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Average Draft Position Fallers (February)

Adalberto Mondesi

Adalberto Mondesi

Lindsey Wasson-USA TODAY Sports

Average Draft Position Fallers (February)

Last week in this space I explored some of the players who have experienced large rises in their average draft positions over the past month of fantasy drafts. I tried my best to give personal insight into the reasons why those particular players – and those types of players – tend to shoot up draft boards as we get deeper into the month of March. This week, we’re going in the opposite direction – taking a deeper dive into the players that are free falling down draft boards.

Now I’m not going to go through every single one of the largest fallers and there’s an entire group that I’m simply going to omit as we know the reason why they are falling – those that have suffered major injuries and are set to miss a significant portion of the upcoming season.

Hopefully you’ll gain insight into the reasons why these players tend to drop down draft boards as we get deeper into March. Also, if you happen to like any of the particular players on this list, congratulations as you may be able to get them at a discount price in your next draft.

Gregory Soto (JAN ADP 425 → FEB ADP 537)

This one wasn’t injury-related, but I decided to keep Soto on the list here as he represents a segment of the player pool that can see drastic changes in their average draft position during the month of March. The reason for Soto’s fall is that he was dealt from the Tigers – where he would have served as their closer once again – to the Phillies where he’ll join a late-inning committee and will likely be third or fourth in the pecking order for save chances. It’s all about opportunity for late-inning relievers, and if they aren’t getting save chances, they hold very little value in the fantasy game – at least in standard 5x5 leagues.

Trevor Bauer (JAN ADP 361 → FEB ADP 453)

This one isn’t injury-related either, as Bauer’s draft stock will continue to rise and fall based on the news that comes out regarding his situation. The former Cy Young Award winner saw his draft stock spike in late December when it was announced that his suspension for Domestic Violence had been reduced to 194 games and that the Dodgers would need to reinstate him. There was renewed optimism around his situation in mid-January when he was officially released by the Dodgers – causing another bump in his draft price. However, at least so far it appears as though most MLB teams aren’t interested in all of the baggage that would go along with signing the troubled right-hander. If he does ultimately sign someplace, he’ll shoot back up draft boards to a respectable level. In the meantime, he can safely be avoided.

Gary Sanchez (JAN ADP 382 → FEB ADP 413)

This one has been more of a slow, steady decline rather than a sharp drop. All off-season fantasy managers drafted the hard-hitting backstop with confidence based on the thought that ultimately he would sign somewhere. As each day goes by though, the chances of Sanchez starting the season on a big league roster continue to decline, which is why we’re now witnessing the major drop overall. His fantasy value in 2023 will ultimately be tied to where/when – or if – he signs.

Adalberto Mondesi (JAN ADP 229 → FEB ADP 258)

Here’s a fun one. Everyone’s favorite game-changing speed source. If you’ve played fantasy baseball for several seasons, there’s a good chance that you have been burned by Mondesi and his stints on the injured list before. In fact, he’s likely to begin the 2023 season on the injured list while he continues to work his way back from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He’s already progressed to taking live batting practice though and ultimately he should only miss a week or two at the start of the regular season. Sure, he’ll probably suffer some other type of injury and spend time on the injured list later in the season, but given his immense upside, this draft price not only seems palatable to me, but it looks like a downright discount.

Mike Clevinger (JAN ADP 411 → FEB ADP 439)

Like Trevor Bauer above, Clevinger experienced a drop in his average draft position based on the news coming out that he was still being investigated by Major League Baseball for the accusations of Domestic Violence and child abuse against him. Unlike Bauer though, Clevinger actually has a team and is in spring camp with the White Sox. News then broke on Sunday that Clevinger will not face any disciplinary action from the league. Expect him to climb considerably in the coming weeks, likely to around pick 300 overall. While there’s upside to be had if he can regain his old form, keep in mind that Clevinger wasn’t very good when on the mound for the Padres in 2022 and he exhibited a noticeable drop in his overall velocity.

Matt Mervis (JAN ADP 335 → FEB ADP 351)

This one is all about opportunity. Fantasy managers were buying up Mervis early in the draft season when it looked like he would be given the opportunity to function as the Cubs’ regular first baseman heading into the 2023 season. Then the Cubs brass went out and signed both Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini, creating a pair of road blocks for Mervis to overcome. Now that he’s likely ticketed for Triple-A Iowa to start the season, he is experiencing an understandable drop in his draft price.

