Last week, I wrote an article about the importance of default rank lists and how you can use knowledge of your league’s rankings to gain an advantage. To see last week’s analysis which is focused on category based leagues, click here.
This week, the focus will be on points leagues. Since most sites use 5×5 stats to determine their default rankings, if you play in a points league on Y! or ESPN you can gain a huge advantage over other owners who don’t understand the intricacies of player valuation. CBS leagues can be a little quirky, and we will get into that later. Before we get into the specific players, it is important to review a couple general ideas regarding types of players who are more valuable in points leagues.
For the purposes of this article, we will evaluate players with the following scoring system in mind (This is CBS default, but also a relatively standard points format).
|1B = 1||IP = 3|
|2B = 2||K = .5|
|3B = 3||W = 7|
|HR = 4||L = (-5)|
|Run = 1||QS = 3|
|RBI = 1||SV = 7|
|SB = 2||BB Allowed = (-1)|
|BB = 1||H Allowed = (-1)|
|HBP = 1||HBP Allowed = (-1)|
|K = (-.5)||ER Allowed = (-1)|
|CS = (-1)|
Generalizations to look for when assessing player value
First and foremost, starting pitchers carry substantially more value in all points leagues. The reasons why are a topic for another article entirely, however. Be on the lookout for that one next week. For now, let’s just assume this to be the case and understand that all SPs should be bumped up in the rankings significantly. For an idea of which pitchers tend to be undervalued in points leagues, click here.
One important factor that cannot be overlooked is the starting requirements for your league. The number of hitters started goes a long way toward determining player value for both hitters and starting pitchers. If your league, like CBS default, only starts 9 or 10 hitters, then hitting should almost be treated like an after thought in your draft. There are literally all star caliber producers on the free agent list in shallow leagues like this, especially in the outfield. The fewer hitters you start, the narrower the gap between elite contributors and waiver wire options.
If your league starts a full compliment of batters with an MI, CI, 4 or 5 OFs and possibly an extra utility bat, then a more balanced approach is typically needed in the draft.
On the pitching side, RP requirements can also have a large impact on player valuation. How many RP slots you use and the rules governing them are both key. In general, starters are more valuable than relievers, so while I might advise paying a premium for a top RP eligible starter, paying top dollar for the elite closers generally does not pay off the same way.
Specific traits to look for in hitters
When attempting to uncover hidden gems in your points league, the key is to analyze the stats that are not measured directly in 5×5. Ks, extra base hits that are not HRs, and BBs are the main categories to pay special attention to.
Here are a few statistical categories that can help make this analysis easy:
- BB/K ratio: League average is.40. Players under this mark may be overvalued, while players with significantly better BB/K ratios may be undervalued.
- ISO: League average for ISO is about .140. Players who are at or above this total with few HRs may be undervalued.
- OBP: Most default ranks are based on BA, but OBP is what gives us points here. League average is about .325.
Perhaps even more telling than OBP is OBP – BA. This stat really isolates players who might have large value gaps in a league that counts OBP instead of BA.
Players like Billy Hamilton and Ben Revere who have a low OBPs because of low BB totals, don’t get a ton of extra base hits, and strike out frequently tend not to have as much value in points leagues. Power hitters like Jose Bautista who walk a lot and limit Ks tend to have even more. Players like Matt Carpenter who get on base efficiently and hit a lot of doubles can also be undervalued.
Now, for the Players to target on each site:
CBS has completely different ranks for points leagues than they do for roto. These ranks are extremely pitcher heavy because their default league setting only has 10 teams and only starts 9 total hitters. To give you an idea of how shallow this plays on the offensive side, I was looking at a friend’s league the other day and Billy Hamilton was just sitting there on the free agent list. Granted, he is not an ideal points league player, but hopefully this illustrates the point I made earlier about the relative unimportance of drafting bats in these leagues.
CBS rankings tend to reflect last year’s performance without a ton of projected improvement factored in, but overall, their rankings do a good job valuing types of players who should be held in high esteem.
