Isn’t this the best time of the year?
The weather is starting to warm up and the baseball season is right around the corner. For those in school, spring break is near, and MLB The Show 22 is almost here as well. Most importantly, though, fantasy baseball draft season is here!
Generally, most of the content surrounding fantasy baseball focuses on category leagues. Yet, this is likely doing a disservice to many fantasy baseball players. In fact, a great proportion of fantasy baseball players likely play in points leagues, but it’s generally not covered enough.
In points leagues, we get to simply draft the best player available, or the player who will score the most points- similar to football. Could you imagine a category league for fantasy football? That would be the ultimate chaos! This may also better reflect “real-life baseball”, as players’ contributions to your fantasy teams go beyond the standard 5×5 categories.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let us take a look at how players are going to produce from a points league perspective. The most common way to do this is through standard rankings, which generally use a combination of data and gut feeling to try to put the players in order of most value to least. However there may be a different way to look at this process.
What do I mean by this? Instead of standard rankings, I rely on my own manual projections, with a full explanation here. These players may not be the exact order as I prefer them, but it’s important to keep needed objectiveness with the subjective touch of manual projections.
With that, let us get to the rankings! Today, we’ll be focusing on the second base position. This is a position that likely gets a boost in points league, as many of the players here make a lot of contact and are able to get on base. Some get hit hard due to stolen bases not being as critical, but there are a lot of players where this system is a benefit for them.
So, which second basemen should be targeting or avoiding? Which second basemen get a boost or drop-off in points leagues as compared to category leagues. Let us dive into it!
Stats via Fangraphs and Baseball Savant
Category League Second Base Projections & Tiers HERE
2022 Points League Second Base Rankings
|1||Trea Turner||LAD||2B, SS||527|
|3||Marcus Semien||TEX||2B, SS||452|
|5||Whit Merrifield||KC||2B, OF||433|
|6||Ketel Marte||ARI||2B, OF||425|
|7||Jorge Polanco||MIN||2B, SS||410|
|9||Jake Cronenworth||SD||1B, 2B, SS||396|
|11||Tommy Edman||STL||2B, OF||358|
|12||Max Muncy||LAD||1B, 2B||357|
|15||Enrique Hernandez||BOS||2B, OF||342|
|16||DJ LeMahieu||NYY||1B, 2B, 3B||339|
|17||Ty France||SEA||1B, 2B||336|
|18||David Fletcher||LAA||2B, SS||335|
|19||Javier Baez||DET||2B, SS||319|
|20||Eduardo Escobar||NYM||2B, 3B||316|
|21||Chris Taylor||LAD||2B, SS, OF||310|
|22||Jonathan Schoop||DET||1B, 2B||308|
|24||Luis Urias||MIL||2B, SS, 3B||303|
|25||Tony Kemp||OAK||2B, OF||301|
|26||Brendan Rodgers||COL||2B, SS||300|
|28||Luis Arraez||MIN||2B, 3B, OF||294|
|29||Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||2B, SS||294|
|30||Jeff McNeil||NYM||2B, 3B, OF||290|
|31||Ryan McMahon||COL||2B, SS||283|
|33||Tommy La Stella||SF||2B||270|
|34||Wilmer Flores||SF||1B, 2B, 3B||260|
|35||Josh Rojas||ARI||2B, SS, OF||258|
|36||Josh Harrison||FA||2B, 3B, OF||248|
|37||Hae-Song Kim||SD||2B, 3B, SS||245|
|38||Gavin Lux||LAD||2B, SS||231|
|39||Andres Gimenez||CLE||2B, SS||228|
|41||Abraham Toro||SEA||2B, 3B||217|
|42||Leury Garcia||CHW||2B, OF||209|
|43||Ramon Urias||BAL||2B, SS||204|
|44||Garrett Hampson||COL||2B, OF||196|
|46||Edmundo Sosa||STL||2B, SS||189|
|49||Rougned Odor||BAL||2B, 3B||175|
|51||Dylan Moore||SEA||2B, OF||115|
|52||Willi Castro||DET||2B, SS||91|
Who Gets a Boost In Points Leagues?
