Which free agent shortstop is going to make the biggest impact on their new team?
We’re going to be focusing on shortstops today, which leads me to think about the extensive amount of player movement that has taken place at this position. Carlos Correa (Twins), Trevor Story (Red Sox), Corey Seager (Rangers), Javier Baez (Tigers), and Marcus Semien (Rangers) are among the players we will look at that are at new teams, even though a couple of them will primarily be at second base this season. Since they were all signed to lucrative contracts, expectations are going to be high on them to be extremely productive this season.
The same will be true for your fantasy baseball team if you draft them! If you have noticed, most of the attention in terms of fantasy baseball content is with regards to category/roto leagues. At the same time, however, a lot, if not most of the fantasy baseball population plays in points league, yet there may not be enough coverage for it.
Points leagues differ greatly from roto leagues. Rather than having to worry about performing well in specific categories, you can simply draft the best player available. After being a part of several roto league drafts recently, it was refreshing to be in a points league draft; it can lead to a much more fun experience since you can draft the players you’re confident about without worrying about specific category goals.
With that addressed, let us analyze how players are going to produce from a points league perspective. Generally, this is done through standard rankings, which use a combination of data and gut feeling to try to put the players in order of most value to least. Yet, I am going to attempt to do this in slightly different fashion.
What do I mean by this? Instead of standard rankings, these are my own manual projections, with a full explanation here. There may be players that I prefer that are ranked below certain players, but I want to establish enough objectivity to go with the subjective touch of manual projections.
With that, let us get to the rankings! Today, as alluded to previously we’ll be focusing on the shortstop position. This position has been strengthened deeply in terms of offensive talent recently. However, with a lot of players that provide value from speed, there are some that take a dip in points leagues.
So, which shortstops should you be targeting or avoiding? Which shortstops 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 Shortstop Projections & Tiers HERE
2022 Points League Shortstop Rankings
|1||Trea Turner||LAD||2B, SS||527|
|3||Marcus Semien||TEX||2B, SS||452|
|7||Jorge Polanco||MIN||2B, SS||410|
|8||Jake Cronenworth||SD||1B, 2B, SS||396|
|14||David Fletcher||:AA||2B, SS||335|
|16||Bobby Witt Jr.||KC||SS||321|
|17||Javier Baez||DET||2B, SS||319|
|19||Chris Taylor||LAD||2B, SS, OF||310|
|21||Luis Urias||MIL||2B, SS, 3B||303|
|22||Brendan Rodgers||COL||2B, SS||300|
|24||Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||2B, SS||294|
|30||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SD||SS, OF||274|
|31||Eugenio Suarez||SEA||3B, SS||271|
|34||Josh Rojas||ARI||2B, SS, OF||258|
|35||Hae-Song Kim||SD||2B, 3B, SS||245|
|36||Jonathan Villar||NYM||3B, SS||240|
|38||Gio Urshela||MIN||3B, SS||235|
|40||Joey Wendle||MIA||3B, SS||232|
|41||Gavin Lux||LAD||2B, SS||231|
|42||Andres Gimenez||CLE||2B, SS||228|
|46||Ramon Urias||BAL||2B, SS||204|
|47||Edmundo Sosa||STL||2B, SS||189|
|50||Tyler Wade||LAA||3B, SS, OF||130|
|51||Willi Castro||DET||2B, SS||91|
Who Gets a Boost In Points Leagues?
|Player||Team||Roto Rnk||Points Rnk||Diff|
- JP Crawford doesn’t possess the most exciting profile. He doesn’t hit the ball hard at all, and the power projection is very minimal with a 2.4% barrel rate. At the same time, he’s going to rack up plate appearances playing every day as the team’s leadoff hitter, and has strong plate skills- I have him projected for a 9.5% walk rate and 17.5% strikeout rate. He’s not a “sexy option”, but someone to keep an eye on as a streaming option if your starting shortstop is injured, or a nice steady option in deeper leagues.
- There are so many reasons to be optimistic about a Gleyber Torres bounce-back season this year. We’ve analyzed his career trajectory when labeling him as a shortstop sleeper; he’s gone from a consensus early-round pick and future superstar to a below-average hitter (94 weighted-runs-created-plus/wRC+) in 2021. Not only did he massively underachieve his expected home run/fly ball rate last season, but his power rebounded throughout the season with a 10.5% barrel rate from July 1 on. With the power coming up and his plate discipline (9.7% BB, 20.2% K) improving, he can easily be a starting-caliber player in 12-team leagues. While his value is down, make sure to “buy the dip”!
- Even more so than Vladimir Guerrero Jr., there hasn’t been a more hyped-up prospect than Wander Franco in recent memory. At the moment, he may not provide the speed or power to be a top-tier shortstop in roto leagues. However, that isn’t true when looking at his value in points leagues. His immense contact skills – he had a 12% strikeout rate and a 16.4% whiff rate as a rookie – are evident, and that’s going to mean much more in this format; stolen bases matter much less, while his contact frequent matter much more.
- Coming into the offseason, at least the post-lockout period, Carlos Correa was considered the “prize” of the free-agent class. With his new three-year, $105.3 million contract, he becomes the highest-paid infielder, but he is also betting on himself; he can opt out of his contract after the first and second years. With some concerns about his power outside of Houston and no speed, he’s not a premium target in roto leagues. In points leagues, though, if he can sustain his contact quantity improvements (20.9% whiff, 18.1% K), he’s still a starting option in 12-team leagues; much better than in roto leagues.
- This is more for deeper leagues, but someone who actually holds more fantasy value than you would think, particularly in points leagues, is Jose Iglesias. This is a player who makes a lot of contact (14.7% K), and now gets to play half of his games in Colorado; he’s the exact type of player who likely takes advantages of these circumstances. Keep him in mind on the waiver wire during weeks when he has a stretch of games in Coors Field.
