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Finding Value in Points Leagues: Corner Infield Edition

Welcome back RotoBallers to my Finding Value in Points League Series! Points leagues are my favorite format to play in fantasy baseball. I am not alone there as fantasy baseball points leagues become more and more popular every season. It is a natural transition from those who have played fantasy football and have been considering playing fantasy baseball. But, there is one big mistake that people make when they play point leagues: they don’t know their league's scoring system.

First, many people will often value players in a points league similar to a roto league. That is the biggest mistake a player can make. In a roto league, you care about five offensive categories: batting average, home runs, runs scored, RBI and stolen bases. However, in points leagues, you usually get points for all sorts of things, such as doubles, walks, hit by pitches, and you also lose points for strikeouts on most sites. As you can see, if you are valuing a player based on just five offensive categories, you are doing yourself a disservice on many sites.

Additionally, since roto is still the more popular format, ADP on sites can often be skewed by roto drafts, meaning that players are not properly valued. This is something I have dubbed as roto bias. Think about it, in roto a stolen base is 20 percent of the stats you need, so naturally a player who can steal bases will be high up the board. But in points, those steals are devalued on many sites, meaning that if you drafted him at his Roto-skewed ADP, you would be making a negative investment.

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Platform Variances

Below is the scoring rules for points leagues on all the major fantasy sites:

NFBC scoring is the closest to roto, while you can see stats other than the big roto five are factored into all other sites. For detailed breakdowns on how to tackle each of these platforms, check out our excellent "Break the League" series by Nicklaus Gaut. He has covered points league rankings and projections for CBS, ESPNYahoo and Fantrax.

Fantrax and Yahoo do not deduct points for strikeouts, but CBS and ESPN do; NFBC does not even reward points for walks. Knowing this, I found the batter K-BB rate of all hitters. It is a stat that is overlooked, even though it makes a big difference on the sites that factor in both walks and strikeouts. In this article, I will focus on the corner infield positions (first and third base).

 

First Base Projections - Points Leagues

Here are the five first basemen with the highest batter K-BB percent from the 2019 season. It is important to know that the lower the number, the better here. If a player has a negative batter K-BB rate, that means he walked more than he struck out.

Using RotoBaller projections, I will put the projected fantasy points for all the hitters on each site. In parenthesis, next to each player's projected points for each site, will be their rank in parenthesis among first basemen. 

Player Batter K-BB% CBS Points ESPN Points Yahoo Points Fantrax Points NFBC Points
Carlos Santana 0% 519 (5th) 463 (5th) 1,277 (T-6th) 571 (7th) 592 (10th)
Cody Bellinger 2% 616 (1st) 536 (1st) 1,551 (1st) 680 (1st) 863 (1st)
Anthony Rizzo 2.4% 547 (3rd) 495 (3rd) 1,277 (T-6th) 593 (4th) 672 (3rd)
Yuli Gurriel 4.6% 480 (10th) 440 (6th) 1,056 (14th) 515 (13th) 636 (8th)
Freddie Freeman 5.8% 575 (2nd) 506 (2nd) 1,437 (2nd) 639 (2nd) 786 (2nd)

The scoring of each site clearly has an effect on the projected points and rank among first basemen. As you can see, Santana is projected to be a top 5 first baseman in CBS and ESPN, but not on any of the other point league sites. It is no coincidence that CBS and ESPN are the only two sites that both reward points for walks and deduct for strikeouts.

I have referred to Santana as a points league savant for years, and if you are playing on CBS or ESPN, you totally see why. The best part of owning him in those formats is you never actually have to pay fair price. He will not be one of the first five first basemen off the board.

The other big winner moving from roto to points at first base is Rizzo. He is projected to finish outside the top first basemen on just Yahoo. Rizzo has an ADP as the sixth first baseman off the board, yet in all the points leagues, he is projected to finish no worse than sixth. That shows that in this format, there is a buying opportunity to be had.

I do not love Gurriel this season, but if there is any format I would be OK drafting him in, it would be in points due to the fact that he limits the strikeouts and draws walks. He goes off the board in roto leagues as the 15th first baseman, on average. As you can see above, he is projected to outproduce that price in all points leagues.

Bellinger and Freeman are awesome regardless of format. This just can make you feel comfortable in points leagues as well. Both are projected first and second on every site.

Player Batter K-BB% CBS Points ESPN Points Yahoo Points Fantrax Points NFBC Points
Michael Chavis 25.1% 358 (20th) 266 (22nd) 778 (26th) 446 (17th) 475 (17th)
Danny Santana 24.6% 381 (16th) 283 (20th) 996 (15th) 459 (16th) 581 (10th)
Wil Myers 23.9% 264 (31st) 187 (31st) 795 (24th) 328 (31st) 373 (24th)
Eric Hosmer 18.4% 403 (14th) 326 (14th) 1,075 (12th) 478 (14th) 522 (14th)
Garrett Cooper 18.3% 176 (35th) 137 (35th) 670 (32nd) 214 (35th) 240 (35th)

If there is one lesson to be learned here, it is that part-time players are significantly devalued in points leagues. It makes sense, as the less you play, the fewer hits, runs, RBIs, etc. that you can score.