|Player||Team||Roto Rnk||Points Rnk||Diff|
|Tommy La Stella||SF||42||33||-9|
- Tony Kemp, Tommy La Stella, and Adam Frazier may not stand out in category leagues, but they may end up being viable streaming options in deeper points formats due to their strong plate skills. Plus, Kemp and La Stella could easily bat at the top of the lineup, though the latter is currently dealing with an Achilles injury.
- Are we overlooking Enrique Hernandez? Not only are we talking about the lead-off hitter for a productive Red Sox lineup, but a quality hitter as well. Meanwhile, he posted a career-high 8.4% barrel rate last season, made better swing decisions (24.9% chase) than ever before, and could have more power; he had four fewer home runs than expected, per Baseball Savant. Now, this may have been due to the green monster “knocking down” a few of his likely home runs, though expected home runs accounts for wall height. He’s being drafted pretty appropriately (2B #16), but he remains a strong pick at his current average draft position (ADP).
- Kolten Wong and Jean Segura are in a similar bucket both in category leagues and points leagues as contact-oriented second basemen with some value in terms of stolen bases, but not great power. That profile may be undervalued in category leagues, yet it’s even more the case in points leagues- the consistent contact and all-around contributions they make rate out well in terms of projected fantasy points. They may not be “flashy picks”, but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on them in drafts.
- When you’re projected to strike out less than 10% of the time, you’re going to see your value boosted in points leagues. That’s precisely the reason for the bump up for David Fletcher, Luis Arraez, and Nick Madrigal. Fletcher is the surest bet in terms of plate appearance volume, though they all fall under the similar bucket- you know what you’re getting, even if it’s not “flashy” production.
- As clear starting options, Ketel Marte and Jonathan India offer extra value in points leagues. Marte’s extra value in points leagues mainly comes from his contact skills; he’s projected to strike only about 15% of the time and his lack of elite speed matters less in points leagues. India, meanwhile, has superb plate discipline, as evidenced by his 11.2% walk rate. He also showed more power than expected with a 9.6% barrel rate, plays is a very favorable ballpark, and will be hitting leadoff on a consistent basis. As an ascending young player, he’s a terrific target in drafts.
Whose Value Decreases In Points Leagues?
|Player||Team||Roto Rnk||Points Rnk||Diff|
|Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||12||29||17|
- Jazz Chisholm Jr. is undoubtedly one of the most electric, fun players to watch in all of baseball. Unfortunately, we don’t get extra style points in fantasy baseball. In fact, there may be no player that takes a greater hit from going from a category league to a points league than Chisholm. He’s a projected 20/20 player, which gives him a lot of appeal in category leagues. In points leagues, though, his plate skills, or lack thereof (6.7% BB, 28.6%) are a real concern. Sadly, this isn’t the format to target Chisholm in.
- It’s interesting to see Chris Taylor fall as far as he does in points leagues. Yet, that’s what happens when you’re projected for around a 28% strikeout rate. Over the past two seasons, he’s unlocked more power (10.5%), but that only leads to more whiffs. In category leagues, he’s a balanced contributor with positional flexibility. In points leagues, though, the flexibility is really the only main draw.
- As I touched on recently for Pitcher List, I have legitimate concerns about Ryan McMahon, particularly regarding his consistent decline in power as the season went on. Even with improved contact quantity, he still struck out 24.7% of the time, and, at the end of the day, something is going to give; either he strikes out more for extra power, or he continues to make more contact while the power suffers. Either way, he has a very limited profile and is someone to be wary of in drafts this season.