Here are some of the potential bargains:
Madison Bumgarner: 13 – I know what you are thinking. MadBum at 13 overall is no deal, but he is actually the 12 ranked SP and the best bargain after Kershaw goes at 1. I told you CBS was SP heavy!
Matt Harvey: 33 – This ranking again seems low compared to where other SPs are ranked.
Carlos Carrasco: 34 – Be careful drafting Carrasco since he may have an innings cap, but as a potential 600 point ace with RP eligibility, he could be the CBS fantasy MVP.
Gerrit Cole: 39 –
Edwin Encarnacion: 42 – Encarnacion walks a lot and does not K as much as your average power guy. He should be one of the top 10 hitters drafted in this format, maybe top 5.
Anthony Rendon: 43 – This could be about right given the injury news, but I still love him.
Robinson Cano: 50 – one of many amazing MI values.
Troy Tulowitzki: 58 – In his truncated season, Tulo posted a .432 OBP.
Michael Wacha: 62 – Pitching great this spring.
Adam Jones: 63 – I wanted to list him, but this is actually not low at all given that Jones does not walk and you can only start 3 OFs. Taking him here is okay, but don’t reach for OFs.
Alex Cobb: 64 – Another good SP value relative to the field.
Nolan Arenado: 67 – Arenado does not walk a ton, but he does not K much either.
Ryan Braun: 85 – Remember, OFs are a dime a dozen, but this is still a value.
Carlos Gomez: 89 – This is a little crazy.
Adrian Beltre: 90 – Power may be declining, but on base skills are as sharp as ever.
Doug Fister: 94 – Fister is an ideal points league pitcher.
Matt Carpenter: 99 – relative to other hitters, this really is not a great value.
Bryce Harper: 102 – This is about right for Harper given the OF starting requirements.
Yordano Ventura: 112 – By round 11 in a CBS draft, if you don’t already have 4 or 5 good SPs, you could be in trouble.
Hanley Ramirez: 115 – I would consider reaching for Hanley in round 4 or 5 after taking a couple aces. The fact that he is ranked this low might allow you to leave him until round 6.
Buster Posey: 122 – Posey may be the only catcher with significant value in this format.
Ian Desmond: 140 – This is a little low, but not crazy considering Desmond’s sky high K rate and likely spot near the bottom of the Nats order. Desmond will likely be drafted long before this point, but don’t be the guy to reach for him. He is nowhere near Hanley/Tulo level in points formats.
Starling Marte: 162 – Marte’s BB/K rate of .25 limits his upside here, but this is still a value.
Dee Gordon: 183 – Gordon is not your prototypical points league stud, but this ranking makes him a potential value.
Chris Davis: 191 – The Ks can kill you, but he is a good end of draft hitter to target.
Billy Hamilton: 193 – This is where he should be ranked.
Hunter Pence: 199 – Pence is pretty dependable, so I will take the injury discount.
Starlin Castro: 203 – Castro’s plate discipline is improving as the Cubs’ lineup gets better around him. If you miss on one of the top dogs, this is your target.
Brandon McCarthy: 205 – Another rare pitching value.
Carlos Gonzalez: 207 – No chance he goes this late in competitive leagues, but don’t forget to scroll down for him if you don’t mind the injury risk.
Shin Soo Choo: 215 – If you believe in a Choo bounce back, this is the ideal format to own him in.
Mookie Betts: 228 – If Betts is an everyday player, he has all the tools to be elite. With a high BB rate and good contact skills to go along with power and speed, this is a player to reach a little for, or a lot.
Kolten Wong: 230 – A good late round 2B option, but look out for poor OBP.
Kenley Jansen: 244 – I don’t like drafting closers normally, but an elite option pitching on one of the premier teams is worth a stash.
Michael Pineda: 260 –
Joc Pederson: 267 – Don’t reach too far since Pederson’s Ks could limit his value, but he could be a solid 3rd OF.
Pablo Sandoval: 268 – The Red Sox lineup is too good for Sandoval to not be top 10 3B.
Kris Bryant: 273 – Opening day or not, give me some of this.
Xander Bogaerts: 293 – A good late round SS value play.
Joaquin Benoit: 305 – He is definitely a closer worth drafting, and this is a good price.