Lane Thomas (JAN ADP 271 → FEB ADP 286)

Sometimes, there’s no obvious reason why some players start to fall down draft boards. It’s simply a zero-sum game, as certain types of players move up the board as we get deeper into March, someone has to fall to offset those gains. Typically we see it in the “old and boring” types, but it can also be in players that have a “meh” overall skill set but could be locked into starting jobs to begin the season. I think Thomas falls into that latter group, but I also believe he’s a better overall player than the fantasy community is giving him credit for. He looks like a decent buying opportunity to me at that new price.

Kendall Graveman (JAN ADP 243 → FEB ADP 257)

Once again, this is a situation that deals with the proximity to saves. Graveman saw his stock soar after Liam Hendriks announced that he’d be taking time away from the White Sox while he battles his cancer diagnosis. The steep climb may have been a bit of an initial overreaction. While Graveman has had success in the ninth inning before, he struggled to a 1.40 WHIP with the White Sox in 2022 and hasn’t looked sharp this spring. The smart money in the White Sox bullpen appears to be on Reynaldo Lopez seizing that job and running with it.

Scott Barlow (JAN ADP 127 → FEB ADP 137)

Saves, saves, saves. Barlow looked to be secure in his ninth inning role for the Royals, before the organization went out and signed former elite closer Aroldis Chapman to a one-year contract. There were rumblings that Chapman chose the Royals due to the fact that they would give him an opportunity to close, which has caused Barlow’s overall value to slide. It’s difficult to imagine Chapman jumping right in and succeeding in that role based on how poorly he pitched during the 2022 season, but stranger things have happened. It’s a difficult gamble to risk a pick in the top-10 or so rounds on a reliever that may not even see the bulk of his squad’s save chances.

MLB Quick Hits: Astros’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters on Sunday that Yordan Alvarez (hand) has still yet to resume swinging a bat… Baker also noted that right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow) has yet to resume throwing… The Rockies signed Mike Moustakas to a minor league contract… The Tigers brought in Trevor Rosenthal on a minor league deal… José Quintana was pulled from Sunday’s Grapefruit League start due to soreness in his side and back. He has decided to withdraw himself from competing for Team Colombia in the upcoming World Baseball Classic… Pavin Smith was pulled from Saturday’s game due to back spasms, but reported feeling significant improvement on Sunday… Nick Ahmed (forearm) is expected to return to Cactus League play on Monday… Twins prospect Austin Martin has been diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his right elbow and has been shut down from throwing… David Peterson was diagnosed with a left foot contusion after being hit by a comebacker on Monday…. Tommy Kahnle has been shut down from throwing for 10 days as he battles right biceps tendinitis… Red Sox prospect Wilyer Abreu was pulled from Sunday’s Grapefruit League affair with a left hamstring strain. He’s expected to be out for a while… Jeimer Candelario was named to Team Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic, replacing the injured Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (knee)... Andrew McCutchen was pulled from Sunday’s Grapefruit League tilt after being drilled in the hand by a pitch… Kirby Snead has been shut down from throwing due to a shoulder strain… Matt Carpenter was scratched from the Padres lineup on Sunday due to abdominal discomfort… Bubba Thompson (leg) returned to Cactus League action on Sunday… Leody Tavares was scratched from the Rangers’ lineup on Sunday with tightness in his left side… Jesse Winker (neck) is expected to make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday… Whit Merrifield has been held out of Grapefruit League action since Friday due to tightness in his right quad… Vladimir Guerrero Jr. missed another Grapefruit League game on Sunday due to soreness in his knee… Luis Gonzalez (back) reported feeling much improved and says he could be ready by Opening Day… Astros manager Dusty Baker said Sunday that as long as Michael Brantley is in the lineup, he’ll be batting second… Jack Flaherty (illness) had his Grapefruit League debut pushed back until Monday… Carter Kieboom has been shut down due to soreness in his right shoulder… Griffin Canning will make his spring debut on Monday against the Guardians… Zac Gallen will make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the Athletics… Tyler Naquin was scratched from Saturday’s lineup with a sore shoulder… Jacob deGrom is tentatively scheduled to face live hitters for the first time on Wednesday… Miguel Vargas (finger) is expected to be cleared to start taking swings during Cactus League games on Wednesday… Phillies top pitching prospect Andrew Painter has been sent for additional tests after feeling tenderness in his pitching elbow following Wednesday’s Grapefruit League outing… Terrin Vavra was scratched from the Orioles lineup on Saturday due to a sore left shoulder, he’s considered day-to-day… Jarlín García was pulled from Saturday’s game due to left arm tightness… Brandon Hughes is close to making his Cactus League debut… The Rockies signed left-hander Brad Hand to a one-year, $2 million contract with a $7 million club option for the 2024 season…Daniel Bard (thumb) is scheduled to return to the mound on Monday… The Royals have pulled back on Ryan Yarbrough‘s throwing program due to a slight groin strain.