How to Value Players in Points Leagues
Fantasy football seasons have come to an end and the fantasy world is shifting to baseball prep. We’re already in full swing here with rankings, sleepers, and all sorts of strategy articles. While the new year has just begun, drafts are well underway in our Fantrax lobby. Reading up on rankings is one of the best ways you can prepare for these drafts. Most rankings you’ll see at this time will be primarily geared toward roto leagues. That’s because roto is the more commonly played format in fantasy baseball. But if you’re like me and enjoy a good points league, you have to know how player values change and adjust those rankings accordingly. Let’s take a look at how players gain and lose value in these leagues.
If you’re like us you can’t wait until spring to get the 2020 fantasy baseball season started? Well, you don’t have to. Leagues are already forming at Fantrax.com, so head on over and start or join a league today.
How to Value Players in Points Leagues
What is a points league?
Let’s get some basics out of the way. Points leagues are leagues in which particular stats are given point values. Usually played in a weekly head-to-head style, players accumulate points through the course of the week. The fantasy team that accumulates the most points at the end of the week wins the matchup. Easy enough to understand. It’s the best transition for new players who might have had prior fantasy experience in football. Heck, it was my introduction to fantasy baseball and what ultimately got me hooked on this game.
How is it different than a Roto league?
Roto leagues are assigned statistical categories that players must accumulate throughout the season. Leading a particular category will net you more standings points. The more categories you lead or are near the top in, the higher in the standings your team will be. So while you accumulate stats in roto, you accumulate points with those stats in points leagues.
In a roto league, being weak in a particular stat can hurt you in the standings. On the other hand, in points leagues, it doesn’t matter what your players do to accumulate points, only that it’s more than your opponent. This is huge in drafts and can drastically change values and strategy. Seven rounds in and don’t have any steals yet? In a roto league, you’d be in trouble. In a points league, you don’t have to worry about that. Instead of reaching for a steals source, you can take the best player available. The bottom line is that you don’t need to be conscious of which statistical category you need. Instead of being limited to five or six categories, players are awarded for just about anything they do on the field offensively.
Now that we’ve got the general idea of how these leagues are different out of the way, let’s look at how player values change.
Hitting in Points Leagues
As I mentioned before, in roto leagues, you want to have a balanced roster. You want a set of players that are going to collectively help you in every category. The thing is, those categories can differ from league to league. Some could count average while others side with on-base percentage, changing player values. In a points league, both types of players can be valuable, because again, it doesn’t matter how you score.
Because of the head-to-head nature of the format, consistency is key. Part of being consistent as a hitter is plate discipline. Hitters that have a good BB/K ratio tend to perform better in points leagues. Walks are usually scored the same as a single. So players that walk a lot tend to score more points. You can think of walk rates as a baseline for how often a hitter is going to score at least a point while at the plate. Strikeouts can sometimes cost you a point, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.
Take Danny Santana for example. Santana finished the season with a 29.5% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate for a BB/K of 0.17. In Fantrax Best Ball leagues, which are points-based, Santana finished as the 65th ranked hitter. In Fantrax Draft and Holds, roto-based leagues, Santana’s 28 home runs and 21 steals had him finish as the 33rd ranked hitter. His plate discipline was atrocious, pushing him down in points leagues.
On the other side of things, Carlos Santana finished as the 19th best hitter in these points leagues in part due to his excellent BB/K ratio of 1.00. He was no slouch in roto as he finished 27th but there was still quite a disparity between league types.
Another stat to look at when valuing players in points leagues is slugging percentage. Home runs are without a doubt the most valuable hitting stat in points leagues. You want sluggers. Not only do home runs play up in points leagues, but so do extra-base hits. This isn’t typically accounted for in roto leagues, but doubles are worth twice as many points as a single. So a player that can hit a ton of doubles is going to gain value in points leagues. Take Nicholas Castellanos for example. Castellanos was nice but unspectacular in roto with a ranking of 69. But, he gained a full 10 spots in points leagues at 59 because of his MLB-leading 58 doubles.
Pitching in Points Leagues
Pitching is absolutely vital in points leagues. Last year, Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander were by far the highest-scoring players. The keys to pitching in points leagues are volume and strikeouts, period. You aren’t necessarily worried about your ratios in points leagues. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your WHIP or ERA were, as long as your pitchers accumulated more points. A 4.50 ERA isn’t going to help you in a roto league, but that’s the baseline ERA for quality starts. Quality starts can be quite valuable in points leagues.
One prime example of this is Marcus Stroman, who finished with 18 quality starts in 2019. Stroman ranked as the 40th pitcher in Fantrax Best Ball points leagues and 52nd in the Draft and Hold roto leagues. Trevor Bauer is another high volume pitcher that gains value in points leagues. He finished 14th in the format last season and 24th in roto. The more innings a pitcher throws, the more likely he is to accumulate quality starts, wins, and strikeouts. That’s what it comes down to. Volume and strikeouts are king.
Part of accumulating volume in pitching is having a roster catered for it. In points leagues, I like to have as many pitchers on my roster as possible. There’s really no point in having a bench full of hitters. They can’t help you from the bench and most of the time you’re going to beat yourself up over who to start. Holding pitchers on your bench gives you more chances to have two-start pitchers from week to week. Having plenty of two-start options throughout the year can carry you to your head-to-head playoffs, especially in weekly lineup leagues. So here’s what you do. Draft some multi-eligible hitters so that you can roster as few bats on your bench as possible. Load up of pitching. Profit.
Another set of pitchers that gain value in points leagues are starting pitchers with relief pitcher eligibility. Relievers can be extremely volatile, not only in their performance but in how often they are used. Even the best closers can go a week with little usage depending on team context. But if you have a starter that is eligible as a reliever, they could provide a safe point floor for the week. Also, it gives you another shot at having a two-start pitcher. Some examples of these include Kenta Maeda, Ryan Yarbourgh, Yonny Chirinos, Adrian Houser, and Brad Peacock.
Now that we’ve covered some info on points leagues, the lobby is waiting for you. Join me and jump into a Best Ball league.
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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