Hitters Who Gain Value in OBP Leagues
When looking at Fantasy Baseball rankings, you will often find a list tailored to standard 5×5 leagues. It often seems that OBP leagues are neglected by Fantasy analysts, despite it being a growing league type. Each year, more and more players begin to transition their leagues to OBP format. It gives a more real-life feel, rewarding hitters who get on base at a high clip. After playing in several OBP leagues the last few years, it is hard for me to go back to batting average leagues.
This article will dive into several hitters who are more valuable in an OBP league than standard 5×5. Far too often, 5×5 bias takes over and Fantasy Baseball players fail to convert rankings they may be using into league appropriate settings. This happens with both points and OBP leagues. I hope this article will help you find some players who may be good values in OBP leagues.
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25 Hitters Who Gain Value in OBP Leagues
Below you find a list of 25 hitters who have the largest gap between batting average and OBP based on Ariel Cohen’s ATC Projection system. All of these hitters have a minimal of 300 projected plate appearances. Several of these hitters are among the best in baseball and are the top picks for Fantasy Baseball. However, there are some players who are likely being undervalued by your league mates in OBP formats.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
NFBC ADP(Since 1/1): 21.54
Bryce Harper is a player who is perenially underrated every single season. I guess many are still waiting on another MVP Season like 2015, where he slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs. That season remains an outlier. But Harper has still been excellent and gets underrated every season.
Coming off a shortened season where he hit 13 home runs and stole eight bases while slashing .268/.420/.542, you would expect Harper’s ADP to be a little higher. Projections are all over the board, ranging from Steamer’s .248 to THE BAT X’s .275. Good thing this article is for OBP leagues because Harper has a career OBP of .387, and over the last four seasons, that number has been .394.
The good news is, if you play in an OBP format, you are likely to get a steal on Harper. People tend to follow ADP without looking further into things. If that is the case and you get Harper near pick 20 in OBP format, sign me up!
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
NFBC ADP(Since 1/1): 274
It seems like a century ago that Brandon Nimmo dominated in 2018, hitting 17 home runs and stealing nine bags in 2018. Neck injuries limited him to just 69 games in 2019. He rebounded well in 2020, hitting eight home runs and slashing .280/.404/.484. The speed is a question mark, but Nimmo is still undervalued, especially in an OBP format.
He will likely hit leadoff and be the Mets everyday centerfielder. The lineup is loaded with talent, and Nimmo gets on base at an extremely high clip, creating plenty of run opportunities. For his career, he has a .390 OBP thanks to a career 15.1 percent walk rate.
It is hard to imagine Nimmo being pushed up much high in OBP formats, but he should easily be a top 100 player. Last season in OBP format, he was the 83rd best player according to Razzball’s player rater. If Nimmo can get everyday at-bats and stay healthy, there is no reason he cannot be a top 50 player in OBP formats.
Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
NFBC ADP(Since 1/1): 104
Max Muncy had a rough 2020 season, but surprisingly his ADP does not reflect it. Muncy slashed just .192/.331/.389 with 12 home runs. It is interesting because Muncy’s strikeout rate was his lowest since 2016, and his walk rate was still an impressive 15.7 percent. Muncy had some poor BABIP luck as he had a .203 average on balls in play.
Muncy has never been a great batting average type player, with a career .236 mark. His career .259 OBP, on the other hand, is quite impressive. You are looking at a .123 difference, which is elite. The power is still there for Muncy, and if you are in an OBP league, he is worth owning for his position eligibility and high walk rates.
Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
NFBC ADP(Since 1/1): 56.15
It appears Cavan Biggio is being drafted in 5×5 leagues where he should be in OBP. At an ADP of 56, I am firmly avoiding Cavan Biggio in a standard 5×5 format. But in an OBP league, sign me up! Since debuting with the Blue Jays in 2019, Biggio has a career slash of .240/.368/.430 in 695 plate appearances. The power/speed combo is intriguing as Biggio has 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases over that time.
Biggio has always been extremely patient at the plate, leading to a high OBP. If he falls into the 50 range in an OBP draft, he is a must draft. In a standard 5×5 league, Biggio is more of an avoid at his ADP.
Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers
NFBC ADP(Since 1/1): 171
It is baffling that Joey Gallo’s value has fallen this much. His ADP in 2019 and 2020 were 97 and 86, respectively. Gallo is the same player he has always been, big power and a poor average. Many likely got their hopes up by Gallo slashing .253/.389/.598 with 22 bombs in a 297 plate appearance sample in 2019. Gallo, unfortunately, suffered a broken hamate bone that kept him out the rest of the season.
Outside of the exciting mini breakout in 2019, Gallo has always been the same player. You know what you are going to get with him. The good news is, if you play in an OBP league, Gallo will provide you a ton of power and a nice OBP. Gallo has 40 home run pop with an OBP likely above .330. If Gallo falls past pick 125 in an OBP format, he is easy to buy and should return plenty of value.
Be sure to check out all our great content over at the FantraxHQ Draft Kit to prepare for your upcoming drafts!
Media References: Ariel Cohen’s ATC Projections, Fangraphs
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