Both Myers and Cooper are slated for part-time roles. Despite that, they still have some value in Roto, but as you can see in points, you should let someone else draft them.

Santana is valuable in because he brings power, speed, and average to the table. However, he strikes out as a ridiculously high rate (29.5 percent in 2019) and hardly walks at all to make up for it (4.9 percent walk rate). He is a prime example of a good roto player, but not someone you want to own in a typical points league. The NFBC points format is garnered to be the most like roto, which explains why he is best in that format.

Hosmer is the most consistent player here, even though his plate discipline trended in the wrong direction last season. It is largely in part to the playing time he is expected to see. I actually like Hosmer as a sleeper due to the fact that he is trying to lift the ball more this season.

Chavis has awful plate discipline. He can make up for it in Roto with his counting stats, but as you see across the board, he is not a great points league asset.

 

Third Base Projections - Points Leagues

Player Batter K-BB% CBS Points ESPN Points Yahoo Points Fantrax Points NFBC Points
Alex Bregman -5.2% 580 (3rd) 530 (1st) 1,482 (1st) 622 (4th) 718 (5th)
Anthony Rendon 0.9% 552 (5th) 503 (4th) 1,344 (5th) 596 (5th) 730 (4th)
David Fletcher 1.4% 351 (T-25th) 313 (19th) 817 (24th) 381 (26th) N/A
Jose Ramirez 4.1% 582 (2nd) 514 (3rd) 1,392 (3rd) 625 (2nd) 776 (2nd)
Nolan Arenado 4.6% 583 (1st) 528 (2nd) 1,427 (2nd) 634 (1st) 809 (1st)

Arenado may be falling because his skill set (HR, RBI) is the easiest to find and people like to get speed early on. But, in points leagues, take advantage of that. He should still be cemented in as a first-round pick in this format, but due to the Roto bias, he is not a lock to go that high. If you can get him in the end of the first or even in the early second, you should be jumping on that value.

Ramirez is climbing in Roto because he is one of the few players with 30/30 potential. He was in the top five among third basemen in batter K-BB% despite having a career-worst strikeout rate (13.7 percent) last season. Ramirez gets on base at a high mark and has always limited the strikeouts, making him a great early-round value. In points, he should be a first-round pick.

Bregman led the entire league in batter K-BB rate last season. It is no surprise that he is a top-three option in CBS, ESPN and Yahoo. The latter issues the most points for walks, which rewards Bregman’s high walk rate (17.2 percent in 2019). In those formats, he should be going in the Top 15 or so picks. But in Fantrax and NFBC, he would be a reach.

Rendon is viewed similarly to Arenado in the sense that what he provides is the easiest to find. But in points leagues, he is as safe as they come. You can get him in the second or perhaps even the third round due to the roto effect. He is a strong value at that price.

Fletcher’s projections are low because he is expected to split time with Tommy La Stella. But, as you can see by his batter K-BB rate, if he was to win the full-time job and get everyday at-bats, he would be a great value in this format.

Player Batter K-BB% CBS Points ESPN Points Yahoo Points Fantrax Points NFBC Points
Miguel Sano 23.7% 382 (21st) 291 (24th) 1,104 (12th) 473 (16th) 549 (15th)
Yoan Moncada 20.3% 461 (11th) 355 (15th) 1,215 (10th) 555 (9th) 628 (8th)
Travis Shaw 19.7% 368 (23rd) 297 (22nd) 834 (24th) 435 (22nd) 456 (22nd)
Eugenio Suarez 17.9% 463 (10th) 380 (11th) 1,228 (9th) 542 (10th) 612 (10th)
Jon Berti 17% 289 (29th) 219 (30th) 644 (30th) 338 (30th) 370 (26th)

Suarez and Moncada are both top-12 third baseman off the board in Roto, and for the most part, should be valued as such in points leagues. The one caveat being on ESPN, where Moncada loses the most value.

The biggest loser from roto to points, perhaps among all positions, is Sano. Sano will always be towards the top of the league in strikeout rate, which clearly works against him in CBS and ESPN, the two sites that deduct points for striking out. He also has trouble staying on the field, which works against him more in this format.

Shaw is one of my favorite late-round picks in roto leagues. He says a swing change that he tried to implement last season really wrecked his mechanics at the plate. There is no denying that 2019 was a lost season for Shaw, but he is reverting back to his old swing and getting a chance in a new city. He also has some very impressive hitters hitting ahead of him in the Jays' lineup. There is hope for him in points too, because last year his strikeout rate was 33 percent, where it had been below 23 percent in the two prior seasons. A bounce-back across the board is possible.

Berti is hurt in points because of two reasons: he is expected to be used in a utility role, meaning he cannot be counted on to provide daily at-bats, and his biggest contribution is stolen bases, and those are devalued in most points sites. He should not even be drafted in this format.

More Points Leagues Analysis