Yadier Molina: 315 – Catchers are easy to find, but this looks like a deal.
Aaron Sanchez: 340 – RP eligible starter with big upside.
Lorenzo Cain: 367 – Probably won’t be drafted in most leagues, but could be a value if he hits near the top of the Royals’ order this year.
Jesse Hahn: 371 – Hahn should be drafted in all points leagues.
Russell Martin: 375 – Martin’s on base skills play well here. If you wait until the last round to take a catcher, Martin is a good target.
Daniel Norris: 385 – Another RP eligible pitcher with high upside who could crack the Jays’ rotation.
Taijuan Walker: 401 – The way he has pitched this spring, be prepared to reach.
Jose Fernandez: 412 – You can’t draft too many injured players, but Fernandez is one to target and stash given his upside.
Andrew Miller: 413 – Given the undefined roles in the Yanks pen, I could think of worse ways to spend a late pick.
Y!s rankings are great for category leagues, but there are some market inefficiencies that points league players can surely exploit. I will start by listing a few overvalued players you may want to avoid at their expected costs.
Overvalued Players in the top 150
All Closers: Elite closers have value, but not enough to warrant a pick in the top 8 or 9 rounds. Bottom tier closers should not even be drafted in most points leagues.
Adam Jones: 10 – Jones had a .311 OBP last season. He produces gaudy stat lines, but he is not a top 10 OF in this format.
Ian Desmond: 24 – Desmond’s low OBP and high K rate make him a good, not great SS option. He should not be drafted in the top 5 or 6 rounds.
Carlos Gonzalez: 39 – Cargo could easily outproduce this rank, but injury risk combined with a colossal K rate make me think owners can do much better.
Billy Hamilton: 52 – This is not even close for a hitter with no power and an OBP below .300.
Yoenis Cespedes: 56 – I have never been a big Cespedes supporter, but his low BB rate hurts him here. Perhaps hitting behind Vmart and Miggy help him, but this is still too early for me.
Dee Gordon: 65 – This rank is not quite as bad as Hamilton’s given that Gordon can play 2nd, but it is still a couple rounds too high for me.
Charlie Blackmon: 71 – Blackmon is a nice player, but a low BB rate combined with a probable platoon make this ranking tough to live up to.
Jay Bruce: 84 – Bruce could easily bounce back and beat this rank, but I like to avoid high K streaky batters like Bruce. Sure, he will win you weeks by himself at times, but he can also disappear for weeks on end.
Marcell Ozuna: 93 – High Ks and low BBs severely limit his upside.
Alexei Ramirez: 105 – I don’t like Ramirez in any format this year, but this is the worst place to own him.
Mark Trumbo: 119 – One of the worst OBP players in baseball.
Salvador Perez: 127 – He never walks and he is expected to take more days off this year.
Elite SPs: all of the top 9 SPs get a boost here, from Kershaw to Cueto. Grabbing 2 aces in the first 3 rounds would be a great way to start a team. Y! ranks pitchers aggressively, but most of the top 50 arms still make good values.
Troy Tulowitzki: 25 – Tulo is an OBP stud at the scarcest position.
Joey Votto: 54 – OBP specialist makes a great value.
Victor Martinez: 62 – Health and age concerns are real, but VMart is an OBP monster who does not strike out. You want guys like this.
Brian Dozier: 81 – Dozier gets a nice boost in OBP leagues.
Alex Wood: 87 – RP eligible starters carry extra value here, and Wood is one of the best.
Alex Cobb: 88 – Steady pitcher ready to breakout.
Carlos Santana: 97 – This is the catcher to own in any league where OBP is king. Santana is C eligible in Y! leagues, so be prepared to reach a little.
Carlos Carrasco: 113 – His CBS rank should tell you that you need to be ready to reach for the RP eligible stud.
Matt Carpenter: 114 –
Ryan Zimmerman: 115 – Good all around hitter with 3B eligibility.
Garrett Richards: 117 – The injury makes him affordable.
Doug Fister: 138 – This is the format to own the K-lite starter.
