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ADP Analysis: Underrated Pitchers

Every Friday during the pre-season I will be analyzing ADP-related issues using the most recent information courtesy of Mock Draft Central and other sources. This week we are looking at pitchers that are underrated in relation to their ADP positions - don't reach too far on the underrated players, the idea is to draft them as near to their ADP spot as possible and get excellent value at that slot. The upcoming schedule will be:

  • Friday, February 3 - Overrated hitters.
  • Friday, February 10 - Underrated hitters.
  • Friday, February 17 - Comparing ADP variances from different sources, reviewing ADP movers or other requests from the comments.

Here we go with the underrated pitchers (unless stated otherwise, all stat references are for the 2011 season):

  • Gameshow time ("Call the American Embassy!") - What qualifying pitcher led all MLB starters in SIERA last year at 2.66? Answer - Zack Greinke with a current ADP of 51.54. Last year his counting stats were deflated by an early season injury and his hr/flyball rate shot up compared to previous seasons (last five years were 7%, 9%, 5%, 8% and then 14% in 2011). He has 2009 upside (2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts) and pitches in the pathetic NL Central. Bold prediction - Greinke finishes in the top five ranked pitchers this season, and is currently being drafted as the 13th starter.
  • Want credentials that would make Pat Anderson proud? How about a 10.74 k/bb and 2.94 SIERA for Brandon Beachy (ADP 116.95). But something's missing? Only seven wins last year and missed time due to an oblique injury drives down his price. Bold prediction - Beachy has the most value of any Atlanta starter this season.
  • As I discussed here, I use my three bench spots in the RotoAuthority League for back-up hitters to stream at-bats. But, that does not mean you need to draft the back-up hitters. Take a chance in the later rounds of your draft on relievers that may win a closing job in the spring and then drop them for a waiver wire hitter when the season begins if the reliever does not pan out. Players I like to potentially win a closer job in the spring that are going late are Wilton Lopez (ADP 262.64), Brian Fuentes (ADP 336.05), Joel Peralta (ADP 257.47), and Jim Johnson (233.61). Also, as further discussed here and here, we are only chasing one category with closers. So, target late closers such as Matt Capps (ADP 234.12), Frank Francisco (ADP 232.26) and Javy Guerra (ADP 230.78, almost fifty spots behind Kenley Jansen) - each of these three relievers are likely to go far earlier in your draft than these ADP slots. Bold prediction - Wilton Lopez finishes the season with 20+ saves and leads the Astros. Matthew Berry was one season too early. Be sure to keep up with our Closer Depth Chart so you can keep tabs on each team's pecking order.
  • Madison Bumgarner (ADP 75.58) - he finished eighth among qualifying starters last season with a 3.18 SIERA, had a high .322 BABIP, turned his season around after a slow start and pitches in San Francisco. Who let the dogs out? This is a rock solid #2 and elite #3. Bold prediction - Bumgarner has more value this year than Matt Cain. Last year, Bumgarner's xERA was 3.19 compared to a xERA of 3.63 for Cain.
  • Jonathon Niese (ADP 218.76) - see Dan Mennella's excellent write-up here. (Not quite a) bold prediction - Niese has the most value of any NY Met starter this season.
  • Brandon Morrow (ADP 185.07) - Morrow had the largest differential for qualifying starters last season between ERA (4.72) and SIERA (3.31). He had a 10.19 k/9, and this season has an improved Toronto bullpen. Bold prediction - Morrow finishes the season as a solid #3 fantasy starter despite currently being drafted as the 51st starting pitcher.
  • Ryan Dempster (ADP 231.11) and Chris Capuano (ADP 272.98) - Here are a couple of guys you can finish out your rotation with that should be improved this season. Dempster has a hopefully improved defense behind him this season with David DeJesus added and Aramis Ramirez removed, and his SIERA (3.79) and xERA (3.72) were much better than his ERA (4.80). Capuano pitches in LA, and his SIERA (3.60) and xERA (3.64) were also much better than his ERA (4.55). Other end draft starters I would target are Tim Stauffer (ADP 246.09; I prefer him to Dempster and believe that he will be drafted ahead of Dempster in most leagues outside of Wrigleyville), Jake Peavy (ADP 232.65, you can stash during his DL stints) and James McDonald (ADP 305.03; Ron Shandler writes that his upside this season is a 3.50 ERA and 15 wins).
  • Yu Darvish (ADP 126.80) - Darvish has all the makings of a popular guy everyone will want to own if he starts strong, and you can take advantage of the owner in your league that makes trades based on name recognition over stats by selling very high early in the season. If you don't know who that owner is in your league, then it is you. Draft Darvish at 126 and then trade him for Yovani Gallardo (ADP 50.92), Daniel Hudson (ADP 87.33) or Bumgarner early in the season.
  • Sadly, this is the last entry of the week: Stephen Strasburg (ADP 61.95) - this is probably the last season the former USA Olympic pitcher (no, not in the year 3022) is drafted outside of the top 7 starters (he is currently being drafted as the 16th starter). Take the 160 innings he will pitch this year, and fill in another 30-40 with an elite reliever from the waiver wire and you have a top 7 starter's numbers.

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