Contrary to popular belief, rotisserie leagues aren’t the only type of fantasy baseball leagues. Point-based leagues also have a strong following yet there isn’t as much analysis about them on fantasy baseball sites. If you’ve ever played in both types of leagues at the same time the you know that players are valued completely differently between the two leagues.
Roto leagues are laser-focused on just a small number of statistical categories while ignoring the others. Point league players often have to look at a lot more categories since points are awarded for nearly every stat you can think of. That’s one part of the change in strategy when switching over to a points league; you’re suddenly worried about how many doubles a hitter has and you’re not at all stressed about if you have enough stolen bases on your roster or not.
Strategy in roto leagues often focuses on trying to build a balanced team that can compete in a number of the statistical categories but points leagues don’t have to worry about that balance. Having an imbalanced team that focuses solely on one type of player is certainly fine as long as that type of player produces points in your league type.
We’re going to look at the differences in rankings between the two league types in this post. There are an infinite number of variations to scoring systems for points leagues. Looking at your own league scoring and trying to find weaknesses in the scoring is a huge part of winning these leagues. For this particular comparison, here is the basic scoring system that I’m using:
- 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)
I did a statistical analysis of all of the scoring elements to determine which stats had the highest correlation to changes in value from roto leagues to points leagues. Each player’s ranking was determined by Position-Adjusted WERTH values for roto leagues and a similar position adjustment for points leagues. For batters, 2B’s, SB’s, BB’s and K’s were all most significant in a difference between the two league types. Three of those stats aren’t accounted for in 5×5 roto leagues so it’s not a huge surprise that they play a big factor in the differences. Stolen Bases still have value in points leagues but typically they don’t carry nearly as much weight in regards to a player’s value. You don’t need stolen bases in points leagues.
Along those lines, the pitching stats that ended up being most significant were Saves, ERA, K/9 (and to a much smaller extent, BB’s and L’s were significant). ERA is more valuable in roto leagues as are most rate-based stats. For points leagues, stats that accumulate like strikeouts are more valuable than the rates like WHIP and ERA. Saves tend to have a high value in points leagues despite what a reliever’s other statistics are. A bad reliever is still valuable in points leagues as long as he is getting you those big points in Saves.
Last year, I made the following observations about the differences between the two league types and I’ll stand by it:
- 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.
Without further ado, here are some of the top changes in value going from a roto draft to a points draft.
Value Change Because of XBH
- Martin Prado (95 in Roto / 24 in Points)
- Ian Kinsler (46 in Roto / 23 in Points)
- Ben Zobrist (80 in Roto / 45 in Points)
- Billy Butler (90 in Roto / 53 in Points)
- Nolan Arenado (159 in Roto / 107 in Points)
Martin Prado is probably one of the secret MVP’s of points leagues because he can still be drafted later but his two greatest attributes (avoiding strikeouts and hitting doubles) are both point league goldmines. The other players here are also fairly valuable roto pieces but become stars in points leagues because they’re knocking doubles all around. While roto owners don’t care about a 2B unless it leads to an RBI or a Run, point league owners love these type of players.
Batter Value Change Because of OBP
- Jose Bautista (42 in Roto / 16 in Points)
- Prince Fielder (29 in Roto / 14 in Points)
- Wilin Rosario (44 in Roto / 151 in Points)
- Ian Desmond (41 in Roto / 136 in Points)
- Starling Marte (93 in Roto / 218 in Points)
While there are some roto leagues that account for OBP, the typical 5×5 league owner knows the pain of seeing his hitter come up to bat and then getting a walk and then stranded on base. It does absolutely nothing for your team. For point league owners, they cherish those walks all the same as they still accrue those crucial points either way.
Batter Value Change Because of SB’s
- Billy Hamilton (58 in Roto / 263 in Points)
- Jean Segura (31 in Roto / 78 in Points)
- Everth Cabrera (128 in Roto / 256 in Points)
- Jonathan Villar (209 in Roto / 394 in Points)
- Jose Altuve (49 in Roto / 80 in Points)
One of the biggest switches you have to make when switching between a roto league and a points league is to completely change your perception about stolen bases. You can’t care as much about 20/20 guys in points leagues and you certainly can’t care about guys who might steal 60+ bases without getting extra-base hits or walks or anything that you need (looking at you, Billy Hamilton).
Batter Value Change Because of K’s
- Andrelton Simmons (152 in Roto / 55 in Points)
- Nick Markakis (171 in Roto / 76 in Points)
- Norichika Aoki (110 in Roto / 52 in Points)
- Chris Davis (43 in Roto / 121 in Points)
- Carlos Gonzalez (7 in Roto / 19 in Points)
In most scoring formats, high-strikeout hitters can absolutely crush your points league team and low-strikeout hitters can secretly win you championships. The low-strikeout guys like Andrelton Simmons or Nick Markakis don’t make headlines for this valuable skill but they absolutely should be on your radar.
Pitcher Value Change Because of K’s
- Max Scherzer (20 in Roto / 11 in Points)
- Jeff Samardzija (141 in Roto / 77 in Points)
- Gio Gonzalez (113 in Roto / 64 in Points)
- Doug Fister (86 in Roto / 170 in Points)
- Bartolo Colon (148 in Roto / 244 in Points)
While strikeouts are clearly a big part of the equation for a roto league, high strikeout pitchers are hugely valuable in most scoring formats for points leagues. You’re not too concerned if Jeff Samardzija has a 4.00 ERA as long as he has those hugely valuable 200+ strikeouts.
Pitcher Value Change Because of ERA
- Ubaldo Jiminez (324 in Roto / 164 in Points)
- C.J. Wilson (298 in Roto / 171 in Points)
- R.A. Dickey (222 in Roto / 143 in Points)
- Justin Masterson (205 in Roto / 140 in Points)
- Yovani Gallardo (247 in Roto / 178 in Points)
While a pitcher with a higher ERA will struggle to offset that weakness in a roto league, he has a better chance of still providing you other value in a points league. If he can still approach 200 IP with a higher-than-average ERA, those innings become a valuable source of points in addition to the counting stats that go along with them.
Pitcher Value Change Because of Saves
- Rafael Soriano (185 in Roto / 69 in Points)
- Jim Henderson (155 in Roto / 84 in Points)
- Ernesto Frieri (103 in Roto / 58 in Points)
- Fernando Rodney (130 in Roto / 83 in Points)
- Steve Cishek (104 in Roto / 67 in Points)
While this doesn’t mean that you absolutely need to spend a high pick on a closer in points leagues, it emphasizes the need to have someone who is collecting saves for you even if his ERA or WHIP is slightly higher than average. Pitchers on teams where they have a chance to get a lot of Saves are more important than pitchers with great stats/skills who are getting infrequent save opportunities.
Point league owners, know your scoring system! Study it, look for weaknesses, study it again. This is the key to winning. The rankings you see above likely will differ in your own league. Maybe stolen bases are super valuable or strikeouts are nerfed in value. Either way, you need to learn what type of player is valuable in your league and what type is not. Most rankings you see out there will be completely irrelevant for your own league so do your own custom calculations (or, you know, use my custom cheatsheets here).
(Also, if you want to look through the whole list of ranking differences for yourself then feel free to check out the corresponding Google Doc I have here)
Luke is better known as Mr. Cheatsheet despite his last name not being Cheatsheet. He makes spreadsheets, writes blog posts and his rankings were in the top 10 accuracy among FantasyPros experts in 2014, 2016 and 2017. When he's not doing fantasy baseball things, he can be found playing board games or rating beer.