- As discussed in the roto second base projections and tiers, Brandon Lowe made legitimate changes to decrease his strikeout rate as the season went on, which will help his batting average; he provides 35-40 home run power as well. Yet, we’re still talking about a player who, with optimistic projections, will still strike out over 26% of the time. With so many contact-oriented players around him, it’s hard for him not to take a dip.
- Brendan Rodgers and Jonathan Schoop each take a small dip down in points leagues due to their lack of walks. Neither strikes out an extraordinary amount, but that doesn’t compensate for their plate discipline warts.
Top Target: Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Following the signing of Carlos Correa, the Twins appear to have one of the better lineups in all of baseball. However, don’t let the addition of Correa overlook what Jorge Polanco brings to that lineup.
It’s really fascinating to watch the overall development of players over time. During the early portions of his career, Polanco established himself as a contact-oriented hitter who would make a lot of contact, but didn’t provide much power. Yes, he “broke out” for 22 home runs in 2019, yet that was during the juiced-ball season, while it took 704 plate appearances for him to get there. The real standout was his .295 batting average; his hit tool was supposed to be his carrying tool.
However, after a down 2020 season where he was a below-league average hitter with an 80 weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+) and zero power (.096 isolated power/ISO) whatsoever, Polanco made some clear approach changes in 2021. His 32.8% fly-ball rate was the highest of his career, while he pulled more than half of his batted balls (51.6%). This combination is perfect for optimizing your power; pulled fly balls perform much better than non-pulled fly balls.
In fact, 29 of Polanco’s 33 home runs were pulled. Even with the added whiffs (19.7%) as he tried to hit for more power, he still only struck out 18.3% of the time. The combination of sustainable power with limited strikeouts makes him quite a value in points leagues, especially since he can fill in for you at either second base or shortstop. In fact, I’d take him over Correa in fantasy drafts straight up! Regardless of your format, Polanco is a must target, but that is only exacerbated in points leagues.
Top Fade: Javier Baez, Detroit Tigers
This is all about knowing your format. In traditional category leagues, Javier Baez, as a potential 30/15 player, is well-considered to be a top-ten second baseman AND shortstop. In points leagues, though, his value is much more complicated.
The story of Baez’s career offensively has been his consistently poor plate discipline. In 2021, it reached new lows. His 44.5% chase rate and 40.5% whiff rate each ranked in the 1st percentile, while his 5.1% walk rate (6th percentile) and 33.6% strikeout rate (3rd percentile) didn’t fare much better. In fact, his strikeout problems are only becoming even more of an issue:
Meanwhile, even his power is a bigger question mark than you may think. As we touched on previously, he is someone who overachieved his expected home run/fly ball rate by a decent margin:
“For the most part, Baez’s fantasy profile is going to be reliant on his power and speed. Unfortunately, there are some reasons to be concerned with the former. Baez’s 28.2% home run/fly ball rate is extremely high. Even with a very high 39% barrel/fly ball rate and the ability to pull his fly balls, it’s going to be difficult to repeat those power numbers.
Baez may have been someone to take advantage of the ballparks he played in. Here are his expected home runs in Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Citi Field (Mets), as long as what it would be at Comerica Park (Tigers):
- Wrigley Field: 30
- Citi Field: 33
- Comerica Field: 24
Detroit has the seventh-lowest park factor for right-handed hitting home runs, per Baseball Savant. As a result, not only should the expected home run/fly ball be a better guide here, but, considering the ballpark he’ll be playing at, it may be closer to his ceiling than we’d hope for. There is still enough power and speed to get excited about here, especially with multi-positional eligibility up the middle. Yet, there are some red flags here that can’t go unnoticed.”
At this point, Baez is selling out completely for power. The limited on-base skills and bottom-barrel contact ability drags him down in points leagues considerably, and his strengths may not be strong as we think. Add in the fact that free agents who sign lucrative contracts tend to struggle in their first year with a new team, and there is a lot working against him. While his name value propels him up draft boards, you may want to look elsewhere than “El Mago” in points leagues this season.