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Roto Bias: Using K-BB% to Find Hitter Values in Points Leagues

In Roto leagues, you are searching for hitters that can contribute the most in five categories: average, runs, HRs, RBI and stolen bases. In points leagues, you are looking for a much different type of hitter since you are awarded points for different things such as walks and doubles, among other stats, and lose points for strikeouts or caught stealing.

Because of that, hitters who draw walks and hit doubles, but can limit the strikeouts, all stats that you don’t typically get rewarded for in Roto, are strong values in this in points leagues. Hitters drafted primarily for stolen bases tend to be overvalued. In Roto, stolen bases are 20 percent of the offensive stats you care about, but in points leagues they are typically worth two points on average, making those players significantly less valuable.

But don’t worry, those speedsters will often be drafted earlier than they should, while the point leagues specialists are overlooked and become draft day values. That is due to the majority of leagues being Roto and having a larger impact on ADP for your site of choice. This is an effect I have dubbed Roto Bias and you can exploit it to find as much value in the draft as possible.

Knowing which players are most useful in points leagues in a great place to start your research. Knowing which hitters provide those useful tools and are draft day values helps you come up with a draft strategy and lay out how you want to attack the early rounds. Identifying the players you can wait on, without taking a hit in production, will help you be one of the top teams in your league this season.

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Identifying Hitter Values in Points Leagues

In 2019 there were just two hitters who had a higher walk rate than strikeout rate. Alex Bregman dominated in this stat, with a -5.2 percent Batter K-BB rate (the lower the number the better). You always hear about K-BB% for pitchers, but it is an equally important stat for hitters in points leagues, as these factors are a huge part of the points a player will score.

Not only did Alex Bregman walk more than he struck out, but it wasn’t even close. He had a 17.2 percent walk rate and just a 12 percent strikeout rate. Again, only two hitters had a higher BB rate than strikeout rate and here is Bregman with his walk rate over five percent better. He’s also hit at least 37 doubles in each of the last three seasons and is one of the best sources of runs+RBI each season. Bregman is a first-round talent in points leagues, but has been falling into the second round in a lot of drafts, likely in part because of the cheating scandal. If you can look past that, he is a great producer to build around in this format.

The other hitter with a better walk rate than strikeout rate in 2019 was Luis Arraez, who sports a -1.9 batter K-BB rate. Arraez came up last year and showed he is one of the best contact hitters in the league, sporting an average of .321 or better in every month except August when he hit just .293. He had a higher walk rate than strikeout rate in every month but July as well.

Arraez is projected by Roster Resource to start at second base and bat seventh for the Twins, one of the league’s best lineups. He will not provide much pop or stolen bases, which explains why he is overlooked and going outside the Top 250 picks in Fantrax drafts. Not only does Roto bias affect ADP, but if a player struggles to provide home runs AND stolen bases, they are pretty much written off. But due to the high average, walks, lack of strikeouts and positive counting stats, Arraez is an option in points leagues if you end up waiting on second base or middle infield.

Carlos Santana has been my points league bae for years and that is not changing at all this season. His walk rate was not better than his strikeout rate, but it was the same. He finished with a 15.7 percent walk and strikeout rate, with his 0 percent BB-K% being tied for the third-best in the MLB in 2019. Since 2012, Santana’s 15.3 percent walk rate is the fifth-best in baseball. His strikeout rate in that span is just 16.1 percent, showing that he consistently thrives in this important stat.

Santana is also a double specialist, hitting over 30 of them in three of his last four seasons. The one year he didn’t, he hit 28. Santana is going higher this year than normal, largely because he tied his career-high with 34 homers last year in addition to a career-high 110 runs and 93 RBIs. Still, he is the 10th first baseman off the board in Fantrax drafts. Sanatana ended last season as the fourth-best first baseman in points leagues and has finished in the top five in two straight years and top nine in three straight. He routinely outproduces his draft day cost in points leagues and this season should be no different.

Tommy La Stella is a value in general, but especially in points leagues. First, he increased his launch angle by 5.1 degrees last year and improved his barrels per plate appearance percent (Brls/PA%) by 3.4 percent. He also hit the ball 95+ MPH over 6 percent more often last season. La Stella his 16 homers in just 80 games, as a fractured leg cut his season short. He also chipped in a .295 average and a .346 OBP. His 2.5 percent batter K-BB percent was the 16th best in baseball, only adding to his value in points leagues.

While La Stella was plenty productive when healthy last season, the missed time is still driving down his cost making him a great value. He currently has an ADP of 293.8 overall on Fantrax, as the 20th second baseman off the board.

Andrew McCutchen is one of my favorite values this season, regardless of format. In points leagues, you can rely on his plate discipline, as his 4.6 percent batter K-BB rate was the 22nd best in baseball. You can trust him to get on base as he has posted a .363+ OBP in three straight seasons.

Steamer projects McCutchen to hit 27 homers and steal eight bases. Not only that, but he is expected to leadoff for the Phillies. Last year, leadoff hitters across MLB averaged 111 runs while leadoff hitters for Philly scored 109 runs.

McCutchen also routinely hits over 30 doubles when he stays healthy. He will get on base, draw walks, limit the strikeouts, hit doubles, produce solid runs+RBI results, all on top of an already solid baseline of around 25+ home runs. Cutch should be plenty productive atop the Phillies lineup and he is just outside the Top 200 players being drafted on Fantrax (201.86). Cutch is a great value this season.

