MASTER NOTES: What is this man glaring at?

It's only January but I've already had my first draft of the season. I've already prepared that first cheat sheet, settled on my first strategies and written my first post-mortem.

I remain forever entranced by the Average Draft Position rankings from those first mock drafts of the young year.

And there he is again, that one player, a man among boys, clocking in at #3 on that ADP list. He is going as high as 2nd but no lower than 9th. Clayton Kershaw.

And look there! Joining him in the first round is King Felix Hernandez. His ADP is #9, and he is going anywhere from 7th to 17th.

And I have to shake my head.

As most folks know, I would never draft a pitcher in the first round. I would never pay $30 for a pitcher in an auction league. I just won't do it.

Sure, there are arguments for setting your pitching foundation with a Kershaw right up front. His numbers are so far ahead of other pitchers. His mega-innings give your ratio categories an immediate foothold. For me, the biggest advantage is that he gives you more license to make mistakes later. He's your insurance policy for when you find yourself stuck with Brett Oberholtzer in the end game.

But these days, it's pretty tough to make mistakes with pitching. Last year, there were enough starting pitchers with an ERA under 3.50 to stock a 12-team league four deep. That means you could set more than half of your starting rotation with solid arms just by coughing in the right direction. During the season, surprise superstars came out of the woodwork every time you'd turn around—Collin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker, Jacob DeGrom.

It's the basic economic theory of supply and demand. When supply goes up, prices come down. You can't walk 10 feet without tripping over a rosterable pitcher, so there is no need to pay the big bucks or high draft picks. Even for a Kershaw or Felix.

The biggest factor for me is that ratio categories can be managed throughout the draft and during the season, but you have to accumulate your counting stats early. And batters contribute to upwards of four categories while starting pitchers contribute to just two—and wins, well, Cole Hamels might have something to say about that.

When you draft a Kershaw or Felix in the first round, you give up the opportunity to roster one of the game's top producers of HRs, RBIs, Runs and possibly stolen bases. Those are stats that are tough to get back. And you simply don't have to make that sacrifice.

Let's look:

Draft Kershaw in the first round and you potentially get about 230 innings and 230 strikeouts. Probably 18-20 wins. Maybe he'll give you a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP again, but a more prudent projection might round that up to a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.

Let's say you pass on that first round pitcher and wait to draft one in the fourth round. Current ADPs say that the pitchers who would be available include Johnny Cueto, Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright and Zack Greinke. What would you be losing by waiting until then?

Perhaps about 20-25 innings and 20-25 strikeouts. An ERA about a half to three-quarters of a run. A WHIP of maybe 0.10, a little higher in Greinke's case.

Over the course of six months, those numbers are pretty much statistical noise.

Focusing on peripherals and drafting a Greinke over a Hisashi Iwakuma—both $21 pitchers—immediately makes up the ground in strikeouts. Pair Greinke with one of the 100-K closers—Kimbrel, Chapman, Holland, Jansen (who are going as late as rounds 5 and 6)—and you won't miss Kershaw at all. And you can stock up on those ever dwindling batting stats in rounds 1, 2 and 3.

This advice has always held for me, but these days it is even more prevalent. Good pitchers can be found anywhere. Good hitters? Not so much. It's simple supply and demand. When you're inundated in solid arms, you don't need to pay a premium for any one of them. Even Clayton Kershaw.

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