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Exploiting Draft Room Rankings Part 2 – PITCHERS

Last week we highlighted several hitters who had both positive and negative value using Steamer projections based on where they’re currently being drafted on Yahoo & ESPN. In case you missed the article you can find it here, but the data is simple. I took the Yahoo ADP & the ESPN ADP and I created an average number between them. I used the Steamer projections to find out how closely their ADP reflected their projected performance.

So I took the same formula and tried to identify pitchers that would over or under perform their ADPs and I found a few good candidates. The one trend I noticed during this was the Steamer really expects young pitchers to continue to improve, conversely the Yahoo & ESPN rankings typically haven’t kept up with (or factored in) their relative year-to-year improvements. Here’s what I found…


Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

King Felix
Steamer Projection Difference Y! & ESPN AVG Y! Ranking ESPN Ranking TFR Top 200 Ranking
158 -35.5 122.5 136 109 113

-35.5 OH KING FELIX! Say it ain’t so! Steamer is projecting Felix to under perform all of our rankings. Just nothing to like about the downward trend from last year. His walks were up, Ks were down, and ERA ballooned to a full run and a half above his career-average. This will be his age-31 season, which is incredible to think about since when he began pitching in this league in 2005 he was 19 year old, and for a long-time Felix seemed ageless. Just a kid out there dealing. Maybe time is finally catching up to the King.

I see the math and I see the numbers, but you’ve got to have some zen-like focus to not reach for Felix in the 9th round. Let’s all start now by practicing our meditation and hopefully by draft day we can pass on the King.

Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies

Jon Gray
Steamer Projection Difference Y! & ESPN AVG Y! Ranking ESPN Ranking TFR Top 200 Ranking
148 +46.5 181.5 180 183 178

+46.5. Everyone saw his potential last year when he had 185Ks over 168 innings. Everyone still wants to stay away from Gray simply because he pitches at Coors, and it’s that fallacy that you’re going to take advantage of when you draft him. He actually pitches better at Coors (7-2, 4.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) than he does when he is away (3-8, 4.91, 1.40 WHIP, 9.7 K/9). Pull the trigger on Jon Gray. He’s going to outperform his current draft slot, and he’s going to have plenty of run support. I’m a believer, Coors Curse be damned.

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron Nola
Steamer Projection Difference Y! & ESPN AVG Y! Ranking ESPN Ranking TFR Top 200 Ranking
146 +49 195 211 179 113

+49. I’ll admit it, I love the guy. My TFR Rank is even above the Steamer projection and I still don’t care. I think he’s a stud. I may have him higher than Streamer, but the point is Yahoo and ESPN have him way under valued. Nola has near-ace potential if he can keep it all together. He was rolling along nicely last year until a rough June & July were followed by a season-ending injury. He’s back, he’s healthy, and I think we can assuming he’ll pitch well in what may be one of the softer divisions in baseball. I expect big things, and you can expect to get him at a discount.

Julio Urias, LA Dodgers

Julio Urias
Steamer Projection Difference Y! & ESPN AVG Y! Ranking ESPN Ranking TFR Top 200 Ranking
148 +40 188 237 139 122

+40. This is another example of Yahoo really skewing the rankings. They have Urias over 100 spots behind the ESPN and TFR rankings. Streamer projects Urias to be generally where ESPN and our TFR ranks have him slotted. Hater in the house, Yahoo.

Much like the player who started this section, Felix Hernandez, Urias pitched in the majors last year in his age-19 season. That’s a statement that not many pitchers can make and should tell you everything you need to know about his talent-level. He more than held his own against at the major-league level last year (5-2, 3.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 84Ks in 77IP) and should have a much longer leash to pitch deeper into games. The talent is there, and I’m buying in every Yahoo league I’m in. Thanks for the 8 round discount.

It’s staggering how different draft room rankings can be, and if you’re not going to take advantage of it, someone else will. Someone like me. Fantasy sports is Darwinism at it’s finest. The strong survive and the weak get rolled. Keep your eyes open looking for those edges to exploit, because sometimes that one edge will make all the difference.
Agree? Disagree? Either way, you can complain/compliment here: @TheMayor_FBB

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