Impact Hitters for Points Leagues

If you are using roto rankings to draft your points team, you are likely leaving a tremendous value on the table.  Several big names are less valuable in points.  On the other hand, some guys you might view as borderline scrubs are actually really useful. 

A few weeks ago I covered pitchers to target in points leagues. Today we turn our attention to hitters, but first, let’s go over some traits you want to look for when mining value out of hitters in points.  Here are the criteria to consider:

  • Low strikeout total compared to offensive output
  • High walk total
  • Hits lots of extra base hits
  • Lineup and position in that lineup as far as being able to score runs and drive them in

One place where even seasoned points players can go wrong is looking at stats instead of points.  Ben Zobrist was a better second baseman than Rougned Odor last year.  Some people can’t wrap their heads around that since Odor hit 30 bombs and Zobrist feels kind of blah.  It doesn’t matter; Odor didn’t walk at all while Zobrist walked tons, rarely struck out, and got some nice counting stats from the studly Cubs lineup.

Now, I’m not guaranteeing Zobrist will outscore Odor again this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.  Make sure to keep in mind that points are all that matters in this format.  Flash and sex appeal will not help you, only points will.  Let’s go through some guys that you should consider more valuable in points leagues.

The Studs

Edwin Encarnacion – It’ll be interesting to see if age and the venue change scare people away from Edwin.  He is constantly a top producer in points as he walks a decent amount (87 free passes last year) and puts up gaudy counting stats because of his status as a beastly bat in the middle of a great lineup.  He’s not losing as much as you think going to Cleveland.  Expect him to be in the mix for the number one overall first baseman in points leagues, he was in 2016.

Anthony Rizzo – As the Kris Bryant hype train runs rampant after his MVP honors, remember that Rizzo is likely the more stable option in points.   Their lines look awfully similar except Rizzo struck out 46 fewer times.  Rizzo is a stud in any format, but I’d say he’s just a bit better in points.

Jose Bautista – Bautista is coming off of a down year, but he’s staying in a favorable home park after signing a 1-year deal.  Even with the injuries and the lower level of production, he still produced at an above average rate on a per game basis.   The two previous years, he was a top 5 overall player in points leagues.  I’d target him everywhere in this format and expect to get him at a great value as fantasy players hate older guys coming off of down years.  I think he has a stable floor in this format and it’s paired with awesome upside.

Matt Carpenter – He scores a ton of runs, hits plenty of extra base hits, and keeps his OBP nice and high.  He’s right there with Joey Votto as far as being in the running for “Mr. Points.”   If you guaranteed me that he and Kris Bryant were both going to be healthy for a full season, I would lean towards Carpenter in a points league.  That’s how different his value is in this format.

Carlos Santana – Here’s another guy that is very different in this format.  He walked as much as he struck out last year (99 times each).  I have absolutely no problem drafting Santana to hold down my Utility slot in a points league.

Bryce Harper – I know, he had a “down year” in all formats last year.  He only went 20-20 for roto owners.  Points owners still didn’t have much to complain about as he walked 108 times, which kept him a must start outfielder despite the off-year.  I expect him to bounce back, and his ability to draw a walk combined with his position in a great lineup leave him poised to be an absolute points monster in 2017.

Buster Posey – I’m a little worried about Posey in roto and categories as he only hit 14 homers last year (including just 2 in the second half).  I’m not worried about him at all in points leagues, though.  He was still the number one catcher in points and gives you the opportunity to gain a potential 100 point advantage over the rest of your league.  Posey owners gained hugely in 2016 over all owners that didn’t have Lucroy or Ramos.  This advantage will also probably cost you a lot less than what you’d have to pay for the same type of separation at other positions.

Joey Votto – This guy is the poster boy for bumping value in points leagues.  If he plays all year, he’ll walk about 110 times.  Book it in.  He’ll do that while also giving you solid numbers everyplace else.  He’s a first round talent in points that should be in the mix for most points at first base.

Mookie Betts – I got a lot of pieces of his breakout last year chasing his points skills.  He doesn’t strike out much and gives you a lot of pop.  He only struck out 80 times in 2016 while doing his best Mike Trout impression.  The insane lineup also allowed him to put up absurd counting stats.  Expect something similar in 2017.  He should be the consensus #2 pick in points formats.

Andrew McCutchen – The down year can and should deflate Cutch’s value a bit.  He’ll still probably be a bit overrated in roto leagues because of his name value, and because I don’t think the steals are coming back.  In points, however, Cutch routinely has an OBP above .400 and crushes his fair share of extra-base hits.  If you can get him in the third or even late second round, I think it could end up being a great value.

