DRAFT & HOLD: The Marriage of Reliability and ADP

As participation in Draft and Hold leagues increases, it becomes interesting to review the applicability of existing fanalytic measures to this format. The Portfolio3 plan and Mayberry Method have each had broad historic appeal based on their ability to help owners assemble their teams. They have also nicely complemented each other with their distinctive approaches and both present Reliability as an important valuation element. Let’s review how we might use the Reliability measure from these gold standard fantasy strategies to help shape decisions  in the Draft and Hold format.

Reliability

As many readers know, the reliability measure is composed of three distinct grades – Health, Playing Time/Experience and Consistency. The definition is accessible here with each of the three grades falling on a scale between A and F based on distinct injury, playing time and consistency measures.  This metric is a key part of the Portfolio3 tier filtering formula and helps identify what players should be considered as part of each tier.

Unbeatable Reliability - AAA Players

Among the top 300 players as measured by ADP, 29 have the strongest AAA rating on the Reliability grade. These players are consistency rocks and according to Portfolio3 would fit into your Tier 1 or 2 roster draft lists if combined with solid batting or pitching skills. It’s interesting to note that only two of the top ten players (by ADP) are batters (McCutchen and Holliday) and that a full 20 of the 29 AAA players are pitchers (2 relievers and 18 starters).

If you’re following the Santana Plan in your draft, the top names on the list below could form your primary draft targets for your ace pitcher. For those following a LIMA strategy, the AAA pitchers listed below an ADP of approximately 150 present a good starting point for your later round pitching targets. 

For batters, if the players on this list are available near or below their ADP slot in the first 10-12 rounds (~150 picks), it likely makes sense to grab them since they have a solid chance of delivering on their projection and form the core of your roster.

Player	         Pos   Team      ADP    Rel
================ ===   ====    ======   ===
Justin Verlander SP	DET	 8.99	AAA
Roy Halladay	 SP	PHI	15.47	AAA
Clayton Kershaw	 SP	LA	16.47	AAA
Tim Lincecum	 SP	SF	25.53	AAA
Andrew McCutchen OF	PIT	25.94	AAA
Felix Hernandez	 SP	SEA	27.44	AAA
CC Sabathia	 SP	NYY	30.72	AAA
Cole Hamels	 SP	PHI	30.75	AAA
Matt Holliday	 OF	STL	37.86	AAA
Dan Haren	 SP	ANA	42.53	AAA
Matt Cain	 SP	SF	60.43	AAA
Brandon Phillips 2B	CIN	60.52	AAA
B.J. Upton	 OF	TB	63.88	AAA
James Shields	 SP	TB	66.10	AAA
Ricky Romero	 SP	TOR	86.97	AAA
Billy Butler	 DH	KC     117.95	AAA
Nick Swisher	 OF	NYY    120.72	AAA
Nick Markakis	 OF	BAL    122.39	AAA
Heath Bell	 RP	MIA    129.61	AAA
Andre Ethier	 OF	LA     135.87	AAA
Max Scherzer	 SP	DET    148.88	AAA
Ubaldo Jimenez	 SP	CLE    155.16	AAA
Alexei Ramirez	 SS	CHW    159.80	AAA
Joakim Soria	 RP	KC     170.11	AAA
John Danks	 SP	CHW    189.59	AAA
Justin Masterson SP	CLE    200.46	AAA
Colby Lewis	 SP	TEX    200.66	AAA
Chad Billingsley SP	LA     240.41	AAA
Edwin Jackson	 SP	WAS    245.49	AAA

Of interest, when we expand the criteria to include all Reliability ratings at BBB or better (i.e. Portfolio3 Plan Tier 1 and 2 Reliability filter), we have 103 players including 54 pitchers (41 starters) and 49 batters. Restricting our filters even further to ADP rankings in the top 150 (top 10 rounds in a 15 team league or 12.5 rounds in 12 team leagues) reveals only six players at 1B, three at 2B (Cano, Phillips and Kendrick), one at 3B (Longoria), two shortstops (Tulowitzki and Andrus), three catchers (Santana, McCann and Wieters), sixteen outfielders and 32 pitchers. In Draft & Hold leagues, it is increasingly important that early round picks provide value for their draft round and in the case of SS, 3B, 2B and C may be able to provide a reliability advantage via the relative scarcity of BBB+ players in those positions.

Beware of Early Round Risks

Just as “Reliability rocks” can contribute stability and increased predictability to the core of an owner’s roster, early round draft selections with low reliability ratings can provide undesirable levels of risk that are not recommended for picks in the first few rounds of a Draft and Hold league. The list below highlights players expected to be drafted in the first five to six rounds with two or more reliability grades of C or worse.

Player           Team    ADP    Rel
===============  ====   =====   ===
Jacoby Ellsbury	 BOS	 9.44	FBF
Hanley Ramirez	 MIA	20.04	CBC
Jose Reyes	 MIA	20.99	FCC
Adrian Beltre	 TEX	31.60	CBD
Nelson Cruz	 TEX	49.52	DCC
Buster Posey	 SF	60.18	FDC
Alex Gordon	 KC	60.84	CCB
Shin-Soo Choo    CLE	62.46	DBC

From a Portfolio3 plan perspective, it would be advised against drafting these players in the early rounds because of the unnecessary risk that they bring to the core of an owner’s team. Players with lower Reliability grades, however, are worthy to be drafted in the later rounds as we shall review.

Later Round Reliability Filters

In the Portfolio3 plan, as owners move into the later rounds of a draft and Tier 3 of forming their teams, the Reliability filter on targeted players is removed. This elimination is required for two primary reasons: The pool of players with high reliability (and skill) has dwindled; and winning teams need to embrace risk and the associated upside that comes with it in the final rounds. In Draft and Hold leagues (like others), identifying these players is particularly important as all in-season player replacement must come from within a team’s active or reserve roster. Filling the bottom of an active roster and a reserve team with predictably mediocre performers is not a formula for success. Let’s review a few places that Reliability grades might still provide guidance for these later round picks.

  • Post Tommy John players. With an increasingly impressive and successful track record of performance for pitchers now coming back from this surgery, it now becomes interesting to consider pitchers with an F Health grade on their reliability grade. Examples this season include Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright.
  • Prospects. Young players that have shown successful minor (or foreign) league skills but with limited MLB experience will by necessity have poor Playing Time/Experience and Consistency grades—often times both are F. These players truly define both risk and upside. Examples this year include Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve and Yoenis Cespedes. Let others reach for these players but consider drafting them if they last into the later rounds.
  • Inconsistent Healthy Young(er) Players. Young players (think 20s) who have managed solid Health and Playing Time/Experience grades but whose performance has been volatile can provide an opportunity for upside. Unless something known and material has occurred, drafting players like Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, Mark Melancon or perhaps even Adam Dunn can contribute to a winning season because of their upside potential.

Summary

In Draft and Hold leagues (and other leagues for that matter), victory often comes from a roster built around a core base of “expensive” players delivering at or close to value complemented with players exceeding past performance through increased playing time, a healthier season or an uptick in skills (and results). Looking at Reliability measures to help with roster composition in Draft and Hold leagues can be particularly instructive because of the permanence of that initial draft. For strategic owners, Reliability grades can be used through the early rounds to help secure predictable roster anchors, In the mid to later rounds, it can help filter  the remaining players. Owners that are able to stare down some unattractive looking C, D or worse grades in the health, playing time/experience or consistency grades and find nuggets of potential value will position themselves well for a chance to compete.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.