Whose Value Decreases In Points Leagues?
|Player||Team||Roto Rnk||Points Rnk||Diff|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||SD||18||30||12|
|Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||14||24||10|
|Bobby Witt Jr.||KC||13||16||3|
- Is there a scenario where holding Fernando Tatis Jr. on your roster work out? Sure; he can be a definite asset for you come playoff time. However, that’s a risk if he’s still a top-100 player, and in terms of projecting overall fantasy put volume, the lack of plate appearances definitely hurts.
- Stolen bases are what carries Jonathan Villar‘s value in roto leagues. However, he’s projected to be a below league-average hitter and some strikeout problems (26.1% K), which makes him far less of an asset in points leagues. The same goes for Andres Gimenez, though at least there’s more hope for some offensive progression.
- The risk may not be worth the pay-off for Oneil Cruz in points leagues. Not only is he not likely to start the season with the big-league club, but there also concerns about his plate skills, especially in his first season. The power is tremendous, but this isn’t a skillset that necessarily translates to strong production in this format.
- Tim Anderson is likely to hit around .290-.300 with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, which is tremendous for roto leagues. Unfortunately, he also had a first percentile walk rate last season, and strikes out more (21.6% K) than you’d expect for someone with a high batting average. The limited on-base skills bring him down immensely in points leagues.
- Another top-tier shortstop in roto leagues whose value is suppressed in points leagues is Trevor Story. The move to Boston was the best place he could go from a batting average perspective, though he’s projected for about an average walk rate and a strikeout rate than, even at a career-low 23.4% rate, ranked in the 35th percentile. The power/speed combination he brings simply doesn’t play as well in this format, though he’s certainly still more than a starting-caliber player at the shortstop position.
Top Target: Francisco Lindor, New York Mets
Believe it or not, this year’s free agent shortstop class could have been even more stacked in talent. See, last offseason, Francisco Lindor was seen as the future top shortstop of this elite free agency class. That was before he signed with the Mets, where he signed a 10-year, $341 million extension.
When you sign that type of contract in a big market like New York, expectations are going to be extremely high on you to produce at a high level. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Overall, he was barely a league-average hitter (103 wRC+), without the strong power (.181 ISO) or stolen bases (10 SB) we became accustomed to him providing.
However, there is reason to be optimistic about Lindor. In his first two months with his new team, there was a definite adjustment phase for him. Over that period, he posted just a 70 wRC+, with no power (.109 ISO) to speak of. He was making a lot of contact (15.6% K) and walking more than ever (11.6% BB), but it was coming with much worse contact quality; he appeared to have been pressing in a non-traditional way, worrying mainly about not striking out than anything else. There is nothing wrong with producing strong plate discipline metrics, but when it comes at the expense of any sort of power, that isn’t the case anymore.
Luckily, Lindor made some interesting changes:
From July 1st on, Lindor posted a .241 ISO, 132 wRC+, as well as a 10.4% barrel rate. As you can see, this came with more swing-and-misses, but, even then, a 20.7% strikeout rate is more than reasonable. Thus, you’re still getting strong plate skills from Lindor, in addition to above-average power again. Remember, he dealt with multiple injuries last season, which likely impacted his stolen base total, and his performance as a whole.
Outside of last season, Lindor has demonstrated tremendous durability, leading to plenty of plate appearances accumulated hitting in the middle of a strong Mets lineup. This is a very well-balanced profile that works even better in points leagues, where his strong plate skills can give him an added advantage and you’re less reliant on his batting average or speed being there. Sometimes, the best values are last year’s disappointments. That’s the case with Lindor this season.
Top Fade: Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
Full disclaimer here: this is mainly about the ADP, not the player at all. It’s very easy to see why the Rangers signed Corey Seager to a 10-year, $325 million contract. We’re talking about a player who has posted a 148 wRC+ since 2020, along with a .239 ISO, which is quite impressive at arguably the game’s most valuable position.
However, this may not be the year to draft Seager. First off, there is plenty of research done that has concluded that players tend to perform worse in the first year of a lucrative free-agent contract. In fact, let’s take a look at each free agent signing since 2011 worth $80 million or more:
|Player||Year||Years||$||AAV||First Year wRC+||Next Year wRC+||Divider|
As you can see, only JD Martinez and Lorenzo Cain didn’t regress in their first year with a new team. For simple math, if you take the median decrease (18%) in wRC+ from one season to the next, Seager would be ticketed for a 120 wRC+. I doubt it declines that much, but it’s a warning sign that goes beyond his traditional projection.
Meanwhile, in points leagues, one benefit of Seager has been his contact skills; he only struck out 16.1% of the time last year. However, as we went over recently, he was one of the massive over-achievers of his expected strikeout rate, relying an a very aggressive approach evidenced by an 8% called-strike rate. Yet, if his 14% swinging-strike rate stick, it’s going to very difficult for him to maintain such low strikeout rate. Plus, his 11.7% walk rate didn’t come with any change to his chase rate or even how much pitchers were attacking him in the zone, so there’s more reason to expect a downgrade.
Naturally, Seager would be do for some regression baked into his walk rate and strikeout rate. However, he’s now going to a new team, and the history of free-agent hitters in the first year isn’t great. Add in theft that he’ll be playing in a worse home ballpark for a significantly inferior lineup, and it feels like his current price (SS#6 on ESPN) may be too high; you’re essentially buying into him maintaining his exact production with the Dodgers. We’ll see how he adjusts, but I’d hold off on drafting him when there are so many other alternatives available.