Masahiro Tanaka: 141 – Risk meets reward at an appropriate place.
Starlin Castro: 142 –
Adam Laroche: 143 – High walk rate for the White Sox new slugger.
A.J. Pollock: 147 – Pollock is a good value in general.
Lucas Duda: 156 – Walks a lot to make up for the Ks.
Melky Cabrera: 164 – The Melkman knows how to get on base.
Michael Wacha: 168 – Great value here
Brandon McCarthy: 189 –
Jose Fernandez: 195 – I have no idea how good he will be coming back from TJ, but remember, points league titles are decided in September, not April and May.
Matt Shoemaker: 216 – Efficient strike throwers play well here.
Michael Pineda: 219 -Injury risk aplenty, but another efficient pitcher.
Joc Pederson: 225 -Pederson has a patient approach, so high walk totals should make up for Ks.
Steve Pearce: 230 – Pearce has a high OBP and should make a strong value
Dexter Fowler: 234 -Fowler is another high OBP guy.
Rick Porcello: 237 – Another points league special
Dallas Keuchel: 256 –
Henderson Alvarez: 260 – No Ks? That is okay here.
Jesse Hahn: 262 –
Michael Morse: 264 –
Marcus Semien: 282 – Upside play at scarce positions.
Andrew Miller: 290 – Speculative play
Josh Collmenter: 303 – Believe it or not, he has value as an RP eligible starter.
Aaron Sanchez: 342 – Big upside and RP eligibility
Taijuan Walker: 454 – Don’t forget this guy!
Daniel Norris: 796 – Another upside RP eligible pitcher
I am not going to list most SPs or closers here unless the value gap is egregious. ESPN’s SP ranks are not as aggressive as the other sites. You should have a good idea about pitchers I prefer at this point, and most SPs make for good value picks at the spots they are ranked in ESPN points leagues. On the flip side, closers tend to be overrated in points leagues.
Adam Jones: 15 – See comments above. Don’t pick him too early.
Freddie Freeman: 18 – Freeman is actually much better in points leagues, but this is still too high given the lineup concerns.
Ian Desmond: 23 –
Starling Marte: 37 – This is a bit too high for the free swinging Buc.
Evan Longoria: 40 – He is not worth this price in any league.
Yoenis Cespedes: 47 –
Billy Hamilton: 57 –
Chris Carter: 68 – Carter is DH only for now and he could lead the league in Ks.
Chris Davis: 70 – I like him, but 70 is not enough of a discount in points leagues.
Alexei Ramirez: 92 –
Marcell Ozuna: 98 –
Mark Trumbo: 106 –
Salvador Perez: 118 –
Alex Rios: 139 – I worry about his BB rate and the potential for lost ABs when Jarrod Dyson takes over in the late innings of close games.
Hanley Ramirez: 29 – Hanley’s value is rising, and this seems low despite the risk.
Anthony Rendon: 34 – Rendon should not miss a lot of time, and he is a great hitter.
Adrian Gonzalez: 50 – Gonzalez is reliable and steady.
Joey Votto: 88 –
Carlos Carrasco: 95 –
Mookie Betts: 100 – You are going to want Betts.
Ryan Zimmerman: 119 –
Alex Wood: 121 –
Kris Bryant: 138 – Expect him to go before this given the recent hype.
Jorge Soler: 142 – Great value for another young Cub.
Melky Cabrera: 148 –
A.J. Pollock: 152 –
Adam Laroche: 155 –
Ben Zobrist: 172 – Not a big Zobrist fan in general, but his BB/K rate is elite. This is the place to own him.
Steve Pearce: 227 –
Yasmany Tomas- 257 – I am not sure if he will play everyday, but this is a great deal if he does.
Avisail Garcia: 262 – High upside at a reasonable cost.
Brandon McCarthy: 271 – Way too low.
Matt Shoemaker: 278 –
Kyle Lohse: 313 – He plays pretty well in points leagues.
Jesse Hahn: 315 –
Michael Morse: 322 –
Dexter Fowler: 350 –
Michael Saunders: 357 –
Marcus Semien: 359 –
Daniel Norris: 381 –