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Mock Draft Analysis: ADP Comparisons

It has been a boring mildly slow week in transactions, so I'm posting something a little different today. Before the RotoAuthority Mock Draft fades too far in the rearview mirror, I'll be taking a look at some of the biggest (and most noteworthy) differences between the choices of our mock drafters and the collective wisdom of the MockDraftCentral.com community. It turns out, there were plenty of surprise picks, and a few interesting trends along the way. View a spreadsheet of our draft results here.

Each time I mention when a player was taken, I'll include the difference with his ADP. For clarity's sake, negative numbers mean they were taken earlier than their ADP. I know I've been confused on this point before ...

The draft started with a reach, when someone took Troy Tulowitzki (-4.8) over the vague consensus of Matt Kemp/Miguel Cabrera. OK, it was me. I'm still not sure if that was the right call, but it's tough to go too far wrong in the first round. Carlos Gonzalez (-5.24) was taken a bit above his ADP, but late first- and early second-rounders tend to blur together for me.

One early trend was that we waited on pitchers. Justin Verlander (14.36), Roy Halladay (6.7), and Clayton Kershaw (9.77) all went later than their ADPs. Verlander was -- appropriately -- the second pitcher off the board and taken more than a round later than the mock drafters are grabbing him. This makes sense to me, as I don't see a huge difference between Verlander and a lot of the guys around him -- Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, etc. It's good to have one of those guys on your team, but it's better to get the last one and hope it's his turn for the big year. 

Through the first six rounds there were only three position players that we let slip far past their ADPs: Hunter Pence (12.74), Carl Crawford (19.91), and Elvis Andrus (20.75). Other than showing just how much we liked the hitters over the pitchers, this seems like three separate instances more than a trend. Andrus is overvalued--steals and little else isn't that great, even from a SS--Crawford presents more risk than seems necessary that early, and Pence ...well, maybe we just forgot about him. Credit Tom Warman for grabbing him in the fifth round.

As a group, we were very enthusiastic with third basemen. David Wright (-11.72) went in the second round, Ryan Zimmerman (-15.22) in the third, and Brett Lawrie (-18.75), Alex Rodriguez (-18.35), and Pablo Sandoval (-23.56) in the fourth. After Kevin Youkilis (-20.56) went in the sixth round, I made the first major reach of the draft and got Mark Reynolds (-42.77). It's tough to say whether we intentionally targeted third basemen aggressively, or if it was more of a chain reaction sort of situation. Either way, it makes sense to pay a premium for an early third baseman, as there is a big dropoff and they start to look a lot like shortstops after a while.

Another trend is that we were very patient with closers. Craig Kimbrel (19.23) was the first reliever off the board in the seventh round; the next one taken was Mariano Rivera (11.32) in the tenth. We waited on John Axford (27.28) and Drew Storen (42.39), two pitchers who are going earlier than they should in a lot of drafts. While you won't always be able to wait as long as we did for saves, the variance and interchangeability of relief pitchers makes me try to draft them as late as possible. One reliever who might be good value is Ryan Madson (-27.58), whom Tim Dierkes drafted in the tenth after most other elite closers were gone.

As the rounds got later, the differences--positive and negative--in our picks and ADPs grew larger, which is only natural, and individual choices started to stand out more than larger trends. Our biggest reach of the night somehow didn't go to me; instead Shuckleball took Yunel Escobar (-90.78) seven rounds before his ADP. I don't mean to criticize the move -- you have to balance getting the player you believe in with trying to get the best value you can. Could Shuckleball have gotten Escobar several rounds later? Probably, unless someone else had the same idea. I thought I could get Yu Darvish (-29.3) in the ninth round. Instead, Tim Dierkes took him in the eighth.

Reaching for "your guys" can have its negative consequences, too: I made Max Scherzer (-52.85) my ninth-round pick and lost out on James Shields (32.07) two picks later to Shuckleball because I wasn't looking past my plans for value.

As far as pitchers we let go past their ADPs, I think there were a few collective misses that resulted in bargains for the teams that drafted them: Tim Hudson (83.21) had the biggest positive difference between our draft slot and his ADP, but Neftali Feliz (63.05), Justin Masterson (42.39), Wandy Rodriguez (78.06), Ryan Vogelsong (40.61), Michael Pineda (44.27), and Jeremy Hellickson (64.86) were just a few of the pitchers we took forty or more places after their ADP. All come with real concerns, but in the late stages of the draft, who doesn't?

Finally, there were a few hitters taken well below their ADPs, and with good reason. Stephen Drew (30.4) and his injury concerns didn't impress; neither did Austin Jackson (48.65), Carlos Quentin (35.34), or Michael Brantley (81.53). We may like taking risks, but none of us were enthusiastic to bet on Adam Dunn (38.97), and I think we're all just plain tired of Vernon Wells (78.48).

Every draft has its own idiosyncrasies, and ours was no exception, but it was a balanced draft between experienced players. Our collective advise seems to be: be aggressive with third base, patient with starters, very patient with relief and ... don't take Vernon Wells. Hopefully this helps you in your own drafts. Finally, don't be afraid to go right after the players you target, but don't forget to take value when it drops to you.

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