Mock Draft Central serves a vital purpose each spring. The site collects average draft position data (ADP), and sets it up in list form for fantasy owners like you and I to study while we wait for our own draft(s). The ADP isn't gospel, though -- just because large numbers of people do something doesn't make it correct. Sometimes, you can find some oddities in the ADP lists that merit further inspection. We'll look at some of these over the next few weeks, the last opportunities to draft before the year begins.
Justin Verlander: The starting pitcher is ranked seventh in ADP, and has been taken as early as third overall. Now, don't get me wrong here: Verlander is fantastic. But, as a rule, elite pitchers aren't going to contribute as much as elite hitters, as they contribute to four categories rather than the five your top-shelf hitters are going to produce for. In a mixed format, when there are plenty of five-star caliber players to choose from, why Verlander would be taken off of the board in the top 10 in your average draft is mystifying.*
*And this coming from someone who took him on the turn in a snake mock back in January. To be fair, the elite hitters were taken ahead of my spot at 11, and I could get Verlander/Roy Halladay back-to-back. And I didn't need to draft another pitcher for 10 more rounds because of it. Exceptions exist, but not in the kind of numbers that put Verlander at #7 in overall ADP.
Let's take a look at the number of five-star players I have in my own rankings, in no particular order of value. Remember, players within a tier are very close to each other, so don't get too worked up about the details here:
|Jose Bautista||TOR||3B, RF|
|Carlos Gonzalez||COL||LF, CF, RF|
|Miguel Cabrera||DET||1B, 3B|
After those 12 players (a number that is higher than Verlander's 7), you still have guys like Dustin Pedroia, Matt Holliday, Ian Kinsler, and Jose Reyes to pick ahead of any pitcher. Verlander is debatable at the end of a round, since you can double-barrel elite pitching from the start then go hitter crazy while everyone else catches up to you. But going straight Verlander at #7 seems like a waste of the pick. Clayton Kershaw's ADP is 17, Roy Halladay 15 -- that's more like it, as Verlander is more likely to be similar to those two again in 2012 than he is to throw 250-plus innings and win 25 once more. And that's what it takes to get $30 of value (akin to a five-star player) out of a pitcher.
I love Verlander. I'll likely pay $30 for him at auction in my 14-team keeper, but only because my keepers allow me the ability to do that. If you're drafting Verlander straight up as if he's worth that kind of value, in a standard mixed league built from the ground up each year, well, you might get lucky. But you'll most likely regret the decision while Curtis Granderson and Carlos Gonzalez tear up their respective leagues despite second-round status.