Daniel Murphy – Another guy I was able to own some shares of for the big breakout because of his points skills.  He’s always hit a fair amount of extra base hits and kept the strikeouts to a minimum.  Last year he took it to another level as he only struck out 57 times while hitting a ridiculous 47 doubles.  He might not repeat last year, but he will be very good points player in the great Nats lineup with his core skills.




More Guys to Consider

Adrian Beltre – The guy only struck out 66 times last year.  That’s amazing considering all of the other good stuff he did for you.  Know he’s getting older, but I think he’s got at least one more year of great production ahead of him.

Albert Pujols – “The Machine” is not what he once was.  He still has some dingers left in that bat, though, and he loves to drive Mike Trout in.  Having the best player in baseball on base in front of you is going to give you plenty of chances to drive in runs, even if the rest of your offense is a bit of a joke.  He hits a lot of flyballs so his average will never be what you want for roto, but he doesn’t strike out much for his production (just 75 times last year).  He’s an ideal bat for your Utility slot in this format and he might come really cheap.

Hanley Ramirez – He’s taking over DH duties for “Big Papi” this coming year.  That should help him stay healthy again.  He’ll bat in the middle of this juicy lineup, yet again, as well.  I expect an almost exact duplicate of last year, which will make him very valuable in points.  He, like Pujols, would be an awesome Utility play.

Michael Brantley – If he’s healthy, he’s a top-tier player in points leagues.  He puts up solid numbers everywhere, and his strikeouts are borderline nonexistent.  He has a chance at being a top 5-10 overall player in this format if he remains healthy.  The injury risk is real, but he is worth reaching for in points.

Dustin Pedroia – The former MVP isn’t quite what he used to be.  He still hits some lasers, though, and should have plenty of stats given his marquee placement in the best lineup in baseball.  He’s scrappy as ever to boot, only striking out 73 times to 61 walks last year.  Got him for $1 in a few leagues last year and would be happy to have him again this year if he comes cheap.

Brandon Belt – He’s barely draftable in points since it’s a shallower league than roto, but he’s actually better in points.  He has a terrific OBP, hits a lot of doubles, and is in the middle of a solid lineup.  If he can make any strides forward, I could see him having value.

Jose Ramirez – This guy just had a Mike Brantley lite season, and I don’t think it’s a fluke.  He only struck out 62 times last year.  And as I’ve said before, I expect the Cleveland offense to be just as good or better this year as it was last year.  He’s a fine option for a third outfielder or as a multi-eligible bench guy.

Ben Zobrist – He’s not as good as he used to be in roto, and that generally affects how he’s seen in points leagues as well.  Throw his age on top of that, and you’re likely to get him for a song.  He struck out 82 times while walking 96 times.  He also bats in the middle of the vaunted Cubs lineup and is multi-eligible.  I should honestly have him listed with the studs in this format, but he’s at an age where it can all fall apart very quickly.

Dexter Fowler – This is the guy that first showed me that you can kind of “plate appearance” your way into a good points season.  Batting leadoff for a good team is insanely valuable.  You get more at-bats, and thus more attempts at delivering points in a game.  He’s also a solid player on top of this.  Fowler is a great guy to target as your 2nd or preferably 3rd outfielder.  He should be just as good in Cardinals red as he was in Cubs blue.

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Honorable Mentions

  • Russell Martin
  • Denard Span
  • Shin Shoo Choo
  • Russell Martin

You probably sensed a theme as you went through the analysis.  It gets a little repetitive, but it’s necessary.  You almost need to hypnotize yourself into saying “pay for points, not stats.”  This is the points iteration of the popular roto maxim “pay for stats, not names.”

  • Joey Votto is easily more valuable than Freddie Freeman or Jose Abreu.
  • Matt Carpenter is as good as Kris Bryant.
  • Pedroia and Zobrist are likely more valuable than Odor.
  • Carlos Santana and Hanley are probably better than Chris Davis.
  • Jose Bautista will be worth the same as Mike Trout if he rebounds to 2014 or even 2015 stats.

These are some of the very weird sentences that you’ll find yourself saying if you become a points player.  It provides you with an awesome opportunity to draft values as well as trade for them.  You may very well be able to trade an inferior player with a sexy name for a better player.  Heck, you might even be able to get the other owner to throw something else in. 

Get the roto thoughts and star perceptions out of your head for this format.  Pay for the bottom line.  Hunt for hitters that do at least a couple of the four things I outlined at the outset of this column.  Low Ks, High BBs, hit lots of doubles and triples, and good lineup/lineup position.  Use these tips to help dominate your roto ranking league mates.  Good luck and go get em!

 

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Mike Sheehan
Comedian, Powerlifter, and most importantly a Cum Laude graduate of the fantasy baseball school of hard knocks. Double major in points and categories with a minor in roto. Happy to be doing my Postgraduate work here at the Fantasy Assembly.
Mike Sheehan

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