Hidden Value in Point-Based Leagues | Key Players for 2013

The industry standard for fantasy baseball leagues is still the traditional rotisserie league but point-based leagues have quite a market as well. These leagues make for an easy transition for those who started in the fantasy football world as they are set up in a similar weekly head-to-head fashion that relies on points for various player outcomes.

Some may scoff at the concept but these leagues are quite popular as evidence by the fact that, in the time that I’ve been tracking it, roughly one-third of my cheatsheet downloads have been for players in points leagues. In fact, most of my fantasy baseball years have personally been spent in the point league universe. However, most rankings and articles out on the web are targeted towards roto players and this can be confusing for an owner in a points league. Those owners aren’t interested in balancing out SB’s with HR’s or any of that business; they just wants points no matter how they can get them. So, how does that change the rankings?

Well, first and foremost, nearly all point-based leagues are different because the scoring systems are completely customizable. Check your scoring system. Learn your scoring system. Exploit your scoring system. Find what is odd about it and attack that weakness. In this analysis, this is the standard scoring system that I used:

  • Hitters: 1B (1 pt), 2B (2 pt), 3B (3 pt), HR (4 pt), RBI (1 pt), Run (1 pt), SB (1 pt), CS (-1 pt), KO (-1 pt), BB (1 pt)
  • Pitchers: Win (4 pt), Loss (-2 pt), IP (1 pt), HA (-1 pt), BB (-1 pt), KO (2.5 pt), ER (-1 pt), Sv (10 pt), CG (5 pt), SO (5 pt)

It’s a very basic scoring system but the concept should align with most formats. For hitters, extra-base hits get rewarded and strikeouts hurt you. For pitchers, strikeouts are generally very valuable. You may already see how this would change rankings over a roto league. Roto players don’t worry about doubles or triples or whether their hitter will strike out a lot and that is going to change things. Roto players worry about a balanced team and point league owners couldn’t care less about that.

I wanted to analyze players who should be valued differently if you’re playing in a points league. In order to do so, I took the same projection system and ran it through the cheatsheets here to see the rankings for a roto league and then ran the rankings again for a points leagues. Looking at those who have big fluctuations, we can start to see some trends. Let’s first look at the players who took a big dip in value in points leagues:

  • Josh Hamilton#55 in Roto, #92 in Points – More than anything, this has to do with projected plate appearances. Not a single projection has Hamilton at or above 600 PA’s. For point-based leagues, every plate appearance is a chance for points so missing time hurts his projected output.
  • Doug Fister#147 in Roto, #258 in Points – A guy who doesn’t have a high strikeout rate is less valuable in point leagues. Fister is projected to have a K/9 that is below league average. His WHIP and ERA rates are still very nice in roto leagues but don’t play as big of a role in points leagues.
  • Jay Bruce#31 in Roto, #57 in Points – Strikeouts are the main culprit here. He has a very high K% and that brings down his value in points leagues by a bit.
  • Adam Jones#26 in Roto, #51 in Points – While Jones is still valuable in points leagues, his value is hurt by the fact that he doesn’t walk much. In 5×5 roto, that’s not an issue. In addition, his SB’s which make him more valuable in roto don’t benefit him as much in this format.
  • Paul Goldschmidt#50 in Roto, #99 in Points – I’m actually somewhat surprised to see him dip lower in points leagues as he has a decent walk rate and hits a lot of doubles in addition to what else he brings to the able. However, he is hurt by a somewhat high projected K%. His value in roto leagues is boosted by his SB’s which don’t have as big of an effect in point leagues.
  • Roy Halladay#37 in Roto, #89 in Points – His ERA/WHIP projections look nice and his K/9 looks pretty good so why would he dip in value for point leagues? Well, the projections see him missing some time throughout the year which limits his overall projected point totals.
  • B.J. Upton#35 in Roto, #90 in Points – His value in roto leagues is aided by his ability to contribute very good numbers in both SB’s and HR’s. In point leagues, the SB’s aren’t as valuable and his low AVG and high K% hurt him badly. Strikeouts and lack of on-base opportunities are the poison of point league owners.
  • Carlos Gonzalez#9 in Roto, #27 in Points – Carlos takes a dip because of his roto value being boosted by SB’s but he is still quite valuable in point leagues.
  • Giancarlo Stanton#12 in Roto, #33 in Points – His decrease in value for point leagues is mainly tied to his very high K%. Those strikeouts pile up and end up cancelling out some of his positives.
  • Matt Kemp#15 in Roto, #56 in Points – There are two things at play here. First, he strikes out a lot as well. Second, some projections have him missing some time. We’ve seen that those two things factor highly in the value of hitters in point leagues.

Of course, the next logical progression is to look at the undervalued guys for point-based leagues:

  • Carlos Santana#83 in Roto, #34 in Points – One of the main reasons that Carlos gets a boost for point leagues is his high BB%. He’s able to draw walks and those equate to points. In 5×5 roto, walks don’t really play a direct factor on value.
  • Yu Darvish#93 in Roto, #45 in Points – Lots of strikeouts mean lots of points. Even if the pitcher lets up more runs along the way, strikeout totals are important in point leagues.
  • Yunel Escobar#354 in Roto, #176 in Points – Escobar doesn’t move to the top of the charts in point leagues but his value is boosted by his ability to avoid strikeouts, which means more total points for him.
  • Denard Span#299 in Roto, #152 in Points – In addition to avoiding strikeouts, Span provides a bonus in point leagues because he projects to hit for a lot of doubles and triples. Those type of extra base hits don’t do anything to his roto value but are important to point league owners.
  • Martin Prado#84 in Roto, #43 in Points – We’re starting to see a trend here. Here’s another low strikeout guy. He moves up way higher because he hits a ton of extra base hits too. He’s much like Span above but to an even greater extent.
  • Nick Markakis#146 in Roto, #75 in Points – Copy paste. Low strikeout rate. Lots of extra-base hits, especially doubles. Point leaguers love it. Roto leaguers ignore it.
  • Jeff Samardzija#202 in Roto, #106 in Points – See Yu Darvish.
  • Jeff Keppinger #374 in Roto, #197 in Points – Insanely low strikeout rate here which means extra points as a result.
  • Yovani Gallardo #64 in Roto, #35 in Points – Once again, a high-strikeout pitcher gets a bonus. His slightly lower-than-elite WHIP gets cancelled out a bit more in point leagues by his strikeout ability.
  • Marco Scutaro#261 in Roto, #142 in Points – You can probably guess what I’m going to say at this point. Low strikeout rate with lots o’ extra-base hits. Rinse, repeat.

There you have a small listing of some guys to target or avoid in point leagues. As I alluded to, there’s some obvious trends as we go through the list. Those trends leave us with a few things to keep in mind:

  • Health plays an important role in point leagues. If you have a great player, you need him to play in order to accrue points. Rate-based stats like ERA/WHIP/AVG don’t mean as much as net production.
  • Strikeouts are important in two ways. You want to be cautious of hitters with high strikeout rates while you give bonus points to hitters who can avoid strikeouts. In addition, you want to target pitchers who can accumulate strikeouts even if their ERA/WHIP may be a bit higher.
  • Extra-base hits are much more important for point leagues. Hitters who can hit doubles and triples provide great value that moves them up in the point rankings.
  • Hitters who draw a lot of walks also have more value so look towards OBP rates more than AVG when comparing players.

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  • Stew
    March 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Any chance you could post the points based rankings in their entirety?