Roto Bias: Avoid These 9 Overvalued Hitters in Points Leagues
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in fantasy baseball is going into a draft and not knowing the format. I don’t just mean knowing that a league is a points league rather than a Roto draft. I mean knowing specifically what stats you should be seeking out when heading into a draft. If you are playing in a points league, the truth is that you need to value hitters completely differently than in Roto leagues and because of this many players drafted highly in roto leagues become overvalued hitters in points leagues.
If you are drafting in a Roto league you are looking for five categories from your hitters. But in points leagues, you are looking for more all-around hitters, rather than specialists. In a typical points league, a batter will lose anywhere from a quarter of a point to a full point for a strikeout, although I have found losing half a point for a strikeout to be the right amount.
Batters will gain a point for a walk and get extra points for doubles, triples and home runs. Instead of being an entire category, a stolen base is typically worth two or three points and a caught stealing is a negative one. This format really waters down stolen bases. You want to avoid players that strike out a ton and target those who can get on base. Below are nine hitters that are overvalued in points leagues. If you want hitters who are values in points leagues, you can read that here.
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Points League Pariahs: 9 Overvalued Hitters
Ronald Acuna Jr. will likely be considered with one of the first three picks in every league this year. He deservingly should be… in Roto leagues. But a huge reason for that is the stolen bases, which as I stated above are severely watered down in this format. He also had a 26.3 percent strikeout rate last year. His batter K-BB rate was 15.7 percent. Compare that to some other top options (the lower the number the better): Mookie Betts 0.6 percent, Mike Trout 1.7 percent, Christian Yelich 6.5 percent. You can even make the case for Cody Bellinger (2.0 percent) and Juan Soto (3.6 percent). Acuna is still a first-round pick in points, but he should not be one of the first couple of picks off the board.
Adalberto Mondesi is coveted in Roto because he provides those desperately needed stolen bases. He stole 43 last year in just 443 plate appearances. But, again, there is no stat whose importance varies more based off of format than stolen bases. In Roto leagues, they are one of five categories that matter, which means they are 20 percent of the offensive stats you care about. In points leagues, they are typically worth about two to three points, meaning that they are greatly overrated. If it was not for the stolen bases being so vital, Mondesi would not be going anywhere close to the price you have to pay right now. This is where ‘Roto Bias’ kicks in. Roto is the more popular format and due to that ADP on sites typically is more influenced by Roto scoring. That means you are paying the Roto price for Mondesi, which covets stolen bases, even though all you care about is total points scored. Based on the influence Roto has on his price alone, you have to overpay for him in points. Add in that he had a 25.5 percent batter K-BB rate last year and plays for one of the worst offenses in MLB and you can understand why he is maybe one of the most overvalued hitters in points leagues. Let someone else draft for the wrong format here.
Javier Baez is a fine player, but he is just more valuable in Roto leagues. Baez did see a dip in stolen bases last year so that is not the only reason he is a better Roto value. But, Baez is a free swinger who walked just five percent of the time in 2019. He struck out 27.8 percent of the time and both of those numbers are not far off from his career norms, so expecting improvement is not wise. Baez helps across the board in Roto leagues, but in points leagues, he simply does not walk enough and strikes out too much.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is quickly becoming a first-round staple in 15-team leagues. Come March, that may be the trend regardless of league size, as the young shortstop has so much raw ability. People are looking at the fact that he hit .317 (with a .410 BABIP), with 22 homers, 16 steals, 61 runs and 53 RBI in just 84 games last year and salivating at what a full season, with experience under his belt, may be. But, the one knock on Tatis is he is a free swinger. He had a 21.5 percent batter K-BB rate. But even more concerning, is the fact that he had a 15.6 percent swinging strike rate. League average is 11.2 percent. There is a ton of high-end talent at the shortstop position, but given his plate discipline, I have Tatis at the end of the elite tier, whereas many will be willing to pay up for him. If I am going to have any shares of him this year, it will be in Roto drafts. His high cost and runaway hype, however, have him as one of the most overvalued hitters in points formats.