Andrelton Simmons may be known for his gold glove, but he brings more value than that to fantasy baseball teams. His 3 percent batter K-BB rate ranked 19th in all of baseball last season. Simmons will never walk a ton, as his walk rate has been under eight percent every year of his career, but his walk rate has been below nine percent in four of his last five seasons. He will also flirt with about 30 doubles if he plays the full season. He is not sexy and will not blow you away by any stretch, but he provides consistency and a safe floor. He is best left as a late-round MI option or waiver wire replacement if your starting SS goes down.

Every year I am the highest ranker on Nick Markakis. The reason is that I do points league rankings, while the majority do Roto rankings. In Roto, you can look past Markakis, but in points, he is always a value. I have been writing about Markakis as a value in this format for years and all he would do is go out and finish as a Top 36 outfielder each year. I am not sure he gets quite that high this season, but he will certainly be useful. His 2.6 percent batter K-BB rate in 2019 was the 17th best in baseball. Not only that, but it is as consistent as it comes. Markakis’ walk rate has sat between 10 percent and 10.4 percent in each of the last five seasons. His strikeout rate has been less than 13 percent in three of the last five, including two straight.

Markakis is also a doubles machine. He hit 25 in just 116 games last year, but had hit 38+ in four straight years prior to that. He will also see consistent playing time in the middle of one of the best lineups in the game. Markakis is the opposite of sexy and has very little upside, but his floor is as safe as they come. He is a great weekly fill-in if you are ever in need of an OF bat. He is also a great late-round pick in Fantrax best ball drafts, as he offers very cheap, but safe production. In that format, late playing time is huge. Markakis currently has an ADP of 392.57.

Maikel Franco is another player I like as a sleeper regardless of format, but his improved plate discipline skills intrigue me in points leagues. He has lowered his strikeout rate below 15 percent in each of the last two seasons. He had a career-high 8.4 percent walk rate. It is worth mentioning that 19 of his 36 walks in 2019 were intentional (he hit 8th for the Phillies often). But even so, he was more dangerous than ever before last season when he made contact. He posted a career-high 33.2 percent hard-hit rate and a 40.2 percent flyball rate in 2019. His 6.9 Brls/PA% was his best since 2016. The same can be said about his 89 MPH exit velocity. His 14.9-degree launch angle was also a career-best. Franco will see everyday at-bats for the Royals and should have a longer leash than he became accustomed to in recent years.

Franco is also basically free, with an ADP of 467.66 right now, as the 34th third baseman off the board. He is more of a name to keep an eye on in redraft leagues, but he is worth the gamble in the later rounds of best ball drafts.

2019 Top 50 in K-BB%

Use the table below to spot other potential values in points leagues.

Alex Bregman12.00%17.20%-5.20%
Luis Arraez7.90%9.80%-1.90%
Carlos Santana15.70%15.70%0.00%
Kendrys Morales12.90%12.90%0.00%
Mookie Betts14.30%13.70%0.60%
Aledmys Diaz11.30%10.50%0.80%
Joe Panik9.60%8.80%0.80%
Anthony Rendon13.30%12.40%0.90%
David Fletcher9.80%8.40%1.40%
Willians Astudillo3.90%2.50%1.40%
Mike Trout20.00%18.30%1.70%
Cody Bellinger16.40%14.40%2.00%
Marcus Semien13.70%11.60%2.10%
Michael Brantley10.40%8.00%2.40%
Anthony Rizzo14.00%11.60%2.40%
Tommy La Stella8.70%6.20%2.50%
Nick Markakis12.60%10.00%2.60%
Matt Joyce18.90%16.00%2.90%
Andrelton Simmons8.70%5.70%3.00%
Juan Soto20.00%16.40%3.60%
Jose Ramirez13.70%9.60%4.10%
Andrew McCutchen21.00%16.40%4.60%
Yuli Gurriel10.60%6.00%4.60%
Albert Pujols12.50%7.90%4.60%
Nolan Arenado14.00%9.40%4.60%
Wilson Ramos13.20%8.40%4.80%
Yasmani Grandal22.00%17.20%4.80%
Jurickson Profar14.50%9.30%5.20%
Kurt Suzuki11.70%6.50%5.20%
Ketel Marte13.70%8.40%5.30%
Justin Smoak21.20%15.80%5.40%
Josh Reddick12.00%6.50%5.50%
Robbie Grossman17.80%12.20%5.60%
Wilmer Flores10.90%5.30%5.60%
Jesse Winker15.60%9.90%5.70%
Eric Sogard14.30%8.60%5.70%
Adam Frazier12.30%6.60%5.70%
Miguel Rojas11.80%6.10%5.70%
Freddie Freeman18.40%12.60%5.80%
Maikel Franco14.30%8.40%5.90%
Howie Kendrick13.20%7.30%5.90%
Matt Beaty12.30%6.30%6.00%
Melky Cabrera10.30%4.30%6.00%
Alex Verdugo13.00%6.90%6.10%
Hanser Alberto9.10%2.90%6.20%
Adam Eaton16.20%9.90%6.30%
Tommy Pham18.80%12.40%6.40%
Kevin Newman11.70%5.30%6.40%
Ender Inciarte17.80%11.30%6.50%
Christian Yelich20.30%13.80%6.50%

If you have any points league questions you can ask me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

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