NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater: Finding Undervalued Pitchers
by Mac Squibb
March 21, 2019
For the last month, I’ve been talking about ESPN’s Player Rater, how it’s calculated, and why it’s a valuable tool for fantasy baseball. Last week, I wrote about 11 undervalued hitters and 12 overrated hitters based on their projections. Today, I’ll be following the same blueprint, but with pitchers who are being undervalued.
In order to determine if a player is being undervalued, I’ve compared their NFBC ADP after 2/1 with their Player Rater rank. A player will be considered undervalued any time that their ADP is higher than their Player Rater rank as we will be able to draft them later than what their projections dictate. I will be listing the players who have the largest gaps between ADP and rank within the top 50, 100, 250, and 400 overall players. The entire list of players will be available at the end of the article.
Carlos Carrasco | Player Rater Rank: 24 | NFBC ADP: 36.84 | Difference: +12.84
Over the last four seasons, Carlos Carrasco has had the fifth most strikeouts per inning of any starting pitcher. Carrasco likely isn’t classified as a true ace due to an injury concern stemming from him missing starts in 2016 and 2018. However, the missed starts were caused by several unlucky injuries from comebackers. Carrasco’s projected numbers put him into the ace class which is being undervalued in general this year.
Chris Sale | Player Rater Rank: 7 | NFBC ADP: 14.7 | Difference: +7.7
Justin Verlander | Player Rater Rank: 15 | NFBC ADP: 21.41 | Difference: +6.41
Jacob deGrom | Player Rater Rank: 6 | NFBC ADP: 10.76 | Difference: +4.76
Gerrit Cole | Player Rater Rank: 22 | NFBC ADP: 26.51 | Difference: +4.51
Max Scherzer | Player Rater Rank: 3 | NFBC ADP: 5.04 | Difference: +2.04
David Price | Player Rater Rank: 87 | NFBC ADP: 100.06 | Difference: +13.06
David Price is the only pitcher with an ADP between 51 and 100 that is being undervalued. He’s likely being discounted due to his age, but his projections indicate that he’ll be around the same player that he’s been the last handful of years. He might be boring, but he is a stable option that plays on a contending team.
Rick Porcello | Player Rater Rank: 98 | NFBC ADP: 164.01 | Difference: +66.01
By coincidence, Rick Porcello is the 3rd Red Sox to appear on this list. It’s tough to find pitchers projected for at least 180 innings pitched outside the top 150 and those that are will either destroy your ERA or WHIP. Porcello is a volume option that should accumulate a decent number of wins while not majorly hurting your ratio stats.
Andrew Heaney | Player Rater Rank: 126 | NFBC ADP: 163.02 | Difference: +37.02
Andrew Heaney will be entering his second season since Tommy John surgery after a solid return to the bump last year. It’s worth noting that Heaney is throwing now after experiencing elbow inflammation earlier in spring training, but will not quite be ready to start the season. This news, combined with his injury history, is likely driving him down draft boards. The projections systems see a pitcher who made believable improvements in 2018 that will post a better than average ERA, WHIP, and strikeout total.
Chris Archer | Player Rater Rank: 102 | NFBC ADP: 134.34 | Difference: +32.34
Chris Archer was once a dominant starter and viewed as an elite fantasy option. Since his downturn in 2016, Archer has averaged a just a 4.12 ERA after three straight years below 3.50. The bright side to the higher ERA is that it’s baked into his ADP and he has still been averaging over 225 strikeouts per 200 innings. Archer might not regain his low ERA, but is projected to rack up the strikeouts in 2019 with an acceptable ERA and WHIP.
Dallas Keuchel | Player Rater Rank: 155 | NFBC ADP: 182.55 | Difference: +27.55
Rich Hill | Player Rater Rank: 148 | NFBC ADP: 171.75 | Difference: +23.75
Will Smith | Player Rater Rank: 198 | NFBC ADP: 213.42 | Difference: +15.42
Kyle Gibson | Player Rater Rank: 170 | NFBC ADP: 280.59 | Difference: +110.59
It was a tale of two halves for Kyle Gibson in 2018. During the first half, Gibson had a 3.42 ERA, 3.85 xFIP, and 8.9 K/9 all of which would have been career bests. In the second half, his numbers declined to a 3.89 ERA, 4.00 xFIP, and 7.2 K/9. Gibson’s projections fall somewhere in between the two halves which would still represent a solid year for him. As a late round pick, Gibson represents a pitcher who will push 200 innings pitched which is unusual for someone so late in the draft.
Jakob Junis | Player Rater Rank: 228 | NFBC ADP: 337.22 | Difference: +109.22
The Royals will be one the worst teams in 2019, which provides Jakob Junis with a secure rotation spot for the entire season. Junis lacks upside, however, his projected inning total is within the top 30 for starting pitchers in 2019. He’s not a sexy option, but his high inning total will allow him to accumulate wins and strikeouts consistently throughout the season.
Mike Minor | Player Rater Rank: 248 | NFBC ADP: 354.61 | Difference: +106.61
Mike Minor is another pitcher that will have the opportunity to pitch a high volume of innings in 2019 because he’s on a bad team. He lost all of his 2015 and 2016 seasons to injury and only pitched out of the bullpen in 2017, however, he made 28 starts in 2018. Minor’s redeeming quality is his below average walk rate which should allow him to have an average or better WHIP. Despite his mediocre ratio stats, Minor’s high volume of innings and below average walk rate make him an undervalued pitcher for 2019.
Vince Velasquez | Player Rater Rank: 301 | NFBC ADP: 389.88 | Difference: +88.88
Marcus Stroman | Player Rater Rank: 278 | NFBC ADP: 353.38 | Difference: +75.38
Michael Pineda | Player Rater Rank: 279 | NFBC ADP: 352.87 | Difference: +73.87
Dellin Betances | Player Rater Rank: 250 | NFBC ADP: 308.41 | Difference: +58.41
Drew Steckenrider | Player Rater Rank: 262 | NFBC ADP: 295.53 | Difference: +33.53
The point of this article was not only to point out the specific players that are being overrated, but also the type of player. Recently at Fangraphs, Ariel Cohen wrote an article titled “The Case for an Ace” in which he breaks down which tier of pitcher is the best return for your investment. He discovered that for 2018, the best average return for a pitcher was had in the elite tier and bottom tier of pitchers. This sentiment is mirrored in this article as nearly every elite pitcher is being undervalued while very few pitchers in the middle rounds are. In the later rounds, most of the undervalued pitchers had high projected inning totals which should allow them to accumulate extra strikeouts and wins. Only three relief pitchers appeared in this article, which accurately shows that relievers are being overrated as a whole. Being aware of these trends can not only make you aware of your own biases but also help you exploit the biases of others.
The Player Rater rankings are calculated based on the projections provided by ATC, THE BAT, and Depth Charts. The rankings should by no means be the sole resource for determining a players value, but merely a tool to help illuminate some of our shortcomings and biases. It’s important to still do your own research and determine to what extent you believe the numbers that the projection systems produce. The systems will never be perfect and thus the projections alone shouldn’t be enough to deter or incentivize you to draft a certain player.
Google Doc with NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater rank comparisons.
NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater: 11 Undervalued Hitters
NFBC ADP vs. Player Rater: 12 Overrated Hitters
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