Keston Hiura is a huge target of mine in Roto leagues. He is most of the fun that Tatis is, without having to pay a first or early second-round price. Last year Hiura hit .303 (.402 BABIP) with 19 homers, nine stolen bases, 51 runs and 49 RBI in 348 plate appearances. However, he too was a free swinger (notice a trend yet?). Last year he had a ridiculously high 30.7 percent strikeout rate. That led to a 23.5 percent batter K-BB rate, the 26th highest in baseball. Plus, his free-swinging tendencies are even worse than Tatis’. Last year he had a 35.1 percent chase rate (league average was 31.6 percent) and a 17.5 percent swinging strike rate (11.2 percent is league average). Just like with Tatis, I like Hiura, but much prefer him to Roto instead of points, where his free swinging approach can really bite me.
Brandon Lowe is a similar player to Tatis and Hiura, as he is a target of mine as well, just I prefer him in Roto. In fact, I feel even stronger about Lowe in that regard than I do the others. That is because Lowe takes free swinging to another level. First of all, his 27 percent Batter K-BB rate was the ninth highest in baseball last year. His strikeout rate was 34.6 percent, while his swinging strike rate was 19.1 percent. He is super toolsy and 100 percent a player I will target in Roto, but in points leagues those strikeouts are simply going to hurt me too much each week. Let someone else pay up for his Roto abilities in a points league.
Rougned Odor is a solid fallback second base option in Roto leagues. I mean last year he hit 30 homers and stole 11 bases. But he also hit .205 with a .283 OBP. The average has fluctuated in recent years, but in two of the last three, it’s been .205 or lower. To Odor’s credit he has been walking more, his nine percent walk rate last season was a career-high. But, so was his 30.6 percent strikeout rate. All in all, he had a 21.6 percent Batter K-BB rate. He deserves credit for the walks, but being a free swinger is just a part of his game at this point. Due to the lofty strikeout rate, Odor is a player that is better suited for Roto, where it is easier to live with those blemishes since you don’t actually lose value as you do in points leagues.
Austin Riley may have come up and set the world on fire last year, hitting 14 homers in his first 165 MLB at-bats. That was followed up by a .161 average with a 41.1 percent strikeout rate and just two homers in his final 95 plate appearances. Riley is a free swinger who had a chase rate of 41.3 percent and a 20.6 percent swinging strike rate in his first big league stint. His 31 percent batter K-BB rate was the second largest of all hitters in 2019. You can live with those free-swinging tendencies in Roto, but in points leagues when you are straight-up losing value due to them, they are much harder to live with. Additionally, Riley is no lock to make the Braves opening day team. Atlanta’s outfield is suddenly crowded with Ronald Acuna Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duval. Riley can beat out Johan Camargo and be the everyday third baseman, but if he struggles this spring, they could opt to give him some more seasoning. Add in that he is super streaky or at least showed those traits last year, and there is so much working against him in points leagues. He is a player I will save for my Roto drafts.
Hunter Renfroe hit 33 home runs last year, but he did so with a .289 OBP. He finished with a 21.9 percent Batter K-BB rate. That could have been worse as he had a strikeout rate of 31.2 percent. Renfroe has shown the ability to hit for power throughout his career, but he hasn’t figured else how to contribute a whole lot of anything else (other than strikeouts). Perhaps the move to Tampa helps and perhaps they can unlock something to take him to the next level. However, they also like to mix and match players which can take away some plate appearances. He just strikes out too much more my liking and despite the power. He can be a poor man’s version of Joey Gallo but that is still a skill set I prefer in Roto to points.
If you have any other point league or fantasy baseball questions in general, hit me up on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
Got some thoughts on other overvalued hitters? Throw some shade in the comments below.
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