are rising to and from that matters most. While so many seem to be on their way up, they are still hovering in the middle to lower rounds. Some of the elite starters have some movement, but you’re always going to see the top-10 hurlers go earlier than I would even consider taking a pitcher. It’s where the supposed bargains are going that should interest you the most because that will give you a strong indication as to where you should be looking for them in your drafts.

Risers

Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (+26.04|PERCENT|) – While some might be surprised by the climb, Tanaka’s performance this spring is a good indication that he started off so low because of the Yankee hate that ran rampant when he first signed. Before the signing, everyone was talking about how amazing a pitcher he is and once he donned the pinstripes it was all about questioning his K-rate and how many home runs he was going to give up. I can agree that the hype would have remained stronger had he landed in a pitcher’s park, but don’t let your hatred for the Yankees cloud your judgment when it comes to fantasy. Even a strong pitcher on your most-hated division rival should warrant more than just a look.

A.J. Burnett, PHI (+18.11|PERCENT|) – The rise in ADP comes for Burnett basically because he finally signed somewhere. There was talk of him retiring if he left the Pirates, but landing in Philadelphia put him back on the map. The ballpark factors could make him a bit of a question mark though as Citizen’s Bank plays much more favorably to hitters than PNC does in Pittsburgh. Be careful with him as we all remember what happened when he landed in New York. Big markets and small ballparks don’t exactly agree with A.J..

Rick Porcello, DET (+10.02|PERCENT|) – As an extreme ground ball pitcher, he should earn favorably with moving Miggy over to first and improving the infield defense. He also saw nice improvements in both his walk and strikeout rates, so it would appear that the stars just might be aligning for him. His inconsistencies last year need to be minimized, but his upward trend indicates that there are many more believers than dissenters. I would take a shot on him in the later rounds of a draft, but he’s not someone I am specifically targeting.

Corey Kluber, CLE (+8.48|PERCENT|) – The hype machine has been turned onto high with Kluber, and to be honest, I’m still not sure. The numbers look pretty good, but they’re not “oh man, I gotta have this guy” good. He’s the new No. 2 starter on the team and he should be able to throw upwards of 180 innings this year, but if you end up with him on your roster, don’t be afraid to trade him. Someone in your league will be willing to overpay.

Tyson Ross, SD (+6.74|PERCENT|) – He showed significant improvement in his peripherals last year and obviously has the benefits of Petco working in his favor. Even with the ADP increase, he’s still a late-round target more than anything. If he can continue his growth or even plateau from last year, he’ll make for an excellent back-end of the rotation type guy for you.

Fallers

Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA (-21.27|PERCENT|) – The injury is a sprained finger, and while that obviously affects his grip, we’re not talking about an elbow or a shoulder here. He should be fine, even if he misses the first month of the season because he’s been off his throwing program. Personally, I hope he keeps falling because even five months of him on the mound is going to be big for fantasy owners this year and he’ll come at a wonderfully discounted rate.

Cole Hamels, PHI (-19.22|PERCENT|) – Hamels, on the other hand, is dealing with a specific am injury (biceps) and is now looking like he won’t be back until sometime in May. The injury for him is a much bigger red flag for me and I’m likely to avoid him unless his bargain rate is potentially massive. Even with the fall here in ADP, the rate is not much of a bargain considering the potential loss of additional time down the road.

Jose Fernandez, MIA (-11.11|PERCENT|) – This is actually just a few picks in the differential, so there’s little or nothing to worry about. Fernandez should turn in another awesome season and I don’t see him falling much further, if at all. Draft with confidence.

Matt Moore, TB (-8.65|PERCENT|) – I’ve heard some rumblings about his elbow this spring which definitely make me nervous, so as much as I like his skill set, I’m not pushing my chips all-in here. If he stays healthy, then he could prove to be the ace of the Rays staff, but if not, then you’re doomed to sit him on the bench, afraid to cut him for someone who is still playing. Keep an eye on his first few starts and get ready to potentially sell high without fear.

Michael Wacha, STL (-6.63|PERCENT|) – This is another small drop and one that has less bearing on his abilities than it does on just personal choice. The hype was huge on Wacha after last year, so you have to account for some expected ADP regression. He’s still a great choice, so hopefully he’s not someone you’re going to have to reach high to grab in the coming weeks.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for nearly two decades on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com