So, you’re a roto and categories pro that is stepping into the arena of a weekly points league, huh? Or maybe you’re a fantasy football player trying fantasy baseball for the first time. Point based leagues is a format that is becoming more and more popular. Like any format, it has some positives and negatives. I’m personally a fantasy baseball addict so I love them all, but points definitely have a special place in my heart.
I tend to like points leagues because they value players more closely to their real world value. For example, a player like Ben Zobrist who walks a lot and doesn’t strike out much is actually much more valuable in points. And there’s a reason why he’s been a vital cog in back to back real world World Series championships as well.
Another thing you might notice in points leagues is that pitchers tend to be worth a lot more. The best pitchers tend to outscore the best hitters. You may have seen or heard the term SPRP or SP/RP. What exactly is a SPRP, how valuable are they, and are there any SPRP worth reaching for?
For those of you who may not know, a SPRP is a Starting Pitcher that is also Relief Pitcher eligible – pretty straightforward. It’s the pitcher equivalent of having a multi-eligible player, which is just not something that matters much in roto or categories. But it does in points.
So how and why are SPRP valuable in points leagues? This is also pretty easy. In a weekly points league, you will only be setting your lineup once a week (Usually Sunday night or Monday before the games start). This weekly format is kind of similar to fantasy football, which is part of why it is becoming more popular. It is also a bit more volatile since the fluctuations in baseball can be pretty drastic from week to week.
You may have dominant closers like Chapman or Kenley, but they’re not going to net you many or maybe even any points if they don’t get on the mound. By having a SPRP who is guaranteed at least one, or ideally even 2 starts in a week – you have given yourself a tremendous floor and likely advantage at your RP position.
Now, time to get into a little bit of analysis and draft advice. Let’s go through some SPRP to target, reach for, or at least have on your radar for late round pickups.
The Premier SPRP
Danny Duffy – One stands above the rest here as I think Duffy is a top-20 caliber pitcher coming into the 2017 season. He would be my top ranked RP where SPRP are applicable. He had a monster breakout in 2016, and I’m hoping that not everyone noticed.
Here are his 2016 stats as a starter:
His status as a lefty fireballer has kept fantasy owners interested for years. After starting the year in the bullpen, he took his new approach to the starting role successfully. Limiting his walks and keeping the elevated K rate, he was a borderline fantasy ace in points upon becoming a starter. Now plug the value of an ace into the RP position where you might be lucky to get a single save in a given week. I am confident that Duffy helped win at least a few points titles in 2016.
Tier 2 – Worth a late round draft pick
For this tier, I would rather have the elite top 7-10 closers than these guys, but I would much rather have any of these 4 players than a bad, or even mediocre, closer in a weekly points league.
Dylan Bundy – How many years were we hearing about how good this guy was supposed to be? A Tommy John surgery and the slow Baltimore development plan kept us waiting for Bundy and his contemporary, Kevin Gausman. Now they’re both here, and I think both are here to stay.
Gausman owners enjoyed his SPRP eligibility last year, but he’ll lose that for 2017. Bundy, on the other hand, will have it and is someone I will be targeting in all weekly points leagues. He showed some very nasty stuff in his 14 games started. Here’s how he did:
You might notice that the ERA is a bit inflated. I have two responses for that.
- The ERA is a bit inflated because he took a few drubbings that I feel young kids are prone to. I would expect Bundy to grow given his pedigree, having another year of experience, and being another year removed from his Tommy John surgery.
- Even if he doesn’t get much better, he’ll still be useful. He should pitch enough innings and win enough games with the high-octane Orioles offense behind him. Wins and innings are much more valuable in points leagues. He should yield positive points most weeks and is an absolute must start in 2 start weeks.
Trevor Bauer – Here’s another guy with a huge draft status. He was drafted 3rd overall back in 2011. There were long stretches this past year where it felt like he was finally putting it all together. Here’s what he did in 28 starts in 2016:
His career has been rife with ups and downs. There were fewer downs in 2016, and I am predicting a full-scale breakout in 2017. He is on a great team that had a top 5 offense in 2016 and has since added Edwin Encarnacion.
He is also a ground ball savant (49.2% in the same sample as above), so having Lindor and Ramirez on the left side of the infield will help him out there. I expect Bauer to be a top 40 SP this year in points. That kind of season will have even more value if you use him as a SPRP.
David Phelps – Much like Danny Duffy, Phelps took his successes as a reliever and transferred them to his job as a starter. He pitched like a stud in the 5 games that he started.
Since 5 starts is an admittedly small sample size, let’s also take a look at his full season numbers, which include much more innings as a star reliever.
Look for Phelps to win a starting job out of Spring Training. If he does that, then I would definitely take a shot at drafting him as a SPRP. I always liked him as a Yankee, and he seems to have really found his stride as a Marlin. It’s a favorable park and division with an improving team, so I really like his odds of being valuable in 2017.
Tier 3 (Worth monitoring but not worth drafting)
This tier isn’t worth spending an actual draft pick on, and I’m not going to delve into any numbers here. Just going to give a quick rationale for why they’re worth monitoring.
Patrick Corbin – He was a very popular sleeper pick last year and ended up being an absolute dumpster fire. I love post-hype sleepers, and he won’t cost you anything other than a last-round pick or a buck in FAAB.
Corbin was a pretty good pitcher before his Tommy John surgery. Everyone underrates how hard it is to come back from Tommy John, but not everyone is Yu Darvish or the late Jose Fernandez as far as returning immediately to their dominant selves. If Corbin bounces back, he’ll be really useful as a SPRP.
Clay Bucholz – Has there ever been a more frustrating fantasy pitcher than Clay Bucholz? He flashes absolute dazzling starts and has even pitched a no-no. He’ll go on a nice little run and then get slapped around against a terrible team.
Still, he’s getting a nice change of scenery by going to the NL East from the brutal AL East. Maybe the shift in leagues and a fresh start will help him to be fantasy relevant. If he wins a starting gig in the spring and starts out hot, it might be worth picking him up as a SPRP.
Hopefully, this helps some of you folks that are trying out a weekly points league for the first time, or those of you looking for a leg up on the competition. SPRP are a huge advantage in points leagues. Tanner Roark, Kevin Gausman, and Aaron Sanchez definitely helped hoist some points trophies in 2016. A few guys on this list are likely to do the same in 2017.
Keep an eye out for other relievers that make the transition to being starters during the spring or in-season. Sometimes they’re able to transfer success to their new role. Keep an eye on Eduardo Rodriguez if he starts in the Red Sox bullpen. Another dark horse to consider would be Trevor Rosenthal. He is supposedly stretching out, and I wouldn’t be a bit shocked if he ends up being a good SPRP if he lands a job in the rotation at some point for the Cardinals.
There will be more columns to follow to help you have a leg up on strategy in the points format. It’s the format where I’ve had the most success and I look forward to sharing some of the thoughts and strategies that have helped me achieve so much success.
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