Do you want to draft more Fantasy Baseball leagues but don’t want more in-season management? Best ball formats may be an excellent option for you! There are plenty of great sites you can play on, including right here on Fantrax. If you are new to best ball drafts, this draft guide should help you get started.
What is Best Ball Fantasy Baseball
So, what is a best ball league? A best ball league is a 12-team, season-long league with a 40-round draft. Do you mean it is that simple? Yes, you draft a team and leave it. There is no in-season management such as trades or waiver wire claims. The players you select in your draft stay on your roster all season. If you prepare and excel in the draft, you will succeed in a best ball league. You can follow along with your league standings all season or check it at the end of the year. There is zero commitment from you after the draft.
You can play best ball leagues on several sites, but we suggest playing right here on Fantrax. Fantrax’s best ball leagues are 12 teams that draft a 40-man roster. Your lineup will automate each week based on the top score at each position. While your roster will include 40 players, the computer will select the top 22 each week based on position. Here is the positional breakdown below.
It is also important to note that players are only available at their primary position. Therefore, someone like Shohei Ohtani will have only OF eligibility. Players also do not have multi-position eligibility on Fantrax best balls. Take this into account when drafting.
Fantrax Best Ball Scoring
Best ball scoring varies depending on the site in which you play. You must know your league’s scoring. All best ball leagues are points format but vary from traditional points scoring. You can check out the table below to see the scoring format for Fantrax best ball leagues.
|Hitting Stat||Points||Pitching Stat||Points|
As you can see, hitters receive one point for each hit, walk, run, and RBI. Home runs and stolen bases are both worth three points apiece. The scoring for hitters is pretty balanced overall.
On the pitching side, the scoring is not as simple. First off, pitchers get 1.5 points apiece for each inning pitched and a strikeout. Unlike hitters, pitchers can lose points. For each earned run allowed, the pitcher will lose 1.5 points. For each walk+hit allowed, the pitcher will lose 0.5 points. Pitchers can receive the most points from saves (6 points), wins (3 points), quality starts (3 points). This gives closers value and starters on good teams who earn wins.
In 2021 only four of the top 20 scorers were pitchers. On the flip side, 35 hitters scored more than 500 points last season. Just nine pitchers reached the 500 point mark. Thirty-one pitchers reached the 400 point mark, while 94 hitters eclipsed 400. Based on this, I land somewhere in the middle. High-end starting pitching is important, but the high-end bats will likely give you the highest point total. With that being said, let’s look at some best ball draft strategies.
Best Ball Draft Strategy
For far too long, I used projections to create a point value based on whichever site I was using scoring settings for best ball. Using a straight points system and drafting accordingly with roster construction is fine. This method works fine, and I have won plenty of best ball leagues utilizing this strategy, but I have recently begun to use a better approach to the madness.
Instead of drafting straight off total points, I have instead formulated a points system based on position scarcity. Use the last “startable” players at each position as a standard. The standard Fantrax best ball league is 12 team teams, therefore, use the 12th highest projected scorer at each position(minus OF and P.) Since five outfielders are started per team, you should use the 60th projected highest scorer as the baseline, and for pitchers since nine are started, the 108th projected highest-scoring pitching should be the baseline.
Okay, now we have the floor players for each position, what you should do next is subtract a projected player’s score from the baseline player at that same position. This gives you a new evaluation of that player based on positional scarcity.
This strategy is not perfect because you also have to factor in three utility spots and the fact that some of your projected “startable” position players will wind up in the utility slot or even on the bench some weeks. It does however shows replacement level and which positions are worth filling sooner than others.
This strategy displays the importance of drafting both pitching and outfielders. This naturally happens because the pool is much deeper because you have to start five outfielders and nine pitchers.
Using the rescore, the top 18 players are either pitchers or outfielders. Fernando Tatís Jr. is the first non-pitcher or outfielder to join the rankings at 19 overall. Jose Ramirez also jumps in at 23 overall. Having high-end pitchers and outfielders can take you a long way.
When drafting hitters in best ball, a few categories are worth focusing on that you likely don’t in standard roto leagues. The first is walks. A player who draws a lot of walks scores well in best ball while adding minimal value to a roto league.
While batting average is a major aspect of a 5×5 roto league, you can almost completely ignore it in best ball. Yes, hits are essential, but walks, home runs, and stolen bases can take you a long way. Take Joey Gallo, for instance. This season, he hit below the Mendoza line and still finished as the 30th best hitter in best ball thanks to 111 walks and 38 home runs. He finished as the 47th ranked hitter for 5×5 roto leagues.
Home runs and steals are worth three points, making them the highest valued hitting categories for best ball. If you find players who consistently put up good power/speed numbers, you will be rewarded. It is also important to remember that a 20/20 player like Randy Arozarena accrued just as many points from home runs plus stolen bases as a player like Matt Olson, who hit 39 home runs but stole just four bases.
When you look at the scoring chart for Fantrax best ball format, saves may entice you to draft closers given the six-point total. But, it is essential to remember that innings pitched and strikeouts matter for points.
For reference, Liam Hendricks accumulated the most points for any relief pitcher last season. He averaged 6.84 points per game in best ball formats. If he pitches three times a week on average, he will have around 20 points per week. Meanwhile, 71 starting pitchers averaged 11 or more points per start. Therefore, if you have a two-start pitcher, they are more likely to count in your lineup than a reliever. Draft starting pitcher heavy in best ball.
But, when drafting starting pitching, what should you look for? Pitchers who can accumulate innings and get strikeouts. Wins are a fluky stat that is hard to count on year to year. If a pitcher goes deep into games consistently, they significantly increase the chance of getting a quality start, which is just as valuable as a win.
With that being said, it is fine to draft relief pitching at the right cost. In the past I have avoided closers completely in best ball drafts. But, I have found that often times in best ball drafts, closers fall and become great values.
In the draft strategy I outlined above, Hader ranks 30th and Hendriks ranks 36th. Raisel Iglesias, Edwin Diaz, and Emmanuel Clase all rank top 90 as well. The nice thing is, the projected scores are all well above where these closers typically go in best ball drafts.
If closers fall, draft them. Otherwise, stack high-end starting pitching at the top of drafts.
Make Sure You Draft Depth
Having depth on your roster seems like common sense. But without multi-positional eligibility, you must have multiple backups at every position. If your starting first basemen gets injured for the season, you need a quality replacement.
You will also be starting 13 positional players, as you saw earlier. It is essential to have plenty of quality bats and those who accumulate at-bats. In the back end of drafts, you want to find boring value players that play every day or have a spot in the starting rotation. This makes all the difference.
I made a mistake last year of dreaming on the upside of prospects like Bobby Witt Jr. and Jarred Kelenic. Witt never got the call, and Kelenic struggled. It would have been better to use the two roster spots on players like Adam Duvall or Joey Votto.
There is no magic formula on how you should construct your roster. There are various ways you can build your roster and win, as long as you have depth, like we previously discussed. But, with the 40-man Fantrax roster, I prefer to draft 22 hitters and 18 pitchers. With catchers not providing great production, I would like to get one of the big three in Sal Perez, J.T. Realmuto, and Will Smith. After that, I want one more catcher that will go late in drafts but be the starter on his team.
At the other four infield positions, I prefer three players at each position. I like to have nine players in the outfield to cover your five spots. Having almost a backup for each outfield spot is crucial as injuries are likely to occur. It also lets players fill out the three utility spots that will count each week.
Best of luck to you in your Fantasy Baseball drafts this offseason. Jump into a best ball draft, and I hope this guide will help you out! In the meantime, check out our offseason work on FantraxHQ.